Make your garden feel like another room in your house using patterned tiles to add decorative interest and style
Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More
Patterned tiles tend to be a decorative detail we might consider for an interior space – a feature floor, a tabletop or a dramatic shower or splashback. But, increasingly, we’re seeing Houzzers take this look outside, as our gardens, courtyards, patios and balconies become extensions of our homes – another room, effectively.
Look into colours with care, as some will not be UV-resistant, meaning they’ll fade in the sun, and some tiles simply won’t be suitable for outside (especially shiny ones, as they pose a slip hazard when wet). Concrete tiles can be a great option, as they’re matt, but be aware they will typically require sealing and possibly quite a bit more preparation and protection, depending on the condition in which you buy them.
Interesting fact: true encaustic tiles – like the ones you see in preserved Victorian house hallways, where the design is burnt rather than pressed into the tile – are ceramic and, as history has shown, supremely hard-wearing.
This compact garden measures 8 x 5m and the homeowners, when presented with the designer’s ideas, initially worried that these patterned concrete tiles, along with all the other elements packed into this space, would risk making the garden feel cluttered…
…but not at all – as you can see when we pan back a little. One key factor for success here is the limited, mainly monochrome palette – the black limestone path, black outdoor kitchen and grey gravel all tie into the design, giving the garden a cohesive and uncluttered look.
If you’re choosing concrete or encaustic tiles, they’ll need attention to protect them as they stain very easily without it. Do also bear in mind that even with protection, very pale tiles of this type in an outdoor situation will really show up all the dirt they’ll inevitably come into contact with. Don’t let that deter you, but – for example – you might want to plan for your potting bench to be at the other end of the garden, or you’ll feel as if you’re constantly battling mud with your hose and broom.
Transform a roof space
Few of us will have the roof of a whole barge to transform into a terrace, but the idea shows how well any raised, non-grassy surface can be transformed into a chic lounging spot – chiefly by the use of patterned tiles.
The terrace is laid with reclaimed Italian and Spanish encaustic cement tiles with a natural faded colour, giving a totally different look to the stronger design in the previous garden.
If patterned tiles feel like a big departure from your usual style, and you veer towards neutrals indoors, then soft, pale colours like these are a good balance between something that’s edgy yet won’t look incongruous.
Nose around the rest of this beautiful boat
Blend with your inteior
This Beirut-inspired home, designed for its Lebanese owners, gives a fresh, modern twist to traditional Middle Eastern style. The handmade Moroccan tiles here are the same as the ones used in the kitchen, which is the room just behind the window.
Continuing the intense pattern halfway up the wall at one end stretches the very narrow, sunken patio. It’s a design tip worth remembering if you’re working within a very compact area – there’s no need to avoid pattern, but there are design rules that will help you to add it with space-boosting panache.
See the rest of this unusual house (and discover its surprise Hollywood connection)
Zone your dining spot
Much as indoors you might use a rug to delineate a dining space, outdoors you could use vibrant tiles to the same end.
Here, a rich blue and white pattern has been laid in exactly the right size and shape for the dining table (if it were a rug, you’d want to be able to pull out your chairs without them sliding off the edges). Blue, though not a colour that occurs frequently in nature, works well in leafy gardens, as blue and green are such happy partners.
If you dream of tiles and a new patio, but currently have a decked area that’s staying put for the foreseeable, how about this for an idea? Rather than the annual outing for the pressure washer and decking oil, how about prepping your wooden patio for a few coats of paint instead?
To get such an ordered design as this, you’ll benefit from a stencil (and a steady hand). Search ‘how to stencil decking’ online and get some tips for technique. Because of the grooves in decking, be prepared for the job to be a little more labour-intensive than painting a flat surface – but you only have to look at this pleasing seating area for motivation.
Make small beautiful
Once again, it’s back to tackling a small space and the fear that pattern – or, indeed, any busy decorative details – could create a cluttered look.
Here’s another, very different, example of how that doesn’t need to be the case. Again, there’s a simple palette, but this time it’s based around a classic chequerboard design. This is such a familiar piece of antique detailing – typically seen running up the front gardens of well-preserved Victorian terraced houses – and, here, it lends period gravitas to this cute courtyard.
Antiqued planters and old metal dining furniture enhance this aesthetic beautifully, whereas the modern geometric tiles in the first garden in this story work really well with boxy, contemporary pieces. So think about the overall style you’re going for before committing to new flooring.
Pick a patch
Patterned tiling doesn’t need to be an all-over feature. Here again, in this Moroccan-themed garden, a section has been pulled out to create a focal point. In this example, rather than zoning a dining area, it’s used to contain a seating spot.
Consider the material you’ll surround your patterned feature with. Here, in keeping with the theme, it’s decorative terracotta, with elaborate edges that echo the coloured section of the flooring. But you could surround tiles with grass – artificial or otherwise – decking or gravel.
If you can mock up some combinations using screenshots of your prospective materials, you’ll get a better idea of which will look best together. Alternatively, scroll to the end of our previously published story on getting the most from Houzz to discover how you can make a moodboard from products available in the Houzz Shop.
Are you tempted to go over to the patterned side for an upcoming outdoor space revamp? Tell us or show us your ideas in the Comments section.