Coming to a wall—or floor—or counter near you
Words by Ashley Locke
Photos by Andrea Behrends
It’s bold. It’s colorful. It’s wild. It’s not your developer’s white subway tile. Kristin Ortiz and Lindsay Sheets are here to make a statement—and to help you make one too.
“Growing up, life was a remodel,” said Sheets. Growing up with architects as parents, she was used to getting toted around on home projects, even helping with tile installation sometimes.
She liked getting her hands dirty, leading her to study art and ceramics in school. “I was lost learning how to make pots and mugs, and I wanted to make it a career,” she said. “I began thinking—how many mugs do I have to sell to buy a house? But then we did a tile project in school and a lightbulb went on. People will invest in their homes.”
Post college, Sheets applied to six tile companies. None wanted her, so she pivoted. A hard pivot. “I moved to Colorado and taught ski classes, but I felt like I was missing my calling,” said Sheets. “I invested in a few kilns and I went for it.”
In 2006, Lindsay founded Red Rock Tileworks in Nashville. There, she and her team created handmade, glazed tile. But something bigger was around the corner.
“We were born from a company that was going out of business—we acquired the meat and potatoes from an auction about two years ago. Kristen and her husband flew to Nashville and we went through the equipment and thought about what we saw it becoming.”
They had a business idea—showing the world what porcelain tile could be—but they didn’t have a name. Sheets and Ortiz were grabbing dinner with their husbands at Folk in Nashville, discussing their new company and their future plans. Two women disrupting a male-dominated industry, changing the way we think about tile. “It’s like a hostile takeover,” Sheets' husband said. Haustile. They bought the domain name at dinner.
The women came in hot, using state-of-the-art Italian glaze printing technology to place busy patterns and wild colors on durable 12 by 12 porcelain tiles. Graphic shapes mingle with cutting lines, Shibori-style ink swirls and fades, and smiley faces warp around each other. “We’re trying to flip the script on how people see flooring,” said Sheets. “No one has been ballsy enough to do it the way we’re doing it.”
Artist collaboration brought a little extra spice to their already industry-shattering business. One of their most popular prints, Wild, was designed by Daren Magee of Real Fun, Wow! Check Floral came from the psychedelic, creative mind of Dani Dazey—and there will be many more collaborations to come. “We want to enable artists to get their designs to the masses,” said Sheets.
The tile is as sturdy as it is beautiful. It can be used on floors, on walls, indoors and out, pretty much anywhere and everywhere—but they’ve seemed to have found a home in hospitality. “It’s the rise of unique spaces, like boutique hotels,” said Sheets. “Basic white is no longer exciting—when you go to an ice cream parlor, you want to feel a mood.”
Locally their tile is making a splash at Waymore’s Guest House and Luogo Restaurant, and across the country you can find it in the Trixie Motel. “Designers are excited to have something available at their fingertips,” said Sheets. “In porcelain, too much is imported, but we are made here so it’s easier to ship. We’re quick turnaround and made-to-order. We aren’t investing into inventory that’s sitting in a warehouse.”
Though it’s not their bread and butter, homeowners are hopping on the Haustile train too. Tile installation is a doable DIY, and Haustile’s direct-to-consumer shipping means folks with a blank canvas at home are just a few clicks away from a bold new look. “Wholesale fell to the wayside because we wanted an approachable price point,” said Sheets.
Maybe you haven’t noticed yet, but if you take a closer look, the takeover has already begun. From bathrooms to backsplashes, white subway tile is getting kicked to the curb. “We believe in good design for everyone,” said Sheets.