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How to Choose Bathroom Tiles With Clients

Before you start your next design project with your client involving tile sections, read this article for some pro tips and tricks.

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Top things to know about choosing bathroom tile when designing a bathroom for a client:

  • When designing a bathroom for a client, make sure you're asking all the right questions.
  • You'll want to schedule a visit to see the space in person or ask for photos of the bathroom if it's virtual.
  • Get all the information you need from your client before you jump into the inspiration board process.
  • Ensure that you're narrowing down the tile options for your client and making the process smooth for them. The more streamlined the options, the easier it will be to narrow down the winner!

Designing a bathroom can be overwhelming for homeowners, which is where designers come in. It's a designer's job to get into the nitty-gritty details and present tiles that fit in the space, functionally make sense, and align with the client's definition of beauty. In this article, I will share my proven method for choosing the best bathroom tile and how to navigate picking them for your clients.

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When designing a bathroom for a client, make sure you're asking all the right questions.

The first thing I do with clients when we're talking about renovating or designing a new bathroom is to simply have a conversation with them. Sounds easy, right? The trick here is to ask the right questions. Here are some of the questions that I like to ask:

  1. What do you like or dislike about your current bathroom?
  2. Do you know what style or vibe you want in the bathroom?
  3. How do you want to feel when you walk into your bathroom?
  4. Have you seen any tile that you've loved? If so, what did you like about it?
  5. What inspired you to redo or add on a bathroom in the first place?

These are great conversation starters, and they often lead to a ton of helpful information for choosing tile and the design for the rest of the bathroom. These questions should give you a good starting point for finding some inspiration.

bathroom tile mood board
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Take time to visit and examine the bathroom you'll be designing—or ask for photos if it's virtual.

After going through all those questions with my client, I always try to see the space in person or ask for photos if it's e-design.

As a designer, I always say, "the house talks to me"—I’m not sure if anyone believes me, but it's true! I think every house has a design in mind already. For instance, you probably wouldn't put a floral patterned tile in a sharp modern home. When you're asking for pictures of the space or taking them yourself, make sure to get every inch of the area so that you can refer back to them. Getting all the measurements (including ceiling height) is also important. These will be key factors when choosing specific tiles.

Another essential thing to note in the space is lighting. Are there windows in the bathroom? Does the room feel bright? Will you be changing the lighting? Tiles look different in different lighting, so it's important to give your clients the ideal image in any case!

Gather all your information and start making inspiration boards for the bathroom.

By this point, you should have enough information about the space and what your clients want—now it's time to pull it together into a cohesive inspiration board. Making inspiration boards is my favorite part of the design process, mainly because you can look at dreamy pictures of bathrooms all day. Pull photos of bathrooms with specific designs and patterns you think your client would love. I recommend sourcing images from Spoak, Pinterest, and Instagram. I always include images that my clients have sent me as well. I use Spoak to display the photos to my clients and then write notes with each image describing why I included it. For example, "I think this tile works well with the feeling you described, and we can have a complex pattern because the room is so big." The cool thing about using Spoak is your clients can respond to the images in the program, which is an excellent option for virtual clients. If my clients were in person, I would still put all of the inspiration pictures on Spoak and then meet with them in person to add further notes.

tile combinations created in spoak
Source: Heather Hamel — This board shows my client what the different types of tile options are for their project.

After sourcing the inspiration for your client, it's time to nail down what images they are the most drawn to.

Generally, after this step, I can nail down what I call a "love tile."

There are usually one or two pictures where clients say, "OMG, I love this one!" The designer's job is to find exactly what they love about that image. It's usually a single tile or tile look, like "I love this green tile wall" or "I love that pebble floor." Some version of "I love" always comes out in that conversation (if we've done our job correctly). This step is all about finding that love tile. Once you get the "love tile," you can start sourcing tiles that look similar and get samples! Your goal here is to get a "YES." In theory, you have enough information at this point to choose a single tile that works with the house and what you think will work for the overall design.

Select your love tile and start building the bathroom around it.

Once you have the love tile, you can start building the other elements in the bathroom around it. I like to look for two or three other tiles that work with the love tile. I've found that more than three tiles in a bathroom can be a little overwhelming, and a single tile doesn't create enough depth. You can use inspiration pictures they liked, color palettes you're working into the space, and the feeling of the house to pull these together. I often find in this part of the process that my clients and I sometimes use a tile combination that doesn't even include the love tile, which is okay! All the steps taken to get to this point are necessary (even if that means your client changed their mind).

colorful bathroom tile
Source: Maggie Stoll— The combination of bold tiles used in this bathroom designed by Spoak member Maggie Stoll is so fun!

Don't forget this handy checklist the next time you choose tile with your client.

Choosing tile can be a challenging task to do with your clients, but it doesn't have to be. The bottom line is that it's their space and our job as designers to help their bathroom dreams come true! Here are some general truths I've found that I like to use as a checklist every time I begin a bathroom tile project:

  • Narrow down their options! That overwhelming feeling gets worse when you give clients too many tile options.
  • As a designer, you need to tell your client where you think the best place to put specific tiles is. For example, "The pebble stone tile will go on the floor, the green tile will be behind the shower, etc."
  • Stay within the budget; even if they like the fancy marble tile, you can find ones that will fit into their budget. If you're leaning on that line, make sure they know and are okay with going over budget.

Your main goal is to think about how the client lives in their space, hear out their vision, and be able to pull it all together to create a beautiful tile design for their bathroom. You got this!

Photo Credit: (Left) Architectural Digest

For more bathroom inspiration and design tips, join Spoak.

Date Posted
August 2, 2022



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