One of the biggest stresses in a major bathroom remodel is choosing just the right tile: for the floors, for the walls, and especially for the shower. It’s a delicate balance choosing a tile that not only looks good now, but that will still look good ten years from now – one that’s subtle but interesting and durable, trendy without being too trendy. But whether you choose to do the whole bathroom in one type of tile or combination of different ones, one of the best ways to add personality and style to your shower design is to dress it up with mosaic tile accents.
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Accent tiles come in a whole range of shapes, sizes, and styles, and can be hand-painted or carved in a variety of designs. Usually a few inches square, these relatively small tiles can be set into a tile wall to create a simple pattern. As in the image above, single square (or diamond shaped) accent tiles stand up on their own, and can either be placed singly or at regular intervals to create a larger pattern. Just a handful of these tiles can turn your shower into a beautiful statement piece, without significantly altering or interrupting the rest of your shower design.
Mosaic Tile Sheets
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For a slightly more modern look, instead of carved or painted accent tiles, opt for mosaic tile sheets. These come a wide variety of colors and materials (though glass is probably the most popular in modern design), and are made of a half dozen or more tiles are affixed to a single mesh sheet. These sheets can easily be cut, allowing you to create smaller accent detailing – a cluster of squares, a long, thin line of tiles to create a border, or just about any shape you can imagine. These are great for installing accents large or small, and can even be used to help define your shower – to highlight the shower hardware, draw attention to a built-in niche, or even to separate the tile on the lower half of the wall from a different tile on the upper half.
Framed Inset Tile
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One of the simplest ways to get the dramatic look and feel of a custom mosaic (without having to pay an artist to design and install one) is to mix multiple different types of accent tile to create an inset design. Even a simple border of crown molding style tile surrounding a basic tile pattern (like herringbone) can create a beautiful focal point, either in the center of your shower or to highlight your shower hardware. Combined with other accents – a small layer of mosaic pieces, or even several different “border” type tiles can create a beautiful, elaborate appearance without the hefty price tag of a custom design.
Medallion Tile Flooring
Using a mosaic tile only on the floor of the shower is another great way to make your shower stand out. Using the same flooring as the rest of your bathroom can make a large shower feel a bit more open, but a mosaic floor can be incredibly striking, not the least because it draws attention to itself. That is, a mosaic tile floor is very obviously NOT an acrylic shower tray, which immediately makes the shower feel more finished and luxurious. River stone pebble-style tile is popular in this application, but for a more classical look, consider a pre-made tile medallion. These centerpiece mosaic sheets have circular designs that lend well to installing a drain in the very center, and are sold in large squares that are just the right size to fully cover the floor of some smaller shower enclosures, turning a simple shower into a major architectural focal point.
Mix And Match Mosaics
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For a more vibrant feel, you can also mix and match mosaic and other colorful tile to create a custom pattern. Because mosaic tile sheets can easily be trimmed to size, they can easily be designed into various shapes and oriented in different directions, and just as easily combined with other tile, enabling you to combine designs to get exactly the look you want. If you go this route, though, be sure to try out the pattern on a small scale, and make sure the colors match and the pattern isn’t too busy. Too many different types of tile can be overwhelming. To play it safe, stick with tile in the same color family, so the various patterns will have a baseline coordination.
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For a simple, monochromatic look that isn’t monolithic, try for texture rather than color. That is, choose a single tile or type of tile, but change the size, shape, or orientation of the tile on different parts of the wall. A simple white subway tile can be installed almost a dozen different ways, and placing two or more on the same wall is a great way to add visual interest without changing your color or base material. Even a simple square ceramic tile turned 45 degrees on one half of the wall can make all the difference in the final appearance of your shower.
Last but not least, even a simple one or two tile thick border 1/2, 2/3, or 3/4 up the wall can help break up the monotony of a single-tile installation, especially in a shower done primarily in large format tile. A simple border is supremely easy to install between larger sections of tile, and gives it that little personal touch that can make a shower feel truly charming. Just take the mosaic tile sheet of your choice, cut into uniform strips, and install at your desired height. You can even continue this simple border throughout other parts of your bathroom – the floor, backsplash, or even the rest of the walls – to give the whole space a coordinated feel.
Tell us a little bit about your next remodel – how are you planning on adding personality to your shower design?