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Ordering Tile: Tile Design and Color

Colors and Mockups

Information about tile colors, the problem of matching paint colors to tile, and the types of mockups

Choosing Traditional Colors          About Color Changes and Mockups

De Morgan peacock border tiles


Choosing Traditional Colors

The colors of many of my tiles can be changed or modified, but if you're looking to restore a traditional home, you'll want to stay away from trendy colors. You can make it work with French blues and yellows (think Claude Monet's house at Giverny) but not hot pink and neon green. It's an interesting aside that most of the Victorian colors were recognize were toxic. As wallpaper became popular, no small number of deaths were eventually traced to Victorian Green, seen in the image above, due to arsenic-laced dyes. Cadmium yelow was also toxic.

Victorian Colors

Blue and White China was a rage in England, starting in the eighteenth century but even into the 20th century.

Victorian Medieval Revival tile was often encaustic, with strong yellows and earth colors. Any of the colors on the Medieval Tiles will, of course, work. Also see What Makes a Tile Victorian?

From left: Scroll, Jabberwocky, hippogryph, two storks, secretary bird and salamander, peccary, Art Nouveau fish and hares, grouse, Art Nouveau dog and fish. William De Morgan blue and white fantastic creatures tiles.

From left: Scroll, Jabberwocky, hippogryph, two storks, secretary bird and salamander, peccary, Art Nouveau fish and hares, grouse, Art Nouveau dog and fish

Arts and Crafts Colors

The Arts & Crafts movement see art, and the decorative arts, as part of the natural world. William Morris, and Arts & Crafts designs, differ from earlier, still Victorian, patterns that flow naturally, take their inspiration from nature, rather than geometric designs.

William Morris Woodland Weeds, tile inspection

William Morris Woodland Weeds, tile inspection

William De Morgan, who first worked for Morris, but later came to define Arts & Crafts and early Art Nouveau tile had several "periods" (see William De Morgan Arts and Crafts Tiles. He is best known for:

Persian Palette tiles

William De Morgan Persian Fish Frieze

William De Morgan Persian Fish Frieze

Red Lustre

De Morgan's early work with stained glass at Morris & Co. gave him a running start on perfecting glazes. Red lustre tiles are a signature color. Lewis Carroll, a close friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, had De Morgan red lustre birds and beasts surrounding his fireplace at Oxford

Red Lustre Ship

Red Lustre Ship

Color Changes and Mockups

I Really Like the Color But Can You Change It: Minor changes, such as making a blue a bit more cobalt are usually quick and easy and I don't charge for such a small happiness. Or maybe you find a white background stark and would prefer cream (Victorian white is not such a cold blue as many of our modern whites). In many cases, I can change the background color easily at no extra cost if we're satisfied that a general range of complementary color will work.

I Need to Match a Color: However, if you find yourself shipping me a field tile or fabric swatch or paint color, we are now color matching (see the cost of color matching). You'll know this because you'll want to approve the color changes before we proceed. I can burn through cases of tiles on color matching so the cost of materials is added to the custom tile hourly rate. Also, substantive changes that may require ordering different blanks, and multiple mockups and emails back and forth, with lots of stops and starts are custom tiles. Tile is not given to matching colors exactly and dependent on the light in the environment so is not guaranteed but we can come close. It is, however, expensive and generally thankless. (More about mockups.)

More About Color: Tile color will almost certainly not match the color on your monitor, but will be in that range. Even within one run of tile, there will be slight variations. Tile is reflective and paint far less so, so even matched colors will look very different. Perhaps surprisingly, your final tile color will not be an exact match for your sample tile either -- even if the sample was made recently. Colors can vary based on the temperature when the tiles are made. Tiles made on a very cold day will show some differences from those made on temperate days or during a heat wave. This variation is actually a feature.

Field Tiles (Background Tiles): I can make your field tile to match your background color exactly, but since I make tiles individually, you really are better off getting field tiles locally. If you are in a time crunch, shop for your field times in a complementary color.

Mock-ups: If you've already decided on a pattern, placed a deposit, and we're making a modification, I may send you a mockup by email to make sure I really understood what you asked for before I make your tile. You can get an good idea of color differences and proportion from a mockup, but they are still just an idea. For more complex projects, such as designing a fireplace with multiple patterns, mockups help to give an idea of which patterns go well together.

There are two kinds of mockups: Modifications and New Designs.

Modifications: If you're sure about the pattern you want, but we're resizing it to fit a space or you'd like to see different colors, these are modifications.

New Designs: If you're undecided about the pattern, or we are inventing something entirely new.

Cost of mockups: If you've placed a deposit on tile, you can ask for up to 5 mockups without incurring additional charges. That's in addition to any mockups I decide to send you to make sure we're on the same page. Additional mockups are $100 apiece added to your final balance before ship time. However, if we are adapting a seamless pattern to a fireplace where we want to keep the pattern aligned on the side panels but need to adapt the pattern seamlessly on the horizontal (undermantel), it's really a consultation and the charge is $250, which applies to your deposit when you order tile.

Because there's a diminishing return on mockups -- the more options, the more difficult the decision -- It's better to have a good idea which tiles you like we start the mockup cycle. Money absolutely must change hands before we walk the mockup road together. This gets around me providing free design services for other people's tiles, or spending a disproportionate amount of time on mockups.

Should we find ourselves in multiple mock-up territory or fussing with colors, then we are really making custom/bespoke tiles. Prices on this vary and eventually, I'll stop underbidding it. See How to order custom and bespoke tiles.

Questions? Contact me.

How to Order Tile.