European Flooring

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Legacy of Blue and White Delft Tile in Today's Kitchen

Pavé Tile's Cuisine de Monet - 18th Century Tile from Rouen

I love Pattern.  On the wall or on the floor - I find having pattern intermixed with more calming surfaces creates interest, making a too modern ambiance warm or adding authenticity to an historical decor. The kitchen back splash is the perfect surface to add this interest - and the choices of patterned tiles are nearly limitlessness.  Patterned tiles historically found their way to our shores through years of evolution, beginning where civilization began in Mesopotamia circa 600 AD when terra cotta tiles where first used for a building material.  This technique was developing also in China and eventually led to Europe via North Africa from the Moors in Spain, via Italy with their Majolica Tile and during the 16th and 17th Centuries via the Dutch East India Trading Company from China into Holland.

The colors of patterned tiles can be bold or quiet.  I find multicolored patterned tiles beautiful like Majolica tiles from Italy or  Moorish Tiles with Spanish and North African roots.  There are spaces perfect for these bold and multicolored tiles - and many who do them exceedingly well.  As for me at Pavé Tile, we could choose to offer these tiles and maybe one day we will...but for now - our passion resides more in Northern Europe where the influence of Chinese porcelain propelled artisans to recreate the luminescent surfaces of blue and white Chinese vases and plates onto tile.

Blue and White.  How lovely are these colors.  They are clean and quiet - yet warm all at once. Designing with blue and white - designers still have many options to mix in other glorious building materials - like a French Limestone Floor, a classic French Terra Cotta Tile Tomette Floor or a soft Reclaimed French Oak Floor.  Pavé Tile offers all these European flooring options - and once installed, make the Blue and White kitchen sing.

 Pavé Tile's Vieux Monde French Limestone Flooring Collection: St. Etienne, Finish: 14th Century

With the warmth of French Limestone, colors ranging from creams and cafe to golds and dove gray and the texture whether it be smooth and clean or aged with patina, the quietness of the floor will play off of a crisp blue and white kitchen.

Pavé Tile's Vintage Mill 18th Century French Oak Floors in Cognac
If you are looking for more softness and country French authenticity, instead of using French Limestone, install a beautiful Reclaimed French Oak Floor or an aged French Oak Floor like in the photo above.  These soft textures and subtle gray and cognac colors of Pavé Tile's Vintage Mill French Oak Floors in Cognac will reveal incredible beauty when paired with a blue and white kitchen.
Pavé Tile's French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Floors in Classic Provencal Tomette
If you have ever been to Giverny, France, to visit Claude Monet's home, specifically his "cuisine"- you will find yourself immersed in pattern.  Doing patten right is an art form and he did it splendidly - to no one's surprise.  Using 18th Century Tile from Rouen - a classic blue and white geometric pattern on the walls and backsplash, he installed another pattern on the floor - the French terra cotta tile tomette.  The reds of the floor and the patterns of the tomette enhance the cool blue and white geometric patterns on the walls.  Monet did not reinvent the wheel with this kitchen, he just did his research.  Patterned floors and wall tiles decorate homes throughout North Africa, Spain and Italy.  But what he did so well - was to bless it with the "je ne sais quoi" French touch.  In my mind, nothing is more beautiful and more French than a blue and white tile with a French Terra Cotta Tomette Floor.
Monet's Kitchen in Giverny France
So let's talk about these infamous Blue and White Tiles.  Pavé Tile offers two Collections - the 17th Century Delft Tile Collection and the Cuisine de Monet - 18th Century Tiles from Rouen.  Having a passion for narration and draftsmanship - I love Delft Tile.  Delft Tiles tell stories and they are little windows into what life was like in the 17th Century.  Capturing the countryside or ships, the children at play or the tradesmen in villages - the pictorials can be quaint and whimsical. Delft Tile gives a warmth of play to a kitchen while visually adding patterned interest to what was just a bare wall.

My desire to do our own Blue and White Delft Tile versus importing it from Europe was because I love painting.  I wanted to create a Blue and White Delft Tile Collection for Pavé Tile from my own hand.  Another reason, in terms of business, was that we wanted a Delft Tile truly stateside - easy to obtain and at a good price point.  Many Delft Tiles must be imported with incredibly long ETA's and at prices that cannot always allow a client to be generous with her walls.  Although we are still in process of producing our Delft Tile for the Market, I can show you some of my Delft Blue Tile paintings that will be hand decorated onto a hand made earthenware (or terra cotta) tile.  There will be numerous collections including: Blue and White Delft Tile Ships, Blue and White Delft Tile Children at Play, Blue and White Delft Tile Flowers, Blue and White Delft Tile Villageois, Blue and White Delft Tile Bourgeois, Blue and White Delft Tile Sea Creatures, and Blue and White Delft Tile Paysage.  The three photos I am showing below is just samples of what the Blue and White Delft Tile at Pavé Tile will soon be. These are some of the original paintings.
Pavé Tile's Blue Delft Tile Children at Play - Original Painting

At Pavé Tile, we are also going to offer our Delft Tile with or without the Delft Tile oxtails corner motif and with either a Delft Tile smooth surface or a Delft Tile crackled surface into the white double dip glaze.We look forward to finishing this Delft Tile Collection, and soon present to you an antique Delft Tile that will be lovely, stateside, and at a good price point.

