A gorgeous tile is often the starting point of a new scheme, so save some of these looks to your project ideabook
Houzz UK editorial staff. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for… More
If you have a bathroom makeover in the wings, but have drawn a blank about which tile style to choose or which parts of your space to tile, not to worry as these inspiring spaces should get the creative juices flowing. And you can bookmark the story to come back and refer to these stylish rooms in a flash.
See also: 16 ideas to kick-start your small garden revamp plans
Make a feature of your floor
This eclectically decorated bathroom features the bare minimum when it comes to wall tiles (solely protecting walls from water around the shower area). The tiles are simple white metros, laid with white grout and topped and edged with white-painted walls and sanitaryware, so they almost vanish.
Instead, the owners have chosen to use tiling to make a feature of the floor (and it stands out all the more thanks to the uniformly pale backdrop). If you fancy making a statement like this, but neutrals and whites are your go-to hues, simply choose a strong pattern but one with a limited or monochrome palette.
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…and this bathroom, with a similar tiling scheme, shows how different it could be made to look if you fancied a change down the line. Grey grout, dark walls (these ones have been panelled with wood), dark skirtings and a painted basin exterior completely transform the feel of this room, without the need to replace the ‘bones’ of the décor.
Be aware that while it’s fairly easy to go from light to dark grout, using a specialist colourant product, it is likely to be a different story going from dark to light, and this could involve regrouting the area in question instead.
Choose a bold floor and wall tile combination
In this bathroom, the rich blue half-tiled walls give a pattern-tiled floor a totally different look again. Note here how the pale grout in those glossy metro wall tiles helps to connect them to the walls, sanitaryware and also to the floor, which features white in its geometric design. And the blue shade of the wall tiles appears in the floor tiles, too, for a considered look.
Contrast your grout
Your choice of grout colour, as you’ll already have clocked, can be as important as your choice of tiles. Here, an all-white bathroom gains bags of visual interest thanks to the grout, which highlights the vertical and horizontal tile lines. This is a traditional utilitarian look reminiscent of Victorian public baths and, as such, perfect for a house with a comparable vintage. Pairing the tiles with a classic-style basin with a stand and trad-look exposed shower ramps up the effect.
Add architectural interest
Tiling the whole way around your bathroom, but only half-way up the walls (apart from at the shower, of course), creates a nice architectural effect as it mimics the presence of a traditional dado rail, giving an instant period look. The half-tiled walls can also provide a nice opportunity for a slim shelf topper, boosting your storage to boot. Just be sure only to fill it with items that will aesthetically enhance your bathroom as they’ll be very visible.
Bring style with a standout splashback
Chunky encaustic (or slimmer, encaustic-inspired) tiles come in lots of interesting patterns and lovely faded hues. As well as looking great covering a large surface, they are also interesting enough to work in small doses to create a focal point, such as this cool basin splashback.
You can find these tiles online – or look out for characterful worn originals in salvage yards – but the real deal isn’t cheap (and may also need sealing). Using them sparingly will save you money and some elbow grease. Bonus.
…and for a luxe rather than hip effect, make that splashback using marble or marble-look porcelain tiles and brass taps. Consider swerving from the classic white bathroom walls if you go for a marble or marble-like feature – the effect of the grey/mushroom paint here against the warm metal and marble splashback is wonderfully soft. The white basin keeps things feeling crisp and clean.
Show off a strip
In this bathroom, the owners have extended the patterned splashback idea by running the splashback towards the ceiling and down and across the floor. It visually demarcates the basin zone and becomes the bathroom’s key decorative feature. As an alternative, you could consider covering just the shower cubicle with a bold tile and keeping all other walls plain so that the cubicle becomes the feature instead.
Channel your dream kitchen
If you have the space for an extended vanity unit, treat it as you might a run of kitchen cabinets and top the lot with a generous splashback. And just as white tiles against white-painted walls work, so do other colours: here black-on-black, especially with contemporary hexagonal tiles, gives this bathroom a real designer-y edge.
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Blur the boundaries
These stripy tiles, arranged in a chevron pattern, give this otherwise neutral bathroom a rather Bohemian feel, conjuring up 1960s op art (a style of art that uses geometric forms to create optical effects, perhaps most notably with the work of artist Bridget Riley). It’s the combination of the zigzag pattern and the continuation of the tiles from bath panel to floor and half-wall, almost wrapping the area, that creates a similarly eye-baffling effect.
Play around with striped tiles laid out so that the stripes don’t line up and see what effects you can create, and have a look at Riley’s work for more inspiration on how to channel her style in your tiling.
Go for it with colour
Use your tiles to create a simple but striking feature wall by choosing a plain design in a rich colour. Allow the wall to be the focal point of your bathroom, especially in a smaller space like this. Consider your accessories; towels, soap dispensers, bathmats and the like should all be chosen to complement your tiled wall and each other. In this bathroom, the watery blue towels make for a cooling counterpoint to the orange metros.
Be brave and bold
Found a decorative tile you’ve totally fallen for? Max it out! Using patterned tiles everywhere has the potential to dizzy one’s senses, so if you’re after something striking as well as some visual breathing space, follow this model.
The white-tiled segments of the room, as well as some white-painted walls (take a look in the mirror), ensure you don’t walk in and feel like the room is swallowing you up (though, in the right hands, that’s a look some can pull off). At the same time, there’s no getting away from those in-yer-face blue-green beauties.
See how the rest of the space hangs together in this bathroom tour
Which bits of your bathroom have you tiled and why? Tell us in the Comments section – and share your photos!