Vintage Curtains and Encaustic Tiles: Cool Bathroom Pattern Trends

Patterns play a major role in defining the design trends of different time periods. If you compare the pinstripes and chintz of the 1980s against trending patterns today, the difference is very clear. That being said, it’s important to know what patterns are guiding modern bathroom styles. After all, patterns help add color, intrigue and spice to space that might otherwise feel drab.

Follow these tile and textile trends to spruce up any bathroom with a modern look.

Hand Painted and European Patterns

Handmade goods have been having a heyday for quite some time now, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Handmade tiles in original patterns are popping up in new home designs, as showcased by Sydney-based architecture firm Luigi Rosselli Architects. The firm used European tiles that were hand painted in an encaustic style, which makes use of hot wax and colored pigments. The tiles were then paired with bronze accents for a regal bathroom feel.

Lifestyle and interiors journalist Kate Watson-Smyth, who runs the blog Mad About the House, also praises the beauty of hand painted tiles. She features original designs by Smink Tiles, which are created in Portugal. These patterns reflect a specific uneven look, enhancing the not-so-perfect feeling that many handmade goods have.

For a more polished look that still feels exotic, PureWow editor Grace Beuley Hunt suggests using a Moroccan tile backsplash in black and white. The Moroccan designs provide the global touch, with the black and white adding sophistication.

Another black and white pattern is showcased in the design portfolio at BYRD. The designer updated a Spanish Revival bathroom with a sprawling tile floor that features a black background and white detailing. These Spanish-inspired tiles feature a design that feels earthy and botanical, which helps infuse warmth back into the bathroom so that it doesn’t feel too sterile.

Minimalist Designs

Minimalist bathrooms are always in style because they lend a clean, calming look to a space meant to be relaxing. Portland-based design studio Kaemingk Designs, which adopts a minimalist aesthetic in most of its interiors, shows how minimalist tile can add intrigue to a bathroom. They use primarily white, gray and black combinations that feature a solid color with small design pops. The soothing look is great for traditional and transitional home styles.

Another way to use black and white in a bathroom is by installing long rectangular tiles along the floor. My Domaine editor Hadley Mendelsohn exhibits black and white marble flooring which, when used in conjunction with a glass wall shower, makes a small bathroom feel larger. The room stays warm and inviting with the natural touches of a plant atop a wooden chair, balancing the starkness of the all-white walls.

Geometric Patterns

Hexagon patterns are becoming more popular in both bathrooms and kitchens. The French By Design blog showcases an old French chateau that uses hexagon terra cotta tile throughout multiple rooms in the house, including the bathroom. Mixing terra cotta materials with hexagonal shapes creates an intriguing rustic look. Terra cotta tiles are also durable and last a long time, so they’re a great investment in a bathroom remodel.

A different approach to hexagon tile appears on Kate Riley’s blog, Centsational Style. She suggests creating large hexagonal patterns by arranging many small tiles in that shape. Riley also shows how alternating the rows of small tiles in colors like gray, black and white adds an elegant feel that pairs well with a clawfoot tub and gold accents. The technique here is to create a pattern from the tile shapes and colors themselves, and there’s room to experiment with different sizes and styles.

Nelson Design Group agrees that this is a growing trend, adding that honeycomb and hexagon tiles work for this style. Solid color tiles can also be arranged into a pattern for a more interesting look that doesn’t feel too busy. Scalloped clay tiles, a herringbone floor design, zig zags and contrasting stripes are all ways to add intrigue, according to interior designer Donna DuFresne. To amp up the feeling of drama in a bathroom, she suggests adding contrasting colors and patterns across floors, inlays and walls.

Fish Scales

Fish scale tiles are one of the most popular bathroom design trends.

Luca Shapiro, founder and principal designer at This Way Home, explains how fish scale tiles in different colors and materials can be arranged to create a dynamic look. She says that leather fish scale tiles in a monochromatic scheme can be added to bathroom furniture and accessories, like a wardrobe.

Design editor Arlyn Hernandez at Apartment Therapy shows how using fish scale tiles in blue shades can help create an under the sea feel. One option is to tile multiple walls in small, monochromatic blue tiles that promote a calming, zen mood. Another is to use a variety of blue and green shades on an accent wall, which feels more playful but still evokes an ocean vibe. Fish scales can also be used to add color and intrigue to textiles. Frances Bailey, a lifestyle and design content creator, writes at Elle Decor that the fishscale pattern motif is even being added to furniture, frames, lampshades, cushions and rugs.

Vintage Patterns

According to style editor Annie Quigley, vintage rugs are all the rage in current bathroom design. Specifically, Quigley says that Oriental and Moroccan rugs add drama and elegance. Almost any vintage rug in decent condition will look great in a bathroom. However, vintage rugs in warm colors like reds and browns are particularly popular, especially those with pops of dark blue.

Another way to style your vintage textiles is to layer multiple rugs on the floor. Taysha Murtaugh, lifestyle editor at Country Living and Woman’s Day, shows how to layer a neutral-colored animal print rug in a bedroom. This technique can also be used in the bathroom, where animal-inspired designs bring a bit of the wild inside.

Nature Inspired Patterns

To add more color to a bathroom, consider opting for nature-themed greens. Danielle Blundell,  senior editor at the Meredith Corporation, features the style suggestions of three leading designers, one of whom says to choose deep hues of emerald or fresh grassy tones. These colors can then be complemented with botanical-inspired green patterns, including blooming vines and flowery plants. These patterns tend to appear on shower curtains and walls, adding a magical garden feeling to the bathroom. Large botanical prints are also making a splash on shower curtains.

Home decor editor Melanie Yates explains how a pop-art pineapple shower curtain adds a tropical touch. She says that curtains with flowers in watercolor prints bring a softer and more mature approach to traditional floral designs.

For a nature-inspired bathroom pattern that isn’t focused on flowers and plants, consider opting for an animal print. Valerie Ott of the Home Made Modern blog shows a black and white octopus shower curtain that embodies a hand drawn aesthetic. The black and white theme would pair well with colored tile, especially that in a monochromatic pattern. Additionally, Ott shows how a botanical fish shower curtain feels both playful and sophisticated. The fish design features a pattern of its own and offers a balanced amount of fun.

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