How to Design a Tile Pattern in a Bathroom

Many bathrooms are small and don't have room for many decorative items or bold design statements. However, when you are updating your bathroom, keep in mind that tile shapes, colors and styles abound and that you can use them to create a virtually unlimited number of tile patterns. When designing a tile pattern for your bathroom, plan to install the tile onto your floors or at least around your tub, if not completely around the lower half of your bathroom. Tiles installed against walls and on floors protect your bathroom from moisture damage.

A herringbone tile pattern is created with rectangular tiles.
  1. Identify the tiles you will use in your tile pattern. Your tile choices influence your tile pattern because different tile types have different shapes and edges. For example, subway tiles are rectangular while hex tiles get their name from their hexagonal shape.
  2. Consider the tile's size. Smaller glass tiles look sleek and expensive, but require a lot of grout and therefore extra cleaning.
  3. Create patterns by arranging the tiles in different configurations. Popular configurations include staggered, brick-like patterns for rectangular or square tiles, square tiles installed on their corners as diamonds, and rectangular tiles placed in alternating horizontal and vertical arrangements to create a basket weave or herringbone pattern.
  4. Use multiple tile shapes to make your patterns. You could alternate square and rectangular tiles to create borders or repeating patterns. You can also create patterns with differently colored tiles, such as checkered black and white tiles.
  5. Select tiles that match your bathroom's fixtures; for example, if your tub and toilet are an avocado green, choose a matching tile color or a neutral that won't compete. Use brightly colored tiles to add interest to your walls and floors, or use neutral tiles in repeating patterns if you want to give your bathroom a soothing, spa-like atmosphere.
  6. Draw your pattern out on grid paper. First take measurements of your bathroom, and then translate them to a smaller scale that will fit on your grid paper. Use that scale to add your proposed tile design to the grid. Remember to account for grout lines in your drawings.

Things You Will Need

  • Grid paper
  • Pencil


  • Very strong or complicated patterns might overwhelm a small bathroom. Keep this in mind when designing your tile pattern.

About the Author

Katherine Harder kicked off her writing career in 1999 in the San Antonio magazine "Xeriscapes." She's since worked many freelance gigs. Harder also ghostwrites for blogs and websites. She is the proud owner of a (surprisingly useful) Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas State University.

Photo Credits

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