Tin tiles on ceilings surged in popularity at the turn of the 20th century, as developers with Victorian tastes sought a cost-effective alternative to the artisanal plaster finishes that were in vogue at the time. Tin ceilings were also promoted as an additional fire protection for homes since cooking, lighting and heating were still largely done by fire.
Today, tin tiles are considered an asset worth preserving in turn-of-the-last-century homes, and many historical patterns popular at the time are being reproduced in a wide variety of materials and applications. Here are six ideas to get you started.
We’ll start with the most conventional use for tin tiles: as a ceiling decoration. This wine cellar features Queen Anne-style tiles, one of the most popular historical patterns. In this space, notice how the medallion pattern in the ceiling tiles reflects the forms on the mosaic floor. As elaborate as the embossed metal tiles are, since they’re monochromatic, they can be combined with a tile floor without overwhelming the space.
The accent wall in this San Francisco bedroom features a Queen Anne pattern by American Tin Ceilings. Made in the traditional way with 0.010-gauge tin-plated steel for authenticity, these tiles can be powder-coated for a durable and custom finish. Hand-painting your tin tiles is an option too; you’ll often find in historic preservation projects that so much paint has been layered on over time, the embossing has gotten lost entirely.
The tin-tile backdrop to these glowing “Love” letters spiffs up this dining room and gives it that designer edge. The pattern, with its stylized geometrics, is Art Deco-influenced and would be right at home in a 1920s or ’30s cottage.
A stylish backsplash made of tin tiles is at once a fresh re-imagining of a historical material and an updated alternative to more conventional tile designs. It’s wise to choose a product made of stainless steel to prevent rust, and the best news is that it’ll coordinate equally well with your stainless steel appliances or upgraded vintage-inspired appliances like this cornflower-blue range from Lacanche.
Pulling reclaimed tin tiles into your kitchen remodel is a satisfying way to breathe a little history into your project, or to add a bit of character if your space is more cookie cutter than couture. Designer Amy Clark updated this farmhouse kitchen island with tin tiles salvaged from a local brewery.
If you were fooled into thinking this wallpaper was the real deal, you wouldn’t be the only one. While not actually salvaged metal tiles, this Brooklyn Tiles paper from Holly’s House still manages to spark the imagination with its faded grandeur and visual salute to America’s factories and warehouses of yore. It wows when paired with brick.