By Jess McBride, Houzz with additional reporting by Sabrina Sucato
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. While tin tiles certainly have the potential to make a statement, they can be toned down by selecting neutral colors and monochromatic arrangements. As elaborate as the embossed metal tiles are, since they’re monochromatic, they can be combined with a tile floor without overwhelming the space. For a more striking look, consider a darker color or alternating designs instead.
If you’re looking to create an accent wall in a bedroom or office, consider tin tiles in a Queen Anne pattern. 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.
Because they’re so detailed, tin tiles often work perfectly as backdrops for art or arrangements in a home. Whether in a backsplash or an accent wall, tin tiles can provide an extra dimension for a sculptural showpiece in any room.
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, such as a custom oven in a striking hue.
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. Head to one of the Hudson Valley’s antique shops or home stores to scout out unique tiles, then return home to integrate them into everything from a kitchen island to a fun backsplash.
Not ready to fully commit to tin tiles in your home? Consider wallpaper instead. Wallpaper has made a comeback in recent years, and some varieties even feature prints that look remarkably like tin tiles. Plus, if you live with the wallpaper for a while and find you enjoy the style, there’s always the opportunity to add the real deal to your home down the road.