Written by Charlotte Luxford

Patterned bathroom tiles: 9 inspiring looks

Patterned bathroom tiles are a must-have for any modern renovation, thanks to the likes of Instagram and Pinterest. The constant sharing of innovative designs means we’ve become bolder with our choices for the home’s smallest room. Find out how to mix patterns, textures and colour to add wow to your scheme…

Break the rules

It’s often said that small tiles don’t work in a compact bathroom, as multiple grout lines look too busy. However, if you’ve fallen in love with some beautiful mosaics, limit them instead to certain zones, such as a basin splashback, the shower area or in alcoves, reserving larger tiles for the rest of the space.

Patterned bathroom tiles on basin with marble worksurface

Haven Mosaics stone and marble tiles in Columbus, £199.94 sqm; Lunar MarbleForm basin, £470; Midtown wall-mounted basin mixer in Matt Black, £465; Kate Blush matt emulsion, £45 per 2.5ltrs, all Claybrook

Create contrast 

Break up a shower wall and add further visual interest by tiling niche areas in a different design. Contrast the size, pattern and colour of your tile design for maximum effect – here, black hexagonal mosaics with white grout lines add a dynamic edge to the herringbone metro tiles.

white tiles shelves with bathroom patterned

Avebury ceramic gloss tile in Milk White, £74.88 per sqm, Ca’Pietra

Step out of line

Make a real statement by running bold diagonal striped patterned bathroom tiles from head to toe. Not only does covering both walls and floors in the same pattern have a seamless wet-room effect, it also creates the illusion of more space – something that can be particularly effective for compact bathrooms where you still want the wow factor.

Green and white striped patterned bathroom tiles

Green Bert & May Alalpardo porcelain tiles, £74.70 per sqm; Versailles large console, £1,480, both Fired Earth

Get creative

Square-format tiles don’t have to be boring – be inventive by playing with pattern to create your very own bespoke tile splashback. To ensure a professional finish, it’s best to draw out your design to-scale on square gridded paper before you start to avoid mistakes. Handcrafted zellige tiles are on-trend right now, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, it’s a great way to make budget-friendly off-the-shelf tiles look more expensive too.

patterned bathroom tiles in pastel colours over wooden bath

Metropolitan ceramic glazed tiles in Blossom, Clover, Anemone, Chalk, Hibiscus, Lazul, Lupin, Cornflower and Heather, from £105.95 per sqm, the Winchester Collection at Original Style

Mix it up

Bathrooms can often feel one dimensional if you play it safe, so keep it interesting by experimenting with tile formats, patterns and textures. A good way to help decide which tiles go where is to consider zones of the room, such as using crackle-glaze metro tiles for the shower wall and plains for the bathing area. The key is to keep everything on the same tonal scale colour-wise to avoid visual overload.

patterned bathroom tiles on floor and wall with freestanding bath

Dyroy glazed ceramic tiles in Aqua, £54.99 per sqm; Contrasti Tappeto glazed porcelain tile in Ottanio, £54.99 per sqm; Contrasti glazed porcelain tile in Ottanio, £54.99 per sqm, all CTD Tiles

Make it monochrome

Black and white bathrooms have made a comeback thanks to their touch of glam and striking style. Blend timeless and contemporary designs for a characterful look; here, on-trend terrazzo tiles add a contemporary, graphic edge, while large-format marble-effect floor tiles keep it calm and sophisticated.

Mosaic tiles with white units

Mizuki Ink Terrazzo Effect ceramic tiles, £24.95 per sqm; Cappella Gloss Carrara Marble Effect porcelain tiles, £27.99 per sqm, both Walls and Floors

Use visual trickery

Working with a tight family bathroom or small en-suite? A clever trick to make the room feel bigger is to run the same tiles as the floor up the wall to give the illusion of a larger surface area. Use tiles that are at least 60 x 60cm for a streamlined, fuss-free look.

Marble white tiles on floor and ceiling with white freestanding bath

Milan marble-effect porcelain tiles, £22.95 per sqm, Tile Mountain

Shape up

For a playful look, try looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous square or rectangular designs. Geometrics such as hexagons have had a huge surge in popularity and it’s not hard to see why – they are great for creating zoned areas around showers, vanity units and bathtubs, and adding that designer finishing touch. Utilise the unusual edges to create half-height borders and allow them to cascade down the walls for extra visual interest.

blue patterned bathroom tiles on floor and ceiling

Sunburst matt porcelain tiles in Sea Blue, £48 per sqm, Verona Group

Add texture

In the rest of the home it’s easy to achieve tactility by layering soft furnishings – in bathrooms it’s harder, which is why tiles play a key part. Choose textured designs, especially those with raised, embossed or on-trend ribbed surfaces, alongside polished, honed and hand-finished finishes to keep things interesting.

white tiles with swirls on walls and floor

Zen porcelain tiles in Gloss and Decor finishes in Natural, £58.40 per sqm; Casablanca Base Hexagon porcelain tiles in Black, £40.59 per sqm, Mandarin Stone

How to get the patterned look

As a starting point, choose your ‘feature tile’ first – one standout design, whether it’s a bright colour, interesting shape or unique pattern – and then opt for one or two complementary ‘accent tiles’. These should be neutral, plain or textured, as too many bold designs in a room will distract the eye.

Mosaics are great for creating eye-catching borders or zoning areas of the bathroom, while textured or patterned tiles can be used in contrast with plain designs or smooth surfaces above and below dado rail height to add another dimension. A simple metro tile is an inexpensive and versatile option for creating a luxury look – chevron and vertical stacking have become popular laying patterns that add personality; use a skinny or ‘finger’ tile for an ultra-modern edge.

Don’t forget about the details. Coloured grout is an affordable and easy way to add character, but remember to choose a mould-resistant grout and seal it to keep it fresh. In addition, pencil border tiles and metallic trims not only look slick, they also protect the edges of your tiles to give you a professional finish.

The practicalities

It’s not just about aesthetics – if you’re wavering between a couple of designs, consider the long-term upkeep. Ceramic designs are popular because they’re affordable, require little maintenance and are easy to cut and install, but they’re not as hardwearing or as waterproof as porcelain. It’s also important to check the slip rating, which ranges from R9 to R13. R11 or higher is usually considered a safe bet for bathrooms.

When it comes to buying your tiles, a common mistake is to under-order. Many consumer websites will have a tile calculator that will give you an estimate of the square meterage required, but it’s also worth asking the opinion of a professional installer before you buy. If in doubt, get an extra box – you can usually return unopened ones without any problems.

It’s important to consider installation costs at the start, too. Your chosen tile might be affordable, but often the smaller the tile, the higher the installation cost, such as slim bricks and mosaics. More unusual laying patterns will cost more too due to the labour involved; for example, metro tiles laid in a herringbone design will take longer than a standard brick pattern.

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