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Romancing With Stone 

The variety of styles, shapes and colors in tiles today has made them a very versatile and popular medium for home decorating, whether you want to accent your kitchen, bath, patio or fireplace with a unique backsplash, a colorful countertop or an interesting floor. You can also combine tiles for even more options, and some places, such as Derby Pottery, can customize tiles to match existing patterns or develop new patterns based on ironworks or other designs to which you are partial.

A few of the patterns available include a 12-inch-square tile of sepia-etched travertine in the "Patrizi Deco" pattern that evokes the rustic beauty of the Argentine frontier, $26.50 a piece; from Stafford Tile & Stone (5234 Magazine St., 895-5000; It can be used anywhere, from a backsplash to the floor.

The shiny, raised-square blossom motif has a gloss blue glaze with a tobacco border and was hand-cast by artist Mark Derby using a carved-wood original and is made to be mounted or hung as a wall ornament, $15 for a 4-inch-square tile, from Derby Pottery and Tile (2029 Magazine St., 586-9003;

Horizontal tiles have many dimensions, including the 3-by-12-inch sepia-etched travertine "Freggio" border, $55 a piece, (there also is a matching angle corner piece available), from Stafford Tile & Stone (5234 Magazine St., 895-5000;

For a distinctively classic look, there's the horizontal two-tone "Lion" tile measuring 4 inches by 11 1/4 inches and available in a left- or right-facing lion on white stoneware with a gloss green or gloss blue glaze. It was handmade from a carved-wood original, $40, from Derby Pottery and Tile (2029 Magazine St., 586-9003; Reminiscent of wrought-iron gate designs is an ebony inlaid stone piece that has a multitude of uses, $140, from Stafford Tile & Stone (5234 Magazine St., 895-5000; &127;

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click to enlarge DAVID RICHMOND
click to enlarge DAVID RICHMOND
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