De­sign de­tails: bath­room tiles

Tiles aren’t just the prac­ti­cal choice for wet ar­eas. ey can also bring vi­brant colour and pat­tern, and de­fine the mood of the en­tire space – with some­thing for all bud­gets, says Emily Brooks

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Emily Brooks shares how this prac­ti­cal wall and floor cov­er­ing can add style and vi­brancy to your wash­room

The dis­tinct per­son­al­ity and in­di­vid­u­al­ism that’s fairly un­chal­leng­ing to at­tain else­where in a home can oc­ca­sion­ally fall by the way­side in the bath­room, be­cause of the need to pri­ori­tise safe, easy-to-main­tain sur­faces and prod­ucts. Us­ing tiles is one of the sim­plest ways to cre­ate char­ac­ter while still at­tain­ing a re­ally high level of prac­ti­cal­ity. The wide range of colours, pat­terns, tex­tures and ma­te­ri­als avail­able means that near-enough any look is achiev­able, from min­i­mal, ar­chi­tec­tural-style bath­rooms to a warmer tra­di­tional am­bi­ence or the pe­riod flavour of a clas­sic Ed­war­dian wash­room.

Your choice of ma­te­ri­als will come down to aes­thet­ics, bud­get and ease of up­keep. Nat­u­ral stone and ce­ment will need reg­u­lar seal­ing, for ex­am­ple, while glass isn’t suit­able for wet floors be­cause it will be­come slip­pery. Porce­lain and ce­ramic are top choices for price, straight­for­ward in­stal­la­tion and com­pat­i­bil­ity with un­der­floor heat­ing – and also for the huge range of pat­terns and colours avail­able. The de­vel­op­ment of inkjet print­ing has led to an ex­plo­sion of looka­like fin­ishes on ce­ramic and porce­lain tiles, from slate to tim­ber to rusty metal, open­ing up lots of ex­cit­ing de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Use tiles to add dec­o­ra­tive flair to the bath­room, whether that means cre­at­ing a fea­ture wall be­hind a bath or in a shower, for in­stance, or mix­ing and match­ing dif­fer­ent colours and/or pat­terns for walls and floors. Pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the tiles you spec­ify for wet ar­eas, as they need to cope with rig­or­ous use: opt for larger units (rather than, say, mo­saics), which will look good for longer be­cause they use less grout. Avoid hard-to-clean heav­ily tex­tured de­signs that will har­bour scale and soap scum.

Al­ways ob­tain a sam­ple be­fore buy­ing. Not only can colours be dif­fer­ent from what you see on a screen, but qual­ity varies hugely, espe­cially for dig­i­tally-printed faux fin­ishes such as mar­ble and pat­terned ce­ment. What might seem like an on­line bar­gain could cheapen a new bath­room. In­stead, if you’re on a tight bud­get, use spe­cial tiles spar­ingly, or buy plain units and be more imag­i­na­tive when it comes to the lay­ing pat­tern or the grout colour. Up­grad­ing tile trims from the stan­dard white plas­tic is an­other tip for get­ting a smarter look for less.

Above: Gleam­ing brass­ware stands out against mono­chrome geo­met­ric ce­ment tiles run­ning along the floor and up the basin wall in this project by Gunter & Co. The tiles are from Mo­saic del Sur

A fea­ture wall of honed nat­u­ral stone brings sub­tle colour – from tawny or­anges to min­eral greens – to this bath­room de­signed by Blanca Sanchez of Halo De­sign In­te­ri­ors. The min­i­mal glass shower screen means that the wall can act as a back­drop to the dra­matic free­stand­ing bath. The rest of the room fea­tures porce­lain large-for­mat tiles in a creamy neu­tral colour

Here, plain white sub­way tiles are given an orig­i­nal treat­ment un­der the cre­ative eye of in­te­rior de­signer Shanade Mcal­lis­ter Fisher in this bath and sink sur­round ap­pli­ca­tion. The tiles are ar­ranged in a her­ring­bone bond, with a saw-toothed ef­fect in­stead of a tra­di­tional tile trim at the top. A pat­terned tiled floor works along­side to pre­vent the scheme from look­ing too white and clin­i­cal

In­te­rior de­signer Clare Pas­coe of Pas­coe In­te­ri­ors has em­pha­sised the niches in a shower by us­ing a colour­ful pat­terned tile. The same units have also been ap­plied to the floor. These are the Hen­ley de­sign from Topps Tiles. Along­side this, the shower area fea­tures a con­trast­ing tex­tured tile – a large-for­mat stone­ef­fect porce­lain prod­uct called Stra­tum, also from Topps Tiles

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