9 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger With Tile

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Small apartments usually mean small bathrooms. 

But as luck would have it, there are plenty of ways to use tile to make your small bathroom appear bigger and roomier. 

Choosing the correct tile can be a bit of a minefield. The extensive range, color types, and shapes make tile selection and envisioning your end design considerably trickier. 

Appreciating the value of ‘less is more’ when tiling your small bathroom is essential. Where possible, try to keep patterns and color variation to the minimum and identify areas in your bathroom that need to appear higher or longer.  

Here are a few pointers to get you started on your tiling journey.

1. Think light simple colors and texture

Light colors create an airy, open feel in a room. And because they reflect the light, the room appears bigger.

Try choosing lighter, more neutral, plain colors for your tiles. Whites and creams work exceptionally well in a smaller bathroom.

You might be thinking—that’s SO boring! But guess what? It works. Adding too much color or pattern tiles can make a room feel cluttered and cramped. Now, I’m not saying you can’t use any patterned or darker tiles, just be careful in how you do so

Try sticking to similarly colored tiles throughout the room. Instead of adding colorful tiles to add interest to the bathroom, try choosing tiles of similar tones in different textures.

Sticking to a consistent color and type of tile in your bathroom will make your space more open, elegant, and timeless. 

2. Match your wall and floor tiles

Choosing the same tile for your bathroom walls and floors makes it more difficult to discern where the floor ends and the wall starts. 

This tricks your eyes into thinking that the space is larger than it is. I have seen this done in many small bathrooms and am always blown away at how brilliantly this works. 

When selecting a tile, ensure that you can use it on the walls and the floor. A bathroom is a high-traffic area in a house, so the tiles should be hardy and chip resistant. 

Avoid choosing a high gloss tile that is slippery when wet is also a good idea. Bathroom floors are bound to get wet at some stage, and you don’t want a spacious-looking bathroom that is hazardous.

3. Make use of large and long format tiles

Former design gurus would have suggested staying away from large or long format tiles in a small bathroom, but today, we know this advice couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Using a medium to large format tile in your bathroom means fewer grout lines, making the walls or floor look seamless and endless. This is great for making your bathroom appear bigger and more spacious. 

Larger tiles deceive your mind into thinking the room must be larger. They create beautiful simplicity in a smaller space. 

I will say that if your bathroom is tiny, you may not be able to pull off larger tiles as easily. If your bathroom is oddly shaped or too small to place several intact large tiles, I’d avoid cutting the tiles to make them fit. This completely defeats the purpose. 

If you’re terrible at visualizing spaces, I suggest grabbing a couple of tile samples from your tiling depot and trying them out in your space. You’ll immediately know whether the bathroom has the space available to make it work. 

4. Accentuate features or create a focal point

Another trick to make your bathroom appear larger is keeping your bathroom tiles neutral throughout, excluding any areas you want to feature or accentuate. 

Accentuate your curves

Accentuating rounded edges like a curved basin or bathtub shifts the focus onto the curved shapes and automatically transforms your room into a larger-looking space. 

Remember to use horizontal instead of vertical tiles to draw more attention to the curves to make this work. 

Keep feature spaces limited 

Another technique that works well is to keep all your bathroom walls bare and stick to tiling only your bathroom floors and one or two feature spots. 

Choosing smaller spaces to feature with tile usually works better than too many larger spaces, which can end up looking cluttered. 

Use glossy tiles

Light has a massive effect on how spacious your bathroom appears. 

Whether you have natural or build-in light fittings, glossy tiles on the wall opposite a window or the wall surrounding a fitting can reflect light remarkably.

Carefully choose the wall or walls that you wish to feature in glossy tiles, and please, please do not glossy tile the entire bathroom (however excited you may be). This will only undermine what you are trying to achieve. 

What about a mirrored feature wall?

Another fantastic way to reflect light and increase the appearance of space in a small room would be to cover the wall opposite a bathroom window with mirrored tiles. 

This will make a small room look chic, and the light gives the room that airy, spacious feeling you are after. 

One recommendation would be to not place a mirrored wall opposite a toilet or shower for the obvious reason of privacy (and to avoid steamy glass).

5. Tile floor to ceiling

I’ve already mentioned the benefit of selecting the same tile for your bathroom walls and floors. Take this a notch further by tiling right up to the ceiling without leaving any untiled spaces or gaps.   

This technique makes a smaller bathroom appear higher than it is, and by matching the ceiling paint with the color of your tile, the ceiling and walls appear seamless. 

I can’t stress enough what a massive difference this makes to any small bathroom look. 

Related: What Paint Colors to Use in a Powder Room With No Windows

6. Choose grout color and spacing wisely

The fewer grout lines you notice in a small bathroom, the better. With fewer lines, the walls and floors look seamless, and the room appears more spacious. 

Using large format tiles can reduce the number of gout lines you need, and by selecting tiles that you can space close together reduces the amount of visible grout. 

Always use a color grout similar to your tile color to hide the grout lines. This will make your bathroom floor or walls appear as a single surface. 

The only occasion that this doesn’t work is when you use small multi-colored or shiny mosaic or stone tiles. In this case, a white or light grey grout works better. 

And make sure to be mindful of how fixtures and fittings such as a toilet paper holder will fit into the overall scheme.

Numerous grout apps available can help you decide on the right color for your tiling project. Here is one example: Grout Color App.

7. Keep shower and bathroom tiles consistent

One way to make your bathroom floor more seamless and spacious is to match your shower floor tiles with the rest of the bathroom floor tiles. 

This is simple and can make a massive difference to a smaller bathroom with little floor space. It works exceptionally well in bathrooms that have an open shower or a glass shower door. 

8. Lay tiles in the right direction

Knowing which way to lay tiles massively impacts the appearance of space in a small bathroom. 

If your bathroom’s ceilings are particularly low and the room feels cramped and cave-like, then laying wall tiles vertically will give the impression of greater height. 

On the other hand, if your bathroom walls are the opposite of lengthy, lay your tiles horizontally along the wall to help create an illusion of greater length.  

This technique works equally well for bathroom floors. Laying tiles vertically leading into the room can give the impression of greater distance and provide greater depth to your bathroom. 

9. Penny tile technique

I said larger tiles trump smaller tiles when tiling smaller bathrooms, but I did not mention my position on tiny tiles. 

Known as penny tiles, this type comes in multiple colors, and to fill a space with them, you need oodles of them. You need alarge number of tiles to give the illusion of space. 

When tiling with these tiny tiles, cover the entire wall from floor to ceiling and stick to lighter-colored tiles

Tile only one bathroom wall with penny tiles and keep the rest of the bathroom neutral to get the full uncluttered effect.

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