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Tile Trends (& What I’m Doing in the Mountain House)



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For the mountain house, I want the bathrooms to feel minimal but still editorial. I want to do something interesting and new and not just create a “Basic B” bathroom. So I’ve been peeling back the layers of Pinterest, looking for bathroom tile ideas that catch my eye for what we can do with really simple shapes (subway, square, etc.) to make it feel special and new, but not so risky that it will make the bathrooms feel instantly dated. I have a few ideas in my mind, but a thought does not create an inspiration image to validate my thoughts. There have been a few trends I’ve noticed creep into my feed and magazines lately that I want to talk about because I’m intrigued by them and curious what your thoughts are on them.

First up is the color-block trend (i.e. the same tile in two different colors that run into each other). We are officially into it. The above photo is the best example I could find of what’s in my head—it’s not only two different colors but, bonus points, different scales (I think?) and orientations. Of course, that tile is STUNNING all its own so that surely doesn’t hurt, but even mixing a simple affordable white subway, rectangle or small square would create a nice texture and be slightly unexpected. Let’s dive into a few examples we found on the ‘net while doing design research:

Colorblock Tile

Modern Bathroom Black and White Tiles
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When done right, it feels simple, but intentional and gives a big dose of drama. The bevel edge of the tile catches the light really nicely and adds something a little extra to a classic black-and-white look.

Moroccan-Style Architecture Two-Tone Tile
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This one is more like an ombre which is definitely more of a risk than I’d take and isn’t totally appropriate for the house.

Modern Bathroom Colorblocked Tiles
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White & Green Square Tile Bathroom
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Unique Bathroom Tile Blue & White Colorblock
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Now, I agree that some of these will be more dated—the penny tile version above is so cute but is definitely A LOOK. I would likely mix white with blue (duh) of the same tile or at least from the same manufacturer so the finish is the same but maybe the scale would be different.

Blue & White Bathroom Subway Tile
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I also like the idea of doing the bottom half of the wall one color and the top another, but you could do something like the above where the walls alternate, too. Also with that version, you win a puppy, which certainly adds interest to your bathroom.

White & Green Bathroom Subway Tile
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For the above, I might have done a large-scale floor tile, but the stacking green square with the staggered vertical rectangular white is an unexpected combo and gets my wheels turning.

Modern Bathroom Two-Tone Blue Tile
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Or you just change the shade of the tile and it can help create some separation or give it a visual break. The overall vibe of this shot is really contemporary, but I think it could also work in something less…Euro.

Pink & Gray Square Tile Bathroom Vanity
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You can go even bolder with the above and below, but we wouldn’t for this house…I promise. This is awesome for a hotel or a new build, but I am far more likely to do a vertical stack of one color, then switch to another, almost like a wainscot but in tile.

Modern Bathroom Colorblock Tile
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This might make you go WOWZA, and yes, it’s OTT, but it’s a good example of creating something totally out of the box with something as simple as colored square tiles.

Modern Bathroom With Mixed Tile Colors
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Again, another idea that might look cool in a photo, but I’m not necessarily considering. Something with this many colors isn’t right for the mountain house, but in a more commercial setting (hotel, restaurant), it’d definitely get me to stop and stare.

Change of Tile Direction & Scale

We are also thinking of sticking with the same tile, but switching the scale or the direction of them to do something unexpected.

Bathroom With Subway Tile & Blue Grout
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I love how they mixed the scales on the tub and the direction on the wall, but I can’t help but wonder why the lines aren’t lined up. And yay, for blue grout.

We have toyed with doing the exact same color and finish, but mixing up the scales and orientations, like so:

Bathroom With White Tile & Brass Faucet
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I think that it’s too contemporary for this house, but I love looking at it and trying to figure it out like a puzzle.

When done more simply, like the below, it’s hard not to like it.

Modern Bathroom Green Tile
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Modern Bathroom Colored Tub White Tile
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The key to this working in this house is to use handmade tiles (to ensure warmth) and keep it simple with just two different tiles. The first photo by Magnolia Home is by far my favorite and the one that references what I’d do the closest.

Fixer Upper Colorblock Tile in Bathroom
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So what do you think? I don’t think that when done simply, it’s a super obvious 2018 trend. Some of those are obviously too contemporary for this particular project (what with the rustic fireplace and ceiling) but imagine handmade white tile stacked vertically then horizontally…I think it will absolutely work.

