Bathroom Tile Research

I find myself torn between two very different looks. One is the classic combination of subway tiles and a patterned ‘encaustic’ floor. The other uses large slabs of stone or convincing stone effect porcelain with minimal grout lines. I love the gradients and way light plays across the latter option. This would inevitably give a much more contemporary ‘hotel’ feel however and may jar with the rest of this modest, victorian terraced house.

It seems that quite a few people have used subway tiles above an Omnitub Duo Japanese style deep soaking bath tub. Something about the visual structure seems to work well – particularly when there is a window behind. Subway tiles are one of those timeless styles that seem to bridge the old and the new – great if you prefer to use long-lasting materials and avoid ‘fast fashion’ when renovating a house. The current bathroom has been here since the 1950’s…. 70 years… wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next one could last as long?

A more classic look with subway tiles and potentially encaustic victorian or Mediterranean style patterned floor tiles for a little more personality :

I enjoy the warmth that wood can add to the room. I am considering leaving the beams that are in the space above the bath once the ceiling is ‘punched through’ the loft space to the rooflight above. This will give an interesting architectural feature and an organic material to contrast with the cold, hard surface of tiling. Additionally a cabinet under the basin and step for the bath could be constructed out of wood.

Additionally, plants in a bathroom can soften and enliven the space

Having visited various tile shops, it is clear to me just how important it is to see tiles in person. There are so many variations in surface undulations or flatness – which can look natural or synthetic, edge level changes or consistency, variation in tone within a set of tiles and so on. White tiles can look fairly similar in photographs, but in person the differences can be infinite!

Bishopston Tiles

These were three white tiles that stood out to me from this shop. The left one has slightly raised edges for an ‘irregular’ feel and has a ‘natural’ greyish white tone. The middle has a crackle finish and is a lovely soft antique white, but with a higher price tag. The tiles on the right were a surprise. They are a larger format than I had considered could work with this shape and style – 20 x 50cm, which would reduce the labour for install and grout to clean over its lifetime! They also have a lovely irregular tone to them to give a less clinical feel than many white tiles.

Topps Tiles

Topps Tiles didn’t have many tiles displayed that appealed to my tastes. The Catania Antique White showed potential and was a more reasonable price at £28.67 p/m2, but up close it really showed its lower quality with the irregular tone being from a glaze that just revealed the terracotta clay below. In stark contrast I found myself very drawn to the honed Carrara marble metro-style tiles. These are well out of my price-range however at £208.52 p/m2!


I was surprised to find a rather unusual tile in B&Q – this Troy Manhattan Moroccan 300 x 600mm grey and cream tile at a very good price of £13 p/m2. Whilst it appeals to my love of ‘filigree’, geometric patterns and low contrast tones, unfortunately it doesn’t look so appealing to me when seen on a wall – at least in the way the website displays it.

The Tile & Bathroom Warehouse Ltd

This shop had some really lovely tiles of higher quality. They had a good selection, including several metro tiles. One that stood out was the Ca’Pietra Pottery Porcelain in Natural Cotton but at a hefty price of £73.16 p/m2 (50 tiles per box of 7.5 x 20cm tiles, equalling 0.75m² at £54.87 from Tile & Stone)

They also had a selection of these stunning Grande 600 x 1200mm large format tiles which are porcelain but have a depth and sufficiently irregular appearance of stone in intense and beautiful colours. I was unable to find names or prices for these however.

I discovered I am very drawn to the Ca’Pietra brand of tiles. They have some stunning colours, finishes, depth and patterns in their ranges. Waxman Ceramics is another brand that had some appealing designs.

Tile Flair

Some good example of the differences between various metro/subway style pale tiles. The left ones have very irregular edges which I suspect will be problematic for gathering grime in a shower. The right ones were my favourite due to the changes in tones between tiles, however unfortunately they were not available due to stock shortages in the UK after the Covid/Brexit chaos.

Seeing this vertically helped back up my thoughts that the Bordeaux Toulon design could work for a feature wall as well as being a floor tile. The Habana Aqua is a reasonable example of the ‘varied tone’ look however somehow it feels a little contrived to my eye – this effect is also very dependent on the installer skill at distributing the colours in a suitably random yet spread out way.The same is true of this gorgeous teal and greyed aqua toned vintage looking hexagon tiles.

I was again reminded how much I love the look of marble tiles. The hexagonal ones are polished and expensive whilst the tumbles ones on the right are a little more affordable

These are some more striking natural stone effect large format 1200 x 600mm tiles. Firenze Dahlia Polished & Invisible White Polished £92.65 p/m2, £71.27 per tile. In my bathroom I would need 3.5 tiles of this size per wall above the bath, so £285.08 for one wall or £783.97 for the whole area.

Original Style Tile Showroom – Bristol

Gorgeous delicate distressed leaf motif, antique effect glazed white larger format (not dissimilar to Bishopston Tiles St Tropez White), a large format ‘in situ’. Despite The natural tone/pattern and practical lack of grout lines, there is a clinical ‘harshness’ and hotel feel from my perspective.

Yet more gorgeous green and grey leaf motifs

Their range has some stunning 300x300mm patterned tiles such as the Original Style Odyssey Grande Cotehele Teal on Chalk 30x30cm 8753 at £8.17 per tile, with striking mandala-style and moorish designs. These would be fantastic for floors, but I could also imagine them as a feature wall in a suitable setting. These are by far my favourite large geometric patterned tiles so far.

  • For floor & back shower wall of 3.96m² :
  • 1.25m² floor = 5 tiles across, 25 tiles total
  • 2.1m² – 2.4m² back wall, (1.05-1.2m across = 4 tiles, 2m height = 7 tiles, 28 tiles total
  • 53 tiles total needed (59 including 10% spares)
  • £482.03 + £40 postage = £522.03
  • Could use basic cheap white metro tiles on side walls

Original Style Odyssey Mezzo Fantasia 200 x 200mm £2.80 each plus £40 postage (from Tiles & Stone Online)

  • For floor & back shower wall of 3.96m² :
  • 1.25m² floor = 7 tiles across, 49 tiles total
  • 2.1m² – 2.4m² back wall, (1.05-1.2m across = 6 tiles, 2m height = 10 tiles, 60 tiles total
  • 109 tiles total needed (120 including 10% spares)
  • £336 + £40 postage = £376
  • Could use basic cheap white metro tiles on side walls
  • Original Style Odyssey Mezzo Volante/Melange? 20x20cm £2.80 each + £40 postage Tile & Stone
  • Original Style Odyssey Mezzo Molto 20x20cm £2.80 each + £40 postage Tile & Stone
  • Original Style Odyssey Mezzo Soprano 20x20cm £2.80 each + £40 postage Tile & Stone
  • Original Style Odyssey Mezzo Nocturne 20x20cm £2.80 each + £40 postage Tile & Stone

TileFlair – Flooring/Patterned

New England Arrow Decor 150 x 150mm (£52.96 p/m2) TE092AR, Bordeaux Arcachon (£41.83 p/m2) TE8X279, New England Kali Decor 150 x 150mm (£52.96 p/m2) TE067KA

Devonshire 330 x 330mm in Grey (£35.43p/m2), Green (2.9m2 for £49 clearance) & Blue (£35.43p/m2)

This is a design that I first saw in Portugal in a delicate grey and blue on a cream background. I find it particularly attractive & luckily, various manufacturers make their own versions. Tileflair have various colour ways, above left being the Victoriana Dover Grey 450x450mm, with the whole pattern taking up 4 tiles before it repeats (£34.75 p/m2) along with a smaller version of 450mm x 450mm with the whole pattern on it called Hampton Grey (£36.75 p/m2).

Victoriana Leeds Grey 450x450mm £7.09 per tile, £34.75 p/m2

Bristol Tile – Flooring/Patterned

Topps Tiles – Flooring/Patterned

Statements Berkeley Essence Sky, Amberley Orchid £62.95

Bishopston Tiles – Flooring/Patterned

Vinyl Flooring

Amtico from Natural Born Flooring

Harvey Maria Pebble Grey Lattice Seedpod from Natural Born Flooring

These (found at Multisave Carpets, Longwell Green, Bristol) are the closest thing to attractive design of vinyl flooring that I have found. The Empress designs have a style I am interested in but I am not keen on the smaller repeat of the pattern. I feel there is a gap in the market for a flooring that isn’t as cold as tiles, such as vinyl, cork or linoleum (the latter two would be preferable due to their biodegradable and less environmentally damaging construction) but with the attractive designs you can find only in tiles. I am considering buying a plain Marmoleum (a brand of linoleum) and stencilling to get a similar effect to some of the larger patterned tiles that appeal more.

I think it likely I will only use a pattern on the floor to avoid overpowering the room. However, I have found a few images that give me cause to wonder if a ‘feature wall’ of the right patterned tile could be beneficial, particularly since there is no focal point on the wall directly facing the door as there is with many of the most effect bathroom designs of this layout (they often tend to have a window, providing depth and visual interest)

I realise that one of the images I like of a bathroom with similar layout to mine, has what looks like tiles that have an irregularly tone, from one tile to the next (not just within the tile itself) This could well be a marble tile. The cheapest I have found for a marble in brick / metro / subaway shape is the Honed Ibiza White Marble Metro from Starel Stones at £58.80 p/m2 (currently on 3m2 left in stock at £235.40 including delivery)

Measurements for reference purposes :

  • ‘Back’ shower wall opposite door : 2.1m² – 2.4m² (1.05 x 2m or 1.2 x 2m)
  • Side shower walls : 4.2m² (2 x (1.05 x 2m))
  • All shower walls : 6.3m² – 6.6m²
  • Side shower walls plus toilet/sink backsplash : 5.58m² (1.2m x 1.15m backsplash 1.38m²)
  • Side shower walls plus toilet/sink backsplash & bath panel : 6.49m² (1.3m x 0.7m bath panel 0.91m²)
  • Floor : 1.56m² (1.25 x 1.25m)
  • Floor & back shower wall : 3.66m² – 3.96m²

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *