Downtown Birmingham design is full of historical details, and entryway tile is one of our favorites. It’s a design vernacular that offers a neighborhood boost, historical charm, and plenty of inspiration for our own homes.
Downtown Birmingham design has plenty of moments with a wide viewing radius–the Thomas Jefferson Tower, for instance, or the John Hand Buildng. But according to Main Street America, it’s the sidewalk-scale design that really matters for a thriving downtown scene. Fortunately, downtown’s loft district has plenty of that as well.
In fact, it’s those design elements that help define the Downtown Birmingham Historic District, according to its application to the National Register for Historic Places. “Throughout the district the buildings relate to the pedestrian, opening storefronts or public lobbies to the street at regular intervals and providing architectural detail for the pedestrian eye,” the application noted.
“A storefront’s entrance alcove acts as a transitional space from the sidewalk to the commercial entrance,” according to Riverhead, New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission Guidelines for Historic Buildings. “It provides shelter from the weather, and is often designed to increase the display area of the storefront to entice potential customers.” Tile was often part of this outdoor marketing package, it explains.
“Historically, the configuration of tile or terrazzo was only limited by the creativity of the installer, and often included decorative boarders [sic] and patterns of various colors,” note the Riverhead guidelines.
With our modern emphasis on open plans and seamless transitions, we’re often trying to make flooring consistent throughout a space. But the beauty of this tile is that it stands out. It articulates the transitional space between a bustling sidewalk and a business interior. Like the front porch in more residential districts, it defines a threshold as something unique.
That’s well and good as a design history lesson, but why stop there? We think there’s plenty of renovation inspiration to be gleaned as well. Those Greek key borders or geometric florals or even tile-crafted fonts offer high-impact ideas for bathroom tile design.
Looking to blend timeless materials with a bit of personality? Consider downtown your design inspiration.