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Tile, it’s time for your close-up

This undated photo show’s Refin’s Voyager ceramic tile collection, inspired by the aged and rusted metal bridges of Genoa and the architectural elements of Victorian buildings. (Reflin via AP)

This undated photo show’s Refin’s Voyager ceramic tile collection, inspired by the aged and rusted metal bridges of Genoa and the architectural elements of Victorian buildings. (Reflin via AP)

One of the oldest materials in home design is now trending like a hot newcomer.

Shelter magazines, design blogs and home renovation stores are featuring tile for surfacing floors and more: Designers are opting for a high-impact effect by cladding stair risers and entire rooms in tile, from interiors to the terrace.

On Instagram, an account called “I Have This Thing With Floors,” where people post pictures of their feet standing on cool floors, has over 840,000 followers.

The appeal stems from an explosion of creative designs and new manufacturing techniques, producing everything from charmingly imperfect artisanal tiles to sleek, sexy slabs. If you can dream it, you’re likely to find a tile that looks like it.

“I’m loving patterned tiles with hand-painted designs,” says Los Angeles designer Amy Sklar . “I’ve seen some really stunning ones that are truly like works of art.”

Sklar also likes ethnic patterns that have been given a modern interpretation: “A continuation of the lovely handcrafted trend we’ve been seeing, but realized with brighter colors. We’re also seeing florals but in a more abstract way, and again with a stronger palette.”

Joan Craig of Lichten Craig Architects in Manhattan has worked with some dramatic marble slabs recently.

“Over the past year, we’ve been selecting many of the vivid and highly figured Italian marbles for walls, floors and tubs,” she says, including “a gray and white marble called Capraia Arabescato with striking veining in the powder room, and a burgundy and cream marble in the bar.”

Italian company Sicis has a collection they call Electric Marble, in which veins of vivid color are sandwiched between panels of glass.

Mia Jung of the architecture and design firm Ike Kligerman Barkley has 3-D tiles on her radar.

“I see more and more collections from Japan, Italy and other countries. At the simplest level, they’re used to add some texture to plain walls,” she says. “A more elaborate arrangement of 3-D tiles can function as an architectural element like a wall-like screen between two rooms. One can even have an art piece constructed with 3-D tiles serving as a focal point of a space.”

“I think texture in ceramic tile right now is really exciting,” says Nigel Maynard, who tracks builder industry trends as editor in chief of Products magazine.

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