Similar to the alternating pattern here:

Central Standard Austin
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Thoughts? Feelings? Suggestions? Yes to this trend or NO?

Fin Mark


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love love love.


Those are different size tiles in the magnolia house bathroom. I happened to watch the behind the design episode for that house last night. She said she meant for the tiles to both be horizontal but they’re handmade and when arrived were slightly different sizes so she changed orientation to vertical

Interesting! I noticed they were different size and orientation and liked it. thats funny it was an accident … i like it.


It’s also dry stacked (no grout). I can’t help but wonder if water wouldn’t seep in behind????


I was just in an awful b&b, but the tile in the bathrooms were so cool to me – from the 1800’s – dry stacked, no beveling, just flat tile and it looked pretty rad. Also, the new issue of HB has a kitchen with a pink quartz tiled backsplash in a kitchen (she said she wanted it for the counters but it was too expensive so she had it cut to rectangular tiles for the backsplash which was also unexpected, yet still classic and I think more evergreen.


I second this question! Dry stacked is gorgeous and pastoral, but I worry about the practicality of it.


Yes, how does that work in a shower??

Zoe E Pedziwiatr

How do I watch this? I want to see!


The only two I like is the one shower with the arched entrance and this last one of a restaurant. The other patterns do seem trendy to me.


I love the photos in which the tile color is the same, but the scale and pattern are different. The color blocking does not work for me at all. I looked over them a couple of times to try and figure out why and I think it’s because they remind me of locker rooms in schools and gyms and bathrooms in institutional buildings. Particularly when done with square tile. My favorite is the dark green tile – long vertical strips with little squares. It’s simple, but really different and completely stunning (to me). But you always do such beautiful work,… Read more »


That dark green one is my favorite, too. I’m already planning on that color tile for my master bath renovation, it that grout color and size variance is fantastically inspiring.


Yes, there was something about them that didn’t work for me and I think it’s because they remind me of my highschool bathrooms or the local pool locker rooms.

I agree. they go super 70’s locker room. I’m avoiding square tile in general because of that for this house. The first one and the green one are my favorites as well.


Yes! A lot of these look very institutional.


Yes! Exactly.


My favorites are the photos in which the tile is all the same color, but used to create a distinctive pattern. I didn’t just like the dark green with long vertical tiles mixed with little squares – I think it is absolutely stunning.

The color blocking does not work for me at all. I looked through the photos several times to try to figure out why and I think it is because it reminds me of locker rooms and hallways in institutional buildings.

But, you do such beautiful work, I’m sure you can make color blocking stunning too.


Um. The only image I like is the first one. (PS, how does “dry stacking” work in real life?) All the square tile makes me think of high school locker rooms! Gads. I think I’d have to see the beautiful handmade tile to be convinced…


The dry stacking is really bothering me. Seeing the sides of the tiles looks like mildew to me and makes it seem dirty. Might just be those specific tiles. Other than that, I like the look in that particular case and the dark green vertical long tiles with the smaller tiles. I’m not a fan of any of the other layouts on this post. To echo what others said, it feels very institutional to me, not like a home.

what is this ‘dry stacking?’ does that mean without grout? INTERESTING….


Yeah. The Fixer Upper bathroom in the first and last pic has no grout

Maria Bethard

Dry stacking is, indeed, without grout, and when installing tiles without grout, you need to make sure the tiles are tightly stacked together so the thin set won’t slip in the grout joints, which can be a tricky installation because of that. In addition, you would not have dry stack in a wet space. Since this is a bathtub it works, whereas in a shower it would not. These are zellige tiles by cle tile – absolutely beautiful and a great company to work with.


I wonder if another (albeit, expensive) option would be to use Tadelakt plaster as a base so it’s already waterproof underneath before stacking the tile on top. Although if you go through the expense and labor of Tadelakt plaster, I would leave it exposed. It’s a spectacular (and waterproof) finish!


Are there companies who do tadelakt in the US? I was trying to do research on that awhile back and couldn’t figure it love love the dry stacking! It’s amazing, looks so rustic!


I’ve never heard of dry stacking either! So interesting. It looks like you could get a similar look with very small (1/16″ or smaller) grout lines, plus grout color similar to what this photo looks like (dark blue on the bottom, brown-ish on top).


Digging the color block trend. Not as sure about the second concept.


