Bathroom, rooms

What to consider when tiling your bathroom

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WOMAG

This year, WOMAG celebrates 25 years as a leading South African supplier of premium-quality natural stone tiles and surfaces, quartz-based tops, porcelain tiles, and design-led sanitary ware and taps. To commemorate this milestone, WOMAG paired up with House and Leisure to give one lucky reader a Cinderella dream bathroom makeover worth R75 000.

The lucky winner was Robyn Galiem, who will now receive the bathroom of her dreams. With extensive interior design experience, including consulting, merchandising, designing, sourcing and interior decorating, Sam Lurie from Sprout Design will be leading Robyn's bathroom refurbishment. We chat to her about what to take into consideration when tiling a bathroom.

For Robyn’s bathroom, which counter tops and tiles will you be using and why?

Generally, a bathroom is the one room with all surfaces covered to protect it from moisture and steam. I selected porcelain tiles as they are non-porous and versatile, and for the counters, I've gone with an engineered natural stone top called Grigio Argento. I've been using timber herringbone for years – it's my trademark, really – so I've incorporated this into the overall design. Paired with this is a marble-look porcelain tile to add a different element to the bathroom; this is a timeless classic and is always a good route to go if you are not planning on renovating every time a new trend comes up.

What’s your opinion on decor/mosaic tiles? Would they make a bathroom look too busy or cluttered?

For the past 10 years, bathroom trends have centred on the space being a quiet, Zen-like or minimalist zone. There's also been a move towards bathrooms being like a private spa, hence an abundance of mosaic frescoes, candles and oil burners. But all of a sudden we're seeing a bit more of a bohemian-inspired look and people are opting for bolder patterns and definitive tile designs that express their artistic side. Moroccan tiles and wood are everywhere now.

Which tiling techniques create the illusion of space in a smaller bathroom?

Go tone on tone: it definitely creates a sense of spaciousness. In other words, don't overpower your bathroom with too much contrast in colour. Use less grout and larger tiles to make the space seem bigger.

And what tiling should be used for larger bathrooms?

Large bathrooms can accommodate large-scale slabs and pattern matching. You could even use marble as a bathroom feature, if you have the space.

What are the optimal types of grouting to use? And what are the benefits of using different colours?

I select grouting only when my tiling has been done and paint finishes are in. Builders hate this, but the wrong colour grouting can actually ruin the tile. I generally go tonal with the tile but sometimes, especially with smaller shapes, I'll use an alternate colour to pick up on another colour being used. This creates flow and knits the whole space together.

What are the best type of tiles to use for floors – and on walls?

Porcelain, hands down, if you want to be economical and versatile. With today’s technology, porcelain tiles can mimic any material, whether it be wood or natural stone. But if budget is no problem, did I mention that I really adore marble?

How can you create visual interest in your bathroom?

Cut up your tiles and design a good pattern that breathes surface interest into the tile. Another good option is to create a feature wall. This can be done by cutting the tiles and creating a distinctive pattern.

How can you save money while tiling your bathroom?

If you have the option of using a designer to prepare your elevations and floor plans, you can calculate your exact needs and be closer to actual wastage than doing the general square meterage multiplication. By this, I mean a designer will be able to indicate exact starting points and all the cuts required, which is very helpful when resourcing what size tile to buy.

For more bathroom inspiration, read WOMAG’s advice on using tiles to create a beautiful accent wall.