Choosing tiles is just plain hard. The options are seemingly infinite. I had a marathon tile shopping trip back in August, but I mostly just felt overwhelmed then. Yesterday I went out to look again at the two most promising places that I had been to the first time. I felt like I had a much better idea of what I was looking for, plus I was armed with the sample of the color of the bathroom cabinets, which helped a lot.
After the traumatic first shopping trip I had decided to go with a very neutral tile that would coordinate with the cabinets. I want the two together to form a frame for the color of the microcement walls (whatever color that ends up being), which will be the main visual feature of the room. I’m not going to have any tiles on the walls at all, and there won’t be any contrasting tiles or anything else fancy, so, while it is easier to shop for one kind of tile than three that are supposed to coordinate, I really, really have to get the basic floor tiles right. This is what I came home with:
You can see the paint chips (all the same color) between the tile samples. Top left is a sample of 5x5cm square tiles that would have been deeply discounted if I bought them yesterday, but that are still cheaper than the other two choices by quite a bit even at regular price. The 10cm hexagonal ones cost twice as much, for example. Bottom right is a sample of very similar but still different 5x5cm square tiles that price out right in the middle of the other two samples.
Not gonna lie, the square ones don’t really make my heart sing, and the much more expensive hexagonal tiles definitely do. There’s something I just love about the hexagons, though I can’t put my finger on it. When I called my son over to look at the choices, without hesitating he said he liked the hexagonal ones best, and when I pressed him for why, he just said they looked fancier. I like that they’re an enlarged version of the old one-inch hexagonal tiles that were in a lot of older apartments in Seattle where I went to graduate school. I also like that they have a relatively rough, skid-proof surface, and I like the variation in color and pattern. The hexagonal form also breaks with the strict grid of square tiles, which I’m heartily sick of, and this particular variety is slightly reminiscent of the very popular Carrara marble tiles without their expense, high maintenance and slipperiness.
I will pair these tiles with a very neutral grout that matches the base color of the tiles as closely as possible–a basic off white that will tie the tiles together rather than set them off individually (this blog has a well illustrated discussion of the difference grout color makes). I’m aiming for subtle variation rather than an Op-art effect.
I figured out something else I can cut out of the budget in order to be able to afford the hexagonal tiles, namely replacing the front door. That is something I can easily do at some point in the future, while the tiles are an integral part of the reno job and would be very difficult and expensive to replace at a a later date. So yeah, 10cm hexes it is!