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Last September, Cathy Nyarkoh, lead designer for home renovation platform Block Renovation, hit us with the ultimate prediction: Carrara marble would be the It shower material of 2022. While we were used to seeing the classic stone in the form of kitchen countertops, the expert said the familiar option would make a shift toward the bathroom—but not by way of massive slabs. “[We’ll be] seeing large-format [marble] tiles stacked vertically offset to elongate the space,” she told us. As we look back at the spaces we’ve featured so far this year, we’ve found that prediction to be at least partially true. 

Nyarkoh wasn’t wrong about vertical stacking, but what we’ve really seen take off is the use of slimmer and rectangular ceramic tiles to visually extend a shower’s height. Most often, the look comes to life through bold color combinations (think: punchy coral and deep turquoise). The layouts haven’t been all upright either—many of these slender tiles are installed horizontally or staggered to create playful patterns. 

The slim profile and variety of shades make the possibilities endless. In the kaleidoscope-style bathroom pictured above, the smart use of 2-by-8 rectangles gave homeowner Racheal Jackson the ability to go wild with color. She used nine(!) different hues for the floor that she modeled after the pattern of DNA sequencing. Sara Simon and her husband, Sven, on the other hand, went in a more subdued direction in their California house, with white plumbing fixtures and a blush and burgundy tile pairing that sets more of a moody scene. If this scaled-down trend has proved anything, it’s that sometimes it pays off to play small.

This story was originally published on September 9, 2021. It has since been updated.

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