From residential to commercial design, stone and tile remain a top contender when it comes to material choice. No matter the desired style, whether it be traditional, avant-garde or shabby chic, there are a plethora of stone and tile options on the market today to meet any sought-after look. While white, gray and beige have not faded in popularity, industry professionals are predicting that more saturated colors and bold patterns will come into play, as well as fun shapes and larger formats. And while porcelain and other alternative stone materials seem to be at the forefront of many designs today, it is believed that natural stone still ranks high – especially for exterior uses such as the facades of homes and buildings, pool patios, retaining walls and for any applications needing to exude texture or to make a bold statement.
“Move over neutral ceramic and stone,” said Kristina Panzera, senior buyer of Ciot. “The year ahead will see trendy homes outfitted with tiles and slabs that feature bold colors, luxurious patterns, surprising textures, unique shapes, metallic and lacquered finishes, richer veining and floor-to-ceiling wrapping.
“No longer are ceramic and stone products solely about functionality and durability, but rather, they have become fashion statements in themselves, elevating any decor with unprecedented character and elegance,” Panzera went on to say, adding that today’s products deliver a mix of natural elements with ultra-stylish looks — a combination consumers are after. “The result is nothing short of a masterpiece, creating an artful, one-of-a-kind look in any room that will stand the test of time.”
Panzera confirms that color, texture, pattern and size are all the rage when it comes to tile selections. “From pale pinks and minty greens, to punches of indigo blue, forest green, burgundy and black, 2020 will be all about color,” she said. “Stronger tones add character to any room while warmer pastels remain popular for a more neutral, muted decor.”
Ciot is also seeing that imitation cement tiles boasting colorful patterns are growing a fan base for their ability to add visual interest in the home. At the same time, more conservative tone-on-tone textures will increasingly be popular for floor tiles — used to uplift a decor without weighing it down. Bright, glossy tiles resembling a lacquered finish in which you can “feel” the brush strokes are also taking center stage, according to Panzera.
Erika Egede-Nissen, director of marketing at Walker Zanger, agrees with Panzera’s observations. “We’re seeing a few different color trends for both stone and tile products,” she said. “Warm pastels are a celebration of blue, green, pink and gray through a warmer lens. Colors found in nature and found in a late summer sunset, as well as organic tones that are inspired by nature and a societal calling for warm relaxing spaces [are also popular]. You can expect to see warmer whites, soft beige and even tan make their way back into mainstream design. And you will also see a punch of color — that moment of celebration and spark of joy that brings energy to our space. There’s an unexpected moment of happiness we receive from color. Clients are looking to create an area that brings them a spark of happiness. This could be a powder room, child’s bath, wet bar, or statement wall of stone or tile.”
Why are these color choices on the rise? “In terms of color, the warm pastels and organic tones celebrate the colors found in nature and allow for a calm approach to design,” explained Egede-Nissen. “They create moments of rest and allow for retreat. We are seeing tranquil trends across interior and exterior spaces. Society is looking to celebrate comfort and welcome a reprieve from screens and our busy lives with warm and organic tones.”
Both Egede-Nissen and Panzera believe the use of geometric shapes in designs are on the rise. “Triangles, squares, large rectangles, and no doubt about it, square tiles are back,” said Egede-Nissen.
“Compelling shapes — from fish scales to diamonds and hexagons — are gaining traction as a fun free-spirited way to elevate a room,” said Panzera. “Computer-generated 3D effects will also create complex tile designs that play with light and shadows for futuristic decor palettes.”
Panzera also cites that metal finishes will be increasingly stylish, with natural gold, copper and brass highlights creating one-of-a-kind shiny, reflective surfaces that glisten in natural light. “Primarily used as wall coverings, deep metallic finishes exude a raw organic feel,” she said. “Underfoot, neutral-toned metal finishes for floors will continue trending.”
Moreover, Panzera sees distressed looks being big in today’s designs. “What’s old is new again as distressed looks continue to hold appeal for both floors and walls, imitating the look of old marble floors worn by years of foot traffic, and creating an air of old-warm charm and craftsmanship,” she said.
As for sizes, it is evident that larger formats are growing in popularity. “Although the consumer was slow to pick up on it, we are currently seeing more movement toward large-format tiles because people are becoming more comfortable working with it,” said Katie Micheal-Battaglia, design director for Nemo+Tile. “It’s still taking time for the consumer to adjust to it, but now that there are a variety of large-format sizes and thicknesses available, which work for an array of surface types from countertop to tabletop, consumers are reacting positively to its versatility. The large-format tiles are able to create a more cohesive ‘one material’ look, similar to the look of using a slab, which is appealing. Something consumers are remiss to think about with larger format tiles are the delivery logistics. Does it fit in the elevator? Is there a place to store it if needed?”
