Perfectly Imperfect

Zellige tiles are all the rage in interiors.


Love the look of Zellige tiles? The “perfectly imperfect” stars of interior design magazines everywhere are more than just a backsplash. They’re small-scale pieces of art. 

“I love the wabi sabi or ‘imperfectly perfect’ look of Zellige tiles,” says Cathy Connon of the Richmond- and NoVa-based Catherine Jordan Design. “They have a variation in color within each color range.” She says that if you pick one green tile as your wall tile once the wall is installed, there isn’t the exact same flat color green. “There is a variation of greens over an entire wall of green tiles.”

And in keeping with that subtle color irregularity, Connon says that Zellige tile surfaces are irregular too, not perfectly smooth like ceramic tile. “The shine in Zellige tiles show off the irregular surface, which adds to the natural overall look.”

Connon has a few thoughts on what one should—and shouldn’t—do with the application of Zellige tiles. “My favorite application is for a shower wall or large backsplash, maybe including the range wall, because it gives enough room and greater number of tiles to show off their color variation and their hand-crafted nature,” she advises. 

But due to their irregularity and glaze finish, she doesn’t recommend them for floors or countertops. Minor Zellige tile-related injuries have been reported on Instagram, like nicks and scrapes when they’ve been brushed against, so walking on them is not recommended. Connon recommends making sure your installer has specific experience with Zellige tiles. All their irregularities require someone who can make sure they are leveled on the face of installation to avoid sharp edges and looking sloppy. 

Courtesy of Ann Gottlieb
Courtesy of Ann Gottlieb
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