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The best bathroom tile ideas come in a seemingly endless array of materials, finishes and price points, which means there are bathroom tile designs for everyone, whatever your style.
Bathroom tiles have an important role to play in the room's design – and not just because they provide a practical solution to keeping walls and floors protected from soap and splashes. Choose from neutral large format tiles that can be used to create a simple backdrop to a focal point bathtub or vanity or opt for something more vibrantly patterned or colorful to make a style statement, or combine the two.
The latest bathroom ideas encourage individualization – the choice is yours. There are so many tile options that allow you to express your personality, introducing just as much style to the bathroom as you might in any other room of the house.
Bathroom tile ideas – 31 reasons why you should use tiles in your bathroom
Much like paint effects, the bathroom tiles you choose can alter the look of a room, with both bathroom wall tile ideas and those for floors making it feel bigger than it actually is or adding visual interest to a dull space.
Unlike paint though, re-tiling a bathroom can be costly and a hassle you won't want to have to repeat often, so it's important to choose a design that you won't tire of too soon and will last you for years to come.
'For bathroom floor tile ideas, porcelain tiles are super-practical, washable and waterproof, and made from a material of consistent quality. Now porcelain can replicate marble, stone, timber and terrazzo so cleverly that you can’t tell the difference from the real thing,' explains Rob.
Settling on your budget first will help you to choose your material accordingly but don’t fall foul of a basic bathroom remodel mistake and forget to factor in grout and adhesives costs, as well as include a 10 per cent contingency for breakages. Spares will be useful in case of breakages at a later date.
If expensive glass mosaics or hand-crafted tiles are a must-have but your budget is tight, then think about using your chosen tiles as a feature and tile elsewhere with standard format tiles.
Decorative borders will add a cost-effective hit of pattern or colour, or think about tiling just one area. For example, use your shower tile ideas to make a statement by tiling just the inside of the shower cubicle. Poor fitting will ruin even the most expensive of bathroom tile ideas, while the cheapest can look fantastic if laid by an expert.
If you know how to tile a bathroom wall and want to tile the room yourself, then invest in a good tile cutter and use ready-made grout if possible, as it is easier to use than powdered.
1. Match your tile to your scenery
Bathroom tiles are a wonderful way to create a colorful bathroom. Here interior designer Max Humphrey looked to the coast for color inspiration. ‘Since this house is right on the beach, the idea for switching the wall tiles in color and from horizontal to vertical was inspired by the concept of shallow end/ deep end or low tide/high tide, with the saturated colors representing the sea,’ says Max Humphrey. ‘Taking the tile from floor to ceiling also came from thinking about that swimming pool locker room vibe.’
2. Switch direction
A diagonal bathroom floor tile layout can yield big rewards in terms of impact. ‘Laying tiles on the diagonal and using interesting shapes, such as this chevron design, is brilliant for adding interest and making a space feel larger by blurring the overall outline of the room,’ says Louisa Morgan, creative director, Mandarin Stone.
3. Devise a shape shifting scheme
Breaking away from the rigidity of uniform connections can bring a more relaxed, organic look to your tiling. ‘This free-form installation style is gaining popularity. It’s a great way to create interest and zone in on a particular area of the bathroom – we love it focused around a walk-in shower,’ says Grazzie Wilson, creative lead, Ca’ Pietra. Hexagonal tiles are your six-sided friend for achieving this look.
4. Be inspired by graphic design
Bathroom tile ideas installed in a seemingly random pattern will inject a fun, graphic look that’s modern and fresh. ‘Getting a pattern to appear random actually takes a lot of time and patience,’ says Dyfed Price, creative director, Morph Interior. ‘It’s wise to do a dry layout of the pattern or draw it out on scaled paper. Then photograph your design for the tiler to follow.’
5. Create a wonder wall
Taking bathroom floor tiles up the wall can elongate a small bathroom. Using the same tile can also improve the design balance, as Otta Design’s director Ali Johnson explains. ‘There’s pattern in the wallpaper, so we wrapped the tile up the wall rather than adding another finish,’ she says. ‘Color-matching the grout to the bath adds cohesion.’
