Leggett agent Andrew Guck loves tiles. He has been keeping a wonderfully colourful record of the different floor tiles that he comes across in the houses he views in the Languedoc, and he has made a compilation of them. So, what is the appeal?
From funky geometrics to Moorish-inspired designs or intricate floral patterns, it is quite impressive the array of encaustic cement tiles that Andrew has found in the Aude area where he has lived since 2011, when he arrived from New York. Part of the appeal was that he’s never seen them much used in the States and he became fascinated in their origin and use.
“I think they are kitsch, a little extravagant and they inject a bit of personality into a room,” he says. “I often find original ones – typically in maison de maitre houses – and they were popular in the 1850s as a substitute for the more expensive stone, marble, and terracotta tiles that need to be ‘cooked’ rather than dried. Cement files were an affordable alternative, usually 20cm x 20cm.” He has found a producer in nearby Pezenas who still follows the method of his grandfather.
Andrew says that it’s rare that he sees the same ones twice, so the decor is both appealing and unique. “They aren’t always perfect-looking and some are quite worn, which gives them a charming appearance,” he says of the original versions.
Today, classic designs have been reproduced and are used widely across the bathrooms and hallways of Europe and they add an artistic touch to a house, whether contemporary or historic. “If you don’t feel bold enough to do a whole floor, you can use them as a splashback in a kitchen, an alcove, or behind a bath,” he suggests.
Here he has collated four examples of properties currently for sale with rooms offering original tiles, and a more modern take in an elegant maison vigneronne (wine grower’s house) using reproduction monochrome tiles in the bathroom.