Tiles through the ages: The Interwar Years

Date: Mar 18 2019 12:12PM

‘Welcome to suburbia’ should have been the strapline for the 1920s-30s; four-million homes were built between 1920 and 1939. Swathes of farmland, on the edges of towns and cities, were subsumed by the now ubiquitous three-bed semi-detached. Whether mock Tudor, cottage style or art-deco these buildings all had a couple of thing in common – indoor bathrooms, and by modern standards, a fairly clean simple kitchen. This expansion must have kept the tile manufacturers busy as they created simple styles and designs to cater to the masses’ ever-broadening tastes.

Germ theory was now well understood and its existence now influenced bathroom design, from public conveniences to suburban bathrooms. Victorian and Edwardian styling was out and clean lines, impermeable surfaces, and no fussy details (where dirt could get trapped) were in; making sure everything stayed clean and germ free. The metro tile was often used, in simple black and white patterns, or all black with an accent colour of pale green or pink. Checker-board floor patterns were very popular, as was floor to ceiling tiling.

Tiles weren’t just for the bathroom in the new 1930s house; a key trend was tiled fireplaces. Gone were the ornate highly coloured tiled and cast-iron fireplaces of the Victorian era to be replaced with simple geometric modern fireplaces clad in square, beige, pale green or brown tiles.

All-in-all a couple of busy but not ground breaking decade in tile design.