Whether stone or ceramic, tile is one of the most versatile elements you can use in your home. It is also one of the most ancient and enduring decorative elements found in homes around the world. You can use it as flooring, as a backsplash, or even as a wallcovering. Because it comes in different shapes, sizes ,and colors, you have the flexibility to develop your own unique tile designs. You can create a stunning floor pattern, create an art installation on the wall, or let the material shine with monolithic slabs.
But statement-making tile isn’t always ornate. A minimalist approach can make an enormous impact without incorporating busy tile designs. For example, classic shapes, neutral tones, and a subtly textured finish can create a stunning space that matches your aesthetic. That’s not to say a maximalist approach doesn’t fit the bill sometimes! Whether bold or understated, the applications are truly endless.
This week, we reflect on a few tiled spaces that make the most of classic color pairings and subtle textures. These spaces use a neutral color palette, incorporate lots of texture, and focus on creating the illusion of space — often with minimal detailing. Whether updating your laundry room, kitchen, bath, or outdoor space, follow along for ten of our favorite tile design ideas.
All About Tile Designs
Before we get into our list of tile design ideas, let’s cover the materials used in wall and floor tiles. We’ll also run through a few common tile shapes and finishes.
Materials Used in Floor and Wall Tile
- Ceramic Tile (including terra cotta tiles, quarry tile, porcelain tile, and stoneware tile)
- Glass Tile (including some mosaic tiles)
- Natural Stone Tile (including granite, limestone, slate, travertine, and marble tiles)
- Concrete Tile
- Encaustic Tile
- Reformed or Recycled Stone Tile
While terracotta, quarry, porcelain, and stoneware tiles are all made from fired clay, each has very different properties from the next. Some are hardwearing, while others are delicate and chip or pit easily. The same goes for natural stone tile: quality and functionality vary from one material to the next.
Common Tile Shapes
Bear in mind that each tile manufacturer might describe the following patterns or shapes differently.
- Classic Subway Tile
- Penny Tile
- Hexagonal Tile
- Arabesque Tile
- Fish Scale, Scallop or Ogee Tile
- Diamond Tile
- Flower Tile
- Moroccan Cross
Depending on where you shop or your designer sources, vendors might describe tile finishes with one or more of the following terms.
- High-Shine or Polished
- Brillo or Glossy
- Soft or Satin
Ten Creative Tile Design Ideas for Your Bathroom, Kitchen or Laundry Room
Below are a few of our favorite tiled spaces from Mountain Lane, River Oaks, University Place and other stunning LUDC projects. Each space makes the most of classic color pairings, subtle textures, and natural materials. Whether searching for kitchen, laundry room or bathroom tile design ideas, we hope you take inspiration from these spaces for your own remodel.
#1 A Fresh Take on Classic Black and White
One of the easiest ways to create a show-stopping tile moment is with black and white. However, a classic checkerboard might not mesh with your aesthetic. As such, the first of several creative bathroom tile ideas on this list comes from the black and white guest bath at Mountain Lane. From top to bottom, this entire room is tiled.
We sourced Ann Sacks tile on the floors and walls for a high-contrast look. These tiles will stand up to frequent use and seasonal temperature changes in Colorado. On the walls is Ann Sacks Shaye Field Tile. This is the WOW bath in Mountain Lane, and we owe it all to the tile in this room. For those who don’t already know, Mountain Lane is LUDC founder and CEO Laura Umansky’s family home in Aspen.
Laura had been dying to use the black and white tile. She decided to cover the entire room in it for a dramatic, beautiful and highly dynamic effect. The variation in graining from one tile to the next creates a wave-like movement that is rarely found in rectangular black and white tile.
Sharp and Masculine or Subtle and Elegant
Of course, there are many other ways to switch up that classic tile design. In the bar and butler’s pantry of our River Oaks Contemporary project, we opted for sharp rhomboid shapes in contrasting black and white.
The custom black and white marble flooring was hand drawn by our team and water jet cut on site. This bold design choice of black and white marble flooring complements the walnut mill work with its brass accents.
If a bold tile does not suit your style, refresh that classic black and white color combo with intriguing shapes and softer tones as we did in the bathroom pictured above. The bathroom tiles chosen by our team for University Place are also from Ann Sacks.
In this space, we selected Kelly Wearstler for Ann Sacks Obelisque tiles for the bathroom wall behind the vanity. Even in a small bathroom, this subtle architectural mosaic tile adds an air of elegance of sophistication. With the right accessories, it can also feel playful.
We repainted the cabinets in a dove gray that acts as a distillation of the tiles’ color range. Our team opted for a floating polished nickel mirror from Restoration Hardware that would not distract from the tile and ribbed glass sconces that highlight it when on.
