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Tile by Style: Make a Splash with Modern Bathroom Tile

By Pearl

What is Modern Design?

If the phrase “form follows function” spurs into vigorous nods of agreement, chances are you’re in the Modern design camp. You’ll most immediately recognize it for its streamlined, modular, and no-nonsense aesthetic. Despite it’s pristine lines, the boundaries that define Modern design are blurrier than they appear. Here, we’re going to dive into Modern design in its purest form.

Architectural Elements

When it comes to Modern architecture, it ultimately comes down to simplicity and clarity. Floor to ceiling windows will be supported by exposed structural elements like steel and wood. From the outside, you’ll notice flat or low-slope roofs that cover rectangular, boxy designs. This aesthetic should remain consistent upon entering. You’ll notice exposed wood beams, large expanses of space, grid-like layouts, and doors and cabinetry that are integrated into the wall.


The materials typically found in Modern design are a testament to the innovation that drove production after the Industrial Revolution. The availability of relatively new building materials at the time like steel, concrete, iron, and sheet glass became even more prevalent after World War II. Strong and innovative for their time, Modernist architects latched on to these materials to create logical, purposeful, and minimalist spaces.

Color Palette

Driven by a belief in truth to materials, a Modern design is generally made up of a simple, consistent palette. Structural materials should remain unaltered in their appearance. Exposed structures like steel, iron, and wood result in a neutral palette made up of cool grays and browns.

But who can resist a little bit of color now and then? Many of today’s Modern homes will have a splash of color here and there to liven up the space.

Tile for the Modern Bathroom

Your bathroom appliances don’t have to be on the cutting edge to achieve a modern look. If it’s installed with seamless lines, a grid-like format, and austere hues, tile can create and reinforce modern ideals and help you achieve a truly contemporary bath.

Color Palette

For a truly modern look, stick to neutrals in white and grayscale with minimal crackle and variation. It helps to achieve uniformity in appearance to maintain the sleek, straightforward, and subtly industrial aesthetic that dominates modern design.

We love how our 2 x 8 Tile in Carbon adds depth and drama to small bathroom while still sticking to the basic principles of modern design.


Tile shown: 2 x 8 in Carbon

Here are a few hues that make us think modern:


Tile colors shown: White Wash, Gypsum, Iron Ore, Magnetite, and Basalt

Need to add a splash of color to your routine? We don’t blame you. If you love color as much as we do, you can incorporate a statement accent (or even a mosaic) in your shower or all across your bathroom using a thin tile like 2 x 8 so you can still maintain a sleek contemporary look.

Image: Christine Sheldon Design


Image: Whit Preston; Design: Hello Kitchens


Echoing the strong, grid layout of modern design, the Straight Set pattern brings order, calm, and predictability to your bathroom.

Subway tile can add a hint of pattern that still reads as industrial when used in a neutral palette.

You can also try using both Subway and Straight Set for extra visual interest. We love how Subway accents the tub while sleek, large format tile in Straight Set is used for the floor.


Tile color shown: Sugar


Tile shown: 3 x 9 in Basalt

You can also use small square glass tile to bring a hint of sparkle to your bathroom. See how this tiled wall adds a hint of luxe to this streamlined wood vanity.

Of course, rules were meant to be broken. Despite Modern design’s clean lines, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. This all-over Hexagon tile still feels remarkably modern in this sleek bathroom.


Tile shown: 3" Hexagon in Tusk

You can also play with scale and proportion by choosing a pattern with larger dimensions.

Try sprinkling in a splash of color for some whimsy, keeping the color palette between the wall and floor fairly similar so it still feels cohesive.

Love this look? Order free samples now. Need some help? Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.