Bathroom Tile Design in 2020

Image courtesy of Mercury Mosaics

November 27, 2020

By Mercedes Austin

2020 has been an adventure. In honor of reflecting on what was hot in bathroom tile design, I’m highlighting the top three most significant things my team and I have seen while navigating the past year:


#1: Maximalism poured in! It was refreshing to see pattern on pattern on pattern. A lot of guardrails came off. Clients were shying away from minimalist spaces and embracing patterns as a way to bring comfort as they nested in their homes. These patterns showed up on concrete, porcelain and ceramic tile surfaces.


#2: Brilliant colors made their mark. We saw colorways outside of whites and grays quite frequently, with bathroom design leaning into pinks, yellows and rich and saturated hues. Tile went from being a functional addition to becoming a medium to bringing vibrancy into the mix.

#3: Shaped Tiles. Rectangle subway tile is getting pushed out of the way for more unconventional shapes like hexagons and scallops. Opting for a shaped tile pattern is a great way to make an impact if you aren’t willing to commit to color outside of neutrals and whites.

What’s Coming Next Year

Looking ahead to 2021, we’re expecting to see tile applications with mixed finishes. Gloss will nestle right next to satin, and matte will juxtapose with glossy crackle. We anticipate the play of this concept to show up on both small and large-scale surfaces. Additionally, we’re going to see smaller format tiles making a comeback – including mini bricks and small squares – creating canvases to add subtle textures to the bathroom’s overall design. These small tiles stacked like candy will create moments to layer in more texture for visual breaks throughout the space.

Usage of tiles as art will start to play out in the shower as a niche, pulling in the feeling of being in a high-end hospitality setting within the home. We’ll see this make its way into the main areas of the bathroom as a visual anchor and become a geometric storytelling backdrop.

Finally, one of the biggest things we expect to see in 2021 is the resurgence of square subway tiles. Not just in a traditional white, but with an entire spectrum of colors. We expect to see these installed in bathrooms both stacked and staggered. Originally popular as rectangular tiles in New York’s subway in the early 1900’s, square tiles have always been a classic staple and are being reimagined in the bathroom as a statement deserving to be revived.

Mercedes Austin is the founder of Mercury Mosaics.