Riad Co-Owner Dives into Zellige’s Timeless Appeal in Southern Living

Zellige tile has a timeless look and trendy appeal that will likely stick around for a long time. 

Zellige’s tile’s stylish staying power was the primary topic of discussion in a recent Southern Living article featuring Riad Tile co-owner and Gilded Heights interior designer Aubrey Butcher.

“I really don’t see it as material going away any time soon,” Butcher said. “Most of that is due to how flexible it is, with its look and aesthetic, and also how versatile it is with applications as well.” 

Let’s delve deeper and learn why Zellige tile is here to stay. 

Zellige’s Handcrafted, Old-World History 

Modern-day artisans follow traditions that span thousands of years when they handcraft Zellige tile. The low-fired terracotta comes from natural, refined clay in Morocco’s Fez region. Craftspeople make Zellige by hand, one tile at a time. 

The ancient glazing and firing processes often render slight size and color variations, small chips, and other imperfections. So, no two tiles are ever alike. These distinctions highlight Zellige’s enduring old-world charm.  


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Riad Tile (@riadtile)

The exquisite arched entrance and tiled ceiling by @enchantedberkeley in this shower feature Riad Tile’s Natural White 2″x6″ Zellige, offering a stunning age-old example.

Tile that Transcends Time 

Zellige adorned walls, floors and benches centuries ago in Morocco and nearby countries. Today, designers still use the time-transcending tile in various applications.

“It’s a really classic, handcrafted look that has a timeless quality to it,” Butcher said. “We started importing it, and as a designer, I find it to be so multifaceted. There [are] so many different ways that you can use it for different looks that can go from really classic to really striking.” 

With so many assorted colors, shapes and sizes, Zellige makes any space pop. It also holds up well in high-impact and wet areas like bathrooms, showers and around a pool. This flexible durability also ensures the tile’s longevity. 

Not Your Average Tile 

Zellige is not your average, modern-day mass-produced tile. The imperfections from Zellige’s production process elevate a space and give it a one-of-a-kind look and dynamic texture.  

For instance, using Zellige instead of traditional subway tile gives a kitchen backsplash or shower wall a distinctive character. (Side note: Zellige may not make a good flooring choice due to its uneven surface. Floors with raised or uneven areas pose a safety issue.)

Butcher noted Zellige’s unique, handcrafted appeal, saying, “It reflects light in a really beautiful way and depending on the color, it could have a lot of variation. The look is just so unique, so beautiful, and definitely more elevated than something monolithic like a subway tile.” 

These features help Zellige tile lock in its status as a sought-after, standout design element. 

Defy Design Convention 

The two most popular Zellige shape and size picks are 6″x4″ rectangles and 2″x2″ squares, according to Butcher. While traditional shapes look lovely, making bold color, shape and alignment choices creates unique, eye-catching spaces. 

For example, Butcher uses Riad’s rectangular Forest Green Zellige tiles as vertically aligned fireplace tiles to create a stunning focal point. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Riad Tile (@riadtile)

Mediterranean Blue and Sea Green are also beautiful, vibrant Zellige shades. The latter adds a breath of fresh air to this kitchen backsplash by @kristiekoningdesign

To add even more character to a space, combine multiple colors, use a fun shape such as a hexagon or create an intricate pattern like checkerboard or herringbone. Zellige’s design possibilities are endless. 

Zellige Adds Art to a Space 

Interior design blends different elements to bring a creative vision for a space to life. Each surface crack, chip, pit, or color variation on handmade Zellige tiles makes them individually unique. They will add a stunning work of art to your space.  

Many design fads fade over time. Thankfully, Zellige tiles likely won’t go anywhere anytime soon.