Design Inspo

Tiling Small Bathroom Ideas That Are Effective and Easy

Learn how to tile a small bathroom that will leave a big impression on guests by using the right combination of materials. 

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When we think of focal points in our homes, our first thoughts generally go to the grand fireplace in the living room or a stunning gallery feature wall in the dining room. But who said that interior design should only be relegated to public spaces?

Not us! It's time to tackle the bathroom remodel you’ve been dreaming of. Whether taking a quick shower or guiltlessly lounging in a bathtub for hours, a small bathroom can be just as much an oasis as a large one. 

You heard it here first; tiny bathrooms can have a mega impact. Make the most of your available square footage with our top bathroom tile designs made simple.

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Designing a bathroom is like ordering a custom drink at Starbucks at 8:30 AM on a Monday — you need to be brave. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of sticking with basic and safe designs that don’t wow or impress, so don’t be afraid to throw in a splash of your personality.

From color palettes to floor plans, it’s makeover time! 

Tiling Materials and Styles

Besides, of course, needing to be waterproof, tiling should have a modern but timeless aesthetic (so you don’t get sick of it just after a year).

Ask for Samples

If you’re shopping for tiles online or in a brochure, ask for samples from the manufacturer. One of the biggest headaches is finding something you think you like, buying it, and discovering that it looks slightly (or totally) different than what you thought it would. 

When tile shopping, you’ll have to make a huge decision: matte vs. glossy tiles. Try mixing glossy and matte tiles by making the shower tiles matte for grip and the rest of the bathroom glossy for style. It doesn’t have to be only one or the other! Pro-Tip: Glossy tiles reflect light, so they can make a small bathroom feel much larger. 

Matte tiles tend to be less slippery — ideal for hopping out of the shower. If you’re looking for a slip-resistant option, try porcelain tiles or quartz-heavy natural stones like mica schist floor tiles. 

Plan Out Tile Patterns

A little foresight can put the “pow” in powder room and make the space feel more intentional and dramatic. 

For example, instead of going with the basic grid pattern with square tiles, tilt them for a diamond pattern or go with rectangular-shaped tiles for a classic vintage look. For the shower floor, one of the most popular patterns is the honeycomb pattern with smaller hexagon tiles. The possibilities are endless when you use your imagination.

Smaller bathrooms can easily feel cramped and visually crowded. Combat this by avoiding smaller floor tiles and utilizing large format pieces for a very modern look. The fewer grout lines, the better, especially with small rooms. 

Need some inspiration? Here are a few tiles that are making a splash:

  • Herringbone tiles: Parallel lines sloping and intersecting at 45-degree angles. This will require more cuts, so keep that in mind if you’re working with a good amount of floor space.
  • Subway tiles: Rectangular tiles that mimic the classic brick-laying style. White subway tiles are especially popular for kitchens, providing a wonderful opportunity for a cohesive touch, but they are equally lovely in bathrooms. 
  • Mosaic tiles: Small tiles create large, artistic patterns. They offer a pop of color and are super easy to install, thanks to their mesh backing. 
  • One-third offset: This style is just like the subway pattern, but it’s shifted over by one-third.
  • Pinwheel/hopscotch: Small square tiles are placed at the corner of each larger tile. 

Bathroom Flooring and Walls

Halve the Shower Wall

Typically, the shower floor tiling is a different color and pattern from the rest of the bathroom floor to create a division in the space. If you have a particularly narrow bathroom, you may want to “halve the wall.”

Halving the wall is when the bottom half of the wall tiles contrast with the upper half of the wall; this gives the bathroom the feeling of being wider than it actually is.

Consider Unconventional Materials

If you’re brave enough, use two materials most people don’t think about using in a bathroom: stone and wood. 

These two materials create synergy and contrast each other to create an earthy, modern feeling. Use black stone for the floor tiling and dark wood paneling for the walls, or go with a brighter, natural material for a lighter look.