Check out the bathroom of the Garrett Room at the Hotel Emma in San Antonio. It’s not right for your house, but I think it’s a good example of a bathroom that doesn’t look super 2018 but still colorblocks beautiful tile.

My favorite from the above is Magnolia too 🙂 Love the idea of white on white in different directions with handmade tile!


I am all over the tile in the first picture (it also appears as the last pic too). A complete stunner with longevity. It just feels like perfection to me.



I can’t get enough of the organic looking clay tiles with irregular edges and the brick tiles. Regardless of what you choose for pattern or color, I’d love to see you use those.


My brother had bedsheets in the 80s just like that “Wowza OTT ” kitchen with all of that red and gray and white. Eek it all just looks so very 80’s to me having been a child during that time.
Now the thing I don’t like about the Magnolia tile is all that grout just feels dirty. There’s something sterile and also dirty about all of it, not my cup of tea for sure.
Color blocking is too trendy, period.


agree. there’s something about certain grout/tile combos that makes me itch. i think it’s because when we travel, our routes take us through many mountain tunnels. They all have square tile with dirty grout and it just looks….very mountain highway tunnel. But that’s just me. In general–I haven’t been all around the US–but, my head can only picture all of these in Miami, FL. Otherwise, I think they’d be really tough to pull off! I do like that rich green color and sheen though of the first picture! And the color scheme of the arched shower is pleasant to look… Read more »

Brandyn Keithley

The only one I like is the first/lady picture and I think its cause without grout lines the change in color and direction doesn’t feel crazy busy. I don’t know how it works in practice.


Wow… the tile in the first picture is beautiful. An old-world mood setter.

Sue Harrison

I love the shelf/towel bar. I really love that particular tile also.


The color blocking is less attractive to me than the other option (though I don’t hate it, it would really depend on the colors). The Magnolia example is absolutely gorgeous (looks like it’s old and has been there forever!) and that green tile a few pics above is swoon worthy.


I think the key to it not looking trendy is to pick a tile color and pattern that compliments the architectural style of the house. I think a handmade tile and pattern like the dark green one would blend well and would in other colors, too. I think the more rustic handmade tile in the first and last pictures looks older than your house and will therefore look trendy. It’s awesome for sure, but to me it has that deconstructed, jersey ice cream vibe that looks amazing in grand, old houses but super trendy in house built after 1920. And… Read more »

Yah I agree. the house was built in the 60’s so I can’t go too old world. But I LOVE a zellige very very much.


Please tell me a post is coming with Emiy’s new colors!
Looking gorgeous, Emily!

Amy E Jones

I agree with the comment ‘reminds me of my high school bathroom or the pool locker room.’ I think the only photo I love from above is the first one with the handmade tile.

Kayla aka Kilo Bravo

I’m not loving most of these…and scrolling back through I think the biggest perpetrator is the grout color moreso than the tile color/orientation. I have never been on the dark grout train, so only the lighter grout tiles remotely appeal to me. I feel my eye not even noticing the color/orientation. However, that dark green with terracotta colored grout??? Hmmmm that feels warm and earthy and clean and modern, without going ultra contemporary. For sure my favorite out of the bunch. But again, I think it’s the interesting grout choice that captures my eye over the different tile shapes.


I agree, the dark green matte tiles with terra cotta grout is spectacular. I think the tiles themselves are so sharp looking, then that earthy contrast. Yum.

Julie S

I’m not really a fan – the only two images I actually liked were the dark green tile with rose grout (very simple pattern and still soothing) and the leading photo with the traditional color scheme (though that decayed grout look made me cringe). For the most part it either looks too hard-edged modern or brings too much energy into a room that I prefer to be serene.


Mixing tile direction and scale could work in a rustic minimal space if you used handmade tile in one color. There’s something rustic about mixing size/shape/scale, like an inspired use of leftover materials that ends up perfectly imperfect.


I love all these examples, but I see what you mean about only some of them working with the cabin.

I think you could keep it sleek and understated by keeping the same width for all sizes, and the proportions symmetrical. 2×2, 2×4, 2×8 with both vertical and horizontal orientations. That will create a lovely rhythm. Don’t throw any 2×6 or 4×4 in there if you are going for sophisticated restraint.

Color blocking – for editorial purposes, go for it.


