Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

One designer trick is to keep the materials simple but turn up the volume on contrast.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

I’ve heard it said that fixtures, from taps to tub fittings, are the jewellery of the bathroom. They’re shiny (most of the time) and act as make-or-break style accessories, so the metaphor made sense – until recently. Now, tile has its turn in the spotlight, and as you’ve already learned, the options are both joy-inducing and anxiety-making.

If you’re hoping to achieve a timeless look on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong with subway tiles. One designer trick is to keep the materials simple but turn up the volume on contrast. White subway tiles in the shower – or even square four-inch tiles (yes, they’re back) installed in an offset pattern – look crisp when paired with black hexagonal or penny tiles on the floor. The best part? All are inexpensive and readily available at home improvement stores. For a final flourish, use a dark grout with the white tiles and a lighter grout with the dark tiles; contrast is just as important with the details.

The long-needed modernization happening in our bathrooms

Subway tiles are a little too safe, you say? Before we move on, consider going beyond basic with subway tiles that are handmade or have bevelled edges to give them a more artisanal quality. Marble ups the ante, too.

Story continues below advertisement

Though I’m still charmed by patterned encaustic tiles, I worry they’ll soon hit a tipping point from “amazing!” to “again?” If your heart’s set on that look, choose a muted palette of white and grey to outlast the trend. (The colourful ones could always make a small-scale appearance on your laundry or mudroom floor.) Consider geometric or three-dimensional patterns for a look that’s fresher than the ubiquitous Spanish-inspired motifs.

My favourite “new” type of tile is actually centuries old. Hand-shaped from clay and glazed with translucent enamel in a wide variety of colours, zellige tiles, which hail from Morocco, aren’t for perfectionists; no two are exactly alike in colour or shape. When installed, they have no discernible grout line because they’re placed close together on a cement base, then skim-coated with liquid cement that seeps between the lines and then is wiped away. The result is a rippling, shimmering surface with a slight opalescent effect and heaps of well-travelled patina.

Whether you go classic or cool, enjoy the shopping process – it’s half the fun – and be sure to bring samples home to see how they look in your space.

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to personaldesigner@globeandmail.com.

Sign up for the weekly Style newsletter, your guide to fashion, beauty and design, and follow us on Instagram @globestyle.

Follow related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies