Bathrooms can sometimes feel a little cramped. In many older homes, bathrooms were designed tiny so that the other rooms could be bigger. After all, who wanted to spend a lot of time in the bathroom?
Well, how times have changed! Fortunately, you don’t have to break out any walls to extend your bathroom to make it look bigger. When you are ready for a new look, clever use of tiles can instantly create a feeling of depth and space in even the tiniest bathrooms!
How to Tile Your Small Bathroom to Make It Look Bigger
Before you can decide on tiles that will make your bathroom appear bigger, you need to be familiar with the available types of tiles. Tiles are not all created equal and are made from different materials. Some styles, like natural stone tiles, also have specific cleaning requirements, so step 1 in any bathroom tile makeover is to choose the correct type of tile for each surface.
1. Keep It Simple!
When you start looking at new tiles for your bathroom, you will fall in love with many kinds. There is an extensive range to choose from that you will wish you had 10 bathrooms to tile so you can use them all. Replacing your bathroom tiles yourself is not as daunting as it may seem and can be a fun DIY project.
You want your bathroom space to look airy, spacious, and welcoming, so it must look clean and uncluttered. It may look cozy if you incorporate many different patterns and designs, but it probably won’t make your bathroom look bigger.
That is not to say you need to be boring when you start remodeling your bathroom! It is an exciting project, and you won’t believe how using the right tiles can open up the area and make it appear much more spacious.
If you absolutely fall in love with a highly patterned tile, use it as an accent area. Base the rest of your selection around your gorgeous must-have tiles, but keep them light-colored and plain.
2. Match the Floor and the Bathroom Wall Tiles
Knocking down the walls to make your bathroom bigger would be a massive project, but tricking your eyes by using matching tiles, is easy. Using the same, or very similar, toned tile on the floor and walls makes it difficult to see where the floor space ends and the walls begin.
This makes a small room seem instantly bigger. If you want to try this method, check that the tiles you select are suitable for use on a bathroom floor. They should not become excessively slippery when they are wet, and you may need to apply a special sealant since floor tiles catch a lot more water than wall tiles.
3. Use Light Colors to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger
You may have heard that wearing dark colors or black makes you look slimmer? That is because darker colors absorb more light and light colors reflect light. This same principle applies if you want your bathroom to appear bigger.
Using white or light neutral-colored tiles will instantly make your bathroom look bigger. And neutral light colors don’t have to be boring or look like a hospital bathroom. Change it up with textured tiling or add accent tiles in specific areas, and all-white bathroom tiles can appear chic and timeless.
But do you know which color tile is easiest to keep clean or best for retail? There’s a lot more to choosing a color tile than the illusion it creates in your bathroom. Check out my post Tricks to Pick the Best Color Tiles for much more information.
4. Use Long Format Tiles to Make Your Bathroom Appear Bigger
Long format tiles have changed how we do things. Laying long format tiles, so they flow horizontally on the bathroom walls will extend the appearance of the room’s length.
Likewise, you can use long format tiles on the floor to make the floor flow onward. Just be sure you lay them lengthways so that they lead into the bathroom. Your eyes need to move forward along the length of the tiles so that they give the appearance of greater depth to the bathroom.
For much more about when to use large format tiles and medium or small tiles, see my detailed tile size guide.
5. Use Large Format Tiles to Add the Illusion of Depth
A simple way to make a medium-sized bathroom look bigger is to use larger tiles. This may seem like contrary advice because the space is already small, but using a larger tile will mean fewer grout lines. That means that the walls and floor may appear to be a single surface. Remember that simplicity is key to making a small bathroom appear bigger.
The other reason large tiles can effectively make a bathroom look bigger is that the scale is deceptive. Your mind tells you that if the tiles are big, then the room must be big. Voila, your bathroom will seem larger instantly.
6. Create Visual Flow by Accenting Tiling Around Curves
Your bathroom will seem instantly bigger if there is visual flow by accentuating any rounded features in the room. Bathrooms don’t often have a lot of round edges, but if you do have a curved basin or a recessed bathtub, you can add accent tiles around the curvy parts, which will lead the eye around the shape.
