A Turret-Inspired Tile Design

When we bought the house, there was only one fireplace in it, in the parlor. House around the turn of the century often didn’t have tons of fireplaces – by then, other means of heating were becoming more prevalent, so your house was more “modern” without fireplaces. When the grandson of Mayor Roy C. Bryant came to visit us one day, he told us about how his grandfather would have political gatherings and discussions, with the bigwigs smoking cigars in his grandfather’s study – the room that is our Library. He remembered the fireplace burning in that room. But…. there was only a fireplace in the parlor.

Sure enough, when we looked in the basement, there are clear indicators that the parlor fireplace had a twin in the Library. So, it has to come back!

The first thing we worried about was finding a mantle. In my mind, we had two options – get as CLOSE to the Parlor fireplace as we could, or get as far away from it as we could. I didn’t have strong leanings one way or another, but then I found a mantle on Craigslist, just off the campus of Northwestern University in Chicago. It was SO CLOSE to the style of the Parlor fireplace. It seemed like a sign, so we drove to Chicago and picked it up.

Here’s the parlor fireplace –

And here’s the Northwestern fireplace. They really are so close – it was meant to be!

Here it is, where it’s going to go. The twin in the Parlor is at the same angle, right behind it.

I know I blogged about the installation of the fireplace already, so now I’m just going to talk about the tile design for the hearth.

I knew the room was going to be red, with some purple accents, so I thought – what else has red and purple in it?

Oh. The turret.

When I was looking at tile samples, it was hard to find anyone that made PURPLE tiles. Clay Squared Tiles had purple tiles, so then I started looking at shapes. And as soon as I saw the peacocks, I was sold.

If I could just FLIP these upside down, they’d mimic the shingles on the turret.

I ordered purple, red, and blue – to tie the fireplace to the outside. And all of those colors are in the wallpaper for the room! Just like the tile for the first floor bathroom, I built it in another room first, and then we transfered it over. My goal was to be really random. Roughly 65% blue, 25% purple, and 10% red.

Playing around.

It didn’t go over to the fireplace EXACTLY like this, but it was the starting point.

It’s so pretty even un-installed.

Here’s the canvas!

To make the straight line at the bottom, Doug made a jig for the cuts. It wasn’t perfect, and we sacrificed a few little guys, but it worked mostly well!

We installed the border first….

And then set the bottom row. Look at those lines!

Fun fact : we used spacers for like a half hour. Then we gave up because it was annoying and ridiculous and we didn’t need them. (It’s like we know what we’re doing now, which is slightly terrifying!).

“Abandoning the Spacers : An Introspective.”

I promise I did fun work too. But I also took the most pictures.

Sometimes you need a full-body stretch after you are cramped up on the floor for hours.

It’s spectacular.

This was when I noticed that the stained glass and the top of the fireplace are besties. Arches!

Once we got the main body in, we started on the cuts around the edges.

Some of these were teensy tiny “I think we might cut a finger off cutting a piece this small on the tile saw” small. But we continue to have all of our digits, so PARTY TIME.

The profile gauge was a rockstar for this project. If I could give a salary to an inanimate object, this guy would get a raise.

Look. At. This. Piece.

“I would like to be in a picture also look at this pretty tile.”

-Amy, Probably.


This is such a happy little moment for a room.

And next, we grout! Dark gray all the way.

It makes me so happy.

We needed to cover the unfinished edge of the sides. I bought VERY tiny wooden quarter round. Initially, I was going to stain it to match the floor.

But then, I became smart and PAINTED IT. It was the best decision. It’s part of the tile, not the floor.

You. Guys.

I love this. So much.





  1. Very smart! What an amazing job you did on this! Great colours, too. Reminds me of quilts with a clamshell design.

  2. Your attention to detail is world-class. So is your design eye. Love everything about this.

  3. It’s amazing. I loved it when you first showed the world the tiles. You two did a fantastic job !

  4. I just found your blog about a week ago and have spent every available moment down the completely obsessed VivaciousVictorian rabbit hole! I love everything you’ve done and feel so inspired by how fun your designs are. I am super impressed. Great job!!!

  5. Just wish I could find some vintage tiles to replace the broken ones on the outside of my house 125 years old. I think you may have some lead to this kind of exterior decorative tiles on the Avenue Rd,. area in Toronto.

    Thank you for the beautiful job that leads me to you.

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