Bathrooms have had to step up their game lately. Ever since self-care routines became a hallmark of the humblebrag and we’ve grown accustomed to constant recommendations for flawless skin, the space where such magic often happens has had to evolve.
In this pampering trend’s mindset, bathrooms don’t provide a utilitarian purpose as much as they serve as a sanctuary. Floor plans need to be outlined just right, paint colors must put forth a distinct mood, and fixtures have to perfectly complement their surroundings. It can be a fun project—that is unless you have a skin-care routine that’s big on products and a bathroom that’s on the small side.
If you’re looking for intuitive ways to renovate a small bathroom into a self-care space, one design solution to consider is colorful tiles. Much like the curated items inside medicine cabinets, bathroom tiles have grown in popularity and variety in recent years and can be a powerful way to instill style and personality in a room that’s squeezed for square footage.
We spoke to Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, founders of 2LG Studio, about the six dos and don’ts to remember as you pick bathroom tiles, plus the five shades they recommend for a small space. Not only will their advice lead you in the right direction, but it will definitely help your bathroom look its best, too.
The Five Dos and Don’ts of Choosing Tiles
Do: Create cohesion
In a large bathroom, using multiple tiles can look fantastic, but that philosophy doesn’t fly in a small bathroom. “If you really want to maximize a feeling of space in your small bathroom, create flow by using the same tile on the floor and walls,” says Cluroe. “It will give a contemporary edge to the room and allow your eye to flow through it uninterrupted.”
Too many finishes and colors in a small bathroom will make it feel busy, so do your best to practice balance. “If you use many different styles or only tile certain areas, you’ll make the room look smaller,” adds Whitehead.
Do: Incorporate different finishes
If you do want to use more than one tile, you can do so subtly by choosing the same material in more than one finish, like matte and gloss. These finishes capture light differently, which will add texture to the space. “We used matte tiles in one bathroom, but painted the ceiling in a high gloss to bounce some light around,” explains Cluroe.
Do: Consider large-format pieces
It may seem counterintuitive at first, but using large tiles in a small bathroom can actually make the space feel larger. “Large-format porcelain tiles can add luxury while being easy to maintain,” says Cluroe. “Porcelain marble tiles, for instance, can come in huge sizes and will give your bathroom a strong impact with durability, too.”
Do: Tile a shower floor
“If you love a large walk-in shower, go for a tile floor over a tray so that the finish flows across the floor—again, creating an uninterrupted flow,” notes Cluroe. You can use the same tile on the floor as you do on the walls, making for a monochromatic and enveloping look.
Don’t: Forget to seal porous tiles
Once you choose a tile to install, don’t forget to seal it. It will ensure that all of those long showers won’t dull the sheen over time. “Porous tiles like encaustics, cement, or natural stones need to be sealed to keep them looking fresh,” explains Whitehead.
Five Tile Colors to Consider
If you’re pretty in pink…
“Pink is a new classic,” says Whitehead. “It’s warm and fresh, and can be played in a contemporary way, but it works just as well with traditional fittings.”
If you love the look of red…
“Deep colors are not something to be afraid of in a small space,” says Cluroe. “If you love rich colors, then a small bathroom can be the perfect place for a bold statement. A deep red will give retro vibes.”
If you like a traditional blue…
“But if you like something more subtle, you can always stick to a classic blue,” says Whitehead. “Strong, saturated blues will add a timeless elegance to your bathroom.”
If you can’t resist a classic white…
“White can keep a small bathroom feeling bright, but think about mixing matte and gloss white tiles in this shade to stop it from seeming too clinical,” suggests Cluroe. “Marble floor tiles can add another layer of interest to a white tile scheme, too.”
If you’re attracted to green…
“Mint or pistachio green is so fresh,” Whitehead notes. “With an Art Deco influence, who can resist a modern touch of pale green? It will connect you with nature to start your day.”