Wallpaper and tile combinations that pair beautifully for a bathroom

One of the defining features of our most recent bathroom renovation is the combination of beautiful handmade coloured ceramic tile from Fireclay paired with a complimentary wallpaper. It’s a timeless combination that brings a lot of drama and interest to a space, and also feels incredibly elevated. I dove into my assortment of Fireclay samples and paired them with wallpapers I think would look gorgeous in a bathroom, to inspire you to create the same look in your own home.

Shown here: Fireclay Rosemary Tile in 2×8 and Round Liner with Sandberg Raphael Wallpaper in Green

Before we jump into the combinations, many of you have asked me how I feel confident in taking a risk and using colourful tile, as opposed to the safer neutral options, especially as it relates to resale. First off, I always advocate doing what you love, as you have absolutely no idea who will end up buying your home in the future and what they will or will not like. Everyone has preferences, but designing for an unknown person, especially if resell is not in the immediate future, is not going to bring you joy and you’ll always end up not quite loving your home because you played it too safe. My goal is always to create spaces that I love that will also be memorable for a prospective buyer, the kinds of spaces that they can’t stop thinking about after viewing the property. Being safe does not typically equate to memorable, in my opinion.

That being said, I like to take calculated risks with my tile choice and how it might appeal to a prospective buyer at some point in the future. Here’s my personal criteria when stepping outside the white subway tile realm:

  • Ignore trends: I like to design timeless, classic spaces, so that means ignoring trends in hard finishes or components that are hard to swap out (e.g. tile, shower fixtures, and vanities).
  • Keep the tile glossy: I like my ceramic tile to be glossy. Traditionally ceramic tile had a gloss finish, so while I appreciate satin and matte ceramic tile in more modern applications, it doesn’t work for my spaces. I want to reference what would have been available when my home was built in 1940, not what’s on-trend today. If you gravitate towards classic design too, I think this relates regardless of the age of your home.
  • Look for crazing in the tile: If I’m using handmade tile, I want it to look handmade and old. That means lots of crazing on the surface (little cracks under the surface), lots of imperfections that are clear it was made by a skilled artisan. This makes the tile look elevated.
  • Lots of colour variation: I like a lot of variance in my tile colour. When you have variance in the colour it creates depth, and is another indicator of the quality of the tile and its handmade nature.
  • Stick to the most popular colours: When it comes to colour, I like to keep my tile in the most palatable and universally liked colour range: blues and greens. I’m not saying that a blush, aubergine, or crimson tile wouldn’t look incredible (it totally could!), it’s just a gamble that I’m personally not willing to take, when it comes to appealing to a future buyer.
  • Keep colour vibrancy low: Much like when you’re painting your walls, super saturated, vibrant colours can be jarring. When it comes to tile, I stick to more muted shades that won’t feel too intense in a space, especially when it is covering a lot of surface area.
  • Keep the shape classic: A classic tile shape is also important to me when using coloured tile. Here, I like an elongated rectangle (2×8 or 3×9 typically), or a square tile (4×4), as they are the most common. If you go too large in tile size, you veer into a modern realm, and too small can be quite busy.
  • Use a timeless pattern: I lay the tile in a classic pattern. Don’t get me wrong, I love a vertical stacked tile or herringbone pattern, but I just don’t see it used in any of my reference photos of classic bathrooms. My go to is a running bond, where soldiering the tile (running one row that’s all vertical in alignment) can also be nice at the top. I’d also consider a 1/3 running bond pattern.

I want to note that I matched these wallpaper samples to actual tile samples, so while some don’t read quite right digitally (I’m looking at you, #5 and #6), the colours look very good together in real life. To note, the ground in #5’s wallpaper is much less yellow in person and the tile in #6 is more blue and references a light blue that runs throughout the wallpaper. Bear in mind that the amount of light you get in your bathroom will certainly change how light or dark both the wallpaper and tile read in the room, so sampling is key!

10 thoughts on “Wallpaper and tile combinations that pair beautifully for a bathroom

  1. Love the bathroom and wondering where you found the gold handle/ flush for the toilet. Thanks!

  2. These are great! I love your tips. A couple questions…are these all meant to be combined with the wallpaper by using them on the wall? If so, what are your recommendations for picking a floor tile? I love the floor tile you have in the photo above! Im about to start a powder bathroom and I love classic, timeless design elements.

    1. Thank you! And yes, these tiles are intended for a half wall application. For floor tiles, I’d go with either a small scale like the one I used (Walker Zanger Tangent Hive in Calcata), a small marble hex tile, ceramic penny tile or continuous wood floors (in a powder room). Hope that helps!

  3. Beautiful! What height did you tile up to? The balance of tile and wallpaper is great 🙂

  4. Lovely! Any suggestions for soft yellow tile (a la the 70s)? We aren’t quite ready to gut the bathrooms, but goodness! I’ve got to do something to make this yellow hexagon tile look prettier.

    1. Ooo I’d check our House of Hackney Hollyhocks, Schumacher Marigold, CFA Voysey’s Apothecary Garden or Svenskt Tenn Sagotradet!

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