The photo above shows just a few of the many patterns possible from a simple decorative tile. I've used an adapted version of a French Art Deco Tile from the 1920's to demonstrate how you can play with tiles to create very different floor or wall effects. The tile patterns have been set up as free printable designs in three dollhouse scales which can be used as single tiles, or sheets, and applied to walls, floors, counters or accessories.
To adapt these designs I simplified a tile pattern I found, and changed out the colors to suit my color scheme. The tile pattern has large simple shapes, and a range of greens, with a single bright color for the flower. The same types of tile patterns can be made by repeating other decorative tiles, especially if they have a strong design which splits the tile in half along the diagonal. Many decorative elements are easy to reproduce in simple repeating tile patterns and will give you a wide range of effects, if you split your design along the diagonal of a square.
On the pages which follow, I'll show how I changed the design, so you can see what effects changing grout and companion tiles have on repeat designs. All of these elements can be combined in many ways to make much more interesting details for your miniature displays. To use the printable tile sheets which accompany the pages of this article, you will need to have a pdf reader (acrobat reader) installed on your computer. Print out your choice of tile designs on an ink jet or laser printer, printing onto lightweight card or paper. If you use an inkjet printer, treat the printed sheets after they are dry with an artist's fixative or an acrylic coating to protect the ink from running. Glue the sheets to a backing (I use thin bookboard or Davey Board cut to fit the area I want to apply tiles to. When the sheets are glued securely to the backing, I emboss the tiles along the grout lines between the tiles, pressing down slightly to give the effect of grout between tiles. Do not create too strong a grout line. Grout is usually just about flush with the edge of floor and wall tiles.
You can see how tile patterns are embossed in this way in the tutorial on embossing ceiling tiles.