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  • Writer's pictureJames Treble

Play With Pattern

Bathrooms are considered by many as an in-and-out space, and very often these are the rooms we are afraid to show to visitors and keep the door closed. Yet this is possibly the most functional and needed room there is, the one we cannot do without and one we have plenty of time to sit in with not much else to do but looking around. If you want to make this room interesting, and are in the process of building or renovating it, let me show you how playing with tiling is one subtle way to truly help you turn this one into one of the most interesting rooms of your home.

Of course the texture and colour of the tiles you're considering for your new bathroom is important, but I also suggest paying attention to their shape, as this, as well as the way they are placed, adds not only colour but also Pattern, an element of Design that greatly helps add interest to our environment. At home, Pattern may be bold in fabric on cushions or subtle, like in the grain of our timber flooring, in the weave of the carpet, or even the way bricks are placed on your walls... and the same goes for the laying of tiles. Pattern is a subtle tool that can greatly help you making this one a room your visitors will want to see and talk about. So ...

Play with pattern!

Even the plainest tile, based on its shape, can add an interesting pattern into your bathroom when placed in an interesting way, whether on the floor or on the walls. Let's assert firstly that the smaller the tile is, the busier the pattern it creates, and my first advice would be to prefer basic geometrical shapes which tend to withstand the passing of trends.

Unusually shaped tiles may also cost more, and if budget is an issue, I suggest using that amazing tile on the floor only, and pairing with standard white tiles for the walls, saving the budget for a great mirror or maybe that standout tapware. If you wish to make a bigger statement, then try continuing the same tile or similar colour up one wall as a feature, still opting for a smaller surface than covering all of the walls in the room. I particularly love running the feature tiles on the floor and up behind a freestanding bathtub, or the rear wall of the shower, elevating these locations into stand out features of the room.

Make it a feature!

If the basic square and rectangular shapes are not exciting enough for you, the hexagon offers a different pattern which is great for a feature wall. Unusually shaped tiles can be more costly than regular shaped ones, I know, but because a bathroom floor area is rarely very large, it will require smaller quantities of tiles, so, even that expensive tile you like so much shouldn't cost you a fortune. For this brand new home you can see from the photos below, I used hexagon tiles for both the floor and as a feature wall, and teamed these with cost effective regular shaped rectangular tiles in contrasting matt white. The effect is striking.

Prefer it simpler?

Patterns don't always have to be based on unusually shaped tiles. In fact, by using simple regular shaped ones we can obtain simpler patterns which add interest to a bathroom in a more subtle and cost effective way. To match the feel of a heritage home, for example, rectangular shaped tiles will work very well, and can be laid in "brick bond" or stacked in lines for a simple but effective use of geometrical shapes! But to add some more drama why not place them at an angle ... Looking at the photos below you can see how using rectangular shaped tiles in a herringbone pattern, helped me achieve a stylish and interesting look, out of an otherwise 'standard range' item.

Volume up or down!

The grouting (which is used to fill the gaps between the tiles) is a visible line that will follow and highlight the tiles' pattern, and the colour you select for this can be used to tone down or up the strength of the pattern you have selected. As grout options nowadays come in a wide range of colours, opting for more or less contrast between this and your tiles, will make their shape and overall pattern more or less evident. A trick to make a basic tiled wall very interesting, is to select or replacing the existing grouting with a highly contrasting tone, perhaps going with charcoal on white tiles, or maybe deep indigo on grey tiles, opening up a whole lot of design options for your new home or renovation..

Before you make any final decisions, I suggest that it's always worth seeking the advice of expert sales-staff in the tile store, or an Interior Designer; both will have a great knowledge of product and can help you explore the many possibilities of pattern, whether by choosing irregular shaped tiles or by placing regular shapes in a new and interesting way... I hope that after reading this you'll never enter a bathroom without noticing what Pattern is on the wall, right? Good! Now you can use it to your benefit.

A Treble of tips:

  1. Always choose quality tiles! and save by being clever with their location, if budget is an issue.

  2. Avoid surprises! Ask for a quote before laying tiles in unusual ways, as lay charges may apply.

  3. For a stronger effect use stronger contrast (dark vs light) for either your pattern or pairing tiles.

James Treble in Adelaide with HIA and Caroma

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has three decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to properties through effective design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.


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