Tiles galore at the Social Eating House

A couple of weekends ago we were off out in town celebrating quite a major milestone. The milestone isn’t important for this post, but I’d recommend a visit to Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House if you get a chance. The food - and the cocktails in the Blind Pig bar upstairs - were sublime. As a special treat, and because I suspected the restaurant that MOH had booked as a treat was a steakhouse, I didn’t even order steak, opting instead for the pork dish. Somehow I managed to choose the dishes, for each course, that came with sauce that needed pouring out as it was served, I think MOH was quite envious.

But this post isn’t about the food either. I mean, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t check out the loos, would it? And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t!

a high cistern and decorative edging tiles

I’m not sure what your reaction was to those tiles, but mine was definitely wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen, what I would usually class as edging or topping tiles used in this way, and boy was it effective. I’m not sure it’s a cost effective way of decorating your loo, and that was borne out by the plain, and more usual, tiles on the adjacent walls. But it’s certainly a way to make an impact.

plain and patterned tiles combined in the ladies at the Social Eating House in Soho

Although potentially not the most hardwearing of approaches. The chain seems to have caused some wear, and I can’t decide if that adds to or detracts from its charm.

patterned tiles with some wear by the chain pull

The colour of the tiles, both plain and patterned, meant it was a darker space than we’d have in our bathrooms at home. But while it was moody, it didn’t feel dark. The lights were pretty special too, they had to be really didn’t they?

dark tiles and a ribbed light

I hadn’t noticed the tiles around the sink to start with - I think I was still in awe at those edging tiles, and wondering why (apart from the price) that I’d not seen something like this before. Naturally you’d expect the splashback area by the sinks to echo the plainness of the other walls, but that’d be where you’d be wrong. As instead there was something different, but entirely in keeping, instead.

more ornate tiles above the basins

And just so you can see the whole effect, complete with dark wood, here’s a view from the basins.

A dark but definitely not gloomy ladies loo

And this was the top that when I put it on MOH asked why I was dressed so plainly. Charming hey? I think I’d go with understated, and classic. And it gave me the perfect opportunity to wear some nude heels, although they were later swapped for trainers on the way home.

PoCoLo

Geometric and encaustic tiles at Grand Designs Live

I’ve said before that Grand Designs Live, and in fact any show is a treat for the senses, and can provide complete overload as well as the inspiration you might be after. Or both. And sometimes, like anything, it takes a while for the brain to process it all. There’s so much to see, that it means very tired legs at the end of it after trying to see everything, and MOH will tell you I try my best to see just about everything.

At times though there’s things that just make you stop and smile. And yearn for a Victorian style property that has a short path in the front garden that could be tiled, or better has the hallway that you could lavish tiles such as these on.

Terracotta tiles inset with yellow flower motifs

But first, let me tell you about encaustic tiles - a term i’d not heard of before. They’re simply ceramic tiles where the pattern is made of different coloured clay, rather than being part of the glaze. Usually they have two colours, but can have up to six colours, and the image below shows some good examples of these, and they’re stunning aren’t they?

encaustic tiles to rival those from Portugal

You’ll probably have seen them before though, even walked on them I’m sure, as they’re often embedded into designs with geometric designs.

A traditional pattern using geometric and encaustic tiles

And of course, there’s plenty of designs. This one definitely has the feel of a patchwork quilt pattern - I wonder what came first, the tile pattern or the quilt?

Star tiles that almost look like a patchwork quilt

And if you’re thinking that all of these are very traditional, then think again. This smaller pattern has a much more modern feel and in a modern setting, say a bathroom with a crittall-type shower enclosure and black fittings would look stunning, and bring the traditional and contemporary styles together.

A smaller pattern brings a more modern feel

They also give the tiles I’ve shared from Porto a run for their money too, don’t they?

Patterns from Porto

It was the patterns of the tiles in Porto that I found myself fascinated by. Whether it was the 3D-type, like the ones below, or the intricate almost Moorish designs. I found myself seeking out the tiles as we walked around the city, and mostly my phone was out ready to snap their delights. 

Sunny yellow tiles in Porto

Bright yellows and faded yellows, the tiles were inset into many of the buildings. Some bold, some delicate, but all very pretty.

Delicate patterns but a bit battered -  tiles in Porto

And variations on a theme. These are different to the ones at the top - the flower is slightly different - it took me a while to confirm that, I couldn't decide if it was just the layers of paint that made them feel different.

the same pattern as before - but it feels different somehow

Blues featured too, and often mixed with yellows. The ones below have a touch of kaleidascope to them don't they?

larger patterned  tiles in Porto

And it looks as if many of them have been patched up and that just adds to the charm.

mixing patterned  tiles in Porto

The patterns are mixed, the tiles are chipped and faded. But they are full of character and just work.

faded glory about and  tiles in Porto

The colours are vibrant as often as they are faded, and I think there's almost more filler than tiles in the set below.

Brown and blue patterned  tiles in Porto

But some are in much better condition and this blue and white bold design in good condition almost looked out of place!

striking blue and white patterned tiles in Porto

And every single one of these sets are on the outside of buildings, just for the record I haven't gone on my biggest snoop ever! 

Aren't they great?