11 tile design ideas to make a small bathroom feel bigger

Decorating the bathroom when it’s on the small size can be tricky, but if you use tiles cleverly you can create the illusion of space without compromising on style

Bert & May Pradena tile
(Image credit: Bert & May)

Bathrooms are often the smallest room in the house, so it’s really important to choose the right-sized tiles to make them feel as big and bright as possible. But it's not just about size: dark tiles used in the wrong part of the bathroom can make it feel smaller. 

Conversely, tiles that reflect light are a great way to make the bathroom feel lighter, while laying floor tiles diagonally can make it look wider and longer. Another trick to make a small bathroom feel bigger is to use the same wall and floor tiles. 

So if you are designing a bathroom and want more clever tile ideas to make your bathroom feel larger? Read on... 

1. Use reflective tiles to bounce the light

Love the idea of dark tiles, despite your bathroom's modest proportions? As part of a contemporary bathroom design, pick tiles with a shimmering, multi-tonal effect. They'll add texture, depth and dimension, and will reflect light more than tiles with a flat finish. 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. 

Glassworks Radiance silver mosaic gloss, 31.5 x 30.5cm, £299.95 per m2, Original Style

Glassworks Radiance silver mosaic gloss, 31.5cm x 30.5cm, £299.95 per m2, Original Style

(Image credit: Original Style)

2. Use pattern to create visual tricks 

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. 

High Society Glass Kennedy, 39.7 x 30.5cm, £649.74 per m2, all items shown, Fired Earth

High Society Glass Kennedy, 39.7cm x 30.5cm, £649.74 per m2, all items shown, Fired Earth

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

3. Use diagonal lines to widen and lengthen walls

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 colour. 

Psst... we have loads more bathroom design tricks, to help a small bathroom to look bigger. Go take a look!

Small bathroom with wooden vanity unit and diagonal tiles

Spirit tiles by Original Style

(Image credit: Original Style)

4. Go for a statement wall behind the bath

Designing a bathroom 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. The upside of creating a feature wall? You notice it, not the room's modest size. 

Ted Baker Triangles range, four colours in each pack of 8 tiles, 23.7 x 23.7cm, £100 per pack, British Ceramic Tile

Ted Baker Triangles range, four colours in each pack of 8 tiles, 23.7cm x 23.7cm, £100 per pack, British Ceramic Tile

(Image credit: British Ceramic Tile)

5. Raise the ceiling with a vertical column of tiles

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. Which colour to choose? Pick light, toning shades.

Grey is everyone's favourite colour these days; we have grey bedrooms, grey living rooms, and, yes, grey bathrooms. To counteract the potential for a cold looking room, combine grey tiles with a warm oat or rusty shade. 

Cement Tech mini white tile, 25 x 40cm, Cement Tech mini grey decor tile, 25 x 40cm, Cement Tech mini anthracite tile (floor), 45 x 45cm, all tiles £24.99 per m2, Gemini Tiles.

Cement Tech mini white tile, 25 x 40cm, Cement Tech mini grey decor tile, 25 x 40cm, Cement Tech mini anthracite tile (floor), 45 x 45cm, all tiles £24.99 per m2, Gemini Tiles

(Image credit: Gemini Tiles)

6. Going for dark tiles? Invest in contrast and lighting

A black bathroom can look very chic and inviting, and keeping to just one colour means that you can really go to town with different textures and patterns. In a small bathroom, pick a colourful or warm metallic contrast for bathroom furniture, towels or accessories to lift the scheme. Invest in good lighting and a large mirror, too. Both will make the room feel more spacious.

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

Fusion black matt porcelain chevron tiles, £70.70 per m2, Mandarin Stone.

Fusion black matt porcelain chevron tiles, £70.70 per m2, Mandarin Stone

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

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

Want to introduce colour and pattern to your small bathroom walls? Picking a design with a warm colour 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.

Pink Pradena star tile, 20 x 20cm, £125 per m2, Bert & May

Pink Pradena star tile, 20cm x 20cm, £125 per m2, Bert & May

(Image credit: Bert & May)

8. Tile below the dado rail only

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 dado rail level, with a paler paint colour 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

Lillången wall cabinet with 1 door, £30, Lillången washbasin cabinet with 1 door, £85, Dynan open storage, £35, Dynan cabinet with door, £25, Dynan wall shelf, £15, Lillholmen wall lamp, £12, Vågsjön bath towel, £4, all Ikea

Lillången wall cabinet with one door, £30; Lillången washbasin cabinet with one door, £85; Dynan open storage, £35; Dynan cabinet with door, £25; Dynan wall shelf, £15; Lillholmen wall lamp, £12; Vågsjön bath towel, £4; all Ikea. For similar tiles try Piccadilly sage wall tiles, 10cm x 30cm, £62.50 per m2, Bathstore. Similar Artisau gloss black tile (trim), 5cm x 25cm, £57.20 per m2, Topps Tiles. Similar full body hexagon matt dark grey floor and wall tile, 17.4cm x 20cm, £41.65 per m2, Tiles Direct

(Image credit: Ikea)

9. Create a wall/floor contrast

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-coloured bathroom wall tiles. 

Nyans indigo blue tiles (floor), 59.3 x 98cm, £39.95 per m2, Hoxley frost tiles (wall), 20 x 20cm, £49.95 per m2, Walls & Floors

Nyans indigo blue tiles (floor), 59.3cm x 98cm, £39.95 per m2; Hoxley frost tiles (wall), 20cm x 20cm, £49.95 per m2; Walls & Floors

(Image credit: Walls & Floors)

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

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. 

Palazzo porcelain marble effect tiles, 120 x 120cm and 120 x 240cm, £150 per m2, Stone & Ceramic Warehouse

Palazzo porcelain marble effect tiles, 120cm x 120cm and 120cm x 240cm, £150 per m2, Stone & Ceramic Warehouse

(Image credit: Stone & Ceramic Warehouse)

11. Pick an on trend scalloped tile 

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 out round up of the top interior trends), and these Syren tiles from Topps Tiles come in five glorious sea-inspired hues. 

En suite bathroom by Topps Tiles

(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

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