Love the classic look that metro tiles offer? When it comes to metro tile bathroom ideas, there are plenty of styles to choose from. While it's easy to get in a spin when considering bathroom tile ideas, from geometric shapes and tiny mosaics to large slabs and a plethora of patterns, the tile trends are vast.
It's fun to keep an eye on interior trends, but when it comes to fixtures and fittings that need to last, classic designs reign supreme. After all, do you really want your bathroom tiles to date as quickly as last year's Tiktok craze? Choosing metro tile bathroom ideas offers an enduring style that will outlast any fashion fad.
Metro tile bathroom ideas
'Metro tiles are a popular choice as they allow for a few different styles to be achieved, depending on how they are positioned,' says Richard Fox, Senior Designer, Ripples. 'You can opt for a traditional brick layout, interesting borders, or a herringbone pattern. There are lots of options, so they're a versatile choice. Depending on the colour or style you choose, metro tiles can work for contemporary, traditional or more industrial schemes.'
1. Give them a traditional spin
These classic metro bathroom tile ideas take their influence from those used in the first underground and metro stations in London, Paris and New York at the turn of the twentieth century. For that reason, they work well as a backdrop to items from the same period.
Here they offset a gorgeous traditional-style freestanding slipper bath with heritage brassware. The Toulouse-Lautrec print is a fun nod to the era, while the pale stripped wood flooring and the modern furniture and accessories keep the room looking current.
2. Choose a dark neutral
Instead of white subway tile ideas, consider a darker neutral like grey with bright white grout. With a simple, elegant base it's easy to liven your scheme up with accessories in bold colours, such as this sunshine yellow stool and towel.
'White and grey will always be popular colour choices for the classic metro tile,' says Louisa Swannell, Head of Creative Design, Walls & Floors. 'However, in the past few years, we have also seen an increase in rich Victorian green tones, as well as pink, as people bring more colour into their homes.'
3. Mix with a dark patterned floor
When you're considering shower tile ideas, one that's less likely to date is a classic contemporary look. In a wet room, mixing metro tiles on the walls with modern Moroccan-style patterned tiles on the floor is a great way to achieve this.
It's a subtle way to introduce a trend, and at the same time, dark colours ground a scheme. By reflecting the floor tile colour in the grout you will create a cohesive look.
'You can use almost any colour of grout with white tiles, if you are looking for a particularly bold effect a dark grey can be very striking,' says Colin Lincoln-Evans, Buyer at Tile Mountain.
4. Bring in a bold splashback
Of course neutrals are a safer bet when choosing tiles. But if you love colour, choose a favourite shade for a bold splashback. When you're only tiling a section, rather than a whole wall, you can be a little braver when looking at how to tile a splashback.
Choosing colours of nature such as deep blue for your subway tile ideas means you're less likely to tire of them. Surrounding the tiles with white walls and flooring will allow them to stand out. Leave vivid tones such as fuchsia pink for painted alcoves or towels and accessories, as it's far easier and cost-effective to change them.
5. Unite your bath and shower area
Taking your tiles up to the ceiling will create a completely waterproof space. This is ideal with a shower-bath idea, as you won't need to worry about splashes.
'Tiles are a timeless choice for showers, and metro tiles seem to be the most popular,' says Louisa Swannell, Head of Creative Design, Walls & Floors. 'Not only are they waterproof and easy to clean, but they can also make a real feature of the space. They're so versatile, they pair well with pretty much anything. They’re the perfect pairing for a bold patterned tile as the two will balance each other out.'
6. Frame with a black border
Give your white metro tiles an edge, quite literally, with black mouldings or edging tiles. If you've opted to tile up to dado height, this is a stylish way to finish the section. Particularly, if you repeat the graphic linear effect elsewhere, such as with a Crittal-style shower screen or room divider and a geometric bathroom floor tile idea in the same shades.
'Borders and dados can be used to break up the tiling and add that little bit of interest, especially if these have colour or contrast,' says Richard Fox, Senior Designer, Ripples.
7. Clad the walls in colour
Colourful bathrooms have seen a huge revival in recent years. After an entire generation distanced itself from the avocado suites of the seventies with crisp white schemes, a new era has seen colour creep back to the bathroom.
In fact, it's done more than creep in, it's boldly announced itself in many a modern maximalist scheme. If you're keen for colour, you can create impact by tiling all the bathroom walls in your favourite hue. Natural materials, such as timber look great with soft green and will provide a wonderful counter balance.
8. Go for gold accents
Taps, shower fittings and hardware in warm metallics, such as brass are a popular bathroom trend. Against a cool white scheme, brassware in a polished finish can add glamour and will stand out against industrial-style metro tiles.
To really ramp up the glam factor, breakup an expanse of white tiles with a row of gold tiles and an alcove in the same shimmering accent tone as the brassware. 'If you have a neutral scheme, you could continue this into the shower, and perhaps opt for a bolder tile to make a feature of the space,' says Louisa Swannell, Head of Creative Design at Walls and Floors.
9. Create interest with geometric shapes
Pairing white metro tiles with dark grout gives a distinctive linear look. A great way to create an interesting contrast with these graphic lines is by laying hexagonal tiles on the floor in the same dark tone.
'The metro tile can sometimes look quite busy on the walls, so a neutral or plain tile as a contrast can help focus the eye,' says Dena Kirby, Senior Designer, Ripples. 'However, if you are looking to make an impact, then patterned or geometric floor tiles also work as a great combination.' Keeping things simple is also great for small bathroom tile ideas.
10. Break up sections of colour
Crisp white metro tiles look gorgeous with dark colours, like navy blue. Teamed together as a splashback and painted wall they look smart and stylish. So why not have a bit of fun, with a bold pattern on the floor?
These 3D effect tiles can be laid to create petal or starburst effects, so experiment with a style that you like before laying them. Tiling is a job that could be undertaken by a proficient DIYer. As long as you have the right tools and to know how to grout tiles, it's possible to do it in a weekend.
Why are metro tiles good for bathrooms?
One of the reasons for the enduring appeal of metro tiles is their versatility. 'They're completely at home in any style of bathroom,' says Colin Roby-Welford, Creative Director, Fired Earth. 'Depending on how they're styled, they can look modern or timeless and traditional.'
Can I use metro tiles in a shower?
'Metro tiles are just like any other ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tile, and can work brilliantly within a shower,' says Richard Fox, Senior Designer, Ripples.
Are metro tiles hard to clean?
The tiles themselves are easy to clean. They tend to be glazed so shampoo and soap generally rinse straight off. 'Just be aware of the grout lines which come with metro tiles,' says Richard fox, Ripples. 'Often a darker grout colour will aid with cleaning within a shower area.'
If you've opted for white grout, it's easy to find out how to clean grout in tiles to keep them looking their best.
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Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.
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