Crazed tile backsplash too fakey or cutesy for old house kitchen?

needinfo1June 26, 2013

I like crazed subway tile, but now I am wondering if it is perhaps inappropriate for use in my kitchen. I live in a 100 year old house (a mix between Prairie style and Craftsman feel). My kitchen has 1920s to 1930s original birch cabinetry along with custom replication cabinets to match these flat panel, recessed originals. Counters are soapstone and marble, and floors are maple. My kitchen definitely has the period feel I am striving for to go with my house, but it is not a reproduction of an early twentieth century kitchen. Rather it is an early twentieth century feel kitchen updated to reflect today's kitchen needs.

I think crazed tiles are intended to add kind of an antique look in their application--perhaps a contrast to the more current things. But, I wonder if using these would be too much in a situation like mine where I already have cabinets and light fixtures and counters that are period appropriate. Plus, I know the reality is that original subway tiles from 100 years ago would by now perhaps have a bit of crazing but not nearly the overall heavily cracked look that today's purposely crazed tiles have. Would I just be better off with a simple, plain (most likely off white) subway tile? I appreciate opinions. Thanks.

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Do you have a picture of the crazed tiles? I do like the idea they are 'crazed.'.

I want to build a new 'old' house, and houses from this period and style used a lot of color. The tiles I see in catalogs, magazines, or original tile from the time shows the field tile to be one color with maybe a different trim or border color. I would go with a solid field color either a subway or 4 1/2" square which was also very popular. Then add a different border color. I think that could give you the color you want while still fitting into your kitchen.

I want our home to feel like it has evolved over time because like you I do not want a '20s kitchen. I don't think people understand how hard that time was.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:32PM
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Holly- Kay

I think crazed tiles would be perfect for an old house feel. I have a newer home that was built in the late 80's to early 90's but I wanted my kitchen to have a classic look with a hint of antique and I am thinking a crazed subway tile to go with my apron front sink and antique look faucet.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 1:59PM
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Thanks for your thoughts. I guess I should have clarified that I am contemplating an off white rather than a color.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Ok I tried googling crazed tiles and I am not getting good results to actually see what they are.
Can you explain a bit more about how they look?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:41PM
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Ok I tried googling crazed tiles and I am not getting good results to actually see what they are.
Can you explain a bit more about how they look?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:42PM
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I think it would look adds a bit of interest and 'plain' subways may look to 'new.'

In my kitchen, the crazed part is actually a bit hard to see from a few feet away. Now if the light hits it just right, it adds a bit of surface texture to the tiles, and I really like it.

Here is a close up for you, ellendi.

Let us know what you decide and post some pictures, it sounds lovely!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 4:09PM
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I know what you mean about getting too fake-y or cutesy... my house is of a similar age and my architect has suggested a beadboard ceiling. I like beadboard and all but I worry about a whole ceiling of it getting too in your face with its cute vintage-y style.

On your issue, I think for me it might depend on how aggressive the crazing is and I'd like to see a pic too if you have one you were considering. I love the one bowyer123 posted and I think it could look great, especially with your original birch cabs.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 4:29PM
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Since I want a white or slightly off white, colors on the monitor do not show up too well. But, here is a link to something very close to what I am looking at. The photo there can be enlarged to show what I mean about the amount of overall crazing on the tile.

hvhay--We put a new screen porch on, and we installed a beadboard ceiling because that was period appropriate for porches of our vintage. I don't know though about for a kitchen. If you haven't yet done so, get some books like these for ideas.

The new bungalow kitchen / Peter LaBau

Bungalow kitchens / by Jane Powell

Classic kitchen style : the essential handbook for a timeless design / by Mervyn Kaufman

This Old House Easy Upgrades: Kitchens

Country Living 500 Kitchen Ideas: Style, Function & Charm

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 5:55PM
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Similar discussion a couple of years ago.

