Turn Ugly Bathroom Tile into a Stylish Statement

Ugly bathroom tile can seem like an insurmountable decorating obstacle and it’s a common home makeover dilemma. Cabinet’s can be painted, refinished or dressed up with new hardware. Faucets are relatively easy to replace. But then there’s that tile – in the shower, on the vanity top or even on the floor – tile that you inherited from the previous home owner, tile that is expertly installed and sure to last decades before it deserved demolition – tile that you can’t stand! It may be chartreuse or magenta, or (egads!) both. And you have to live with it. So what now?

Simply adjust your perspective. Your unusual and garish tile is an opportunity for you to flex your creativity. Your “bad” tile just might have the potential to become a design focal point in your home, and here’s good news – you don’t have to be an expert to turn your ugly tile into a stylish statement.

Most often it’s the color of the tile that’s the biggest problem. Counter-intuitively, the more eye-poppingly hideous the color of your tile, the more important it is to use more of that color in your bathroom. The principal behind this idea is that if you make your garish tile color look purposeful, it gains chicness.

A simple and inexpensive way to embrace your quirky tile color is to find an attractive decorative item that that has a bit of your tile color in it. Choose something that will fill the majority of the biggest blank wall space in your bathroom. Poster prints, photographs, fabric items that can be hung on the wall, ceramic plates, baskets… the list of potential accent pieces is endless. Just remember, go large – there’s no point being timid with your decorating at this point; your ghastly tile has already moved you beyond that.

Use your accent wall art as your color palette and select a color for your bathroom walls directly from it (you can have colors matched exactly at your paint store or home improvement store). Choose either a neutral shade that coordinates well with your other home decor, or a softer shade of your tile color. Stick with one wall color. Your bathroom that features ugly tile is probably not large (older homes with dated decor do not commonly have spa sized bathrooms), and too many colors only creates visual confusion. Under almost no circumstance should you choose a color that contrasts with your tile.

You may be tempted to choose untinted white; it seems so safe. This is a mistake. Bright white is harsh and contrasty – the last thing you should put next to an already strong tile. If you must use white, choose a decidedly off-white shade that compliments the undertones of your tile color.

Once your walls are clothed in a livable hue, find a shower curtain that incorporates both your tile color and the color of your walls. The design of the fabric should be simple. Stay away from prints that distract from the artwork you have already selected. The idea here is to make your color scheme, including the ugly tile color, seem like a compliment to the artwork you’ve chosen as an accent.

If you have a stall shower that doesn’t require a shower curtain, put up a curtain anyway. Arrange it so that it allows for easy opening of the shower door, but also so that it creates a visual break between your tile and your wall color. Curtain rods can be suspended from the ceiling, or if your bathroom is very small, a standard shower curtain rod (the sort that has a spring in it) may easily cover the span between your bathroom walls. For shower tubs you can hang a curtain on each side.

Finally, towels and bathmats should also contain at least a bit of your tile color. Remember, while you might possibly be able to use two or three colors in your bathroom, the more unified the color scheme, the better your tile will seem to blend in. For a clean designer look, store toiletries out of sight and keep other accessories to a minimum.

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