The second Delft Tile like Collection Pavé Tile offers is "Cuisine de Monet - 18th Century Tiles from Rouen".  In the 18th Century in Rouen, France, ateliers set-up shop recreating in their own way, the Chinese porcelain that had been entering their country via Holland via the Dutch East India Trading Company.  Instead of concentrating on figures, the French manufactures of Rouen were taken with geometrics.  At the time, Monet lived 45 minutes south of Rouen, in Giverny - and thus the history began between Monet's Kitchen and the famous porcelain-like blue and white tiles from Rouen.  Pavé Tile will offer an array of geometrics for this Delft Tile like Collection - and although the designs originate from the 18th Century, there is a modern aesthetic that exudes from these blue and white geometric tiles.

As I was researching Delft Tile on-line, I found a blog from Attic Mag entitled: Delft Tile Kitchen Style, where she writes, "I keep expecting to read that it’s passé. Instead, iconic cobalt blue-and-white Dutch tiles continue to be chosen for kitchens whether the ceramics are made in Morocco, Texas, France or The Netherlands. While the look screams ‘traditional’ it always feels fresh. Plus, there are so many variations in the motifs – including genre figures, animals, florals, abstracts, geometrics, landscapes, Chinoiserie – it works with a majority of architectural and cabinet styles."

In another article from Big Bossy Color BlogAnnie Elliott has written an article following the South Beach Mondrian Hotel entitled: The South Beach Mondrian Hotel - the Dutch Thing. She writes," Marcel Wanders design for the Mondrian hotel in South Beach...apart from the fact that designing a hotel like a Mondrian painting would be well, kind of dreadful, the designer gives us the Dutch connection – and a wink and a nod – in another way. Mr. Wanders, from the Netherlands, pays homage to the artist Piet Mondrian, ALSO from the Netherlands, not through primary colors and right angles, but by exploding a quintessential Dutch design element: delft tile."

Inside the Mondrain Hotel, each room has it's own kitchen exploding with Delft Tile
In her caption under this photo, Annie says, "I don’t know whether Delft tiles originally were installed in such quantity, but putting this many next to the super-sleek white counter and cabinets looks fabulously modern, doesn’t it?"

Yes...thank you, Annie for seeing that!  Delft Tile is meant to be used in continuous pattern and can rival the sleekest subway tile of modern decor - for it's the whimsy and warmth that contrasts splendidly with the cool lines of contemporary aesthetic. There in lies the point of my blog - Delft Tile has a legacy - a continued legacy that feels at home in historic and modern decor.

To finish my blog, I will show you some final photos of various Delft Tile Kitchens I found along the way.
Quiet, contemporary kitchen becomes more warm and inviting with it's Delft Tile Backspalsh.

A Classic Americana White Kitchen, bianco carrara marble counterops, French oak flooring and Delft Tile back splash - so lovely.

La Cornue Range pops surrounded by the Blue Delft Tile backsplash.
However, I cannot finish this blog without showing you two kitchens that do French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Tomette Flooring in the most breathtaking way.  In one photo, you will see a more warm rustic decor while the other is a fabulous mix of vintage and contemporary decor.  The creativity from designers today take my breath away.  We are a melting pot of cultures and time periods and these designers know how to take the best of so many styles to make it unique, imaginative, warm and beautiful. 
 A gorgeous French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Tomette Floor with a patterned back splash motif - the legacy of Claude Monet?  And the reclaimed French terra cotta parefeuille on the ceiling - fantastic.  Texture and pattern done so right.

Mixing French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tomette Tile with a sleek black and white contemporary aesthetic

Delft Tile has a legacy and Pavé Tile hopes to extend the historical significance and beauty of these Blue and White Tiles for more generations to come. Blue and white paintings on a hand made European terra cotta tile, our Delft Tile Collections will be lovely, stateside and at a good price point.  

À la Prochaine,

Emmi Micallef

Pavé Tile & Stone, Inc.




  1. Lovely use of kitchen tiles in the second from last photo. Could spend hours in that room!

  2. I was really impressed on what I have seen on those photos, really wonderful. The combination of blue and white tiles looks awesome.!I wonder how much the cost of those tiles. Choosing the best tile is such a good way in order to have an attractive and clean kitchen.

    slate tile flooring

  3. Such tiles require lots of hard work and time for cleaning and maintenance. It is better to choose tiles that can be cleaned up with lot of convenience.If an individual takes care of all these vital factors in mind before purchasing tiles for kitchen floor, he or she can definitely make a good purchase and that too without spending much amount of money from their pockets.

    Joseph @ Kitchen Benchtops

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