What Tiling Colours Are the Best for Small Bathrooms? The Secrets of Space Illusion

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Discover our proven, powerful design tips to help you do more with less and open up a compact bathroom space with creative tile colour choices

You can’t increase the size of your bathroom using wall and floor tiles… or can you?

Using the right bathroom tile is a tried and tested strategy to create the impression of size and turn a small bathroom into a welcoming space that appears bigger than it is.

At the same time, you need to know which design styles and strategies to use whether you’re installing a handful of new tiles or renovating your entire bathroom. The key to getting the most from your available space comes down to understanding which advice to follow and which to ignore.

At NHK Tiling, we’ve been transforming spaces since 1995 so whether you’re looking to get the most out of a residential, commercial or industrial space, we can help. But before you pull the trigger on that striking bathroom tile you’ve got in mind, read on to find out how to make the family bathroom look more spacious and how to do more with less.

If you want to learn more about bathroom tiling, check out our other resources:

1. How Much Does it Cost to Tile a Bathroom?

2. What Types of Tiling Are the Best for Bathrooms?

3. Is Tiling a Bathroom Easy?

4. Top Bathroom Tiling Ideas

5. Materials for Bathroom Tiles: A Complete Guide

Top Bathroom tile colour trends

Odds are, you’ve been weighing up your tile choices for a while now. You might be drawn to the simple, soft appearance of lighter colours. Or, you might enjoy the elegant and eye-catching finish that only darker tiles can bring.

Whatever your preference, when it comes to settling on a colour, there are no shortages to choose from (and sometimes that’s the issue!). Here are some of the most popular tile colours dominating the design world this year and what each colour symbolises:

  • Olive Green: Peace, harmony and sophistication
  • Soft Blue: Calmness, stability and serenity
  • Vibrant Orange: Happiness, creativity and optimism
  • Classic White: Cleanliness and purity
  • Black & Grey: Elegance, balance and enlightenment

Got a favourite in mind? Keep reading to discover how to tap into the illusion of space.

Can tile colour really help my bathroom look bigger?


It’s a well-known design rule that choosing lighter coloured bathroom wall tiles and floor tiles can help a small floorspace appear bigger. This is because light and bright floors reflect light and help your bathroom appear more open and airy. Better still, this effect is improved if your bathroom enjoys natural sunlight so if you’re trying to make your space feel bigger, you can’t go wrong with lighter tones (e.g. white, grey, beige, cream, ivory and light taupe).

Whether you opt for traditional white, a contemporary cream colour, a cool grey, or another light shade entirely, the neutral palette will help open up your space and present the illusion of space.

NHK Tiling Tip: Interested in the advantages of light tones but not in love with white bathroom tiles? Try experimenting with your favourite colour finished as metallic or glossy tiles which reflect light and create an expanded sense of proportions without sacrificing your own personal style.

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Does that mean darker tiles are a bad idea?

Not at all.

Although lighter tile colours are well known and widely utilised to create the illusion of space, it’s 100% possible to lay darker coloured tiles to open up a small bathroom space. And if the thought of an entirely dark floor or wall is too much, you can use dark tiles to add a sense of depth to your room without overwhelming the eye.

For example, tiling around the edge of your room can help your space look wider by drawing the eyeline outwards. While it’s true that light colours help expand a compact space, creatively placed darker tiles have the double effect of adding a touch of luxury while adding a sense of depth to walls or bathroom features.

Remember, the colours you choose should be part of a wider design plan. Picking your favourite wall tiles, then going back to the drawing board to choose a floor tile colour is the fast track to unsightly clashes and frustrating finishes. When you build your bathroom’s colour palette around a holistic vision, it’s easier to add pops of colour in the form of faucets, shower heads, door handles and other fittings without distracting from your room.

For example, laying different shades of white in your floor and wall tiles then elevate your space with timber and natural stone tones in your vanity and benchtop for a chic coastal feel. With design tips like this, it’s entirely possible to reduce visual clutter (since this is the #1 thing that makes small bathrooms look even smaller) and still make bold colour and design statements.

DID YOU KNOW: Neutral colours like white, black and grey are known as ‘achromatic’. Achromatic colours have lightness but no hue or saturation.

Get our ‘Sydney Tiling Price Guide’ before you go!!!

BONUS TIP: How to choose the right tile shape

We know, we know…

This guide is about choosing the best bathroom tile colours to create the illusion of space, not picking tile sizes. The problem is, no article on choosing tile colours can go without mentioning the importance of tile shape.


Because the shape of a tile can significantly affect how you (or your guests) perceive your bathroom. For example, diagonal tiles help a slim room appear wider. By combining soft-hues and diagonal tile placement, even a small bathroom can be made to appear open and welcoming. This layout places emphasis on length AND width at the same time, so whether you opt for an elongated diamond layout, a herringbone pattern, or a similar layout, you’ll be creating a clever optical illusion.

Patterns vs. plain coloured tiles: What’s right for you?

A small space can shrink even further with multiple colours and busy tile patterns. If you’re looking for a little aesthetic variety, consider opting for soft-hued colours that won’t make your space appear even more cramped than it already is.

As a design tip, consider installing patterned tiles below dado rail height (typically between 750mm and 1500mm above the floor). With patterns below this eyeline and light-coloured tiles above, you’ll draw the eye upwards which helps add a sense of height and can visually open your room without any expensive renovations or remodelling required.

The key to increasing size is to reduce visual clutter. So if you’re unsure whether your choice of tile will help or hurt your aesthetic goals, reach out and speak to a member of the NHK Tiling team on 0402 462 570 for assistance with your next tiling project.

Need a little inspiration? Discover the most popular tiling patterns here

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Patterns vs. plain coloured tiles: What’s right for you?

The average person spends over 800 days in the bathroom over their lifetime – that’s over two years!

Since you’ll be spending plenty of time in your bathroom, the most important step is to choose a colour that you’ll love for years and years to come. Once you’ve settled on your hero colour, you can start to work backwards by choosing complementary tiles that help open up your space, add depth, or take advantage of optical illusions.

It’s a myth that light coloured tiles are the only choice for enhancing a compact bathroom space, so play around with using darker tiles to add depth and don’t sacrifice your favourite colours or dream style just because someone on Google told you your vision wasn’t possible.

At NHK Tiling, we’ve been supporting our clients for over 25 years across the residential, commercial and industrial industries, so we know what it takes to bring even the smallest bathroom to life.

For help turning your vision into reality, or to learn more about our tiling process, chat with a member of our team on 0402 462 570 or request a 100% obligation-free quote online now!

Request a free quote on 0402 462 570, or simply enquire online.