Looking for a Sign to Embrace Your Vintage Tile? Here Are Three

published Jan 11, 2023
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Rachel Ramsower Austin House Tour
Credit: Emily Meyer

Most people can agree that certain original details in homes are major selling points: hardwood floors in great condition, plenty of well-maintained windows, and working fireplaces. Other features can be more polarizing. Some prefer closed floorplans, while others choose to tear down as many walls as possible; some love wood paneling while others opt for plain drywall instead. Vintage tile, though? That can be considered trash or treasure, depending on who you’re talking to. Now, I can absolutely understand disliking one’s tile. In a previous apartment bath of mine, every inch of the bathroom was covered in garish yellow and brown tile, and when combined with an outdated sliding shower door and builder-grade finishes, let’s just say the space was a sore sight.

That said, tile is expensive, and so is a kitchen or bathroom remodel, assuming you own your home and can demo and redesign in the first place. What’s more, tile that’s original to an older home has likely withstood decades of use because it’s high-quality and arguably was installed with more care than homes are often given today. Not to mention, plenty of people absolutely adore retro tile work, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility for it to grow on you, too. So if you can find a way to live with the potentially outdated tile in your home, I’m all for it. There are some other not so obvious advantages to older tile, too.

Credit: Emily Meyer

Take Rachel Ramsower and her Austin, Texas-based rental, for example. When I came across a home with a pink kitchen, a ’70s tiled bathroom, and old character, I knew we had to move in,” she says. “I’ve always had a love for older homes that have their fair share of quirky elements, and that was what immediately drew me to our now home. My boyfriend, Ethan, could tell you he is more of a modern guy, but to my surprise, he fell in love with our little vintage space!”

As shown above, the home features a patchwork rainbow of pastel tiles in the bathroom, which makes it a vibrant, unique space that’s certainly a conversation starter for guests. Others might balk at the retro randomness of the pattern, but there’s a silver lining here. If one tile cracks or needs replacing, finding a vintage tile that’ll work with this color scheme and arrangement won’t be nearly as tough as needing a perfect shade match.

Credit: Emily Meyer

The kitchen, which sports a pastel pink counter and backsplash, is actually Ramsower’s favorite part of the home. “I mean, how cute is the pink kitchen!” she says. “This tiny ’70s kitchen is without a doubt my favorite element of our home. A huge bonus is just how perfect my vintage blue bar cart looks in there.” One more perk: You can lean into vintage furnishings to play up your retro tile as Ramsower did, which will make your home feel more personal and storied. So perhaps the next time you’re wavering on whether you can’t stand the tile original to your home or not, take a page out of Ramsower’s book and just try embracing it for what it is. You’ll save time, money, and effort in the process, and you may just learn to love ‘em.