#2 Personalize It
Speaking of playful, personalized tile can communicate your values or spell out the history of your home (quite literally). You can also highlight your neighborhood or underscore your family’s mantra.
For example, we nodded to the family’s philanthropic nature in the tile of the Braeswood Place pool house bathroom floor. We honored the history of Laura’s century-old Tudor home in the North Boulevard laundry room. For more laundry room tile ideas, head over to this post on the Journal.
#3 Same Tile, Different Style
Another elegant way to upgrade your home’s primary bathroom is with the same tile in different styles. Selecting two styles of the same tile is an easy way to add visual interest without introducing new colors or finishes that might distract from the serenity of your space. For example, we chose Ann Sacks Terrazzo Renata tile in Brulee for the floor, backsplash, shower walls and dado surrounding the tub at Mountain Lane.
While we selected flat tiles for the floor tiles, vanity backsplash and shower, we opted for the fluted version as the tub backsplash. The latter selection is inspired by the Old Italy terrazzo. It includes marble and a fluted shape for texture—creating a show stopping moment.
#4 Keep It Clean With Wall-to-Wall Tile
If remodeling a child’s bathroom, consider all-over tile. With a single, durable material covering the floor and walls, cleaning up is easier than ever. We went in this direction for the girls’ bath at Mountain Lane. For the girls’ bath, Laura selected the Context tile in Spa from Ann Sacks for both the floor and the walls. It creates the perfect fun and happy backdrop for the kids, while producing a modern bathroom adults can also appreciate.
#5 Consider Hexagonal Tile
Hexagonal tiles are often seen in nature, making them timeless. However, their sharp lines and symmetry make hexagons perfect for modern and contemporary spaces. Simple and incredibly versatile, hexagons are a stunning tile pattern for a wide variety of interiors.
Opt for an elongated hexagon, as we did in the butler’s pantry of Colonial Drive. Or select an intriguing tile pattern that serves almost as an optical illusion, as we did in the Rice Residence primary bath. As shown above, hexagonal tiles can also work well in a powder room or shower space.
#6 Add Dimension with 3D Tile
If you prefer to take a more minimalistic approach, consider a three-dimension tile in a solid color or muted palette. For the mudroom of Mountain Lane, Laura selected tile from one of the most popular Ann Sacks in-stock ceramic collections—Savoy. With a raised circular design on the field tile, Savoy in Linen adds texture without being too difficult to clean.
For the mid-century modernist, we recommend tile that pays homage to architectural styles of the period. To complement the vanity’s walnut and brass, we opted for Ann Sacks’ Modern Field Tile in the Green Tree primary bathroom. When placed side-by-side, Peaked Diamond Curved tiles from this collection create lovely carved diamonds where two meet.
#7 Swap Small-Scale for Slabs
For a sleek, sophisticated look, swap small-scale tiles for mammoth slabs. In the primary bath at Viscaino (pictured above on the left), we took a few risks. One such risk was the some risks large-format stone floor that beautifully offsets the silver leaf chandelier mounted above.
When our clients purchased this home, the bathroom was sparsely decorated, traditional, and white. White walls, white vanity, and light-colored tile. Luckily, the clients saw our dramatic vision, and we surrendered to this moody palette. We absolutely love the clean, seamless look these large stone tiles provide.
Though lighter and brighter, we selected large-scale tiles for the primary bath at Braeswood Place too.
#8 Make a Statement with a Contrasting Niche
In the same space, we chose a dark-toned textured tile for the shower niche. This provides a stark contrast to the white plaster finish of the surrounding walls.
While accent tile can look a bit dated, the opposite effect is achieved in the Braeswood Place primary bath. Highlighted by the window cut just above, a darker tile enhances the architectural moment this niche provides in an otherwise sleek and simple space.
#9 Create a Meaningful Mosaic
Whether interior walls, floors or art installations, some of the earliest decorative tiles were assembled as mosaics. As shown above and below, mosaic tile has yet to fall out of style.
In the kitchen and butler’s pantry of University Place, we replaced an older subway tile with Ann Sacks mosaic tile. This glossy gray, brown and white mosaic tile ties together the black island base, white cabinets, brass hardware and plaster vent hood.
When our team remodeled Mountain Lane, Ann Sacks Koros Niono Mosaic was a brand-new release. As soon as Laura saw it, she knew she wanted to use it in her Aspen show house. The collection was inspired by exquisite patterns of traditional African mud cloth.
It is comprised of six micro-mosaic stone designs skillfully arranged in an artful blend of contrasting colorways. A subtle pattern from far away, and incredibly intricate up-close, this unique tile is one of our all-time favorites.
#10 Don’t Forget the Great Outdoors
Last but not least, we take our tile outside! Certain tiles are perfectly suited for the outdoors and can stand up to weather in all seasons. Enhance your home’s patio or poolside with decorative tile that’s heat and water-resistant.