Home Away from Home: Ethnic-Style Flooring and Cladding

Explore ethnic style and how to use Panaria’s tiles and cladding to create unique and captivating environments in your home.

Home Away from Home: Ethnic-Style Flooring and Cladding

Exploring ethnic inspirations for interior design means envisioning your home as a microcosm of faraway and exotic cultures. The atmosphere that an ethnic-style home evokes, transports us to distant lands, inviting us to experience diversity through décor.

One of the preferred materials in this context is ceramic, valued for its durability and adaptability. Commonly used in the flooring and cladding of many countries that define ethnic style, ceramic surfaces boast a wide variety of decorations. From geometric patterns to three-dimensional textures, one can find both reproductions of traditional designs and expressions of contemporary trends.

In particular, porcelain stoneware is known for being suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. This quality makes it perfect for establishing material and visual continuity throughout different areas of the home, ensuring a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces and maintaining the integrity of the design regardless of changes in weather.

What is Modern Ethnic Style and When Did it Originate?


The design of a modern ethnic-style home represents a bridge between the allure of distant cultures and the simplicity of modern tastes. The origins of this style can be traced back to the early 19th century when affluent European travellers, returning from their journeys abroad (primarily Africa, the Far East, and Oceania), brought back with them typical souvenirs. In fact, the term ethnic by definition means “pertaining to a particular people”, with specific reference to hand crafted traditional products. The eccentricity of these objects was fascinating and they were often used as decorative elements to flaunt one’s social status among acquaintances.


But what is ethnic style today?


Today, the meaning of the term “ethnic” has evolved, reflecting a deliberate choice to adopt a specific interior design style rather than serving merely as a status symbol. Modern ethnic, or ethnic fusion, décor is characterised by a more minimalist approach as compared to the classic ethnic style, which is rich in colours with an abundance of decorations.

The new style favours functional furniture and clean lines, enhanced with the exotic touch of Afro-Eastern accessories, often skilfully mixed and matched. This evolution makes it possible to create highly personalised spaces that are welcoming, yet simple, and do not require large pieces of furniture or an excessive amount of objects. In this context, ethnic refers to an environment that invites you to travel with your imagination from the comfort of your own home.

Stoneware wall cladding with ethnic-style decoration, Wallcraft collection

Floor decorated with ethnic-style stoneware tiles, Memory Mood collection

How to Furnish an Ethnic Home


Decorating a home in ethnic style means creating an inviting environment that captures the mystery and allure of distant lands.  To reflect the essence of this style, it’s important to consider several key elements.

Creating open space is fundamental. Large, well-lit rooms, with high ceilings and structures like cupolas and archways that open up to the outdoors are perfect for conveying a sense of continuity with nature. For smaller spaces, it’s best to opt for open-space solutions that promote movement and light.

As we have seen, the value of visual continuity between spaces is the basis for choosing stoneware surfaces, suitable for both floors and walls.

The choice of colours is equally important. Flooring and cladding must alternate warm and natural tones with dusty finishes to create a welcoming atmosphere. Meanwhile, vibrant and energizing hues, like ochre, orange, and terracotta, are used to warm up an environment.

All of these effects can be easily achieved with porcelain stoneware tiles, which, as we are about see, lend themselves to extremely versatile and unique solutions. 

To summarise, the key aspects of modern ethnic style that one should focus on are:

  • Colour.  Warm shades and bold hues should be paired with the dark tones characteristic of ethnic décor, creating contrast against the backdrop of walls in light colours or featuring subtle decorative patterns.
  • Materials. Here too, contrast and fusion play an important role. Wood, especially in dark tones and with irregular shapes, often featuring carved details, is a predominant material in both furniture and decorative elements. Natural materials like bamboo, rattan, and other natural fibres, as well as stone and warm metals, like bronze and copper, enrich this eclectic blend.
  • Fusion. Modern ethnic style is characterised by a refined combination in which the clean and minimalist aesthetic of modern design is complemented by evocative motifs from distant cultures. This fusion results in a chic, elegant, and sophisticated environment.
  • Decorative elements. The distinctive features of chic ethnic interior design include lamps and lanterns, hand woven rugs, poufs, and decorative cushions. The look is completed with scented candles and tropical plants, which add the final exotic touch.

Flooring and Cladding for an Ethnic-Style Bedroom


When furnishing an ethnic-style bedroom, a choice that’s both practical and visually striking is porcelain stoneware for the floors and cladding. Known for its durability and wide range of finishes, this material allows for the incorporation of ethnic elements in the design. Tiles that mimic natural textures like wood, create an exotic atmosphere in the room, while also maintaining a sense of calm and tranquillity, which is essential in a bedroom.

Porcelain stoneware tiles can also feature geometric decorations and vibrant colours, recalling the warm tones typical of ethnic décor. These elements, combined with dark wood or bamboo furniture, create a welcoming environment, without cluttering the visual space and maintaining a perfect balance between comfort and style.

Such is the case with the decorations of the Even collection, which combines a textured cement look with a soft and subtle aesthetic that’s also pleasing to the touch. The designs feature delicate graphics inspired by traditional cement tiles and modern geometric patterns. These pair perfectly with Panaria Ceramica’s flooring solutions and are ideal for creating harmonious and evocative atmospheres in the home.

Bedroom cladding with ethnic-style stoneware tiles, Even collection

Stoneware tiles decorated with ethnic motifs for wall cladding, Glam collection

Soggiorno in stile etnico moderno: idee per ispirarsi



At the heart of the home, a modern ethnic living room offers a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere, blending exotic elements with contemporary lines.   A strategic choice for the flooring and cladding is the use of porcelain stoneware, which is both versatile and durable. For a look that complements the ethnic style, one can choose surfaces that imitate natural materials like wood or stone, or that feature geometric or pseudo-tribal motifs.

A perfect example are the tiles of the Glam collection, created to brighten spaces with vibrant colour while using the thinnest ceramic slabs in the world. Colourful patterns and kaleidoscopic decorations turn surfaces into powerful mediums of expression and transform walls into striking, functional, and safe spaces.

These surfaces serve as a backdrop for elegant and minimalist furniture, like glass or metal coffee tables, which may be adorned with ethnic-style African accessories, such as wooden or handwoven trays. Low sofas featuring colourful cushions, blankets with vibrant patterns, ceramic vases, and rattan lamps complete the modern ethnic-style living room, an environment that encourages total relaxation.


Creating a Modern Ethnic-Style Bathroom with Stoneware Tiles


To create an ethnic-style bathroom, the use of porcelain stoneware tiles is an elegant and functional choice that creates an exotic look while maintaining a modern aesthetic. Known for its durability and versatility, this material adapts perfectly to damp environments. Furthermore, it comes in a wide range of finishes that mimic natural materials like wood and stone or feature more vibrant and colourful decorations.

When decorating a chic ethnic-style bathroom, it’s advisable to incorporate tones and materials that recall faraway places, like the Zellige tiles, typical of Morocco. In fact, the Memory Mood collection is inspired specifically by traditional Moroccan tiles, whose expressive decorations are both evocative and nostalgic, creating a fusion of classic and modern elements.

Another important detail is the furniture, which should include dark woods like teak or mahogany, that complement the ethnic theme and add warmth to the environment. Accessories like baskets woven from natural fibres, towels in bold colours, and wrought iron elements complete the look, creating an atmosphere that combines comfort and style.

Bathroom cladding with stoneware tiles decorated in ethnic style, Memory Mood collection

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