Reading through these comments validated that I’m not alone in my sentiment that I don’t like most of them! When scrolling through, I couldn’t figure out why and now realize it’s because of what another commenter said- the locker room/industrial vibe is not my thing. I also don’t like tile all the way to the ceiling in areas outside of the shower. It just is too cold for me and makes feel like you have to scrub the walls too or else they will get mildewing. I do love the colors of the first one, but the lack of grout… Read more »


Let’s drop the white, grey and black and move on to Color. The world is full of it and alot of people actually know what color they like. And now we have tile in beautiful patterns and colors. Wake up world you’re not dead yet. Oh, and even grout comes in colors!


Agree wholeheartedly!


These would all be a hard no for me. Too trendy. Might be fun for a hot minute, and then you would get sick of it? Also, this is going in a mountain house. Not a modern, clean-lines, contemporary house. I think there are places to take risks, like your kitchen, with all the wood cabinetry hiding the appliances. But I do not think that any of these would fit the bill in a mountain home. I do love hand made tile, though. Have it in my bathroom, and I LOVE it so much. But, it is in a boring… Read more »

Julie Gallagher

Here are some great examples of blue and white tiles… and penny rounds. xxx


I like all those versions of mixed blues and whites, and the shape variations in the one with the navy blue shower.


I adore the peachy tile with the darker orange seat (best description I can give you!). Lovely, subtle but a definite statement. Some of the others are fun, but might be too much to live with (as opposed to a hotel setting, where you can escape after a day or 2). And the ones where the grout lines don’t line up send my OCD twitching. 🙂


I agree with others…. I’m not in love with a lot of these. I think a lot of the photos feel busy and chaotic to me, especially the ones where they’ve mixed a lot of different shapes, colors and directions. Tile direction/size-wise, I like the ones (like that dark green one) where they’ve used different shapes but lined up the grout lines so that there is one continuous line for my eye to follow. Color-wise, I’m more drawn to the ones (like the subtle blue and periwinkle one) where the color-blocking is done more like an accent wall than a… Read more »

Lindsey F

The magnolia one just brings flashes of dirty motels that you’d immediately turn and run from. Whatever is going on with the grout or lack there of is just wrong wrong wrong.

The color and irregularity of the tiles and how they are laid is beautiful and would fit into a mountain home setting but the lack of grout makes me cringe everytime I look at it. The tiles themselves remind me of your kitchen tiles.


I just said the same thing. I can’t stand the dirty look! Ewww.


I have to be honest and say that I’m not really a fan of most of these images. The first image is beautiful, but it seems like it would be more appropriate in an old home in Europe. The image with the dog seems more doable in a mountain getaway home. Otherwise, they feel a little too institutional and trendy. You have such great taste, I’m sure whatever you do will be fabulous!


The Joanna Gaines tile is slightly different in each color way because they’re handmade. She originally meant to lay all the tile in the same direction but with the difference in sizes, had to run it lengthwise rather than horizontal. It works for me and looks calming since the tiles are butted together with no visible grout lines…


I love so many of these. Such creativity! Really inspiring. Many are too 80s for my taste, but it really gets you thinking about all of the ways you can play with tile. I will say that I hate how the 1st photo (Magnolia Home) looks like dirty/missing grout. I just could never get on board with that and wouldn’t like to visit a home with that aesthetic. The tile itself is very pretty but I hate how shabby it looks. It just feels really dirty to me.


Gotta say, I’m not loving this. Of course, I DO like the Magnolia one that you favor because of the beauty of the tiles, but as so many others have said, a lot of these remind me of a school. From 1985. Which I’m not fond of. Having said that, I totally get that you are talking about the essence and color-block choices and that you would be using a gorgeous tile so I am sure that what you are picturing could work. Can’t WAIT to see what you choose!! 😀


It definitely depends on the type of tile. You can have a timeless design like the last image or something that is very trendy that will come and go. Black and white are never out of style. Staying with your mountain theme, you may want to go more neutral or something in nature tones, sure it sounds boring, but it doesn’t have to be. Using greens, blues, tans, and grays, you can bring the outdoors in, which is the idea of a cabin. You’ve got this! 🙂


Okay for hospitals or banks, I suppose. But, they are all pretty ugly, in my opinion. Nothing beautiful about any of them. I’m laughing thinking about asking a professional tile setter to “dry stack” shower tiles! I shudder to think of the mold, mildew, and rot that will follow.


