I recently wrote a post giving my advice for matching old tile to new tile and yesterday I arrived at a consultation where my client was facing this exact dilemma.
Their tenants had just moved out and the hardwood flooring in the master bath was connected to a steam shower where they had clearly allowed their two children to splash around on the floor of the shower which obviously got into the flooring causing the wood to warp and stain. Badly.
This room connected to the linoleum here in the hallway leading to the kitchen. The same linoleum on the kitchen floor connected to the terra cotta coloured tile in the connecting sunroom/great room (below).
My client was going to rent out the house again and did not want to spend the money to replace the old tile in the sunroom so that it could all be the same although that was my first recommendation.
The second best option was to find a tile that worked with the pink beige marble countertop in the master bathroom, the countertop in the kitchen and the terra cotta tile in the connecting sunroom. Since all the tile would connect, it would be much worse to introduce two more tiles, but as I stood there surveying all the tiles under consideration I wondered if it was truly possible to find one that would be right for all three spaces.
I was impressed at the number of tiles my client had collected in preparation for our meeting.
"I like this 12" x 24" gray tile the best" he said (above).
"Of course you do", I said, "It's totally trendy and current, but not only is it a different size from the existing tile, it's shiny, contemporary and will make your 50's painted cabinets, and the existing 13" x 13" rustic tile scream 'New tile, old kitchen, new tile and old tile'.
This is a common mistake that many people make when strictly replacing tile in an old bathroom (and kitchen of course). If you install 12" x 24" tile into an 80's bathroom it will also give you a 'new tile, old bathroom' look. Why? Because tile that size was not mainstream back in the 80's (did it even exist? I don't think so) which is why it looks so bad in an old interior.
The trick to coordinating new finishes with old is you want to make it all look like it was all installed around the same era if you want to avoid the look of NEW combined with OLD, yesterday and today in the same interior. If you hated your old bathroom before you changed the tile and you choose something new and trendy that you like, you'll really hate it when it's installed.
1. It was 13" x 13", the exact same size as the old tile.
2. It had the same rustic feel.
3. It was relatively solid looking.
4. It did not look like we had tried to match the existing tile and failed.
5. Best of all, it clearly coordinated with everything else in the house which I thought was a total miracle!
Here's the tile in the bathroom with the existing countertop. Not perfect but it works:
Here it is in the kitchen with the existing green/black and gold flecked countertop:
Then I used my large samples to choose a new white for the cabinets.
I recently consulted with a client who had installed new tile in her small kitchen one year ago. Now she was painting the cabinets and replacing her countertops with stone and she hated her newly installed tile but had not considered replacing it again until I asked how much it had cost? $600 to take out the old tile and replace with the new. I recommended she start fresh and have the kitchen she loved instead of building the entire palette around tile she had installed in a big emergency without considering the impact of all the rest of the colour choices one year later.
When you are choosing finishes for a new house or a new renovation, you can select new and trendy and everything you love (maybe).
When choosing finishes to coordinate with existing, dated elements, choose carefully and consider all the patterns, colours, neutral undertones and the finish (dull or shiny) to make sure you are not making a relatively permanent mistake.
Tile is so hard to find even when you are choosing from scratch, let alone trying to coordinate with existing colours and undertones so if you have tile that clashes in your house, that's the reason why!
Which tile would you rip out ASAP if you could?
Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It's All in the Undertones to learn how to get colour to do what you want.
To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!
If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.