6. Express artistic licence
Creating a wall mural is a sophisticated way to put your stamp on a space, as designer Sophie Head, founder, Sophie Head Interiors explains. ‘The vision the client and I had was about bringing the scene to life with birds and butterflies. This was given effervescence through bespoke shades of mauve, green and blue,’ she says.
7. Play with pattern
‘The floor is a great place to add playful pattern to a rather minimal bathroom and will give the room that next level of detail and interest,’ says interior designer Katie Glaister, co-founder of K&H Design.
Here, glazed porcelain tiles, inspired by encaustic designs of old, introduce personality to this slender bathroom, their impact enhanced by the deep color used to paint the wall niche, drawing the eye along the room to boost the sense of space.
8. Go graphic with bathroom tiles
A bold floor makes all the difference in this chic bathroom scheme by Shialice Spatial Design, offsetting the white bathroom tile ideas with pattern and deep color. Zenith cement tiles from Clé have been laid in a fun and individual pattern, their chalky, matt finish contrasting with natural white-grey marble shower area and sink backsplash.
9. Use bathroom tiles for contrast
Bathroom tiles can be used to bring texture to what is often a visually-flat space. Here, it has been done with bathroom backsplash ideas.
‘Half-height wall tiles can be used to create a sweeping backdrop that sets off a showpiece bath and vanity to perfection,’ says Yousef Mansuri, design director of C.P. Hart. ‘Here, the rich, musk green rectangular Luminous tiles provide color and textural contrast to the plain painted wall above and the simple, concrete-effect Boost floor tiles below.’
10. Introduce color and pattern with bathroom tiles
Pump up the effect of decorative tile by clever use of color. Here, handmade patterned Turkish ceramic tile by Otto Tiles & Design have been used to clad the upper wall, creating a striking and practical backsplash behind the sink. The impact of the tile is enhanced by the selection of one color used to paint the lower wall, here a shade that picks up on the leaf detail of the tile to enhance the joyful effect.
11. Introduce an ocean-inspired look
Inspired by the colors of the ocean and with a crackle-glaze iridescent finish, these porcelain scallop-shaped tiles will add fresh impact to any showering space. Green is very much the color of the moment, and this vivid shade is both invigorating and refreshing - perfect for a shower area.
The bold shade is offset by the rest of the gray bathroom tile ideas, from the plain subway bathroom tile ideas on the adjacent walls to the matching faded patterned floor tiles that extend through the rest of the space.
12. Play with shapes and color for variety
Black and white can be rather austere, so here, Otta Design has incorporated a mix of materials to add another dimension to the space.
The reflective qualities of the marble and the mosaic effect tiles work together to create a luxurious sanctuary, an effect worth noting if you're looking for spa bathroom ideas.
The hexagonal floor tiles provide a subtle pattern without dominating, adding a sophisticated feel that brought the scheme together.
A frameless screen helps to achieve a luxurious wet room appearance, allowing the tiles to come to the fore, with a neat niche for toiletries contributing to the elegant minimalism of the scheme.
13. Choose a vertical hang
'Many people are opting for subway-style tiles fixed in vertical, rather than horizontal brick-bond, patterns,' explains Rob Whitaker of Claybrook.
'While tiles might run all the way up to the ceiling in the wet zones, in other areas of the bathroom, half-height wall tiling offset with lovely bathroom paint ideas above ensures plenty of character,' he adds.
14. Mix and match your materials
Beloved by ancient Chinese dynasties, the Moors and the Greeks, the enduring bathroom color idea that combines blue and white takes on a fresh, modern feel in this colorful bathroom using contemporary furniture and pops of fresh yellow.
This scenic statement tile-look wallpaper echoes the traditional Portuguese azulejos still found on the palaces of Sintra, Lisbon and Porto, yet looks like the real thing when teamed with the rich denim blue porcelain floor tiles.
As well as being striking in color, these porcelain floor tiles add extra safety, too. 'You should always use porcelain tiles in a family bathroom, including a slip-resistant design on the floor, as they are hardwearing and will still look good in years to come,' advises Katie Gisby, senior design consultant at Ripples.