Sorta seems to me that most color blocking is just for sake of novelty, and not because it looks better. Also agree that square tiles with dark grout read creepy — think gas station bathrooms. But I know you know better than to do that 😉

Julie S



Something about those handmade tile drystacked makes me shudder. I felt that way when I saw them on the TV show. They are not for everyone at all. Concerned about the no grout situation. Looks like a place for mold to grow.


I really liked most of these and think you could easily incorporate their inspiration into the cabin. The rustic cabin. The black and white bevel is beautiful: a fantastic riff on a tiled wainscoating. The dark green with rose grout is breathtaking. Very inspiring and glamorous. And the restaurant with the black and white colorblocking with the wood and leather and floors is so good! Has me majorly inspired for the overall feel of my own home. Your handmade tiles, layed in a fun new way will blend rustic and modern and remain timeless.


Honestly…I’m not crazy about any of the looks. I guess I am old school and think you should do something timeless and classic. White/cream and bring the color into the room with the wall color and rustic/mountain-cabin accessories. Most of the photos you showed us are very trendy and in 10 years you will be ripping it out, wondering “what was I thinking. Trendy is not timeless. Please don’t think about tiling the countertops…that is so 1970’s and 80’s…we just big bucks to rip out that look in all of our bathrooms (our house was 1986 build) and now have… Read more »


Love that top photo with the dark and light blue in different orientations, but have a random question. Obviously you didn’t do it, but in your professional opinion what do you think the grout situation is there? It looks like there isn’t any? Is that possible?

Maria Bethard

The tiles were dry stacked which is installing the tiles without grout. When doing so you need to make sure the tiles are tightly stacked together so the thin set won’t slip in the grout joints, which can be a tricky installation because of that. In addition, you would not have dry stack in a wet space. Since this is a bathtub it works, whereas in a shower it would not. These are zellige tiles by cle tile – absolutely beautiful and a great company to work with.

Betsy | The Estate of Things

Treating it like a wainscoting but doing so in an alternating color or in same color/texture but opposite orientation seems smart. It’s a nod to a timeless design element but done in a fresh way. Seems spot on EHD to me! <3


I agree. Updating a classic tile design with a modern twist (change in direction) will work well without becoming quickly dated. I like the photos where the same tile is in two colors and two directions. Once you add more colors, shapes, or directions, it becomes too much for a home environment. I particularly prefer the long thin rectangular shapes. The dry stacked tile installation definitely looks vintage whereas a matching (or neutral) grout look is more appropriate for the era of the mountain home.


I’ve wondered whether you’ve considered Pewabic tiles (or Motawi, inspired by Pewabic). Probably too expensive.

But when I think about gorgeous bathrooms I always go back to the Jed Johnson bathroom with Pewabic tiles.

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From my perspective, none of these examples leap out to me and say that they are a mountain cabin vibe. They are more of trendy vibe or they are contemporary. I don’t know if one would tire of seeing these dark colors. Is there any inspiration to be drawn from the adjacent rooms or from the outside vistas? With the dark tile, I have heard folks says to be careful since the water can leave mineral spots over time. (Maybe some one who has had dark time for a time could address whether there is any issue with water minerals… Read more »

Veronica Kraushaar

Wow, Emily, so many tile options, and all daring and great. We chose for a client a very simple arrangement of white and blue yet standards with the highlight of a Portuguese tile “picture” behind the tub. Message: if you have a small budget for tile, use the standards and splurge for a an accent tile piece. (Wish I could post pic?)


The Fixer Upper image is by far my favorite, but I also really liked the dark green with short pieces and very long rectangles in the same width. Most just don’t seem like they would fit the over all style of the mountain house.


Sorry, don’t really love any of these. I think you can do better – you always do!

Suzanne Riviere

partial to blues and greens, so first photo with green tiles seems very calm and dare i say a touch of vintage like what is seen established homes. love it.


Not feeling it… I like the first pic with the handmade tile, but some of the others look like a tile delivery truck vomited all over it.


Like the first two and the green with the terra cotta grout. Other than that agree with the other commenters – too busy and chaotic with all those grout lines. In Gil Schafer’s latest book, A Place to Call Home, Rita Konig did the kitchen in a California cottage in Mill Valley with a variation of this idea. She used wide horizontal shiplap on the bottom third and narrow vertical bead board on the top. It’s on page 108 and might be the look you like but much cleaner.


I dunno…all of these seem like they will go out of fashion very quickly, even with neutral tile colors. Maybe it’s the tile size, but I’m not feeling them.

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