Designing a New Bathroom on a Budget: How To Make Cheap Tile Look More Expensive

Designing a New Bathroom on a Budget: How To Make Cheap Tile Look More Expensive

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Dabney Frake
Apr 24, 2015
(Image credit: Smitten Studio)

Tight budgets mean creative design choices. Much as we love the look and price of classic white subway, hex or square tile, it’s also nice to find ways to make them look fresher and more personal — and not looking like the same kitchen or bathroom in every other person’s home. Here are ways to elevate these basic materials to something special, without spending a fortune.

Sarah Sherman Samuel alternated the direction of her white subway tiles, resulting in a modern herringbone pattern that looks anything but old. It’s classic with a twist.

(Image credit: Domino)

Gwen from The Makerista broke up basic hex tile sheets to create a custom pattern for her bathroom floor. She said that the project required lots of time and patience, but the cost was minimal. As seen on Domino.

(Image credit: Amy Sherry)

Amy Sherry created a striped pattern using just two different colors of basic square tile. It looks fun and beach-y, and didn’t require special tile or installation.

(Image credit: Kathryn Bacalis)

There’s no need to stop at stripes. You can get as creative as you want to be, like this pattern from Jenna’s Colorful Colonial — which still uses readily available sizes and shapes of tile from the hardware store, but creates a custom design.

(Image credit: Isbjörn Collective)

Colorblocking is another way to create loads of drama, without a lot of detail work. The designers of this reddish pink and white bathroom cleverly created a statement using just basic hex or penny tile.

(Image credit: Desire to Inspire)

Pair less expensive tile with pricier art tile to make a larger impact. This bathroom from INT2 Architecture used a band of blue patterned tile on top of regular white subway tile. (Although that subway tile seen here was probably quite pricy, you can achieve the same look with a cheaper tile.) via Desire to Inspire.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

If you don't like that much pattern, do something a little more subtle, like this basic border made from glass mosaic tile, as seen in Meg's Classic Glamor Apartment.

(Image credit: Sweeten)

Use a second color of tile as an accent. This bathroom makeover from Sweeten uses basic black and white. Even though the tile is pretty standard fare, the contrast is striking.

(Image credit: Chris Perez)

Adding similar colored tile in a different size, as seen in Misha & Nick's bathroom, adds nice texture and variation for very little extra money.

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