All Hail Alhambra – or tiles Part 2

So yesterday, on route to Glasgow, I stopped into the tile shop I refused to name in my last post in case you went and bought my dream reclaimed tiles before me. Needless to say, the tiles had been bought. The lady pointed to two boxes which contained them, ready to go to their new owners. And who should be named in black marker on the box… but old friend’s of MHF and super-designers du jour, The 2 Lovely Gays.

reclaimed tiles

Gents, my jealous anger knows no bounds. I took a deep breath however and thought, well, at least they’ll be going to a good home. In a way it was for the best, as it took one option away from me and left me to deal with the here and now, the what-is rather than the what-could-have-been. Due to installation deadlines I had simply to choose some tiles that were actually in stock. While the fella revved the engine outside, impatient to get on the M6. As we all know time pressure is the enemy of good decorating decisions….

The Adventure Game

The stock tiles in the shop were lovely, and I spent ages spreading them all out on the floor, trying to pick a mosaic that suited. I have had a notion to create a hearth out of wonky, simple shapes – circles and triangles, a bit like a more muted palette version of the Vortex on 80s kids TV show The Adventure Game (‘Gronda Gronda’ to all you 80s kids out there). The circles etc in the shop were just perfect, but sadly there weren’t enough of any one thing to make it work.

Ortuno tiles

The vibe I wanted was kind of primitive and off-beat, sort of like a witch’s hex drawn in soot (Burt & May example above). Anyway, in the end I went for the practical, feasible and tasteful option of some Esher-style black grey and white tiles:


Loaded them into the boot and drove off. I then had an 8 hour car journey to mull over my choice. Hmmm….

Smink Things tiles

Back at the blog loyal reader Fi had commented, suggesting I should look up Smink Things, an artisan tile company in east London. I had never heard of them… but now I’m insane for them. The gorgeous tiles are exactly what I was after, even though I didn’t know it. Wonky, wayward and wonderful, they look like a screen-print experiment by the Kibo Kift. I want all of the tiles so bad – and I think you will too. Pics above and below are from the look book.

Smink Things tiles


Smink Things tiles

So what to do? Take a deep breath, get a bit Zen and accept the (lovely) tiles I’ve already bought? Or put the whole project back a month in order to have some of these beauties for a hearth to end all hearths? I simply can’t decide. Penny for your thoughts…?

*The shop is the delightful Alhambra in Sydenham. The lady there was great and so helpful – she also looked at my proposed pattern mix and sagely said ‘It’s fascinating looking at what people pick. You are your tiles.’ What wisdom…

7 Responses to “All Hail Alhambra – or tiles Part 2”

  1. fiona duke
    September 2, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    so funny hearing who had nabbed your tiles before you!

    happy that you love the smink tiles – me too. Don’t use the ones you’re not totally happy with……WAIT as it will only bug you (I hate waiting of course but have learned that it pays to now)

    At Smink Things they also have amazing wallpaper which I used on a recent kitchen redesign project and it looks divine 🙂

  2. Maria
    September 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    Completely agree, better to wait and get the ones you’ll love every time you look at them rather then the ones that will make you feel that niggle of regret every time you look at them!!!! Listen to the voices of experience
    : )

  3. Jo
    September 2, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    I fell for the time limit thing with fence paint and it was bad, very bad.

  4. Paris Match
    September 3, 2016 at 8:36 am #

    I agree with the others. You’re going to be looking at that hearth a lot and you don’t want it to be with regret. Buy in haste, repent at leisure……to misquote an old saying.

  5. Katherine~FurnishMyWay
    September 5, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

    Sorry to hear that someone bought the tiles that you originally wanted! Just like the comment before me said, you will be looking at your hearth so much and you want to love it. Keep thinking about it – you’ll figure it out.

  6. ben
    September 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    i picked the cube ones for the bathroom floor and can’t check my phone when i’m on the loo anymore – they make my travel sick. so i’m glad you think they’re nice but hold out for something magical.

    • myfriendshouse
      September 14, 2016 at 9:09 am #

      Ben I hear you but you should see the full-room sized rug I have in the room at the moment. It’s a black and white Bridget Riley-esque number and it makes my eyes hurt when I watch tv. Once the hearth is in it’s going…

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