May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.

~Irish blessing

Friday, February 24, 2012

Penny Tiles

I am so in love with our penny round mosaic tiles. They feel amazing underfoot, especially in the shower, and when teamed with the subway tiled walls give our two little bathrooms an old New York apartment feel.

I think I first came across this look in Julie Holloway's beautiful Milk and Honey Home,

and then really fell hard for them in decorator Anna Spiro's vintage eclectic bathroom.

More and more now, I'm seeing rooms where they've taken the penny tiles UP the walls and they give an amazing neo-modern, almost futuristic feel. Have a look at Mina's fabulous almost Kubrickesque bathroom over at La Residence to see what I mean.

And some are even using actual pennies!

Stand Hotel, NY via Apartment Therapy

I've posted these two photos before, but these are the penny tiles we used for our ensuite floor last year,

and we've just finished using them again in the 'kids' ensuite'. Again, they were fairly easy to work with but I thought for those interested in having a go, I should mention a few lessons learned...

Like most mosaics, the penny tiles come glued onto conveniently sized mesh sheets so you can actually cut them with scissors, although you may need tile nippers for any edge that requires half a tile.

Now, I'm not sure where a professional tiler would stand on this, but we found that it's pretty much impossible to use a notched trowel to apply the tile adhesive, as with other tiling, because when you put the mosaic sheet down the thicker bands of adhesive squish up between the tiles. For us, it was easier to spread the tile adhesive quite thinly and evenly and gently press the tiles down.

Remember to start at one end of the room and work across is rows. Don't work towards a center point like I did in the first bathroom, or you'll end up pulling many many individual tiles off to make them fit evenly together. If you're working your way out of a small room, I really think it would be better to do it over a few days, allowing for sections to dry, rather than trying to make the sheets meet in the middle.

Grouting the penny tiles is also quite easy as no shaping is required. Just smooth it on and sponge it down so it's nice and even. Like in the other bathroom, we used Dunlop 'misty grey'.

 In a last minute decision, we decided to take the penny tiles up the bath and over the hob, indulging just a little in that whimsical retro feel. It's a childrens' bathroom after all.

The trickiest part was shaping the tiles around the hob. We thought cut edges would look too rough on the corners so Tom did some 'sculpting' with a slightly firmer grout to smooth and fill the gaps.

It's all nice and dry now, so tomorrow all the joints can be caulked and we will be nearly there. 

I'm hoping on Sunday we may even have time to put the cot and change table together! 

Happy weekend everyone.


  1. Hello! The tiles look amazing! You guys are so patient and dedicated. I love subway tiles too. Hope you are feeling well.

  2. Wow, great work. It reminds me a bit of your sidebar pattern - intentional? Now, putting together a cot hmmmm, that's hard work. Make sure you build it in the room it's intended for. At 8months I built one on my own and then had to dismantle it and build it again because it wouldn't fit through the wondered she arrived early!

  3. Actually I'd never thought of it - it's just a blogger sidebar pattern - but I do think it would make a nice kitchen splashback!

    Good point about assembling the cot. We've decided to put it in our room for the first few months so we should probably just set it up in there from the get go because thinking about it, our hallway is very narrow.

  4. So cool and cute. That penny tiles looks fantastic. I will refer this site to my friend. Glad I came here. Thank you for sharing this with us.