When you think outside the box, the style and sheer tenacity of the design will distract from the actual compact size of the bathroom and strike your guests with awe and envy.

Mimic Your Favorite Hotel

To exude luxury in a small space, use gray slate for the walls and white marble for the flooring for that luxury hotel feeling. 

This particular combo pairs well with chrome fixtures, while the stone and wood style goes well with black and brass fixtures. For an extra pop of fun and liveliness, paint the walls a bright amber or butterscotch and pair it with white hexagonal floor tiles for a summery feel.

Create a mood board in Spoak to help your decision making process (Credit: Carly Johnston)

Go Minimalist

Considering the lack of space, decor should lean into the minimalist style as much as possible in compact bathrooms. Countertops should be relatively clear, and organizers either under the vanity or next to it should be out of the way of foot traffic paths. The more you can keep hidden, the better.

Speaking of saving space, let’s talk about the shower door. If possible, opt for a sliding glass shower door — clear, not frosted. The glass keeps light flowing (creating the illusion of extra room), and if the door slides (or opens inward), you won’t have to worry about it accidentally knocking into that hanging statement light you love. 

DIY Tiling

Depending on who you talk to, someone might suggest not tiling your own bathroom if you’re a first-timer; but to that we say, anything is possible with some TLC and determination! On the plus side, tiling a smaller bathroom means less space to cover. You can always speak with a design expert before embarking on a project, too.

If you’re up for the challenge, here’s some basic information you should know:

  1. Make sure the area you’re going to be working on is level and free of any debris. If you notice imperfections or divots on the floor, mix and pour a leveling compound and apply it to the needed areas.
  2. Protect the floor below from moisture by installing a tile membrane that helps prevent tiles from cracking. 
  3. Dry-fit your tiles on the floor with spacers. Dry-fitting helps you figure out where tiles need to be placed and what tiles need to be cut to fit along the walls and vanity.
  4. Fill the membrane cavities with very thin mortar.
  5. Spread mortar in the small area you want to start with. Spread a thin layer on the back of the tile before firmly placing it down too. 
  6. After all the tiles are firmly set, allow them to rest for about 24 to 48 hours.
  7. Apply the grout and let it cure. Afterward, apply a grout sealer which will prevent water from penetrating. 
  8. Enjoy your new floor, take all the photos, and show off your hard work!

Bathroom Wall Design Ideas To Make Your Space Feel Bigger

Go Light

Bright, light colors can make tight spaces loom large. White walls are the classic go-to, but this isn’t your only option. Lighter colors like mint green or pastel yellow can make any room feel bigger. 

If you don’t want to do an all-white bathroom, go for white tiles for the sink backsplash. Subway wall tiles work particularly well with modern bathrooms. 

Create an Accent Wall

Accent walls are mostly associated with wallpaper or wood details like wainscoting. While you can totally add those fan-favorite details, you might like a few other options. 

An accent wall is a fantastic opportunity to bring in some texture — use tiles! Colored tiles can be just as dynamic as wallpaper. 

If you do have a dark accent wall, place it on either the same wall as the window or next to the window. Dark accent walls don’t usually work well in other parts of a bathroom because they can create a dank dungeon effect without natural lighting to offset it.

Tile With Style

Your bathroom is more than just a place to clean up and lose hair ties — it’s a sanctuary for self-care and relaxation. The tiling you choose should inspire feelings of vibrancy and warmth at the same time through proper sizing and colorways. 

Photo Credit: (Left) Architectural Digest


Undermount Sink vs. Drop-In Sink: Product Comparison and Contrast | The Spruce

What You Need to Know about Large Gauged Porcelain Slabs | Builder Magazine

How to Install Mosaic Tile | The Spruce

The Dos and Don'ts of Tiling a Small Bathroom | Bob Vila

Don't want to slip? Here's the best stone floor to walk on | Science

Have a small tile bathroom idea you’re already dreaming up? Visualize it with Spoak’s design tools.

Date Posted
April 26, 2023



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