YOU may be looking for a something to enliven the bathrooms of your rambling mansion on the Peak, a weekend retreat on Lantau, the floor of a joint-venture hotel coffee shop in Guangdong, or just something to rest a tea pot on. Whatever it is, Sophie Henderson is convinced she has exactly the right tile to suit. From her home in Redhill Park, Tai Tam, Henderson runs the first Asian outlet of Fired Earth, the English ceramic, terracotta, slate, marble and limestone tile retailers. It is base from which she is trying to gently lead local decorators along the same path that European homeowners have walked since the Romans first assembled their elaborate mosaics some 2,000 years ago. Initially restricted to decorating the floors of palaces and temples, it was not until the 17th century that tiles came into widespread use in the homes of ordinary Dutch, who broke with custom and stuck them on the walls as well as underfoot. Indeed tiles, be they terracotta flooring, or decorative insets with raised borders and sculpted motifs, have been a feature of British homes since the 1700s. More recently, Fired Earth has been involved in the redecoration of Buckingham Palace, Elton John's home and Virgin's first-class lounge at Heathrow airport. But is Hong Kong - a city where wallpapered ceilings rank among its chief contributions to contemporary interior design - really a suitable market for the company? Henderson is adamant there are few homes in the territory that would not benefit from some decorative tiles. 'Not everything we offer would suit Hong Kong's taste and style. For example, we sell old-style tiles with a 'crazed' effect to enhance the antique effect that might look a little incongruous in a modern kitchen; it would be the same with the blue and white Delft tiles from Holland. 'But tiles are ideal for Hong Kong, if only for their physical qualities. They are hard-wearing, easy to maintain and very long-lasting.' For example, sealed tiles are excellent for use as hygienic floor covering because they can be easily wiped clean. And there is an outstanding range of colours and decorative effects to choose from. Historically speaking, Henderson's involvement with Fired Earth is fairly short. She began acting as its Hong Kong representative only two years ago when she to the territory with her husband and children, although her brother George Wingfield Digby is one of the company's founding directors. Now in its third decade Fired Earth - an English translation of the Latin term terracotta - sources its tiles from small kilns and quarries in Mexico, Peru and China as well as Africa and Europe. Much of Henderson's business so far has been done through interior designers and decorators - Simon Jackson, Charles Garnett of Altfield Interiors, Richmond International and Leese Robertson Freeman are among those who use Fired Earth's tiles for their clients. But Henderson is more than happy to advise individuals about using tiles, and provide them with the necessary sealing and fixing products. Looking at a set of dull, machine-made tiles plastered on a bathroom wall in her home, Henderson made a face. 'There is a world of difference between a handmade tile and mass-produced ones like those,' she said. 'A handmade tile creates a talking point; an effect that can transform a room. 'You have to understand that decorating with tiles means an infinite variety of effects - from a single sculpted tile in a bathroom wall, to the dado rail effect of tiles with a relief, to an entire terracotta floor covering.' Her products are featured in luxury apartments on The Peak as well as holiday homes in the New Territories and the outlying islands, and she has even sold tiles to hotels in the territory as well as in Taipei and Shenzhen. The tiles range from $6.25 for a single base tile, to between $25 and $87 for the decorated ones, up to $200 for an individual hand painted and finished sculpted tile. Terracotta, marble, slate or limestone floor tiles cost between $12 and $62 each. For further information contact Fired Earth Hong Kong on 2813-8053.