The size of a space, the amount of light it attracts, and other design elements and product inclusions will determine the basic rules for your tile choices
If you’re working with a smaller space, including a lot of patterns will make it feel smaller, so it’s an idea to keep these spaces simple.
Decide on what the hero of your design will be in that space. Is it colour, pattern, lighting, furniture, fixtures? If you’re going for bold statement lighting for instance, and you’d like that to be the hero of the space then dial back on other design elements.
Some rooms are crying out for a tile feature, with their obvious, natural focal points. It may be the back wall of the shower or to showcase the bathtub. It may even be the floor. One place it probably shouldn’t be, is around the toilet! Of course, kitchen and laundry splashbacks are the perfect size to add a pop of texture, colour and pattern.
Depending on the complexity of the tile, the rule of thumb is to stick to one feature tile in a space and then ensure that your floor tiles and other wall tiles harmonise and compliment that feature.
For the more design daring, there is the option of using a more intricate lay pattern with a plain tile, like vertically stacking or herringboning a plain subway, but combining with the traditional lay of a patterned tile. That way you have the interest of the lay pattern as well as the other tile pattern.
In any case, it’s easiest to choose the feature tile you love, and then work backwards, to choose your other tiles. Design principles to consider:
The size of your feature tiles compared to the other tiles in the space. You want to make sure you have contrast in size, so your feature is a focus.
Consider the undertone of your feature tile and ensure you choose the tiles, fixtures and fittings that surround your feature, have a similar undertone to the overall look is harmonious. Alternatively, you could have a contrasting colour for the feature if you want to make a bold statement.
Whilst the colours might be plain and simple, more complex lay patterns like herringbone, or intricate shapes like fish tales, all add extra design detail. It’s important to ensure the pattern isn’t lost with other design elements in the space.