Looking for ideas on how to design or to update your small bathroom? There’s tons of interesting options and all sorts of different directions that the design could go in.
Right now we’ll be looking at some small bathrooms to see what their showers look like. If you’re interested in learning some new design tips and ideas check out some of our favorite picks below.
The best tile patterns to choose from
As mentioned before, the pattern in which you arrange the tiles on the walls or floor of your bathroom has a direct impact on the overall aesthetic of the room. Here’s a few of the best tile patterns you can choose from depending on your end goal:
- Grid – The grid tile pattern is by far the most common of all. It’s also the easiest one to create, in [articular when using square-shaped tiles. Rectangular tiles can also be arranged in a grid pattern, both vertically and horizontally. This is a versatile and classic pattern which suits colorful tiles. When paired with neutral-colored tiles it can however look quite boring.
- Diagonal – A diagonal pattern is very similar to a grid but in this case the tiles are placed on a 45 degree angle. As mentioned before, this is a pattern that you can use in small bathrooms to make them seem bigger because it tricks the mind by being less easy to comprehend. A diagonal pattern can also make simple and neutral-colored tiles look a bit more interesting and is also great for hiding certain flaws in the walls in case these are not perfectly aligned for example.
- Brick – The brick or subway tile pattern can be created with rectangular or square-shaped tiles and is fairly easy to get right. It’s an offset pattern with a classic look and it pairs well with a variety of styles such as industrial, rustic or modern. Just like the diamond pattern, it allows you to easily hide small flaws and imperfections in the walls.
- Herringbone – The herringbone pattern has been one of the most popular ones in Europe for a very long time. It’s highly appreciated for its elegance and intricacy and to create it you need small rectangular tiles. These are arranged in a zig-zag pattern and create a great look for an accent wall. Usually the herringbone pattern is paired with neutral-colored tiles because the grout lines alone are enough to create an eye-catching effect.
- Chevron -Although similar to the herringbone pattern, the chevron tile pattern is a bit different in the way the tiles intersect with one another. It’s made of small rectangular tiles with angled ends and there’s multiple ways in which these can be arranged. The installation is quite simple and this pattern also looks nice when you combine two or more tile colors.
- Basket weave – This pattern is named this way because it resembles woven baskets. The idea behind it is to trick the eye to think the tiles are woven over and under each other when in fact the surface is flat and everything is lined up. Although the basket weave pattern seems more complicated compared to most of the other ones, it’s actually easy to create just by arranging two tiles vertically and two tiles horizontally and repeating this combo over and over again.
- Pinwheel – The pinwheel pattern, also known as the windmill pattern has a classic and retro vibe and is also one of the more complicated ones. To create this pattern you place four rectangular tiles around a square one which is positioned in the center. This pattern can be repeated to cover an entire wall or floor. It’s more difficult and expensive to create because of these requirements.
- Versaille – The Versaille pattern also requires two different types of tiles. To create it you need a combination of square and rectangular tiles. Compared to the pinwheel pattern this one looks less repetitive and is more versatile. There’s actually multiple ways in which the tiles can be arranged and the idea, in this case, is to create a puzzle-like pattern.
How To Choose The Ideal Tiles For Your Bathroom – The Most Important Rules
Not everyone prefers the same aesthetic or style when it comes to their bathroom. Some prefer bold and colorful tiles with vibrant designs while other would rather go for a minimalist and soothing decor or skip the tiles altogether. So how do you actually choose the right tiles? Well, there’s a few things to keep in mind:
1. Size matters
It’s not just the size of the bathroom that matters but the size of the tiles as well. Large tiles look great in big and spacious rooms but they make small bathroom look even smaller. Based on that logic small tiles should be the ideal choice for a small bathroom but, once again, that’s not the way to go because more tiles means more grout lines which overwhelms the room unnecessarily. With that in mind it seems that the best choice in most cases is medium-sized tiles or subtle grout lines that blend in with the tiles.
2. Strategic color choices
As you probably already know, different colors have different effects on the overall look and feel of a room. This goes hand in hand with the size of the bathroom because small bathrooms look better when their color schemes are light or neutral. Light colors reflect more light which helps make a small space appear bigger and brighter. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean dark-colored tiles can’t look great in your bathroom. It’s more a matter of balancing out all the details.