If you keep the rest of the bathroom neutral and highlight the curves with a complementary bold color tile, the flowing shape will catch the eye first. Free-standing bathtubs have spectacular curves that can be accentuated by cleverly tiling around their curved shape.
If you are worried about committing to accenting curves in your bathroom right off, you can try this nifty tiling trick on a large round bathroom bin. Take note, though, that any tiling to accentuate round shapes to give the perception of distance must flow horizontally and lead the eye around the curve, not up and down.
7. Use Mirror Tiles to Make Your Small Bathroom Look Bigger
Incorporating mirror tiles is one of the most effective ways to make your bathroom look bigger using tile. Large mirror tiles can be used on a specific wall to reflect light. This works especially well if you place them opposite a window. The reflection will make it seem like your bathroom has two windows instead of one. It immediately opens up the room, making it appear bigger.
Mirror tile may not be suitable to use directly across from a toilet or just outside the shower, where it may get steamed up a lot. However, using it boldly as a feature area can make a small bathroom feel a lot bigger. See beveled bathroom mirror tiles on Amazon.
8. Add Gloss Tiles to a Small Bathroom
White tiles don’t have to be boring and are available in a variety of tones and textures. Any time you can reflect light in a room, it will feel larger. So when you are choosing sensible and versatile matte tile for the floor or walls of a bathroom, consider adding some gloss tile for a feature area.
Some say white gloss tile is dated, but I say it’s classic, and a feature wall of gloss tiles in a sea of matte is sure to be a focal point. This subtle touch will add reflective light, whether it is natural or artificial.
Adding high gloss tile around a light source is also a good idea to make the bathroom look bigger. I don’t recommend tiling the entire bathroom in high gloss as it can be overwhelming, but it can be a useful feature to reflect light, making a tiny bathroom seem more spacious.
Read this post to learn much more about the pros and cons of glass tile vs ceramic tile for your bathroom.
And learn about all the high-sheen finishes available in different tile materials in 13 Tile Finishes to Make Your Bathroom Design Pop!
9. Tile Up To The Ceiling To Make A Bathroom Look Bigger
Making a small bathroom look bigger is not only about making it seem longer or wider. The entire room will seem more spacious if the ceiling appears to be higher, and this can easily be achieved by tiling to the top of the wall.
Many people line up the top row of tiles with the top of the shower cubicle when doing bathroom makeovers. While there is no wrong or right method, extending the tile to the ceiling will make the wall seem taller and the ceiling higher.
Using similar color tiles on the floor and the walls and extending them to the ceiling will create a seamless feel. Match the ceiling paint with the tiles so that the walls appear to merge with the ceiling.
10. Be Aware of Grout Lines When Tiling a Bathroom
In most instances, it is advisable to minimize the appearance of grout lines to make a small bathroom look bigger. Having as few grout lines as possible when using large format tile or colored grout, which will blend with the tile, will make the tiled surface seem less bitty, giving the illusion of space.
But using thin grout lines can be tricky if you don’t know a few basic rules. But don’t worry. This post on How to Make Thin Grout Lines explains it all, and even includes several video tutorials.
11. Keep Tiling Consistent Throughout the Bathroom
An elegant way to make a smaller bathroom look much bigger if you have a glass shower cubicle is to use the same tiles on the floor inside the shower. Avoid the feature tiling that sometimes demarcates the entrance to a shower or highly patterned shower floor tiling, which can segment your bathroom space.
12. Only Tile Selected Areas of a Small Bathroom
Tile is gorgeous, durable, and easy to clean, which is why it is the material of choice for bathrooms. However, if you have a small bathroom, it may be overwhelming to cover every inch of available space in tiles, so matter how gorgeous they are.
More is usually less, especially when space is limited. If you want an area to appear bigger than it is, consider only tiling the floor and feature areas, like inside the shower cubicle and behind the bath. Keep things neutral and light. Remember, you can add splashes of color by adding plants, towels, and bath mats.
