06/19/2015 01:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Reinvent a Powder Room With Tile (With a Little Help From a Graffiti Artist)


Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

Powder rooms are often the last spaces people focus on in their homes. They pick a color scheme, buy some towels and a soap dispenser, and call it a day. However, designing a small space doesn't have to be so... lackluster. Spicing it up can be as easy as picking the right tiles. By designing with tiles, you can easily reinvent a small bathroom that is visually appealing while remaining functional. There's a reason tiles have been used in design since 4,000 BC!

I love incorporating tiles into my designs for multiple reasons. They are durable, easy to clean, versatile, and can be made from a range of materials--glass, stone, metal, porcelain, ceramic, plastic, and even leather. Providing aesthetic variety with color, patterns, and shapes, tiles can turn dull into fantastic, boring into exciting. They can also help a space appear more expansive and balanced.

Here are a few of my top tile tips and tricks illustrated with images from the powder room I recently designed for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House (an amazing annual charity event that helps raise critical funds for the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club). Inspired by the art of Keith Haring, I used a new line of tiles, produced by Ascot and carried by Hastings Tile & Bath, depicting Haring's poignant graphics which created an unpredictable "splashily energetic but also coolly minimalist" space.

Don't Be Distracting
In small spaces, it is best to use the same size tile all over. Too much distraction with different sized tiles will make the bath appear smaller.


Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

Be an Illusionist
If the ceiling height is low, paint the ceiling a light reflecting white, even if the wall tile is a light color. It will give the illusion of the ceiling being higher than it is.


Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

If you are using a strong graphic pattern, consider using it on the back wall or back wall and floor, so that it makes a strong statement, but does not become overwhelming in scale. Placing it on the floor and back wall also creates the illusion that the space is deeper than it is. In other words, it adds depth.

(work in-progress photo)

Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

Keep Things Straight
All joint lines should line up in every direction if possible. Another reason to use the same size tile in a small space.


Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

If the tile has a specific direction to it, consider how it will play out in the room. For example, if the direction is distinctly horizontal and the wall is narrow, that will make the room appear wider.


Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

Try using a border that runs continuously around the bath to create interest and continuity by tying all the walls together, even if the pattern is slightly different.


Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

Be Bold But Balanced
Use bold color to make an impression, but use it sparingly. Offset bold with quiet and subtle. Remember - Balance is key!


Credit to Lucea Spinelli Photography

For additional powder room and bathroom renovation ideas, check out this helpful article on I love Cynthia Bowman's "cool, sleek" ideas!

Gail Green is the founder of Gail Green Interiors. She is the author of An Insider's Guide to Interior Design for Small Spaces: How to Create a Beautiful Home Quickly, Effectively and on a Budget.