Beyond Subway Tile: 9 Bold Bathroom Tile Designs
Add eye-catching color and texture to your bath with these ideas.
As we've mentioned before, we at HGTV.com love subway tile. In a kitchen or bathroom, it's timeless yet on-trend, and it complements just about any design style. But since subway tile is so popular, it can sometimes feel like it's the only option out there. If you're thinking of trying something a little different in your bath, get inspired by these bold, colorful tile designs.
Contemporary Double-Vanity Bathroom With Gray Tiled Wall
This contemporary double-vanity bathroom features a gray-tiled wall and stylish accents including narrow wall sconces and flat basin-style sinks. The sleek black vanity has a white marble countertop and offers plenty of storage space for keeping the bathroom clutter free.
A tile backsplash in deep shades of gray sets a striking tone in this contemporary bathroom. Working with a dark-colored tile may seem daunting, but you can lighten up your space by incorporating at least one bright white element.
Vanity and Mirror
The master bath's larger vanity, with solid maple drawer fronts painted bright white, includes a 40-inch-wide by 30-inch-high medicine cabinet with anodized aluminum construction and a durable rust-free and chip-free finish.
Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography
Like subway tile, penny tile is another classic that’s currently in vogue. This timeless style is available in a variety of colors; for a bright, airy look, try a neutral or a light blue, as seen in the master bath of HGTV Urban Oasis 2016. For a glamorous space, opt for black, gold or silver tile.
Wood is a risky choice for the bathroom, but you can mimic its rustic, textural look with tile. Meant to imitate reclaimed oak, the tiles in this bath combine the rugged beauty of wood with the strength and durability of porcelain.
With their intricate patterns, the custom cement tiles in this bathroom lend a touch of Moroccan style to the space. Mirror strips on either side of the back wall add extra visual depth.
Bathroom Sink and Vanity With Brown Tile Backsplash
Richly detailed brown tiles decorate the backsplash of this sink picking up the similar hues in the wood vanity and sink. On the counter, silver dispensers elegantly finish off the scene.
Sporting various hues of brown, black and amber, tortoiseshell-inspired tiles look warm and slightly woodsy in this bathroom. A wood vanity, copper sink and mirror hung from a leather strap round out the space's naturally elegant look.
Add a Graphic Punch
HGTV host and designer Sarah Richardson is famous for mixing patterns in unexpected ways — but she takes a less-is-more approach in this dreamy spa bath where the room's big punch is provided by alternating bands of watery blue and green glass tile on the shower's accent wall. Keeping the more modern touch small helps it blend seamlessly with the otherwise traditional bathroom.
Marble, Marble and More Marble
Designer Mark Williams makes the slipper tub the star of this luxurious bathroom by tucking it into a tile-covered arch beneath an oversized Palladian window. Larger 9 x 18 Carrara marble tiles surround the window while smaller marble subway tiles line the arch. To complete the traditional look, Mark chose Cararra marble and black granite basketweave tiles for the bathroom's floor.
Put the Focus on the Floor
Although you might mistake the herringbone floors in this posh bathroom for wood or even a painted detail, it's actually marble that designer Joni Spear had painstakingly cut into 4-inch-wide planks then laid in a specific order to maximize the color contrast between different areas of the stone.
This modern and uber-hip small bathroom, designed by Brian Patrick Flynn, is full of outside-the-box ideas. From the graphic pattern on the door, created by attaching cut wood planks, to the mosaic tile accent wall that Brian added to both brighten up the vanity area and make the walls feel taller.
Use Various Tile Shapes in Different Colors
San Francisco Bay-area designer Kriste Michelini uses tile to create a divide between the wet and dry areas of the bathroom. She frequently experiments with unique combinations of tile and uses various tile shapes in the same marble material to create a sense of infinite space.
Pay Attention to the Details
Portland, Ore., designer Jessica Helgerson believes the little tiling details can make or break a space. For example, she finds it's important to carefully consider where the tile starts and stops. If there isn't a clean way to end the tiling, she'll often take the tile all the way up the wall. This bathroom features one of Jessica's favorite tiles, made by Oceanside GlassTile.
Keep Floors and Walls the Same
For this small bathroom, Kriste Michelini creates a luxurious hotel feeling by keeping the floor and wall tiles the same. The entire space is wrapped in a black tile that's offset with a wall-mounted vanity. Photo courtesy of Kriste Michelini
Play With the Trim Options
In this bathroom, Jessica Helgerson uses a 3 x 6 brick from Pratt and Larson's Simple Solutions, which is chosen for the great variety of trim options. For example, the tile wainscot has a decorative base and top cap, and a different cap is used for the edge of the tub. She then uses black and white marble hexagon mosaics on the floor, creating a decorative border with the white tile. Photo courtesy of Jessica Helgerson
Create a Focal Wall
When tiling a shower, Kriste Michelini suggests putting the shower niche on the same wall as the shower fixture. This allows for the main walls to be tiled beautifully with no disruptions or cut outs in the focal wall. In addition, she suggests continuing the bathroom floor tile over the shower curb and into the shower pan to visually expand the floor and keep it clean looking. In this bathroom, the client wanted a beachy vibe, so Kriste uses a mosaic tile on the walls with small white subway tiles on the shower pan. The bottom third of the shower door is frosted for privacy while the top is left clear to allow natural sunlight into the shower. Photo courtesy of Kriste Michelini
Use One Tile for the Entire Space
Charleston, S.C., designer Cortney Bishop prefers to use one tile for the entire space as a way to create a cohesive look. If the scale of the chosen tile is too large to use everywhere, Cortney cuts the chosen tile down to scale to maintain the continuity and then creates a spa-like feel by taking the tile all the way to the ceiling.
