Julia Kendell: rug-effect tiles and kitchen improvement tips

We take a moment with TV's Julia Kendell to talk all things tiles, including using colour and what's best for bathrooms

Julia Kendell dark and grey rug-effect tiles

Photos © Ted Versatile

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Interiors specialist Julia Kendell was working in the industry before the millennium and, with over 1o years of TV gigs for the likes of DIY SOS and 60 Minute Makeover, she’s quite the design expert.

First, working in her school years at a soft-furnishings shop, followed by several home design companies, and finally a home interiors and architecture firm, Julia spent over a decade teaching herself the trade. She eventually launched her own practice in Henley on Thames and, around the same time, welcomed two little girls. Now, Julia juggles TV and radio alongside her website and private clients.

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What would you say are the current trends with tiles?

There are several strong trends in tiles, my favourite is the new dark and dramatic look using glossy blacks and metallics to create a ‘rock and roll’ look with real punch! The industrial trend incorporating patinated metal finishes, natural timber and pared-back finishes has been around for a while but is still very popular and this year has seen a ‘softening’ of the look with the addition of luxurious finishes and velvety textures. For the past few years, the surface material of choice at the top end of the market has been marble and the latest HD printing techniques have produced ceramic tile equivalents that you’d be hard-pushed to tell from the real thing – at a fraction of the cost and with less maintenance issues.

What style of tiles work best for kitchens?

I’m a great believer in using whatever excites you as most materials will work successfully if considered carefully. Generally speaking, smaller format tiles are easier to install, though I recommend dark grout to avoid staining of white/light grout in cooking areas. Metro/subway tiles always provide a crisp, modern look and metallics will up the ‘luxe’ stakes.

What works best in bathrooms?

Bathrooms generally benefit from larger format tiles for easy maintenance. Choose glossy tiles if you’re trying to increase light levels in the room and matt finish for a ‘softer’, less clinical appearance. Don’t be afraid to use dark tiles for a fabulous cocooning and dramatic look.

Julia Kendell shades of grey hexagon floor tiles
Julia Kendell’s Shades Of Grey hexagon floor tiles, photo © Ted Versatile

What’s the best way to incorporate colour and pattern with tiles?

There’s a strong move towards patterned tiled floors to finally bring a neglected surface onto the scene! Insert blocks of patterned tiles within a plain surround to create a ‘rug’ effect if an entire patterned floor seems overpowering. When introducing colour, remember that your eye will be drawn to the most saturated colours within a room so be careful to add colour to areas you wish to highlight, avoiding strong colour in those ‘less appealing’ areas.

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What are the benefits of using tiles over other materials when it comes to walls and flooring?

As well as their hard-wearing attributes, tiles have a superior depth of colour and finish compared to any other material. Tiles become part of the fabric of the building which in turn makes an architectural statement that wallpaper and carpet finishes can never achieve.