15. Try the unexpected
A striking and original bathroom wall idea is to hang a chevron motif that will give the scheme a refreshing, graphic edge. Colored tiles laid diagonally are all the more eye-catching against bold, dark flooring and co-ordinating fittings.
16. Add instant luxury with marble tiles
Classic and timeless, Arabescato marble with its striking veining, embodies Italian elegance at its very best and is nearly always high on any list of bathroom tile trends.
Additional shades of grey on the blind and the wall ceramics bring cohesion to the simple, stylish look in the bathroom picture above.
17. Channel an artistic vibe
Bathrooms are where tiles really come into their own. The vast array of materials, colours, textures and designs can be used to create both simple designs and artistic creations, from a floor-to-ceiling scheme, to a feature splashback or decorative design strip.
Created by interior designs Caz Myers, petrol blues and retro pattern bring this whole bathroom together to create a bold but orderly ensuite bathroom: ‘We were looking for something striking and different – these tiles score on both,’ says Caz.
18. Stick with classic monochrome style
Marble floor tiles evoke the refined sophistication of grand Parisian apartments. In this scheme, a marbled floor was chosen for practicality, as well as style.
White bathrooms provide the perfect plain backdrop for eye-catching fixtures and fittings. Here, the smart black bathtub with aged brass faucets anchors the look, reinforcing the classic aesthetic.
19. Choose a small and subtle pattern
The devil is often in the detail when it comes to creating a striking bathroom. Keeping it compact, penny tiles are small but impactful.
An excellent choice for bathrooms of all sizes, penny tiles are perfect if you're looking for small bathroom tile ideas, but also look great in roomy spaces.
These timeless bathroom tile ideas will always add an interesting aesthetic, are extremely versatile and – like any good tile – are also easy to maintain in even the wettest of areas.
20. Play with scale
Vinyl has come a long way since its early days and is now seen as a sophisticated yet practical bathroom flooring idea. As well as being incredibly hardwearing, vinyl is also easy to clean and comes in a variety of styles.
In this inviting bathroom, the block color of the wall panelling and floor allows a wonderfully whimsical wallpaper with a strong motif to shine.
21. Opt for a subtle patchwork pattern
Patchwork tiles may automatically make you think of bold color and pattern, yet depending on the choice of design, you can opt for a far more subtle approach.
These delicate tiles come in colorful designs and completely color-free for a varied degree of subtle pattern. The slightly textured design on the flooring also adds a slip-resistant effect, perfect for wet room or shower room ideas.
22. Pick the right tiles for underfloor heating
Underfloor heating is an excellent choice when considering wet room ideas, as it speeds up the drying process after bathing. You do need to make sure you choose the right tiles for the flooring though.
'Porcelain tiles are ideal for use with both wet (water) and dry (electric) underfloor heating systems and are good conductors of warmth,' advises Rob Whitaker.
'The type of underfloor heating recommended can vary depending on the size and shape of the room and its subfloor, but it is important to use a flexible adhesive and grout during installation to allow for thermal movement.'
'The adhesive must be fully dry, which generally takes about seven to 10 days, before underfloor heating can be used.'
23. Match contrasting bathroom tiles
The tiles in this bathroom by Norsu Home aren't obvious partners, but they create the perfect contrast within a small space to create a characterful finish. Matched with CP Hart's Vola taps the result is glamorous.
24. Create a modern feel with terrazzo
Bathroom tiles can, of course, be the focal point of a scheme, as in this room. The bathroom tiles above hit the trend for terrazzo bathrooms, too. It's a look that's best matched with contemporary fittings, though smaller repeat terrazzo patterns can suit more traditional spaces.
Note the color of the basin, which complements the color within the terrazzo – again, the trend for colorful fittings is on the rise.
25. Create curves with shapely tiles
There are many ways to add finishing touches to tiled areas, including metal trim in a color chosen to match your sink fittings.
‘When you have an interestingly-shaped tile, why not emphasize its shape by finishing with whole tile along the top edge?’ suggests Louise Ashdown, head of design at West One Bathrooms. ‘A contrasting wall paint color draws further attention to the detailing.’
Louise suggests this works particularly well with scallop, hexagon and teardrop shaped tiles – Zen Marble Scallop mosaic from Ca’Pietra are shown here. We think it works well as striking but subtle bathroom tile ideas for a small bathroom, too.
