Blaze a trail with bathroom tile style

Tiling terrifies most of us as it’s a commitment not likely to be ripped out for as much as a decade.

When choosing tiles, a well-staged showroom comes into its own, as you’ll be offered designer ideas in large panels and mocked-up bathroom settings. Take advice and trawl the brochures online and off before cementing your ideas into place. Take a tile home and place it under the light conditions in situ.

Here are four useful trends climbing the walls this year in fashionable bathrooms to stir your ideas.


Black and white has been a perennial favourite in bathroom schemes since the 1920s. Slide the ratio of one to the other to suit the room. If your bathroom is small to moderate and relying on natural light, don’t devour the space in endless metres of pitch matt tiling. Random inclusions of black tiles on a white ground plus some ebony furniture floating over a pale floor is all you’ll need to say jazz.

If your budget stretches to a bold artificial light show in a larger bathroom, under-mounted units and spots can deliver a comfortable dose of the dark side in even a windowless en-suite. Look out for deeply shaded wood veneers including black walnut, adding reflective tiling and plenty of mirror length to throw the walls back. Art Deco suites matched to the more restrained, contemporary brassware in taps, showerheads and sleek controls balance period drama with a bold new look.


Wood returned to our bathrooms with our environmental sensibilities in the last few years. Grainy, honey coloured woods, not too bleached or bleak, are everywhere in plain blocky styles set on the floor or suspended above it. Rustic tiles in real stone or close pretenders carry through this natural theme.

Look for large tiles, as big as those suggested for floor use, and take these up the walls for a harmonious, laid back bathroom. Putting rectangular tiles directly on top of each other in a linear arrangement rather than offsetting has a lightly industrial edge. Ensure the colour is right, or you’ll be dwelling in a dreary canyon. If you want to go even further with the wood theme, look for floor tiles or water resistant ‘click’ flooring that replicate timber without the fuss.


Having thrown all restraint to the wind and returned to colour all over the house, retro colour ways taken from the 1950s right through to the 1980s are back in force. Taking even one wall, include a block of new colour from a 70’s emerald to a dose of juicy 50’s orange. Where your bathroom is tiled to waist length, consider what you can do with the remaining wall in a washable, mould resistant paint that can take the humidity. Testers rarely cost more than €1. Look at the colours or veining in the wall and floor tiling as a lead in. Carry on the punches of colour with a new set of bathroom towels and accessories to echo the new scheme.


Tiling is not about one tile fits all, and the joy of its inclusion is combining sizings, designs, colours, and pattern. Perhaps it’s the times we live in, but the days of the brush chrome swan-neck tap and steam room have given way to a more restrained glamour.

Shimmering mosaic softly mirrors the beauty of running water, and can be included in tall columns, splash-backs, and feature panels against a more discreet (and affordable) tile. Small tiling with its obvious grouting also introduces texture and rhythm to the eye.

Even in the same stone or marble surrounding it, a change of scale will make a statement. For a quiet scheme, stick to one neutral colour choice and include panels of mosaic in either the same stone or ceramic or step it up as a metallic that sits well with your main tile.


Still conjuring size against size, panels of subtle or popping designs from botanics to full poster-sized photographs are appearing in bathrooms. Having chosen your major working tile or even sticking to a partially or untiled bathroom, add an aesthetic feature.

Panels such as the Flower Anthracita that scales the wall in just three black super tiles can make an all white room into a simple installation. (OB Heating Bathrooms & Tiles. Cork. €345).

Glass splashbacks without any joins can be printed up in stock or bespoke choices in a digital image. ( For traditional prints, a Moroccan bathhouse tile (again reaching back to a taste for all things exotic in the 70s in turquoise) has grooved around again.


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