Design Notes: Talavera Tile


Talavera front door surround in traditional cobalt blue.

When visiting a Casas del Oso Custom home most people comment on the dramatic use of Talavera tile.  We have embraced it and use it extensively where appropriate.

Talavera tiles have been used since the 1600’s; originally they were cobalt blue accents on a cream colored base.  Today the color palette is much expanded.  Talavera tile has been extensively used in Spanish Revival and Spanish Colonial architecture in Florida, California & the Southwest.   In Casas del Oso’s homes you will find it in countertops and splashes; showers and bath surrounds; accent bands, courtyards; pools; door and window surrounds; stair risers and more.  It makes a wonderful accent when used in Saltillo tile flooring.  Also available are Talavera pots and dishes (check to make sure they are lead free).  The possibilities are limitless.

Authentic Talavera comes from the city of Puebla in Mexico because of the unique clay found there; watch out for Chinese imitations.  Talavera tile is hand-crafted earthenware; no two pieces are exactly alike in shape and design.  Most tiles are 4”x 4” or 6” x 6”.  They are fired at very high temperatures which produces surface crazing unique to Talavera.  These days the colors are exuberant; reds, greens, yellows and more.  The intricate patterns can be used as a single tile band or combined to create larger patterns.

Master Bath: A sampler of colors & patterns; shower, tub surround, backsplash & decos in the floor.

One of the “tricks” to using Talavera successfully is letting the space and architectural style dictate which colors and patterns to use.  It’s really important to consider the scale and general character of the room when choosing colors and patterns.  The second “trick” is to use a talented tile installer.  It’s imperative to layout the tile properly. If there are corners the pattern should go around them seamlessly; not stop and start.

Talavera is one of our favorite design elements.



Phoenix Home & Garden Kitchen: Talavera tile backsplash, mural & hood detail.