3. The pattern is important
Before you rush to pick the first tile pattern that comes to your mind, take some time to consider a few of the options. There’s lots of different patterns that you can arrange the bathroom tiles in and this pattern, just like everything else in the room, is important for the overall aesthetic and the ambiance in the room. A cool trick is to use diagonal tile patterns to make a small bathroom seem bigger or to place rectangular tiles horizontally to make the wall seem wider. Similarly, vertical patterns draw attention to the ceiling and make the room seem taller.
The Most Popular Bathroom Types of tiles
One of the main filters you can apply when searching for the perfect tiles for your bathroom is the type which goes hand in hand with the material from which the tiles are made. Here’s a few of the options:
This is one of the most popular types of tiles both for kitchens and for bathrooms. Porcelain tiles are durable and sturdy, they can withstand scratches and stains and they’re water-resistant as well. This combo is ideal for bathrooms where there’s typically lots of moisture. Porcelain tiles also come in a wide variety of colors and finishes which is yet another great reason to choose them.
You might be curious what the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is since these two types are often considered identical. While they’re made from the same materials, ceramic tiles are less finely ground compared to the porcelain ones. This indirectly makes them a bit less durable and less water-resistant but they’re still a solid option for bathrooms when sealed properly.
Whether it’s in the form of tiles, countertops or something else, marble is one of the most elegant and timeless materials. Marble tiles have the power to make your bathroom look stylish and sophisticated without being overwhelming. Each piece of marble is unique and you can also make your design special by arranging the tiles in certain patterns.
These tiles can be made from a variety of different materials including ceramic, marble as well as glass. You can differentiate them from other types of tiles by their size. Mosaic tiles are tiny and give walls and floors a distinctively artistic look.
Glass in general is one of the most versatile materials because it goes with pretty much any style. Glass tiles are by extension easy to pair with all sorts of aesthetics. Just like a lot of other types, they come in lots of different colors ranging from subtle tinted glass to bold and vibrant nuances.
If you want your bathroom to have a more neural aesthetic with natural and earthy colors such as beige, brown or grey, limestone tiles are a top choice. They have the ability to give your bathroom a warm and airy feel and they’re easy to integrate into a multitude of styles. One of the disadvantages of choosing limestone tiles however is the fact that they’re made from a porous material and thus need to be sealed extremely well when used in bathrooms.
This is the go-to tile type for high-traffic areas. Slate tiles are super durable and they don’t scratch or chip but they are more expensive compared to some of the other types mentioned here.
Vinyl tiles are an excellent choice if you want your bathroom to be low-maintenance and low cost. Yes, vinyl used to be very inferior to ceramic, porcelain and pretty much any other material in the past mainly because of its appearance. In recent years this has improved exponentially which makes vinyl tiles better than ever and a super practical choice.
This is one of the less popular types of tiles, a bit more of a niche option. Terracotta tiles are great if you want to give your bathroom a Mediterranean-inspired look or if you’re looking for tiles with a very earthy look and feel. Keep in mind that in order to enjoy them for a long time they need to be sealed properly.
This is a type of tile that can be used to create nature-inspired designs or to give the bathroom a zen look and feel. They’re made of pebbles or river rocks held together by grout and they have a unique appearance, being one of the most eye-catching types of tiles out there.
16 Breathtaking Walk-In Shower Tile Design Ideas
White subway tiles for a classic look
A walk-in shower is definitely the way to go if you have a small bathroom and if you prefer a clean and open design in general. This bathroom by studio Copper Sky Renovations takes the idea a step further and pairs a clear glass door with white subway tiles to create a simple and classic look.
Warm neutrals paired with wood
The use of wood in the bathroom is a bit controversial but can definitely work in cases when you want to give the room a warm and inviting look or when you’re going for a specific aesthetic. Here studio One Week Bath paired the elegant wooden furniture and accent pieces with these earthy shower tiles and it looks great.
Chevron lines and high contrasts
There’s a lot of details to think about when designing a shower such as the colors you want to use, the type of tiles or the pattern that you want to arrange them in. This is a wheelchair-accessible bathroom designed by studio Danielle Interior Design & Decor and it’s inspiring in quite a few different ways. The chevron lines and the dark colors look quite nice.
