Published on May 28, 2021

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Photography by Lily Glass for Oh Joy!

Most of us contemplate what we’re going to eat for breakfast or recite the lyrics of our current favorite song when we’re standing in the shower. But if you were to step inside either one of Joy Cho’s two recently completed bathrooms, your train of thought wouldn’t veer from tiles—Technicolor square ones, to be specific. Having used popular zellige in her main house in the past, the Oh Joy! founder and creative director was craving a new type of material when she decided to build her guesthouse–slash–work studio from the ground up: glass. “The colors come across in a brighter and lighter way,” she says. “There’s a glow.” 

While she usually gravitates toward matte finishes, Cho opted for Fireclay’s glossy finish (the collection spans 24 tiles) in a basic square silhouette (she didn’t want to distract from the glistening hues with complicated shapes). Plus the 4-by-4s have a “retro feel to them,” she notes. Using the same finish and shape tiles in both bathrooms makes the entire space feel unified, even though she went with different palettes and patterns in each room. Ahead, Cho walks us through the spaces’ designs and recommends other feel-good shower tile combos to try out in your home. 

Try: Gradient Stripes

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Photography by Lily Glass for Oh Joy!
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Photography by Lily Glass for Oh Joy!
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Photography by Bethany Nauert

In the space connected to the moody blue bedroom, Cho and her designer, Cleo Murnane of Project M Plus, arranged Snowy Owl, Warbler, Magpie, and Kingfisher in graphic stripes inspired by the iconic paintings of Josef Albers. “I think if you were to take a whole bunch of different colored tiles and put them together, it would feel too kid-ish,” explains Cho of sticking with a turquoise scheme. Putting the darkest pieces on the bottom creates the illusion that the ceiling is higher than it really is. 

Try: Pastel and Random

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Photography by Lily Glass for Oh Joy!
Pin It
Photography by Lily Glass for Oh Joy!
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Photography by Bethany Nauert

If linear and balanced isn’t your thing, consider a totally random pattern made up of at least five tile colors. In Cho’s rotation: Rosy Finch, Carolina Wren, Warbler, Dove, Egret, Lark, and Sparrow. One way to get a random scheme is to flip all the tiles over, mix them up, and let your installer pick randomly. Or you can methodically map them out on paper in what is basically a color-by-numbers system (just don’t forget any shelving niches!). “We also considered an ombré design that radiated up or down,” says Cho, suggesting a different approach to these candy-colored ones. “I love the idea of it being almost a rainbow.” 

Try: Fruity and Summery

For a cheerful and mid-century–inspired vibe, I love this citrusy combo. It reminds me of walking through an orange grove and would be fun for a kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom,” says Cho. 

Try: Cool and Neutral

“I love the mix of muted colors here for a space where you want some color but not anything too bold,” she suggests. “This would make for a great shower or bathroom.”

Try: Natural Stone

Glossy glass isn’t for everyone, so try another one of Cho’s recs: classic Carrara marble tile. The key to making it feel fresh and modern is all in the shapes and patterns (think: skinny, vertical rectangles or star-and-cross). “This serves as a great way to complement another section of the bathroom that might be more colorful, too,” says Cho. Your space will still shine, just in a different kind of way. 

For hands-on advice from designers and pro DIYers, plus more scrappy before-and-after transformations, subscribe to Reno. Let your in-box do all the hard work—for now.

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