Create a Spa-Like Effect
When Cortney was presented with the challenge of a large bathroom, she decided to create a light and airy waterfall-like atmosphere. To accomplish this, she has the glass tiles installed vertically and keeps the grout neutral. Bishop says, "As a general rule, less is more. Using one tile throughout a space gives a cleaner, more consistent look." Photo courtesy of Cortney Bishop
Use Tile to Create Architectural Interest
Jessica Helgerson utilizes Dal tile in a 3 x 6 white brick and chooses a thinset rather than a thicker setting bed. For added detailing, she drops the ceiling around the sinks to create a little niche that is completely covered in tile. The floor is a limestone hexagon pattern that came with more variation than she expected but ended up adding a lot of visual interest. Photo courtesy of Jessica Helgerson
Pay Attention to the Tile Glazes
Together with her husband, Brian, artist Edith Heath founded Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, Calif., in 1948. Their focus was on bringing out the natural beauty of the clay. The company still makes tiles using the same production techniques developed by Edith in 1948. Photo courtesy of Heath Ceramics
Play With Different Shades of the Same Color
For a trendy, watercolor effect, consider using two or three different shades of glazed tile in the same color family to create a tone-on-tone patchwork. Photo courtesy of Heath Ceramics
Install Tiles Vertically to Create Height
In this modern bathroom, the ceramic tiles are installed vertically to emphasize the geometry of the space and give the illusion of height. Also, by combining different tiles in similar colors, you further emphasize the size of the space while creating a sense of visual texture. Photo courtesy of Heath Ceramics
Transitional Master Bathroom With Taupe Hexagonal Tile
This beautiful bathroom features gray and white marble that continues from the floor to the backsplash and shower. This marble meets a wall of taupe hexagonal tile for an attractive design transition. A gray double vanity completes the stylish look.
It doesn’t get much more luxurious than a marble bathroom. Here, marble tiles envelop the space, continuing from the floor all the way up the walls. In the shower, a wall of taupe, hexagon-shaped tiles adds warmth and interesting texture.
Fun With Geometrics
Geometric Tile Pattern Adds Extra Dimension to Powder Room
Geometric tile in varying color stretches from wall to floor to play a fun game with dimension and shape in this trend-forward Brooklyn powder room. A sleek, white floating vanity and simple mirror keep the attention focused on the dramatic tile.
A small powder room is the perfect place to play with a really bold tile. In this petite bath, geometric tiles cover the walls and floor, adding dimension to the space. The simple white vanity and frameless mirror keep the design from feeling overwhelming.
If you’re especially crazy for color, try a mosaic tile backsplash in an array of hues. The key to pulling off this look is keeping the rest of the space fairly neutral. In this bathroom, white walls and a sleek, white vanity let the tilework take center stage.
Yellow-Tiled Angled Bathroom Wall With Hexagonal Floors
Because pedestal tubs appear to float in their surroundings, they can be a wise choice for compact bathrooms. Not only do they take up less visual space, but their smaller footprint also exposes more flooring, which is preferable when showing off intricate hexagonal floor tiles like these.
If you simply can’t resist the idea of a subway tile bathroom, consider putting a new twist on this timeless look, such as a bright color or an unexpected pattern. Vibrant yellow tiles help this compact bathroom feel larger.
Dazzling metallic subway tiles are a versatile alternative to traditional white tiles, as they can lend a glamorous or industrial style depending on the design of the kitchen. This stainless steel design from Brother vs. Brother is a stylish, easy-to-clean option that cost roughly $600 to install.
One of the easiest ways to mix up your kitchen’s backsplash design is by laying tile in a fun, unexpected pattern, such as this herringbone design featured in HGTV Magazine. By pairing the design with simple shelves and black-and-white art, the charming tilework remains the star of the space.
All About Color
An obvious way to add a personal touch to a subway tile backsplash is by ditching basic white and opting for a favorite color instead. In this Craftsman kitchen, the vibrant green backsplash contributes a cheery accent to the Shaker-style cabinets and stainless steel appliances.
Back to Blues
But why stick to just one color when you can give your kitchen a totally unexpected look simply by mixing variant hues of the same color? In this transitional kitchen, blue tiles with different levels of saturation are tied together by white upper cabinets and solid blue lower cabinets.
A single, metallic stripe sets this kitchen backsplash apart while creating a streamlined look. Horizontal drawer pulls and a sleek range hood complete the modern design in this kitchen designed by HGTV’s Property Brothers.
Multiple stripes in a complementary color give this sweet kitchen backsplash a one-of-a-kind look with charming appeal. By keeping the floor and upper cabinets light, the lightly colored backsplash makes a bold statement in the space.
Sleek and Stainless Steel
Stainless steel inserts combine with white glass subway tiles for an almost futuristic vibe in this ultra-modern kitchen. Smart lighting and sleek appliances further the room’s high-tech design.
Upon first glance, this subway tile backsplash may not seem extraordinary, but by continuing the tile all the way to the ceiling, the room feels larger, the walls are easy to clean, and the kitchen boasts more texture and interest.
Bevel May Care
To liven up a basic backsplash, consider a beveled tile. "Having the tile done this way added a lot of dimension to the walls,” explains designer Tobi Farley. “It adds texture to the neutral kitchen, and the varying shades of bisque and sand complement the Roman shade perfectly. I love working with tile in new and different ways – it can really add to a design!"
The Dark Side
A dark brown backsplash keeps this kitchen from looking too stuffy or boring. It not only blends beautifully with the countertops and flooring, but the contrast with the stark white cabinetry adds a gorgeous balance that keeps the space interesting and warm.
In keeping with the classic white subway tile backsplash, one way to add a bit of interest is by adding contrast with a dark grout, such as the deep gray featured here. Another bonus? A darker grout is excellent for hiding dirt!