1. Vertical stripes. Instead of adding a horizontal border, consider a vertical accent stripe to visually highlight the height of your shower while adding an unexpected bit of drama.
It’s especially effective here in a chevron tile, creating an arrow-like pattern that draws the eye up and creates a sense of dynamic energy. Both tiles are relative neutrals, keeping the look interesting but not overwhelming.
2. Vertical and horizontal stripe combo. You can also combine a horizontal band and a vertical one to create a layered look. Here, both of the flooring tiles are repeated on the wall, creating a backdrop to the shower fixtures and helping integrate the materials into one palette for a look with lots of diversity but also a sense of harmony.
Tip: Edging a tile with metallic banding will echo fixtures in the same finish. Again, it ties the different surfaces together for a look that is subtly sophisticated and clearly well considered.
3. Graphic stripes. Thin stripes of colorful tile in concentric patterns give a shower lots of energy — this can be a great DIY project for those feeling a little handy. The effect is high-end even when created with inexpensive tiles. Just make sure to plan carefully in advance to make sure everything lines up. A computer-drawn layout will help. When in doubt, leave the job to a professional.
4. New angles. Sometimes all you need to give a shower a dramatic look is a new angle on the tile — specifically, a tile cut at an unusual angle (instead of the more typical 90 degrees). Use a contrasting grout to highlight the quirky shape and add to the veined look of a natural stone.
5. Negative image. Other times, the best way to accent a shower is to keep it as an oasis of white in a room with busier finishes. The shower will feel as large and open as possible even with a curtain drawn. Break up wallpaper or bold tile in the larger space for a perfect sense of balance.
6. Feature flooring. If you love a wild tile but worry about how it’ll look in a large area, apply it to just the shower floor. After all, it’s a natural place for you to look while enjoying a relaxing shower. You’ll mostly only see it as a daily treat, too, so you won’t get sick of it, and it won’t crowd you in either.
7. More is more. Using one patterned tile for all the bathroom surfaces, wrapping from the floor all the way up the walls, creates a custom-designed feel that evokes European apartments. It’s especially effective if you have a window in the shower to break up the look, or an oversized storage niche dressed in a plain tile for a similar effect. Either way, it’s still big on drama — and if you choose a tile you love, it’ll be timeless.
Tip: Using classic black and white avoids any trendy colors that might one day feel dated.
8. Tone on tone. For a perfect balance between a bold accent and a sense of calm, use tone-on-tone blues or blue-greens to cover your main surfaces and your shower walls — use a more neutral shade for the vanity area and a brighter pop for the shower itself. This way the entire bathroom will feel integrated and timeless, and will have enough interest and life.
9. Top to bottom. Using a flooring material to wrap the shower walls is a classic luxe look, but what gives this shower an extra spin is the repeated flooring material overhead, so the stall is clad floor to ceiling.
10. Playful hexagons. Hexagon tile is a strong long-term trend, and the quirky shape works well if you don’t want to tile top to bottom (for budget reasons or just to create a fun effect). Simply let the top edge end perfectly imperfectly (like the uneven top line in this photo) for a look that recalls rippling waves.
11. The little things. Sometimes small details can make the look of a shower, especially when you start with a classic plain white tile. Bronze or brass hardware, instead of a more common silvery chrome or nickel, has a subtle glam look that’s both trendy and timeless. Meanwhile, tiny doses of accent tile tucked between larger tiles play with the brick layout pattern and make an eye-catching geometric statement without a huge investment.
12. Gray glass. Tile isn’t the only way to add some drama to your shower. A fixed glass panel is an essential upgrade to give a shower modern appeal, and choosing a smoky gray instead of the typical clear glass adds a sense of moody sophistication. Make sure to include some sparkling light fixtures to reflect off the glass for that look of endless depth.
13. Disappearing tub. Love the option of the occasional bath but prefer the look of a wide-open shower? Finishing the exterior of a combination tub-shower with mirror or highly reflective tiles lets the tub portion visually disappear while extending the look of a beautiful floor. Finish it off with a garden stool and you’ll barely see the tub at all until it’s time for a soak.