26. Exaggerate a room's proportions with bathroom tiles
Bathroom tile ideas – fixed in stripes – can be used to make a room look taller or wider. So, if your bathroom's proportions are a little out of kilter, you can use this trick to correct them. Vertical stripes will draw the eye upwards, making the room feel taller; horizontal types will make it seem wider. You can, of course, choose subtler colors than in the room above, but the effect will be the same.
27. Add flair with color and pattern
‘I wanted to bring in a tropical feel, as it allows the mind and soul to escape,’ says creative director Eva Sonaike of her C.P. Hart scheme. ‘The combination of green and purple, and texture and pattern, brings a dynamic flow.’ Eva’s own Odi wallpaper goes beautifully with Luminous tiles by Minoli.
28. Break it out
‘Add a little pizzazz to a space that might otherwise become a series of sharp edges and straight lines,’ says Rob Whitaker, creative director and founder of Claybrook. ‘Porcelain and marble tiles work well, often with geometric or fluid patterns.’ The marble mosaic seen here – Columbus by Haven Mosaics – is a case in point. The motif is repeated in a chic palette of green, white and black and the tiling pairs beautifully with the elegant fluted design of the vanity.
29. Create a modern look
‘Patterned tiling is a great way to introduce personality,’ says Colin Roby-Welford of Fired Earth. ‘With no need to worry about it clashing with soft furnishings, you can be creative. Think about a striped design across walls and floors to create a contemporary effect.’ Shown are Bert & May’s Alalpardo tiles.
30. Go for graphic impact
‘I fell in love with these beautiful Popham Design tiles years ago and was waiting to work with a client who would be adventurous enough to trust my vision, as well as working on a property that would suit this modern design language,’ says interior designer Irene Gunter.
‘When we created the rough design for this bathroom with the feature skylight I knew this was going to be the one! The green shades reinforce the natural colour scheme running through the entire property, with plenty of curves and circles here as the main motif to soften the edges of a very sleek architectural home.’
31. Choose careful combinations
In this Twenties chalet in the French Alps, interior design studio Todhunter Earle used grey oak on the floors and the bath panel. The timber is a textural counterpoint to iridescent zellige tiles from Emery et Cie. ‘This bathroom needed to be hard wearing, practical and not too smart, so we used fumed oak to bring warmth and texture to the room,’ says interior designer Kate Earle.
What is the most popular tile for bathrooms?
In recent years, the subway or metro tile has seen a huge resurgence in popularity, most likely because it its versatility.
From the classic look of plain white horizontal subway tiles to the ever-expanding array of colors available, there are so many bathroom tile ideas that can be re-created with subway tiles. You can also hang them vertically, on the horizontal or in a parquet-style pattern for visual variety - the decor options are almost limitless.
What size tile should I use for a bathroom?
When choosing tiles, consider size, finish, even grouting. With modern tile technology creating exciting new designs all the time, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Depending on what bathroom tile ideas you choose, tile prices can vary quite considerably from simple ‘field’ or plain ceramic tiles at the lower end, to glass mosaics and marble at the other.
'Hotels have been a major influence on recent bathroom design, leading to the popularity of marble bathroom ideas,' says Rob Whitaker, Co-founder and Creative Director of Claybrook. 'Porcelain tiles are ideal for using with this look, as they are now available in just about every color and pattern.'
Large format tiles are popular for bathroom use, since fewer grout lines enhance the spacious feel of any room and create a more seamless look. However, they can be more wasteful in smaller spaces, if lots of cutting and fitting is required. Smaller tiles can work well in areas such as splash backs or in single designs to create an overall effect, but too much pattern and format mixing in stronger colors can overwhelm a space, especially a smaller one.
Which tile is best for a bathroom?
Porcelain is a stand-out material for bathroom – including wet room - tiles, as it is has an almost zero porosity thanks it its high firing temperatures and high density. Scratch and stain resistant, porcelain tiles are also easy to clean and maintain, and are widely available in an impressive range of formats and design styles, including ultra-realistic stone and wood effects and encaustic looks – which can also help save on bathroom tile costs.
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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