15 small bathroom tile ideas – stylish ways to make your space feel bigger

Decorating a bathroom on the small size can be tricky, but these small bathroom tile ideas are here to help

Small bathroom tile ideas
(Image credit: Simon Whitmore)

No room? No problem, these small bathroom tile ideas are here to help you create a bright and airy space. Not only can the right tiles create the allusion of space, but they are a great way to add color and pattern into even the tiniest of rooms. From color to tile size, shape and placement, we've put together plenty of beautiful ideas that are guaranteed to transform your small bathroom space, in a big way.

Scroll down to find your favorite look and make sure you check out our small bathroom ideas page for more beautiful inspiration too.

1. Use reflective tiles to bounce the light

Gold tiles in a bathroom splashback

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

As part of a modern bathroom design, pick tiles with a shimmering, multi-tonal effect. And yes, itmight sound a bit extra and too luxurious for a family bathroom, but metallic tiles can totally work in a small bathroom. 

'The oldest trick in the interiors book - mirrors and reflective tiles are an easy way to open up a room. Use silver or even black reflective mosaic to add reflections to your bathroom and add a bit of shimmer and glamour to a commonly overlooked room!'says Kamila Chalfin, Marketing & Brand Manager at Tile Giant.

They'll add texture, depth and dimension, and will reflect light more than tiles with a flat finish. Just be wary that picking small mosaic tiles can make a bathroom feel busier so limit them to one or two walls and contrast with large format floor tiles. 

2. Use pattern to create visual tricks 

Adding another storey and large kitchen extension doubled the size of Jasmin Robertson’s terraced house, turning it into a modern family home

(Image credit: David Woolley)

The basic rule of thumb for choosing patterned tiles for a small bathroom is to go for graphic designs that can be used cleverly to stretch the space (visually, at least). Here, a horizontal(ish) stripe will make a narrow bathroom feel wider. Match with large format, fuss-free floor tiles for the floor. If you need some advice on choosing bathroom floor tiles, be sure to go and check out our guide. 

'Be clever with shapes - using hexagonal tiles or mosaic adds interest without overwhelming a small space. For a more traditional decor, opt for rectangular tiles and use them to create your own shapes on the wall, or make stripes by combining two colors. Applying vertically adds depth to the room and gives the illusion of higher ceilings. Laying horizontally, you can optically ‘stretch’ the room out and create the feel of a wider space.' continues Kamila Chalfin.

3. Use diagonal lines to widen and lengthen walls

Small bathroom with wooden vanity unit and diagonal tiles

(Image credit: Original Style)

Any tiles that create a diagonal pattern, however subtle, will create another visual trick: that of lengthening and widening walls. The same ruse can be used with plain tiles laid diagonally. If yours is a very narrow bathroom, avoid putting tiles on all four walls; instead, create contrast and interest with a paint color. 

Psst... we have loads more ways to improve your bathroom, to help a small bathroom to look bigger. Go take a look!

4. Go for a statement wall behind the bath

Real Homes Home of the Year awards:

(Image credit: David Woolley © Future)

Designing bathrooms on a budget, but would like to invest in luxury tiles? Go for a statement wall – preferably the one that frames the bath, since you'll look at it the most – and keep the other walls simple, perhaps painted with a toning shade or tiled in something really simple. The upside of creating a feature wall? You notice it, not the room's modest size. 

5. Raise the ceiling with a vertical column of tiles

When renovating their run-down period terrace, Ali and Rob created an open-plan extension that works for everyone

(Image credit: Rachel Manns)

If your bathroom has a low ceiling, fitting tiles like this, in a vertical column, will draw the eye upwards to create the impression of a taller room. If it's going to too look formal for a whole wall in your small bathroom, go with the half wall trick and paint the upper portion.

But what color to choose? Well we say you can't go wrong with a classic white tile combined with a grey grout to make the pattern pop. This will work with loads other tile patterns too so you can go big on the floor tiles if you fancy. 

6. Going for dark tiles? Pick something with texture

Black bathroom with black tiles and black sink

(Image credit: The Pure Bathroom Collection from Smiths Briten)

A black bathroom can look very chic and inviting, and keeping to just one color means that you can really go to town with different textures and patterns. In a small bathroom, we'd go with bang on trend hexagonal mosaic tiles and go for a slightly lighter grey grout so you can see the individual shapes but they aren't too obvious. 

For more black bathroom design ideas, go take a look at our gallery. 

7. How to introduce a colourful tile to a small bathroom

Pink bathroom with square tiles

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

Want to introduce color and pattern to your small bathroom walls? Picking a design with a warm color scheme – like this dusty rose – will make the space feel welcoming; sticking to very plain finishes (whether towels, bathroom window treatments or flooring) and sleek lines elsewhere in the room will help it feel as big as possible, too.

