Design crush: zellige tiles

8/01/2016 11:57:00 am HELEN STILES 2 Comments

I spend a lot of time researching and sourcing lovely things (far too much time some might say) but one thing I keep coming back to over and over again is zellige tiling. These beautiful, pearlescent, handmade tiles from Morocco are cropping up in so many gorgeous interiors that I have a serious design crush. So I thought I'd share that with you!

Zellige tiles have been made in Morocco for about 1000 years and the methods have barely changed. They are handmade from terracotta and glazed to give this beautiful, pearlescent finish. Every tile is unique, so the finished result always includes lots of variations in colour and surface texture creating a lovely patina. They come in hundreds of different colours and work with any type of architecture from rustic farmhouse to modern brutalist.

Source: Isle Crawford

This kitchen (above and below) belongs to design-maven Isle Crawford, who has used the palest shade of ivory/blush on her kitchen walls and worktop. The overall effect is quiet and simple, but with a lot of warmth, movement and subtlety. (I also love that gloss sheen on the ceiling which bounces the light around).

Source: Isle Crawford

Design and salvage firm Retrouvius are also rather fond of a zellige tile. I pretty much love everything that they do, which often involves pairing zellige tiled walls with  reclaimed teak and industrial elements, like this farmhouse kitchen:
Source: Retrouvius

or this bathroom finished in egg-yolk yellow zellige tiles with worn leather and reclaimed teak:

I love this zellige fireplace insert that echoes the kitchen splash back:

Black zellige tiles look very cool in general. The dark colours might be a more daring choice, but they still pretty classic and timeless. I  think I could live with these quite happily...

In fact, in my travels round the inter web I've been hard pressed to find a picture of a zellige tiled room that I don't love. They might become my new metro tile. I've been a big fan of classic metro or subway tiles for a long time but I do accept that they are everywhere. (I have them in my kitchen and 2 bathrooms, so that's not going to change anytime soon!) But if you're looking for an alternative to that metro-tile look I would seriously consider zellige. The downside is that they are definitely more pricey, but they are so beautiful I would consider scrimping elsewhere in a kitchen or bathroom to make budget available for a zellige splash back. Just look at this beautiful shower enclosure...

I have a feeling we're all going to be seeing a lot more of these tiles over the next year or two. They speak to all that is popular in the design world at the moment: handmade, unique, artisanal, traditional, timeless and yet BEAUTIFUL. So, there you have it, my Monday morning design crush. I want some!


  1. We’ve been stumbling around the internet and found your blog along the way.

    We love your work! What a great corner of the internet :)