Federation Tiles Style Guide

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

federation tiles tuck pointed home
Federation Tiles, Sydney Nottingham pattern, Norwood border, English Spring fireplace tile.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
A red brick Federation home
Curved pathwaysA great example of how some patterns are better than others in certain spaces.
Curved Federation tile pathway
Deep reds A great way to marry the rich facade to the tessellated floor
A white Federation home with tessellated verandah tiles
Not just reds! A light colour scheme works beautifully with the creme/white of this house

Here are some colour schemes we think work very well for Federation homes:

View all tessellated patterns

Federation Bath & Powder Rooms

federation tiles bathroom
Federation Tiled Bathroom Source: Home to Love

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:

Go monochromatic

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.

A black and charcoal Federation bathroom
Tones of black and charcoal Glasgow pattern
A monochromatic Federation tile bathroom
A clean black and white Olde English 100 pattern
A red Federation tile bathroom
A more traditional look. Infuse earthy colours for a more traditional finish.

Here are a couple of patterns we suggest:

View all tessellated patterns

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 tiles encaustic
Pressed Encaustic Tiles, Sydney 

View all encaustics.

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.

federation tiles
Federation Wall tiles Classic Poppies tile, white wall tile

Subway tiles

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).

View all subway tiles.

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. 

Feeling inspired? Check out other projects we've completed, browse more patterns or 
contact us today to discuss your project.