This Unique, Budget-Friendly Design Idea Is the Perfect Way to Make Use of Any Extra Tiles You Have Lying Around

published Apr 6, 2023
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After finishing a DIY project in your home — whether big or small — it’s normal to have leftover supplies. With shipping and supply-chain delays still slowing work down, many people pad their orders; you never want progress to be held up because you don’t have enough material on hand. At first glance, that pile of leftover wood or those scraps of extra wallpaper may look like trash, but they just might inspire a creative solution in your space that you hadn’t thought of before. Take ceramic tile, for example. Depending on where you live, leftover tiles might not seem like they belong outside of a bathroom or kitchen, but the DIY detail in this quirky rental just may change your mind. 

Sidney Ro lives in a colorful 1300-square-foot apartment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her partner, Brandon Miller, and their cat, Sergei. “The moment I stepped inside and saw the bathroom and original floors, I knew that it was the perfect space,” Ro says of the warm, vibrant mix you can see below. 

Ro considers her design style to be “a hodgepodge of MCM-ish, vintage, thrifted, colorful” influences, as she explains in her house tour. So the original details of the unit were right up her alley. In fact, the bathroom became a design jumping-off point for Ro as she decorated. The coolest thing about it? The rainbow ceramic tiles, which were salvaged from a local train station in the ‘80s and now cover the shower surround and bathtub, as well as the platform both of these features are sitting on top of — and the stairs used to access them. The fun doesn’t stop there, though. The tiles also line the bottom of the walls in much of the apartment, creating a beautiful baseboard throughout the rest of the space. 

When people are decorating walls, they tend to start at eye-level or higher by painting, hanging art, or mounting picture-frame molding. Baseboard trim can often be an afterthought, especially in newer construction, so this idea is a nice way to introduce a pop of personality to an often-overlooked spot. In the case of Ro’s place, these quirky rainbow tiles not only reference the past, but they also visually connect the rest of the apartment to its striking bathroom’s design. 

You could attempt this kind of baseboard installation with leftover subway tiles, say, from a DIY kitchen backsplash project or even give peel-and-stick a go if you’re renting and haven’t tackled a true tiling project yet. Ro’s baseboards are bold, but you could also replicate this idea in a more neutral scheme, too. And yes, having leftover tiles would be ideal for keeping costs down, but if you were after a similar multicolored look, you could probably buy someone else’s (or multiple people’s) extras on the cheap at a resale outpost, like a Habitat ReStore, then patch something together. The discount bin at a tile store or home center might turn up something fruitful, too. If you’re using ceramic tiles (versus peel-and-stick pieces), installation is clearly going to be more permanent, so just keep that in mind.

While these bathroom tiles weren’t picked out by Ro, and the baseboards are just a cool perk of the place, she quickly grew fond of them and did her best to echo their color scheme and general whimsical vibe throughout the rest of her home. “I tried to mimic the vibrancy of the bathroom with colorful art on our gallery wall, a colorful rug, and a colorful bookshelf,” she says. “I’m always looking for ways to complement the bathroom while also letting it do its thing.”