8. Tile below the dado rail only

Colorful bathroom ideas

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Metro tiles are endlessly fashionable – but also great for use within a small bathroom. Why? The strong horizontal lines they create when on the walls create the widening effect we mentioned earlier. Limiting the tiles (any tiles for that matter) to beneath the dado rail level, with a paler paint color above, will also make the room feel taller. Win win.

If you love these classic tiles as much as we do, go and check out these beautiful ways to use metro tiles

9. Create a wall/floor contrast

Colorful bathroom ideas

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Want to introduce dark tiles while keeping the bathroom as light, bright and spacious feeling as possible? This is the perfect tile combo: dark bathroom floor tiles and pale-colored bathroom wall tiles. 

10. Pick an all-over tile in a shower room

Bathroom with double sinks and walk in shower

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Got a shower room or wet room? Stretch space visually by using the same tile throughout; it'll also give you a smart, contemporary look – and make for super-easy cleaning. Choose an off-white tile with a marble effect for warmth, texture and interest. 

If you fancy adding a wet room, go and have a read of our guide to get you started or check out our walk in shower ideas if that  sounds more achievable. 

11. Pick an on trend scalloped tile 

En suite bathroom by Topps Tiles

(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

As we have mentioned, you don't need to tile a whole load of space in a small bathroom for it to have an impact. Try instead using a bold tile, in a brave shade or interesting shape, for the inside of your shower. Scalloped tiles are such a big trend right now (in fact they even made it into our round-up of the top interior trends), and these Syren tiles from Topps Tiles come in five glorious sea-inspired hues. 

12. Expand your space with clever floor tiles 

Small bathroom with sunset tiles

(Image credit: Meir)

We love this idea and obsessed with this very cool bathroom. It's a pretty small space too, it's just been made to look bigger with the clever choice of floor tiles. The fading colors draw the eye to the end of the room, giving the illusion that the room is longer than it is and running the tiles up the side of the bath only adds to lengthening the room. We love the sunset colors used here but if you are more into a monochrome bathroom this would work really well fading black into white. 

13. Go for a glossy metro tile 

Walk in shower in attic bathroom

(Image credit: Simon Whitmore)

Because you can't go wrong with a classic grey metro tiles. Pick a glossy finish because it will help bounce more light around the room and combine them with a more bold floor tile so they don't look too flat. The subway tile layout is perfect for smaller bathrooms too because the  horizontal tiles will stretch the walls, making it feel more spacious. 

14. Tile all four walls

Ensuite bathroom with pink floor tiles

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Tiling four walls in a larger bathroom can risk giving a bit of a clinical feel but in a small bathroom it's practical and stylish. Again, something simple like a metro tile would be the best to go for if you're tiling all your walls but add interest by picking a contrasting grout. A  grey or a neutral both work will with white.

Choosing such simple wall tiles means you can add the interest on the floor, so pick something colorful or patterned to bring plenty of interest into the space. 

15. Tile the ceiling!

Bathroom with mirrored tile ceiling

(Image credit: Jeremy Philips)

Yep, tiling the ceiling is totally a thing. Tin ceiling tiles are often referred to as Brooklyn tiles and you can find both new and vintage offerings online –these home owners decked out their ceiling with tiles from American Tin Ceilings, but check out eBay for some affordable secondhand options too.

Obviously, a reflective ceiling is going to bring loads of light into the room, but we think it's got to be the most stylish way to do so. This look is so glamourous in a fabulously vintage way, it brings in texture too and a tin ceiling can work with so many different styles. 

How do you make a small bathroom look bigger with tiles?

Tiles that reflect light are a great way to make a bathroom feel lighter, more spacious and more luxe, while laying floor tiles diagonally can make it look wider and longer too. Another trick to make a small bathroom feel bigger is to use the same wall and floor tiles, the running pattern helps to create drama that is perfect to mimic a bigger space.

All of our suggestions will open up your space and therefore, add an element of elegance that you just wouldn't expect from a box bathroom! To find advice on how to choose small bathroom tiles, be sure to check out our page.

What size tile looks best in a small bathroom?

Our rule of thumb would be to go bigger in a smaller bathroom to stop the space looking too busy, but obvious there are exception to that rule. If you like the look of smaller tiles (we know penny tiles are the tiles to have right now) don't be put off by your lack of space just keep them to a splash back or a shower enclosure. If you want to use them on a larger surface, say the floor, just pick larger tiles for the walls for a nice contrast.

Hebe Hatton
Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer. As a renter, she is always looking for creative ways to make her flat feel like home. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration.