How the Victorians began our love affair with kitchen tiles

Posted on May 01, 2016 by Alex Kempner

Victorian kitchen

How the Victorians began our love affair with kitchen tiles

Whatever kind of home you live in – a period property with original features or a sleek, minimalist apartment with lots of glass and light, our traditional ceramic wall and floor tiles are a wonderful way of putting your personal stamp on your kitchen, the most sociable room in your house.

The Victorians had a very different approach: in the nineteenth century, kitchens were private spaces and even wealthy homeowners wasted little expense on decorative features. The Victorian householder would have considered money spent on elaborate ceramic wall and floor tiles as inappropriately extravagant for rooms frequented mostly by domestic staff.

However, they appreciated tiles not just for their decorative possibilities, but also because they were practical. Plain glazed earthenware tiles were commonly used on walls in kitchens, dairies and other functional rooms to protect the places that received the most wear and tear. These were usually in pale colours such as white, ivory, buff and cream, which reflected the light and showed the dirt in areas where hygiene was important. And kitchens, sculleries and service passages often had floors made up of cheap quarry tiles in plain unglazed red clay or alternating red with blue-black.

Today things could not be more different. Indeed, of all the rooms in the house, it’s the kitchen that seems to have undergone the biggest transformation since the nineteenth century. Twenty-first century kitchens are very much above stairs – ideally large, light and airy social spaces, equipped not just for cooking but for family life and entertaining friends. And millions of us enjoy choosing tiles that will make our kitchen into a unique personal space.

Create your dream kitchen with tiles from Original Features:
The great news is that whether you want your kitchen to be Victorian in style, sleekly modern, quirky country cottage or something just distinctively ‘you’, Original Features can help.

If you are after authentic Victorian flooring tiles, the Olde English geometric tile collection is for you. All our designs are based on traditional Victorian and Edwardian patterns - so to follow the example of our nineteenth century forebears you could choose, for example, a simple red, black and / or cream tile design – the Ennerdale and Barton patterns are popular choices for this approach. Alternatively you could go for something more complex and colourful, or even design a pattern of your own – the choice is yours!

If you would like some design advice then please do get in touch.