What are zellige tiles? How to use them in your kitchen or bathroom

Irregular shape, size and glaze – zellige tiles have charmed their way into becoming a go-to choice for upgrading your kitchen or bathroom. And what’s not to love? They are chic, versatile, and perfect for adding texture to your scheme.

But what are zellige tiles?

They are handcrafted clay tiles originating from Morocco. Because of their handmade nature, the shape and glaze of each tile is completely unique. These imperfections offer zellige tiles their beauty and charm.

How are they made?

The first step is finding the clay. For example, Mosaic Factory uses a clay sourced from the region of Fez in Morocco. “The natural unrefined clay is kneaded with water, moulded by hand, and dried naturally in the sun. The tiles are then shaped by hand into the desired form and fired twice. The first firing produces raw tile biscuits, called bejmat, which are then glazed in a variety of colours in a second firing,” explains Ulrika García, head of communications at Mosaic Factory.

Curious about what the handcrafting process looks like? Then take a look at this video to see for yourself…

Let’s talk about the practicalities. Lesley Taylor, director at The Baked Tile Company, explains that the secret to achieving the authentic Moroccan look is in the installation. “Ensure the tiler avoids spacers. Opt for a tight joint that accentuates the intentional uneven sizing within the tile and a loose mix of a matching grout.”

What’s more, thinking about the colour of the grout is equally important. “As they are smaller-sized tiles, bear in mind that they will require more grout than larger tiles do,” advises Jo Oliver-Singh, director at Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.

Now, let’s find out how you can make this type of tile work in your kitchen or bathroom…

Authentic zellige tiles

To help you embrace this Moroccan design, I reached out to the experts and asked them for their top tips and ideas.

Zellige tiles aren’t just for olde-world spaces. They can be used to add that coveted artisanal charm to more modern kitchens and bathrooms.

Abbas Youssefi, director at Porcelain Superstore

From updating your old kitchen splashbacks to tiling the entire bathroom, there are plenty of ways to welcome authentic zellige tiles into your scheme.

Lesley says that this type of tile works best in a simple paired-back setting. This allows the natural imperfections and the uneven surfaces to stand out. “A nostalgic kitchen scheme can be elevated by the introduction of a Zellige splashback. Stunning in their simplicity, they offer the perfect backdrop for beautifully curated accessories.”

Match your tiles to your cabinetry and, if you’ve got open shelving, keep the decorations in the same colour palette for a cohesive scheme.

“Its beautiful organic nature can work perfectly in a new traditional bathroom setting, when paired with antique brass or gold fittings and bleached terracotta,” advises Lesley.

Neutral kitchen with zellige tile splashback and open shelving
Ecru Zellige tiles, £153.60 per sq m, Otto Tiles.
What are zellige tiles: table decorated with mustard yellow tiles and quirky tableware
Ochre rectangle Zellige tile, £132 per sq m, Bert & May.
White shower design with zellige tiles with shelf for toiletries and aged brassware
Journeyman Zellige handmade tiles in white, £53 per sq m, The Baked Tile Co. Photography: Studio KP.

If you love colour, why hold back? Zellige tiles are available in a wide range of colours, from vibrant pinks and oranges to calming hues of lavender.

You can mix and match relaxing colour palettes to achieve a sanctuary feeling. Shades of blue and green are perfect for upgrading to a stylish walk-in shower, for example.

Want to inject a subtle pop of colour? Then why not opt for wallpaper, panelling or décor in muted shades of pink and yellow?

Blue walk-in shower with a mix of zellige tiles
Bathroom project for client Manuel Guarda, with zellige tiles from Mosaic Factory.
Colourful bathroom design with patterned wallpaper, pink wall panelling, terracotta flooring and zellige tiles in the shower area
Design: Megan Robson @kitandco_. Zellige tiles from Mosaic Factory; panelling in Farrow & Ball‘s Sulking Room Pink, and Marigold wallpaper from Molly Mahon.

Shopping edit

Planning a kitchen or a bathroom renovation? I’ve rounded up six authentic Moroccan tiles, set to take your scheme to the next level…

clay handcrafted designs in neutral and colourful shades
1. Tiles Of Ezra Zellige square tiles in Avocado, £168, Hadeda. 2. Zellige wall tiles in dark red, from around £180.90 per sq m, Marrakech Design. 3. Zellige 220 Cobalt Blue, £167 per sq m, Terrazzo Tiles. 4. Square Zellige tiles in Arctic White, from £130 per sq m, London Encaustic. 5. Le Zellige glazed tiles 10x10cm in Iris, from £114 per sq m, Robel. 6. Burnt copper Zellige tiles, £119 per sq m, Natural Stone Consulting.

Zellige-style tiles

Struggling to source authentic tiles? Well, nowadays, you can find this style of tiles made from porcelain or ceramic. Thus, these solutions can help you recreate the look and add texture to your kitchen or bathroom.

Harriet Goodacre, brand communications manager and sTile consultant at Topps Tiles, advises choosing designs in shades of rich bronze, deep ochre, or dark forest green. These shades help you achieve that zellige-inspired look, that’s also in keeping with the heritage of this tile.

In your kitchen, she recommends creating a kitchen splashback using a complementing colour to enhance your units.

Blue units with marble worktop and mustard tile splashback
Wetherby porcelain floor tiles, from £98 per sq m, and Maroc porcelain wall tiles in Khaki and Oltremare, £89.35 per sq m each, Ca’ Pietra.
Wooden kitchen design with neutral tiles
Ladborke from Naked Kitchens, with Oblique Sand base porcelain tiles, £57.55 per sq m, from Mandarin Stone.
Pastel tiles on the wall with green kitchen units and small wall-mounted rail for utensils
Manacor Mint tiles, £34.99 per sq m, Tile Mountain.
blue kitchen design with pastel tiles
Nador Sky Blue gloss tiles, £58.33 per sq m, CTD Tiles.

If you’re looking to add some rustic charm to your home and recreate the traditional Moroccan style, tile all your bathroom walls with this versatile solution.

Harriet Goodacre, brand communications manager and tile consultant at Topps Tiles
Dark bathroom design with glazed tiles on the walls and grey freestanding bath with black tap
Zellica Liquorice tile, £94.50 per sq m, Topps Tiles.
blue bathroom design with wooden unit and baskets made from natural materials
Fez ceramic tiles, £72 per sq m, Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.

Got a small bathroom? Highly reflective gloss tiles are a great way to create a sense of space, says Diane Hyde, marketing manager at Craven Dunnill. “As light beautifully reflects off the glaze finish, it creates a wonderful sense of openness, making the room appear wider.”

green bathroom with walk-in shower and concrete surfaces
Samara Turquoise bathroom tiles, price on application, Craven Dunnill.

In conclusion, thanks to the charming imperfections of Zellige tiles, you can add texture and interest to any kitchen or bathroom. So, take your time when choosing your solution, be it authentic or simply inspired, and seek help from the experts to nail the look.

What splashback options are there for my kitchen? Find out here.

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