From low-key to super-blingy, there’s a tile style out there to suit every bathroom. Clare Hunt tracks down the latest trends.
With a history stretching back around 8000 years, tiles have been a stalwart building and decoring material for pretty much as long as we’ve been living in houses. The Egyptians first fired them for durability in 4000BC, and in the Middle East, North and South America, China and North Africa they were used over the centuries to striking and distinctive decorative effect. By the 19th century Britain had set about mass-producing ceramic tiles, and with the turn of the 20th century the growing understanding of the need for sanitary hygiene saw tiled bathrooms become ubiquitous.
Few items in our homes couple utility and decoration in such equal measure. Durable, functional and easy to clean, the waterproof nature of ceramic tiles make them a no-brainer for muggy bathroom environments and their ability to conduct warmth makes them a perfect partner for underfloor heating. And with a mind-boggling array of colours, patterns, shapes, sizes, textures and finishes available, tiled floors and walls can either take centre stage in a design scheme or be an anonymous supporting act.
So if you’re planning a bathroom revamp sometime soon, modern tile design, technology and trends will certainly give you a lot to think about.
Sparkly clean whites and cosy, cocooning creams may be traditional bathroom favourites, but they’d better watch their backs as grey is about to take the lead as go-to neutral for bathrooms. Surprisingly warm and soothing, elegant grey combines earthy echoes of natural stone and marble with contemporary edginess and luxe-hotel sophistication.
Brilliantly effective in space-restricted bathrooms, super high-gloss tiles in neutral colours seize available light and bounce it around the walls to create the airy illusion of greater scale.
Not just the glue that holds the tiles together, grout can bring a decorative dimension in itself. Classic white tiles are given a funky 3-dimensional pop with bright, primary coloured grout and grey grout with metro tiles errs on the good side of industrial for the bathroom. Both have the distinct benefit of being easier to look after than high-maintenance white.
Forget about row after linear row of square tiles and challenge yourself or your tiler to create a dynamic, eye-catching composition in mix-and-match shapes and sizes. One colour palette in a range of sizes can be subtle but sophisticated. Double the impact with a feature pattern that runs from wall to floor, but be careful to choose a neutral tile – it is possible to get too carried away.
Harking back to classical mosaics, geometrics from honeycomb to arabesque are eye-catchingly organic and stylishly out-of-the-ordinary without being too extrovert or shouty.
Tactile and organic, timber brings comfort and warmth to interiors but can fall victim to warping, colour fading and decay in steamy bathrooms. So go faux and reap all the benefits of the real thing with a textured, wood-effect ceramic tile that’s easy to install and fully waterproof.
The transformative technology in modern ceramic tile design, advances in the sophistication of inkjet printing allow crisp, clear detail in ultra-high resolution. This means patterns can be sharper and more complex and details are clear and defined. Coupled with tactile textures and surfaces, tiles can be printed to look like just about anything, especially natural materials like wood, stone, marble or brick. With the added bonuses of easy installation and less hefty price tags.
Borrowing from bygone eras of tile design, there’s a retro print to suit all tastes and styles. Monochromatic Victorian floor tiles are tipped for yet another comeback and the collaboration between British Ceramic Tile and Laura Ashley brings nostalgic, quintessentially English prints into the bathroom.
Tile surface sizes have been on an upward trajectory in recent years, and show no signs of stopping. Large-format planks for floors and walls, especially in natural marble or stone effects, give a definite tang of top-end luxury. When used in dynamic compositions, they’re undeniably dramatic. At the other end of the scale, small-but-perfectly-formed micro tiles are also on trend. Look out for cute round mosaics for a departure from the norm.
Although not quite as 1980s Dynasty as they might sound, metallic tiles are definitely a statement piece and not for the faint hearted. Some downright blingy styles may be a bit too much to face in the bathroom, so opt for softly reflective designs in warm earthy tones for a striking but not overwhelming effect.
Coupled with advances in inkjet printing, the addition of textures to ceramic tiles mean they’re now able to imitate just about anything. Borrowing inspiration from the natural world, tactile tiles bring the outside in.
Aged & Distressed
From softly faded rustic patterns to more industrially distressed looks, tiles with
weathered, reclaimed and antiqued surfaces bring warmth and lived-in character to floors and walls.
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