Natural light and cool dividers
This type of design by Robert Nebolon Architects is great for bathrooms that are long and narrow. Sectioning off an area on one end for the shower is both practical and aesthetically-pleasing. Here you can see a clear distinction between the shower and the rest of the bathroom. They have different floors and the wall tiles differ quite a bit as well.
Marble tiles and gold fixtures
This bathroom designed by Authentic Interiors is small but somehow has a double sink vanity and a walk-in shower and it doesn’t feel cluttered at all. The white marble tiles on the walls give it a bright and timeless look and the gold fixtures and accessories add a glamorous touch to the space as a whole.
An open design
Most of the time the shower area is closed off whether it’s with glass or something else. There’s usually a physical barrier separating the shower from the rest of the bathroom. However, in this case studio Bestbath opted for a completely open, barrier-free design. The shower still stands out from the rest of the room and it’s due to its white subway tile walls and white floor which contrast with the surroundings.
Stylish black details
For this bathroom studio EMR Architecture created a really nice and sleek separation between the shower and the rest of the room. The divider is made of glass with a black metal frame which matches the black fixtures and stands out against the white wall tiles and the matching floor. Moreover, everything is concentrated on one side of the room while the opposite wall lets in natural light through multiple windows.
An invisible shower
When dealing with a small bathroom a clever idea can be to make the shower stand out as little as possible. In other words, you could have a walk-in shower that blends in perfectly with the rest of the room. Here for instance it occupies one of the corners and the wall and floor tiles don’t differ or stand out which ensures continuity in design. Also, the partition is made of clear glass with no frame around it.
An elegant raised shower design
If you like the idea of a sleek and modern walk-in shower but you’d still prefer a visible delineation between it and the rest of the bathroom, consider a design such as this one. This bathroom by Anita Bourne of Definitive Design looks super elegant. It has white marble tiles in the shower which is also slightly raised compared to the rest of the floor but still maintains the same look.
A tiled shower with an elegant trim
It’s not just the floor and wall tiles that can make a shower stand out and look beautiful but also little details like all the fixtures and accessories or the extra features. This bathroom by studio Positive Space Staging + Design has plenty of character thanks to the tile trim that adds a point of interest to the otherwise very simple walls.
A stylish tub and shower combo
Another cool idea for a small bathroom is to have the tub and the shower combined. A design such as this allows you to have both without needing any extra space. The glass divider really fits in this space and suits the modern-industrial aesthetic of the room. This is a design done by Denys Bondarenko.
Matching tiles, different heights
White subway tiles are a fairly safe choice for a bathroom given how versatile and timeless they look. Nevertheless, this doesn’t make them boring. Here they were sued for the shower walls but also some of the other wall surfaces but the height differs which adds a subtle variation to the design. This is a design by studio RM \ Architecture.
Black and white with a twist
This is a really elegant and beautiful way of separating the shower from the rest of the bathroom and giving it its own unique identity and character. The black and white separation and the use of different mosaic tile patterns almost makes it look like the shower is a completely separate room. Check out the full project by studio Alexander & Co for more inspiration.
A seamless transition
Sometimes the simplest and most obvious design choices turn out to also be the best ones. Like the fact that this walk-in shower sits neatly in the corner of the bathroom. It fits just right in here and the glass partition wall helps it keep a low profile. At the same time, the wall tiles and flooring are the same for the whole room which helps the shower blend in seamlessly. This is part of a beautiful house designed by architect Hugh Strange.
Using mirrors to create the impression of a larger and more open and airy space is a really clever strategy, especially when dealing with a small space. In a bathroom this effect is usually achieved with wall mirrors. However, take a look at this gorgeous bathroom designed by Peter Fehrentz. The shower is disguised behind mirrors and it looks exquisite.
A lavish marble sanctuary
Created in collaboration with studio BAAO, this house has a magnificent bathroom where the raised walk-in shower is wrapped in lavish tiles of white marble with a gorgeous veining pattern. The brass accents really stand out and the arched shape of the window helps to soften the impact this marble shower has on the room as a whole.