Here is a link that might be useful: crazed tiles -- yes or no?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 6:23PM
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Holly- Kay

Ellen, the crazing on the tile looks like the crazing that can take place in stoneware. I actually love the look on subway tiles. I think it is well suited to a traditional or classic look but not a contemporary look.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 6:51PM
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When you go over these tiles, can you actually feel the cracks or does it just look like fine cracks?
While I like the look, I agree with you that even 100 year old subway tile would only have very few cracks, so I'd probably stay with plain subway tiles. It may be overkill to have such heavily distressed tiles.

This post was edited by nosoccermom on Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 9:47

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 7:36PM
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I used crackle tile (Walker Zanger Gramercy Park in Bone China) in my kitchen renovation. Old house, with original gumwood cabinets. Danby counters. These tiles have the fine crackle lines but it is subtle.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 8:53PM
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I would go with the plain subway. I use Paris' metro everyday and have yet to see a cracked tile along the thousands square meters of 100 y/o subway tile. If subway tile is too plain for you maybe you could try enameled brick, zellige or handcrafted tiles with subtle glaze variations.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:22PM
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It looks like my Grazia Rixi crackle subway tiles. So, is this just another name for crackle?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:37PM
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Sayde I have looked at your kitchen from past threads and of course it is one of my very favorites. I actually thought of it when I first read this thread.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:18PM
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I love crazing, whether it be on pottery or tile. I don't think of it as fake aging, although it can result over time. It is a glazing defect where the glaze does not fit the clay body correctly, so crazing occurs, often I think most of that happens during the cooling process after it comes out of the kiln. Some potters do it intentionally, even though it is a defect. It's pretty when smoked too. I think it's interesting, beautiful and prefer it when buying old pieces, for that ambience. But still don't equate it with faux antiquing on tile or stoneware, even though it can make a piece look older. I guess I've seen too much stoneware done purposefully this way, that is not trying to look old.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Hey, sometimes my skin looks like that. Drives me craze-y.

I think it would look fine. It's doesn't read "antique-d" to me, just a different visual aesthetic. I think crazed tile would be fine with a house of that age, and might even have been chosen orginally, on purpose.



    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:07AM
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I usually do not like the 'old world' forced 'age'. The glazed cabinets, rubbed and glazed painted walls to look ye-olde. Especially in new construction.

Sayde's kitchen? Gorgeous. Cohesive, beautiful choices. Not at all forced fake.
Stunning cabinets. What a nice grout color. No 'kountry kute' decoration, feature tile thing behind and above stovetop. Just kind of perfect, is't it?

Many different qualities in subway tile. I have some samples somewhere from a past project. One of the super cheap ones had a slightly varied surface that was lovely. Another one looked like plastic and had a blue tint to it. Just get some samples and mock up a small section. Test your grout choice. See how it looks in natural light. And make sure all your boxes have the same batch #. Some crackle looks strange, some glazes are almost transparent. If one choice seems 'crafty' to you, try another.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 6:17AM
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Crackle tile is an old-house look that can span anything between 1890 to 1946. It isn't appropriate for modern but I don't see anything fakey or cutesy about it unless it's pink with cherubs and garlands.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:06AM
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Hope it's not too cute! I'm using crackle tiles (Winchester, 5x5) in an 1880s house. No cherubs, but there will be a few polychrome delft tiles scattered. Because the Winchester tiles were a great Craigslist deal, I was able to stress about other details and not worry about crackle.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Thanks all. I think all of you you may have convinced me to stay with my gut level choice of the the crazed.

Sayde--Love your kitchen, and thanks so much for the photo because I have been struggling with the color of the tile to go with the marble. Yours looks lovely.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Thank you for the kind comments! The color of the tile was actually a concern when I first chose them -- the alternative would have been the Heirloom white -- a true white-- a better match for the marble but just too cold and bright. The softer bone seems to work better and also picks up the floor color. Now it all seems to work. As we have all seen, many materials that start out white sometimes change color over time. The bone color looks like it might have started out white and warmed/softened over time. I didn't anticipate this, but I think it contributes to why the brand new tile works with the old wood and the overall feel of the kitchen, even though the marble is bright white.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:02AM
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I picked out a very light colored crazed tile for my back splash BUT I found that the shadows cast by the uppers and the window sill made it look dirty. So I had to give up that idea.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 1:47PM
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