Thursday, May 3, 2012

Loving the Pasta Tiles

It isn't possible to consider a house in Merida without thinking of the possibilities offered by the pasta tiles.  It seems like there are an infinite number of patterns and colors and combinations,and just when you think that you must have seen them all, you run across another pattern or color combination that you've never seen before.

These tiles add color and texture to Merida's homes and can set the tone for rooms from formal to exuberant to playful to quiet.  They can be set in "carpets" surrounded by polished concrete or by tiles of a single color, or bordered by patterns of blocks or lozenges or vines and leaves.  I have even seen a door sill set with a band in a pineapple pattern, which is an old sign for "welcome" in the deep south where I grew up.

If you are lucky, the ruin that you buy will still have its original tiles, and if you are REALLY lucky, those tiles will suit your own tastes.  If neither of those things happen, though (or if you happen to choose a lot that has lost its house),  it is still possible to have tiles custom made in the same way that they were made 100 years ago in the colors and patterns that you want.  And if you are a fan of "reduce, reuse, recycle," we've been told that it is also possible to renovate your Merida casa with reclaimed pasta tiles.

We took these pictures in houses that we viewed with LeAnn, in the City Museum of Merida, and in stores and barbershops and cocina economicas open to the street (where people were uniformly pleasant when I rushed in off the sidewalk, pointed my camera at their floor, then gave an embarrassed smile and rushed back out again...I got the sense that I was not the first person that had done it.) 

I've even stuck my camera through the ironwork of a crumbling abandoned building and pointed it at the floor to see what it would pick up. 

Half the fun of thinking about a Merida renovation is wondering which tiles are going to be the ones that set the tone in your own Merida home.  When we are in the States and daydreaming of what we might build someday, these are some of  the pictures that we flip through to imagine what we might choose for our own twist on the Merida pasta tiles.


  1. Drat! I did that once, sticking my camera through the window of a "ruin," so my lens could see what I couldn't. I should have pointed down. Missed opportunity.

    I think I was just glad I didn't drop my camera phone on the other side of the window.

  2. Just wait until you have to go to the tile store and have to pick out what you want! It's really hard work. I loved most of them and to choose only a couple was really difficult. We chose the pasta tiles before we chose the wall colors... so the tiles do set the tone of the house.

  3. Wow! I think you possibly have the most extensive library of pasta tile patterns outside the tile venders. Our tiles are all new and not really traditional patterns, but if we build a second floor master suite that we are thinking about, we will definitely incorporate either some old tiles or new ones with a traditional pattern. I love the pattern on the 11th photo from the top. I would call it Moorish-inspired.

  4. Lee, the things I've done to get pictures in this city are truly embarrassing! This was just the tip of the iceberg. Pat, I remember your post on the shopping trip and both dread and can't wait to do the same.

  5. John and Alan, the 8th through 10th photos are some of my favorites. Our problem is that we have completely different ideas about which tiles would set the tone that we are after. Hope that Alan is still improving!

  6. Not only can you order tiles from currently available patterns you can have patterns made from photos. Interestingly enough, we have four pasta tile patterns in our house, and none of them are featured in your photos. One of my favorites was in a house we looked at to buy which featured teacups in the kitchen!

  7. We love your tile floor photos !! Many thanks. We are in the cement tile biz in the States. Villa Lagoon Tile. We have hundreds of patterns and can't wait to make a trip to Merida to see these historic tile floors ! Thanks for your blog post and best wishes, Lundy & Dave

  8. I'm in love with the old pasta tiles in Merida! Thanks forvsharing your pics. Where can I order pasta tiles from in Merida?