It can be difficult to bring style into a space that’s all about function. The single greatest amount of bathroom real estate is devoted to tiling, and here are a few simple ways to make sure tiling packs a pretty big stylistic punch.

By Amy Azzarito

Use Various Tile Shapes in Different Colors

San Francisco Bay-area designer Kriste Michelini uses tile to create a divide between the wet and dry areas of the bathroom. She frequently experiments with unique combinations of tile and uses various tile shapes in the same marble material to create a sense of infinite space.

Pay Attention to the Details

Portland, Ore., designer Jessica Helgerson believes the little tiling details can make or break a space. For example, she finds it’s important to carefully consider where the tile starts and stops. If there isn’t a clean way to end the tiling, she’ll often take the tile all the way up the wall. This bathroom features one of Jessica’s favorite tiles, made by Oceanside GlassTile.

Keep Floors and Walls the Same

For this small bathroom, Kriste Michelini creates a luxurious hotel feeling by keeping the floor and wall tiles the same. The entire space is wrapped in a black tile that’s offset with a wall-mounted vanity.

Play With the Trim Options

In this bathroom, Jessica Helgerson uses a 3 x 6 brick from Pratt and Larson’s Simple Solutions, which is chosen for the great variety of trim options. For example, the tile wainscot has a decorative base and top cap, and a different cap is used for the edge of the tub. She then uses black and white marble hexagon mosaics on the floor, creating a decorative border with the white tile.

Create a Focal Wall

When tiling a shower, Kriste Michelini suggests putting the shower niche on the same wall as the shower fixture. This allows for the main walls to be tiled beautifully with no disruptions or cut outs in the focal wall. In addition, she suggests continuing the bathroom floor tile over the shower curb and into the shower pan to visually expand the floor and keep it clean looking. In this bathroom, the client wanted a beachy vibe, so Kriste uses a mosaic tile on the walls with small white subway tiles on the shower pan. The bottom third of the shower door is frosted for privacy while the top is left clear to allow natural sunlight into the shower.

Use One Tile for the Entire Space

Charleston, S.C., designer Cortney Bishop prefers to use one tile for the entire space as a way to create a cohesive look. If the scale of the chosen tile is too large to use everywhere, Cortney cuts the chosen tile down to scale to maintain the continuity and then creates a spa-like feel by taking the tile all the way to the ceiling.

Create a Spa-Like Effect

When Cortney was presented with the challenge of a large bathroom, she decided to create a light and airy waterfall-like atmosphere. To accomplish this, she has the glass tiles installed vertically and keeps the grout neutral. Bishop says, “As a general rule, less is more. Using one tile throughout a space gives a cleaner, more consistent look.”

Use Tile to Create Architectural Interest

Jessica Helgerson utilizes Dal tile in a 3 x 6 white brick and chooses a thinset rather than a thicker setting bed. For added detailing, she drops the ceiling around the sinks to create a little niche that is completely covered in tile. The floor is a limestone hexagon pattern that came with more variation than she expected but ended up adding a lot of visual interest.

Pay Attention to the Tile Glazes

Together with her husband, Brian, artist Edith Heath founded Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, Calif., in 1948. Their focus was on bringing out the natural beauty of the clay. The company still makes tiles using the same production techniques developed by Edith Heath in 1948.

Play With Different Shades of the Same Color

Consider utilizing two or three different shades of glazed tile to create a tonal patchwork.

Install Tiles Vertically to Create Height

The ceramic tiles are installed vertically in order to emphasize the geometry of the space and give the illusion of height. In addition, by combining different tiles in similar colors, you further emphasize the size of the space while creating a sense of visual texture.

HGTV. High-End Bathroom Tile Designs, [Online]. Web address: http://www.hgtv.com/bathrooms/high-end-bathroom-tile-designs/pictures/index.html (Page consulted on July 21 2011)