Your bathroom may be mini in size but that doesn't mean it can't be mighty in style and small bathroom tile ideas could be just what you need to make an impact.
Not only does having a smaller bathroom mean you can easily keep the costs down when looking into bathroom tile ideas, but it also means you can have more fun and really create a statement. Coloured, patterned and textured tiles in a large bathroom can sometimes feel a little daring, but in a smaller space it's less of a commitment and provides you with more of a chance to be brave.
Small bathroom tile ideas
The important thing to remember when considering tiling is that you want the final finish to be eye-catching, but not overwhelming. Especially important when the space in question is on the small size. Whether you're looking for floor tiles, wall tiles or shower tile ideas, there really is something for every style and space.
With options of either large format tiles or small, intricate designs, there’s a style to suit you, and we’ve compiled 13 of our most inspirational small bathroom tile ideas to help you choose the perfect option.
1. Take tiles to the floor
This bathroom may be small, but it certainly packs a punch! Modern blue and white geometric tiles are taken from the floor up on to the wall, creating an optical illusion by giving the impression that the floor continues far beyond where it really ends, a clever bathroom tile idea.
Matching the blue painted wall beside it, it's a neat way to create a streamlined look.
This same effect also works in a bathroom where the bath is directly opposite the door - try running your floor tiles up the side of the bath to lengthen the room.
2. Create a modern feel with brick tiles
Turning tiles on their head and laying them in a different way can completely change the feel of your bathroom. Brick tiles don't have to be laid in a classic brick formation but can be used in a more vertical way to achieve a more modern bathroom tile idea.
Rob Whitaker, Creative Director at Claybrook says, 'For walls, smaller tiles can work well tiled full height on two or more walls for an architectural look. Brick shaped or rectangular tiles can be tiled vertically for a linear modern feel, or use a coloured grout with white tile for an eye-catching scheme.'
3. Big up metro tiles
We all know that metro tiles are a classic choice when it comes to our bathrooms, but in a small space, they can make the room look busy, especially if you use a contrasting grout and patterned feature floor. Instead, opt for larger-scale metro tiles, meaning you'll use less and can keep the space more streamlined.
Classic metro tiles measure around 100x200mm but the ones used in this bathroom measure 100x300mm.
4. Keep tiles to a minimum
If your bathroom really is on the wee side, laying tiles might actually be too tricky with such a lack of space. Opt inside to tile a small splashback and introduce colour and pattern into the room that way. Terrazzo continues to be a big bathroom tile trend for 2023 and even using it sparingly behind a basin, will add personality and character to your bathroom space. You might even be able to pick up a couple of sample tiles for free, saving you a bit of cash too!
5. Go for glossy tiles for bouncing light
When your bathroom is on the small side, and you're looking for a great small bathroom idea, the key is to inject as much light into the room as possible to brighten it up and make it feel larger than it is.
Diane Hyde, Marketing Manager at Craven Dunnill says, 'In smaller bathrooms, highly reflective gloss tiles are a great way to create a sense of space. As light beautifully reflects off the glaze finish, it creates a wonderful sense of openness, making the room appear wider.'
'Colour can also impact the sense of space in a room. While light, muted and natural tones make a space appear bigger, heavily patterned tiles in bold colours can make a room feel more enclosed.'
6. Choose large format tiles for an uncluttered look
It’s a common misconception that small bathrooms can only be decorated with small tiles. In fact, the labyrinth of grout lines between small-format tiles can in fact make a small space feel cluttered. Large format tiles have the opposite effect, with fewer grout lines helping to make the room feel more streamlined and spacious. If you're wondering just how to tile a bathroom wall, it's worth getting clued up before you start.
Here large marble-look tiles have been used, but cleverly matched up so to create the effect of one large panel on the back wall and one large panel along the bath.
7. Stick with a neutral palette
A go-to decorating trick in any small room, opting for a neutral colour palette will make a room feel bigger than it is. Stick to white bathroom tile ideas, and keep the rest of the room neutral too. That’s not to say that your options are limited though. Neutral needn't be boring, as this bathroom, tiled all over with different shaped and sized white tiles shows, as the finished look is ultra-chic.