For a guide to using accent tiles in the bathroom, read my post on How to Choose the Perfect Bathroom Accent Tile.
13. Lay Tile Vertically
If your bathroom has a really low ceiling, it can feel a lot smaller than it is. This can give a small room a cave-like feeling that is not what you want when relaxing in your bathtub.
Wearing vertical stripes makes you look taller, and you can use this same principle to good effect when tiling your bathroom. If the ceiling is low, laying wall tiles vertically instead of horizontally will give the impression of added height.
14. Use a Floating Vanity So Bathroom Tile Is Visible
Selecting the right tile for your bathroom can make it feel much more spacious, but if your gorgeous new tiles are hidden behind bulky furniture, the effect may be lost. To make a small bathroom look more extensive, you need to keep things airy and let the eye run around the room without sudden breaks in the theme.
Setting a floating vanity into the wall will keep the tiling visible all around the unit, which will make the bathroom seem bigger. Floating units are also a lot easier to clean underneath than free-standing furniture.
Read Does a Bathroom Vanity Need a Backsplash to find out whether you should plan to tile there.
15. Give Your Existing Bathroom Tiles a Facelift
Before chipping tiles and making plans to make your small bathroom look bigger, check first if your tiles don’t just need a good scrub. Over time, grout tends to get discolored or wears away. The lines just aren’t as bright as they used to be, and this can make a bathroom space appear smaller than it is.
Simply replacing or cleaning the grout between tiles so that it is sparkly white can often add a fresh sparkle that will make the bathroom look bigger. Several specially designed products will transform your tired gray tile grout to shiny white in no time.
16. Add a Wall-to-Wall Mirror Between Bathroom Tiles
If you have a narrow bathroom with an end wall, this will work well. Line long format tiles horizontally on both sides. Then add a full wall-to-wall mirror across the back wall of the bathroom. The long straight tile lines leading to the mirror will be reflected, and the bathroom will immediately appear to double in size.
A wall-to-wall mirror does not need to cover the entire wall, but it should touch both sides on the left and right. The area around the mirror can be tiled using either the same color as the sidewalls or a contrasting complementary feature tone.
Keep in mind, if you choose this option, that a large mirror in a space that sees a great deal of water can be very, very difficult to keep clean. Also, know yourself. If you are a person who has a cluttered vanity top, a mirror will visually double your clutter. And nothing makes a space feel smaller than clutter.
17. Use Small Tiles in a Tiny Bathroom to Make It Seem Bigger
Although it is generally advised to select larger tiles for an area that you want to look bigger, installing large tiles may not be practical if your bathroom is tiny. In this case, remember to keep the tiles light-colored. Also, be confident and don’t select a ‘safe’ medium-sized tile that will kill the patterned effect you are after.
Choose something tiny like penny tile so that the pieces are innumerable, which will create the illusion of space. After all, if our brains can’t count them, then it must be a vast area! Be sure not to overwhelm the room on all sides with teeny tiny tiles. Choose an area and keep the rest of the tiles light and neutral.
If you use this option keep in mind that grout is much harder to maintain than tile. The more grout you have, the more grout you have to scrub and keep sealed.
18. Tile for You, Not for Resale
Tiling can be a big decision, and you must choose wisely. But if you absolutely love a particular type of tile, go ahead and include it. There are many other things that you can do to make a small bathroom look bigger besides changing up the tiles, so make your bathroom a place that you love.
How Will You Tile Your Small Bathroom?
With clever use of tile, small bathrooms can be remodeled to appear more spacious. There are so many options available that retiling your bathroom can be an exciting project that will leave you with a feeling of satisfaction each time you step into your spacious bathroom space.
See 21 Tips for Perfect Bathroom Tile for links to all my best bathroom tile resources, including posts about how to choose the best tile materials, the best tile size, the best tile colors, and the best tile finish for your project.
Be sure to get the FREE Bathtubber Tile Calculator. Simply fill out the form below and we’ll send it straight to your inbox. You’ll be able to quickly determine exactly how much tile you’ll need for your job and how much it will cost.