Choosing Colored Tile (And Other Design Habits I’m Changing Up!

I have always loved color, but when the all white EVERYTHING home design trends started showing up, I fell hard for them. To be fair, I still love an all white room and I get why the trend hit me so hard. White is clean, fresh, makes spaces look bigger and sometimes more expensive. It also simplifies the design process and generally looks nice. I like white rooms and I always will.

With. That. Said.

I am sooooo excited to try something new. It all started when I read Island Hopping last summer. It opened me up to a style that vibes with my love for mid-century, but is totally and completely not mid-century. That book started a shift for me. I started making mood board after mood board, inspired by the idea of combining different styles—a little bit regency, a little bit boho, some traditional, some ’70s glam, and the elements of mid-century that are so ingrained in me.

For the past six months, I have been working to build a new style for our new home and it’s been such a fun, creative process!

One of the first mile markers I came to was choosing our first tile color. I knew I wanted to branch out from white.

These are just a few samples I grabbed out of my little stash. The tiles are from Fireclay Tile. They have so many incredible colors and I love to play with the samples, trying out different color combinations. I ended up using their large star and cross pattern in the color Tumbleweed.

The wallpaper samples shown here are all Lulie Wallace. I am thinking of using one of her really bold papers for either our dining room or breakfast nook.

When I first revealed the coffee bar, some of you noticed that the colors were a little off. So we tried to get them more true to real life in these photos. We will also be doing this on room photos moving forward.

Design habits I am changing up:

-White walls.
In the past, my go-to was white walls. It’s seamless and can brighten small rooms and make them feel bigger. For our ’90s home, we were lucky enough to buy it with freshly painted white walls, which is always a nice clean slate to start from. If I were doing a mid-century house with some lower ceilings (like our last house), I think white walls are a great choice.

In our ’90s house, we have some very high ceilings. Most of them are 10-11 feet with some rooms with huge vaults. The white walls in this home make it feel undesigned and much less cozy. Everything just looks unfinished and the vaulted rooms are practically screaming at me for some paint color or wallpaper or moulding. I hear your cries, ’90s house.

Moral of the story really is that every house is different, and that one part of designing your home should be learning what will bring out its best features.

-All white tile, cabinets, etc. 
In our previous home, I did exclusively white or marble tile. A big part of that was the whole “resale” conversation. We always knew we were planning to stay in our previous home about five years. This is not the case in our new home—we’re planning to stay indefinitely. Also, as I spent the past several years combing through real estate listings in our area, I changed my ideas about how important it is to have white tile. The more I shopped, the more I realized that there are SO many different buyers’ perspectives and so many people who aren’t as picky as me or don’t have the same preferences. It really is impossible to know! I might choose a tile that’s “better for resale” and the next owner might rip it out anyway. So, I will no longer be holding this as a main consideration.

I mean, we’re planning to do a RAINBOW tile bathroom and I’m just going to assume that someday when our house sells that it will be a selling point … because you never know, it will be to some people!

-Exclusively mid-century lighting. 
I will always have a soft spot for mid-century lighting. In our new home, I will be using some mid-century lighting, some vintage, and some different pieces. For example, I am loving Stray Dog Designs and would really like to use one of these in our bedroom or possibly the breakfast room.

I’ll be sharing more updates soon. If you’re curious to see what all is on our 2021 project list, it’s right here. xx! Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Kelly. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Excited to follow along, especially since I am figuring out how to do the interiors of my new late 80’s house.

    Growing up, my parents had a great room with a vaulted ceiling they covered in gorgeous wood paneling. It made the room so much warmer and welcoming and approachable than friends’ similar cold, all white ceilings. You still get to enjoy the largeness of the space without sacrificing coziness.

  • You inspired me to consider wallpaper for a wall in our bedroom that didn’t feel done. And now I’m so excited!!

  • I noticed on the closeups of the tile samples that it said recycled so I took a look at the Fireclay website and really appreciate the fact that they are an eco-conscious company. That makes me really happy because being eco-conscious is very important to me and sometimes I feel guilty for when I want to craft because of the waste it can create. It is good to know that there are products that exist that are more eco-friendly, in terms of home decor, but they are very hard to find. I didn’t know that something like this existed for tiles so it gives me hope that I can aim to work towards being eco-friendly in home decor and the like. It would be interesting to see a list of products/businesses that you’ve used that are eco-conscious if you guys have more.

  • I am excited for your 90’s house as I am in a 90’s house after leaving a bungalow and am struggling with it. I can’t figure out how to do color in a way that seems intentional in open concept with vaulted ceilings and am interested to see how you tackle it. Would really love to see you show some videos of how the rooms connect on the main floor (whether it’s here or on insta) as it would be so helpful!! Thank you Elsie!!

  • I am enjoying the colorful changes so much. And I like what you said about resale value. We’re planning on being in our house for at least another 5 years. Its ready for a refresh and I feel stuck trying to do what I want without having to redo everything if we move in 5 years. I like what you said, it may be doing what I like is what sells the house and it was a bit freeing. So thanks! Also, for the record, I think the complaint about the true representation of colors is an over-reaction.
    I read a comment that said it was disingenuous. I laughed all day thinking if Elsie and Emma had a band it would be called “the disingenuous pinks.” lolololol

  • Three cheers for colored tile! I chose yellow tile for my kids’ bathroom, hoping they’d have a sunny start to the day, and I’ve never regretted it. Love the pink you chose and can’t wait to see what else you do.

  • I love when inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. For me, when it stumble upon it versus search it out, it’s more meaningful, like the universe placed it there for you.

    Can’t wait to see your colorful tile dreams come to life!

    xx, Sam

  • This isn’t so much a reaction to this post–although I love color and I’m excited that you are trying out some fun colors.

    But I wanted to share that last night I dreamed I was at a house that Elsie and Emma created. It was huge, so maybe it was a mish-mash of the holiday house, your personal homes (past and present) and other home makeover posts featured on the site. It was a really cool dream and Emma and Elsie were so friendly and welcoming. I may have dreamed this because Emma’s pregnancy reveal is super exciting and your crew is fresh on my mind. Isn’t it good to know that you both are super approachable in dreams??!! 🙂

  • Wow! I love Stray Dog Designs chandeliers – I hadn’t heard of them before! Thanks for sharing. I also recently painted our bedroom with vaulted ceilings white and found the same issues. While I’m a die hard white wall lover, the room felt cold, undesigned, sparse, etc. I went with a medium gray color instead and I love it. <3

  • Also relieved you removed filters that made it hard to see actual colors in your images

    • Great! We’re going to work harder to have true to life colors in room photos moving forward!

    • Looking forward to everything you will be doing in your new home! Thank you for doing the true colors! While I agree that ‘disingenuous’ is an over-reaction, I think it is better to see the actual colors so we get the real affect of the design choices. THANK YOU!!

  • Totally agree that the house has to speak and say what it needs and wants. I live in a 1940s bungalow. It’s all small scale. There are things I would definitely do if I had vaulted ceilings and soaring spaces that I just can’t do now. That playful fun colorful lighting you linked would look out of place crazy in my house, but your giant 90s home can totally take it and look good doing it. I want that wall paper for my dining room but it would visually overwhelm my whole first floor. Im excited to live vicariously through your design evolution

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