Pebble Tiles As A Modern Design Element

Pebble tiles are an exotic, handmade mosaic that is a newer architectural element in today’s design world.  Ironically, when you look into their origin this material is anything but new. They actually pre dates Roman times, so maybe like a lot of trends this one has finally come around again.  There have been improvements because back in the day they just hand placed each little stone into the mortar/mud bed (and in Mexico they still do it this way).  This was done with varying degrees of artistry and refinement and was a very laborious method because to create a floor required many steps and could only be done in small sections. These days thanks to some very clever and artistic Balinese, the hard work and artistic placement of the stones is done well before the material ever gets to the floor. And for those who love beautiful rustic yet modern flair in their tile selections, this makes the modern pebble tile a superb option.

When it comes to the styles of pebble mosaic tile there are some exceptional color pallets to choose from which pair easily with many other tiles and colors. Thanks to their 18,000 plus islands, Indonesia has some very unique pebbles colors and sizes to source for pebble mosaic tiles. The stone are mined from ancient river beds found in volcanic mountain sides and then sorted for color and then thickness. Having stones with consistent gauge (uniform thickness from center to the sides) is really the key component to the stones being comfortable underfoot and a big difference in quality. This along with color consistency is really the most important consideration for measuring the quality of pebble tiles. The next step is the stones are separated by their overall diameter or circumference.  Then once a good quantity of stones that pair well together is gathered, the Balinese artist hand place and glue the river rocks unto an interlocking pattern with a mesh weave as the backing.

  The final result is a very symmetrical tile with consistent color and stone size that installs very easily as a tile and forms a seamless field of exotic pebbles.

The questions for most homeowners is whether anything as foreign and exotic as pebble tiles will make sense in your home? Of course, there is some subjectivity to how you answer this based on style and preference but this style of natural stone mosaic is a very timeless and versatile element. Today, most homes you come across were built in the last 75 years and often do not incorporate any new materials which presents a great opportunity. You are much more likely to find natural solid hardwoods, basic ceramics, and maybe some terrazzo and laminates. But, these finishes often make the homes seem dated. Newer construction homes will up the ante with some 12x24 porcelains and glass subways or mosaics but very few have incorporated anything like a pebble tile mosaic or other interesting architectural elements.  So whether the home is new or old, the ability to incorporate today’s freshest new materials and design concepts open up the option to make even the oldest of homes timeless and current. Some of today’s most appealing spaces incorporate the best of both the classic older style materials and modern finishes for a bright and eclectic feel. In fact a recent remodel we worked on used beautiful 36x36 terrazzo panels, brightglass subways and pebble tiles.

Often when you are browsing the pages of Houzz saving photos to your collection or are on Pinterest collecting pins for your boards, it is interesting to see how vary different interior design looks today from what a lot of us were brought up in. Clean, spacious uncluttered rooms abound and are finished stylishly but not too ornately.  Earth tones ground the choices with just subtle splashes of brilliance in some finishes so as to leave the interior design feeling very light and soothing.  And as often been the case in interior design is the use of natural materials. Fortunately, even without extensive architectural changes or demolition, capturing the appeal of the images we love on Houzz can be easily achieved by simply updating interior finishes. This can be a staggered process or a transitional home that has new elements pulling the home into the 21st century and giving it a more current appeal.  Starting with a powder bath, updating a backsplash, guest bath or master bathrooms all present the opportunity to transform the look and feel of your home.

So as you are contemplating the redesign of your master bathrooms, you will likely find a vast array of finishes and design ideas that appeal to you. You will likely find creative uses of pebble tile and large format porcelains adorning the pages of many design sights like ours and Houzz and see the inspiration of collaborating the rustic modern charm of pebble tiles. And that makes perfect sense if you want to have a new fresh look and still retain an element of timelessness in your design. This does not mean there isn’t still a place for the avocado colored fridge and matching bath because they represent a real turning point in design. But just as the 60’s interior design was known for a bit of the dramatic so will our era be known for being more conscious of space, utilizing natural elements and for being bold but understated.

This perspective is from someone who deals with the trade professionals like interior designers and architects and who has also incorporated some of these same philosophies into my own personal interior design. For me, adding the warmth of earth-tones via a natural handmade mosaic gives a space a slower cadence and makes it more connected to the earth.  I also like that the material is hand made by Balinese artisans in an exotic island where spiritual connection and gratitude for natural occurring beauty is a central part of their existence.  I also think that being selective in regards to quality is critical. Your home is usually one of your biggest assets and is the start and end of your day. It is always a good idea to consider any upgrades as an investment and plan and choose accordingly. If you are looking for pebble tiles as a part of that remodel I have great confidence in Beyond Tile’s materials and personally know that the manufacturer and his charming local artisan have the best pebbles and tiles in the industry.

Do you think pebble tiles makes sense in today's design? What styles do you think are perfect for them?Tell us what you think!

Chad Barker
Chad Barker


2 Responses

Marti Bowland
Marti Bowland

March 14, 2015

Thank you for your discussion about using pebble tiles in design other than traditional uses. I am thinking about what you said and how those pebbles could be brought into our kitchen remodel – back splash of our service counter, and under the wood stove? Montana has granite in our landscape and rivers similar to Indonesias. I see how using your pebble tiles outside of the bath could bring Montana indoors to our public spaces. Thank you


March 06, 2015

I ordered mixed color pebbles for the shower floor for my master bath remodel project. They are exactly what I was looking for and arrived quickly! They look beautiful, perfectly compliment the other stone elements in my open shower and are a great value.

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