The Federation Era (1890-1915) was a period of profound change. Often seen as Australia's take on English Edwardian, the Federation style was often deemed to be one of hopefulness, positivity and the beginning of a new era. The style often celebrated Australian imagery - with the nation's flora and fauna used as motifs on wall tiles, staircase tiles and fireplace hearths. In keeping with the warmer climate, most Federation homes featured a large entranceway, wrap-around verandah and a dominant roof line.
Easily incorporated into pathways, verandahs, kitchens, bathrooms and hallways, the Federation tile can bring a space back to life.
Characteristics of Federation Tiles
- Earthy colours such as brown, green and burgundy
- Single coloured encaustics eg. black on white.
- Modestly complex tessellated patterns but less complex than the Victorian style. Octagon and Dot patterns were very popular.
Federation tiles in the home
Different spaces in the home commanded the Federation aesthetic in different ways. Let's explore the most common spaces and learn how to infuse the Federation style into the fabric of a home.
Federation Verandahs & Pathways
Embrace your property's rich history when considering an appropriate tessellated tile pattern for your exterior space. Here are two primary concerns we consider in every federation verandah or pathway:
- Space. Consider the layout, dimensions and format of the space. Is it a wide verandah? Or a long and narrow pathway? A combination of the two? Some Federation tile patterns are better suited to some spaces than others. Our Bristol pattern, for example, shines in larger spaces, but requires finesse to work in a smaller space. Conversely, our Octagon and Dot shines in both narrow, length dominant and expansive spaces alike.
- Colour. The Federation Era saw a departure from the vibrantly coloured aesthetic of the Victorian Era. Indeed, the development of a distinctly Australian architectural identity spurred architects and designers alike to capture the essence of the Australian natural landscape in Federation colour schemes. Strong, earthy colours dominate the palette: colours such as oatmeal, green and burgundy red are foundational. This organic spectrum of hues often also meant a natural pairing between the commonly used brick of the facade and the tessellated tiles in the floor
Here are some colour schemes we think work very well for Federation homes:
Federation Bath & Powder Rooms
Restyling a bathroom with the Federation flair can be accomplished stylistically in a variety of ways. Notably, many homeowners are opting for a contemporary finish with just a gentle nod to traditional Federation character. Here's how:
Consider going monochrome for your next Federation Style renovation. Whilst classic in colours, the tessellated pattern is a nod to the rich history of the style.
Here are a couple of patterns we suggest:
Opt for Encaustics
Want to do create an old world inspired look with tiles other than loose tessellated shapes? Consider the timeless elegance that encaustics can add to a bathroom. Unlike most of the encaustics that are on the market, ours are vitrified porcelain, not ceramic, resulting in a tile that isn't porous (which is exactly what you want in a wet bathroom) and can handle liquid spillages with ease.
Federation Wall tiles
Finishing off a bathroom by pairing Federation inspired wall elements with a tessellated floor is a great way to round off the style of the space. Dress down by opting for a clean subway tile base and modestly profiled glazed component, or go full character by interspersing rich ornamental prints at eye-level along the perimeter of the wall.
Subway tiles are a staple in Australian heritage architecture. The Federation era in particular embraces the format, with the most common sizes ranging from 150 x 75 to 200 x 100 (old imperial sizes veer slightly in terms of sizing).
Federation patterned tiles
Scenes of Australian flora & feature heavily as the theme of choice for feature tiles of the era. Try to pair colours within the motif with a similarly coloured glazed component on the wall. Similiarly, picking the dominant colour of the floor and matching a swatch within the decorative wall tile is a perfect way to marry the floor with the wall of the space.
View all heritage wall tiles.
We hope you've found some renovation inspiration within our Federation tile style guide. Whether you're redoing a small space or large area, there is an era friendly tile for every property. Come into our showroom today to discuss your space with one of our experts.