In this new column, The Tile Aisle, Design Inspiration from Virtue Tile, the interior designers at Virtue Tile will share Tricks of the Trade when it comes to everything tile.  First up:  How to get the look of handcrafted tile without the handcrafted price tag

How to get the look of handcrafted tile without the handcrafted price tag

The pages of the glossy home and architectural magazines are filled with photos of tiled kitchens and baths that somehow look different from what you have in your home.  What makes them so aesthetically pleasing?  And how can you get that handcrafted look without spending a fortune on your upcoming project?  Three simple tricks will help you achieve the designer look, while maintaining your sensible budget.

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Placement

Tile placement is the interior designer’s best kept secret.  Machine-crafted tile is certainly a more affordable option, particularly when you are tiling an area with a lot of square footage.  Typically, machine-made tiles are set close together—somewhere less than 1/8” apart.  Unfortunately, this gives that “sterile” look that you expect to see in schools and hospitals, not exactly what you are trying to achieve in your home. 

Whether you are doing the work yourself, or have hired a local contractor, make sure that the joints are 3/16 of an inch apart, and use sanded grout.  Sanded grout has a rougher texture, and will therefore give that more dimensional appearance.  Additionally, if unsanded grout is used in these larger lines, you undoubtedly will experience flaking when the water soon evaporates out of the cement.  You will be pleased with the upscale look that can be achieved using this simple trick of a little wider placement in machine-crafted tile.   

Pattern

Another designer trick is to add accent pieces to the pattern.  A stone, glass, or mosaic accent does not have to add a lot of expense to your project.   When placed strategically, the additions will add beauty and dimension to your project without adding too much cost.  This is a great way to get a hand-crafted designer look.  Pencils and contrasting colors are other options to make the design unique while staying within a budget. 

Grout color

Finally, grout color can play a big part of the final look.  Don’t let it be an afterthought!  There are so many colors to choose from; don’t necessarily choose a light or neutral color.  An added bonus is that colored grout is easier to keep clean.  Play around with different grout colors—changing the color will pick up subtle shades in your tiles, and therefore can change the look of your final project.  If you are using a variety of tiles, a common grout color can help unify the project.  It might be worthwhile to purchase some extra tiles, and actually see how they look when different color grouts are used.  Sometimes it may be hard to visualize the colors that will be pulled without seeing a sample.  Sure, this can add a bit more on to the price of your project, but you will be happy that you explored the different looks and be confident that you made the best choice.  Be daring, and let the grout be part of your personal design palate!