8. Make a statement with a feature wall
If all-neutral-everything isn’t for you, then fear not, as you can add colour by way of a feature wall. An accent wall will draw your eye to one part of the room – ideally the back wall to give your bathroom added depth.
You might also choose to emphasise the emptier part of the room, as this will draw attention to the most spacious-looking area. Create a feeling of space throughout any small bathroom layout.
9. Go half and half to create the illusion of height
If your bathroom has a low ceiling, then tiling the lower half of the wall and painting the upper half will create the impression of a taller room. This will also make it easier to hang artwork, shelves and mirrors.
The half-and-half tiled wall effect lends itself well to both traditional and contemporary bathrooms. Strike the perfect balance between the two with a traditional clawfoot tub contrasted against contemporary patterned flooring.
10. Use small-format mosaic tiles in moderation
Too many grout lines can make a small bathroom feel cluttered, but that’s not to say that small-format mosaic tiles can’t be used in moderation! Pick a small area - perhaps a border, an alcove, the wall behind your vanity unit or an area in the shower - and make this the focal point.
Whether you choose to use small squares, rectangles or hexagons, this cloakroom tile idea is a surefire way to add impact to the room.
11. Be bold with patterned floor tiles
One trick to make your small bathroom feel bigger is to cover your floor with patterned tiles, like the Victorian-style tiles used in this bathroom. If you choose a patterned floor tile, then opt for simple white wall tiles to create the perfect balance and to avoid overwhelming the space.
12. Use tiles to create zones
Another trick to make a small bathroom feel bigger is using tiles and to create zones. Tile behind your toilet or vanity unit, in an alcove, or in your shower. This small bathroom is proof that less isn’t always more, with a decorative tiled shower enclosure and floor working together harmoniously in a way that is fun and playful without overwhelming the space.
13. Play with interesting shapes for visual appeal
Using tiles in interesting shapes is a great way to add visual interest to the room, especially if you don’t want to experiment with colour. The white chevron tiles in this bathroom are visually striking, and their pattern also elongates the walls and adds a sense of height and space.
The neutral colour of the tiles works beautifully alongside the natural wooden furniture and the large mirror, with the whole look coming together in a way that feels light, bright and airy.
What colour tiles are best for small bathrooms?
In general, lighter coloured tiles are best in small bathrooms as they help to brighten the room and make the space feel bigger. That said, bright and dark colours can certainly be used in moderation, such as on a feature wall, as an accent or even on the floor.
Patrick Stoner from the Trimline Group agrees, saying that 'we generally recommend using lighter pastel colour tiles for small bathrooms, and you can then add bolder colours in the form of accessories, like towels and bath mats'.
What size tiles should be used in a small bathroom?
Contrary to what you might think, large format tiles are generally better suited to small bathrooms, as larger tiles mean fewer grout lines. Too many busy grout lines can make your bathroom feel cluttered. That’s not to say that small tiles can’t be used too, they should just be used in moderation.
Ruth Foster, Interior Designer at Victoria Plum says, 'In 2023, large tiles will most definitely grow in popularity in the bathroom. Not only do large tiles make a small space appear bigger, but they also provide a luxurious, high-end feel.'
'However, their striking appearance is not the only benefit, as they have a much more practical advantage when cleaning, unlike smaller tiles.'
Rob Whitaker, Creative Director at Claybrook says it all depends on whether you're using the tiles on the walls or the floor. 'I find that for a smaller bathroom floor using a tile 30cm x 30cm or smaller works well to create a more tailored feel. Larger than that and it gets trickier to create a layout that works well for the eye. Chequerboard patterns work brilliantly in smaller spaces to add visual interest.'
Which way should you lay tiles in a small bathroom?
In a small bathroom how you lay tiles is as an important factor as the design aesthetic. 'The best way to lay tiles in a small bathroom is horizontally, as this will help to elongate the room,' says Patrick. 'A vertical tile, on the other hand, will make the room look taller.'
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Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.
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