Each week, Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week, we look at designing with patterned bathroom tiles.
While countless baths feature unfussy backdrops, more bathrooms are embracing patterns––and through tile. Tile can be as attractive as it is functional, and much like a collectible piece of art, handmade rug or decorative wallpaper, it can spruce up an otherwise lifeless room. Designers select patterned tiles for floors, showers, accent walls and backsplashes, adding panache to baths.
“There are many types of patterned tile available, from ceramic and stone mosaics to concrete and Moroccan clay tiles,” says Liz Caan of Liz Caan & Co., a full-service interior design firm in Newton, Massachusetts. “They make a bathroom unique, add a lot of character, and hide a multitude of sins.”
But designing with pattern is no easy feat and often left to the experts for that reason. To elevate your bath with patterned tiles, take advice from these design pros:
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Decide Between Traditional and Contemporary
“Patterned tiles work in every style; the difference lies in the type of pattern and the colors used. There are a fair number of classic pattern options––some examples include Alhambra and four-leaf clover. And you’ll notice geometric and simpler patterns in contemporary homes. Either way, if you choose an uber-modern pattern or a traditional pattern, make sure you love it before it’s installed. To be sure, order four samples of each deco tile so you can see the pattern together. On a side note: most deco tiles have multiple pattern options depending on how you lay the tiles out, so play around with the options.
“If you dream about the tile or if you’re so excited about the look that you have to tell a friend, then you know it’s the right fit. If it’s a bold pattern, look at inspiration images online of how others have installed the tile, then see what emotions those images evoke.”
— Stephanie Lindsey, Etch Design Group in Austin, Texas
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Let Color Lead
“The color scheme can come from favorite colors, a painting, a specific tile or anything that inspires you. Stay within the same color scheme and tones to avoid clashing patterns. For example, pairing a brighter pattern with a muted, subtle pattern is a good balance. Scale is also an important factor. Mixing a larger format tile with a smaller pattern will help provide balance as well.
“If the flooring is bold and the focal point in the room, I would suggest selecting a neutral-colored tile for the walls in a simple, straight, or subway pattern. Also, take into consideration the style and architecture of the home. We’ve combined beautiful hand-painted tiles and terracotta-colored floors, which are indicative of Spanish design.”
— Marisela Contreras, senior interior designer for Jackson Design and Remodeling in San Diego, California
Express Your Personal Style
“It is important to think about the long-term impact of incorporating patterned tile. Try pairing honed natural stone, hand-glazed ceramic or even a simple porcelain with patterned tile. Pairing a busier tile with a simpler one helps give the eye a place to rest (think negative space), which ultimately creates more appreciation for the pattern design.
“Patterned tile creates an immediate ‘wow’ factor, and a bathroom is a great place to make a design statement or take a risk. We often take more risks with patterned tile in an accent space like a powder room that can have a large design impact. If the home is more of a second home, then there’s often more opportunity to be bold and experimental than with a home that is lived in every day. No longer are bathrooms strictly functional; homeowners want them to be beautiful and a place that expresses their personal style.”
— Jessica Rae Sommer, senior creative director at Maverick Design, a division of Wedgewood Homes in Redondo Beach, California
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Keep It Timeless
“I like to decide from the get-go what the best asset of the bathroom will be. Maybe it’s a freestanding tub or a luxe shower, or maybe it’s a posh washstand. Often, it’s the tile. If the tile is going to be the main character, I try and think about where it will be most impactful depending upon the bathroom’s layout and the locations of all the other fixtures.
“There are loads of timeless patterns out there. As a general rule of thumb, I always suggest staying away from trends when it comes to patterned tiles. The secret is finding a pattern that is appropriate to your home’s style and fits the story. If you are using a pattern on the floor, I usually do a basic and cleaner tile on the shower wall or backsplash. The patterns should be scaled appropriately. This makes a timeless bathroom.”
— Liz Caan of Liz Caan & Co., interior design firm based in Newton, Massachusetts
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