Tile was once coldly utilitarian and blandly oblivious to any kind of real style. Fast-forward to today's tile, and the choices and varieties are limitless. Perhaps the biggest news is that tile is being used in more ways than ever before. Tile's fresh look makes for easy upkeep, too.

From metallic to natural-looking stone to glass, you can now design a room by using one style or, better still, by combining a variety of tile styles and sizes.

Tile is being used more on walls outside the shower. Instead of sticking with small 4-by-4 or 6-by-6 tiles, you can now decorate showers and bathrooms with 12-inch and larger tiles, tiny, intricate mosaics, glass strips and even pebbles. Adding tile up bathroom walls creates a spa look at home.


Tile can also be used to reflect the style of a home. Patterns can be especially powerful. For example, using certain tile patterns on floors and walls can create a period feel. A running bond pattern made with long, rectangular tile will create a turn-of-the-century look. Add tile with a crackled glaze, and the look can grow even more authentic. Take that same running bond and apply it to large tiles with a stone look, and you can even create the look of a castle floor.


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Today, tile manufacturers carry a wide variety of tile sizes, as well as accent and trim pieces to match. If you want a cleaner, more contemporary look, limit the variety of tiles used. If you want an opulent look, mix tiles.

Try adding a stone pebble finish in a wave pattern in the middle of a shower wall or on the floor of the shower. Mix finishes, such as metallic or glass, with your tile to give it a burst of interest. Instead of wood trim in the bathroom or kitchen, add a tile baseboard. The look is updated, and tile can withstand more wear and tear than wood.


Where you decide to use tile is important. Many kitchens today feature rough tile backsplashes, and while they look fantastic, once grease splatters on this type of finish, it can be tough to clean.

A great look is metallic tile behind a stove. These smooth tiles dress up the area and are easy to clean. And tile should make your life easier, not add to the time you spend scrubbing.

Grouting products have improved. Especially in wet environments, such as the bath, they must be sealed so they last. Some new grouts contain sealer, so this step is eliminated.