You want new tile in the bathroom, but what happens after picking out the color and style you want? There’s so much more that can be done with tile beyond these two elements, and homeowners are often at a loss to develop unique ideas.
Here at Explore, we work with Arley Wholesale to provide over 10,000 different tile products, from the mundane to the exotic, so variety is never a challenge. But, once you’ve selected the tile you want, a talented tile installer can give you so much more if you know what to ask for. So, let’s explore some ideas for using tile that go way beyond color and style. Ready?
Let’s start with your tile layout
Depending on where you grew up, you’re probably used to seeing two major layout patterns. First, and most common, is the grid. This is commonly called a “straight lay pattern.” Each tile laid in a straight line from the ones before in all directions. It creates a neat, symmetrical design, but it can be extremely basic. The second is the “offset” or “brick run” pattern, where each row of tile is a little off from the rows on either side. Typically, every other row will match. This provides a little more visual interest, as the lines break up space a bit and create a more textured feel.
A good tiler has a lot more tricks up their sleeve, however, and getting them to propose some different layout styles is a great place to start. So, if you’re using tile of all the same size, color, and shape on a surface, like a floor, what can the layout do for you?
Tile layout can shape the room
By laying rectangular tiles in long, sleek lines, you can make a short room appear longer. By stepping up to a slightly larger tile, you can make a bigger room feel smaller. Your layout can mimic or complement the architecture of the space as well, by drawing your eye in specific directions.
Sites like Houzz and Pinterest have millions of tile design idea pics, and going through some of them will give you a taste of what I mean. Here are a couple of cool examples.
So, besides “straight lay and ” and “brick run,” what tile patterns can we get?
Since most tile is geometrically shaped, the patterns typically create lines. Tile layouts mimic a lot of other common patterns we see in art, textiles, and architecture.
- Checkerboard: takes the straight lay to the next level by positioning two colors, or patterns of tile diagonally, like the red and black squares on a checkerboard.
- Diagonal: precisely what it sounds like, either a straight law or brick run pattern, on a diagonal angle to the walls of the room.
- Herringbone: this is a fabric pattern, commonly found in men’s suits. It uses rectangular tiles to create a repeating V pattern that breaks up the lines for a more organic feel.
- Chevron: two diagonal lines that meet in a V, repeated across the surface, with every other V pointing up, then down.
There are also a variety of straight line bond patterns that can be used. A search of “tile layouts” will give you a nearly endless number of choices. Be sure your tile layer knows the pattern by having them lay out a few dry tiles in the pattern to ensure you’re getting what you’re asking for.
Beyond layout, more intricate patterns can be created
From something as simple as a band of color, or a different size of tile running around your shower, to intricate patterns using a variety of shapes and sizes of tile, patterns go beyond the layout styles to create geometric designs, in the tile layout.
If your pattern is more than a simple band or frame, it’s smart to draw it out and make sure your installers know what you’re looking for. You’ll need to allow for the variance in sizes when laying out your pattern. Varied color in the same size of tile can also be used to create designs.
Suggested pattern ideas
This is an opportunity for customization beyond just selecting the size and color of your tile. You’ll want to decide upfront if you’re going to keep your patterns to more generic ideas or go all-in on a design that only works for you.
- Bands of color can be used on a floor, or wall, or incorporated into a backsplash. Sometimes contrasting textures are added too, such as a glass tile next to metal.
- Frames are another fundamental way to incorporate an overall pattern. Art deco designs frequently featured floors with a frame a few inches out from the wall.
- Designs can also incorporate letters, or numerals, to make the design more custom. A monogrammed floor is cool but might create resale challenges.
Beyond basic geometry, tile can be used to create any type of mosaic you choose. The more intricate the pattern, the more you should expect to pay, and the higher the skill level of your tiler needs to be. For something like this, you’ll want to see previous work from the contractor before starting your project.
Create a focal wall, or feature
Incorporating patterns into an overall layout provides one level of interest, but another option is to create an entirely separate focal feature. This can be done with color, pattern, or mosaic design. One currently popular method is to use bold, painted design tiles that, when pieced together, create a larger overall motif, such as floral or pattern painted mosaic tiles.
- Choose an entire wall, and layout large, patterned tiles to create a tile mural. You can incorporate other styles of structure, banding, various sizes, and textures.
- Sections of backsplash, such as over a sink or stove, make great focal features. Use trim tiles, colors, patterns, mosaics, and more to create wall art that draws the eye.
- Showers, bathtub enclosures, entry room walls, and other spaces that might otherwise blend right into your design are great locations for tile features that create interest and drama.
If you’d like to learn more about how Explore Kitchens and Baths can help make your tile design dreams a reality, please message us. Have questions? Leave your question in a comment; we’d love to help!
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