“When it comes to tiles in 2020, bigger is better,” said Panzera. “The new standard is 24 by 24 inches, with large rectangular tiles – measuring 24 by 48 inches – gaining traction for upscale looks,” she said. “Longer wider planks will steal the spotlight for flooring, and used on walls, they create a sleek modern vibe.”
And what are some driving factors behind the continued growth of larger tile formats? “With regards to large-format tiles, they’ve become popular because of new capabilities through technology and the minimal amount of grout needed for installation,” said Micheal-Battaglia. “The more grout required, the more maintenance required. With large-format tiles you are not only minimizing the time spent on upkeep, but you’re also increasing the surface’s longevity.”
Warm whites are no longer monotone and flat, but rather, contain lively textures in hints of gray or gold, when it comes to natural stone, according to Panzera. “Rosé, burgundy, jade green and icy blue return in 2020 as light and colorful choices suitable for all rooms. Black will also increasingly be in vogue, particularly with white and gold veining that is mysterious, deep and ultra-chic.”
Panzera points out that Ciot’s customers are also seeking classic white marble with light gray veining, stronger marble colors with active veins of wine red, emerald green and bright blue are starting to steal the show. “Rather than hanging expensive artwork, these surfaces are works of art themselves,” said Panzera, adding that the outdoors continues to move indoors in 2020, with the rise of honed surfaces and finishes that resemble raw materials and radiate the richness of nature. Additionally, leathered marble, terrazzo and concrete looks are becoming increasingly popular for their moody gray vibe.
According to Micheal-Battaglia, mosaics have made a comeback. “For stone, we’ve seen a lot more mosaics,” she said. “People also want to see the single and multi-colored marble, more reds and greens — colors you would see in a European cathedral.”
According to Egede-Nissen, Walker Zanger is not seeing a decline in natural stone slabs. “We are, however, seeing more and more requests for premium marble and quartzite,” she said. “Clients want the perfect veining and slab. We are seeing green and pink marble and quartzite make a move back into design. Dark soapstone is also a popular request.
“Care seems to be the top concern,” Egede-Nissen went on to say. “Polished and honed and glass surfaces are perfect for our busy homes and hospitality environments. Quartzite is a natural stone that more and more folks are paying attention to. It is virtually indestructible, colors like Perla Venata, Taj Mahal and White Mountain.”
“Interestingly, I think that with stone and marble looks, the material tends to look best with a glossy polished finish,” said Micheal-Battaglia. “However, these finishes don’t pass the slippery system testing when applied to the floor, especially in a commercial application. That’s why it’s important to offer products that are available in multiple finishes. We’ve also found that offering multiple finishes has been in the interest of consumers who wish to mix and match finishes — creating variation within a surface, as well as depth and visual interest. Additionally, we’re seeing people play with finishes more, including moving toward tiles with a lappato or semi-polished finish, which provides a smooth, yet glossy finish.
“For surfaces, [the finish] depends on what sector we’re referring to,” Micheal-Battaglia continued. “Sometimes, with wall tiles, people want to have more fun with their selections and leave the floor as a simple neutral palette. Other times, people wish to have more fun with the flooring and go for porcelain collections with muted washed-out neutral color, but features bold geometric patterns. I wouldn’t say one surface application is more popular than the other overall however. You can compare it to getting photos printed, do you want to have a gloss finish or a matte finish? It all comes down to point of view and what you prefer, but we are currently seeing polished finishes being favored on marble-look porcelains.”
So where are stone and tile products being applied most these days? “Elegant and sophisticated stone slabs will envelope entire rooms as consumers experiment with all surfaces for an inviting one-of-a-kind décor,” said Panzera. “From floor-to-ceiling stone slabs on walls, to kitchen islands, to stairways and floors, stone delivers a striking, cocooning ambience.”
“In the west, south and southeast, we are continuing to see a desire for products that can be used inside and out,” said Egede-Nissen. “Designers are creating spaces that are cohesive and want stone and tile that can safely function in all areas.”
“I see uses for tile and stone in just about anything,” said Micheal-Battaglia. “We see tile in smaller formats used more creatively, like on the front of desks for a textural detail or on a fireplace or feature wall. One popular misconception with tile is that it has to be installed in a wet area. This is not the case, especially with the availability of a vast amount of colors, shapes, sizes and dimensions. Tile is versatile and can be applied in a variety of settings, whether that be hospitality or in a residence.
“In terms of large format and panels, I think that buildings or landmarks designed by architects will still include natural stone because it has more variation, richness and no two pieces are ever alike,” continued Micheal-Battaglia. “More and more people are becoming more daring in their stone choices, opting to add more attitude and drama through their patterns and finishes. This is especially true in the hospitality sphere, where designers will use rare or unique stone to make statement pieces, such as feature walls or reception desks.”