Zellige tiles: timeless or just a trend?

Zellige tiles in kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms

Imperfectly perfect, these charismatic clay tiles have taken the interiors world by storm – but how much longer will the ancient Moroccan technique remain a top trend?

When I first saw zellige tiles in a homeowner’s project a few years ago, I was immediately drawn in. Irregular in shape, size and glaze, they have since charmed their way into our kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. But is this look here to stay or is it fated to return to the history books?

The art of crafting these clay tiles can be traced back to Morocco, where they are still handmade today. “Clay is harvested from nearby mountains, moulded by hand, and baked in the sun,” Damla Turgut, founder and creative director at Otto Tiles & Design tells me. “Each tile is hand-glazed, and kiln-fired, with the finished product showcasing slight differences, making each one unique. The glaze provides a reflective finish, bouncing the light brilliantly around a room.”

Kitchen design with textured tiles as the splashback, mint green units, brass accents and crockery on open shelving.
Zellige tiles 10x10cm, £142.80 per sq m, Mosaic Factory. Interior design: Laura Stephens. Photography: Chris Snook.


Infused with rustic appeal, these tiles can elevate your walls, and even your floors and ceilings. What’s more, they can also add another layer of texture and interest to any space. But apart from looks, they come equipped with a host of other benefits, too. “Zellige tiles are hardwearing, easy to maintain and versatile, making them perfect for the busier rooms in the home, such as bathrooms and kitchens,” explains Louisa Alice, creative director at Mosaic Factory.

Originally only available in a natural, clay beige shade, these days zellige tiles come in a myriad of colourways, which means homeowners are free to be more daring with their designs.

Bedroom design with colourful glazed tiles on the wall behind the bed.
Zellige tiles 10.16 x 10.16cm in Pitch Black, Jam, Pisé, Plaster, Snow, Downpour and Dickinson, from £153 per sq m, Popham Design.
Kitchen design with zellige tiles on the wall, green units, brass cooker hood, and rattan chairs.
Border zellige, £80 per linear m, Otto Tiles & Design. Photography: Vaughan Design & Development.

Ways with zellige

“The use of zellige in the home is endless as there are so many ways to decorate with them – from colour draping to going bold with pattern and shades. You can have a lot of fun choosing your configuration before tiling the desired space, mixing shades to compose a random and harmonious pattern,” advises Louisa.

Kitchen washing up zone with white zellige tiles and open shelves above the sink area.
Zellige/Bejmat tiles in Traditional White, £139.20 per sq m, Marrakech Design.
Dark bathroom design with bejmat tiles, a wall-mounted concrete basin, black brassware, and an antique mirror.
Black zellige tiles, £138 per sq m, Bert & May. Styling: Ruth Webber.

Damla agrees: “Although very traditional in nature, we’ve seen homeowners using them in unique, more modern ways, creating stripes and checkerboard designs in vibrant colour combinations. We’ve also seen beautiful, spa-like bathrooms reminiscent of ancient hammams.”

However, for a traditional look, zellige tiles should be laid tightly together to give minimal grout lines. “But if they are used alongside underfloor heating, a two-to-three millimetre gap is needed to allow airflow and mitigate breakage,” adds Damla. When in doubt, reach out to a professional to ensure your vision comes to life.

Colourful bathroom design with blue and white zellige tiles in the shower area, burgundy vanity unit and yellow wall panelling.
Zellige tiles 10x10cm, £142.80 per metre, Mosaic Factory. Interior design: Otta Design. Photography: Jonathan Bond.

Zellige-effect tiles

It’s also worth noting that not all tiles that look like zellige are made using clay or the authentic Moroccan method. Lesley Taylor, founder of The Baked Tile Company, says some tiles may be advertised as handcrafted zellige when, in fact, they are machine-made from different materials such as ceramic or porcelain. Make sure to investigate the manufacturing method if you desire the true Moroccan product.

“To get that authentic look, the tile should feature a beautiful, varied glaze and both the thickness and shape should be slightly irregular, just as found in a hand-cut tile,” adds Lesley.

However, if the budget is tight and you’re keen to recreate a similar aesthetic, high-quality zellige-effect tiles are a good solution. In terms of aesthetics, these draw inspiration from real Moroccan slabs, so you can enjoy the popular, organic look without breaking the bank. Plus, they are easy to install, long-lasting and low-maintenance.

Close-up of island design with crockery on top of it.
Berber ceramic glazed tiles, £88.15 per sq m, Artisans of Devizes.
Checkerboard tiles in white and yellow with marble worktop.
Maroc porcelain tiles in Khaki and Bianco, £88.15 per sq m, Ca’ Pietra.
Blue glazed wallcovering in a pink kitchen, with white double sink, brass tap, and wood shelving.
Cadence Teal tile, £39.24 per sq m, Topps Tiles.

A fad or a timeless feature?

So, will we be seeing this style of tile in our homes for years to come? “Zellige has evolved from the traditional Moroccan aesthetic into a more creative blend of old meets new,” Damla tells me. “Handcrafted materials have an unmatched quality and desirability – so we predict zellige will continue to be a preferred choice for discerning homeowners creating timeless interiors for years to come.”

View of freestanding bath with pink slabs  on the wall behind, gold brassware, house plants and a big window.
Zellige 209 Light Pink, £187 per sq m, Terrazzo Tiles. Interior design: All Design Studio. Photography: Pine London.

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