Vancouver Interior Designer: One More Reason You Should Skip Accent Tiles Altogether

There is a new answer that I have come up with recently when clients ask me about the finishes for their renovation or new house. This article provides one more reason you should skip accent tiles altogether.

Light blue tilespinterest

You’ll show me your backsplash tile or countertop for your bathroom and then say:

“I’m worried that it’s boring.”

It’s the pitfall that many designers (including me until I was in my 647th consultation) as well as homeowners fall into when they are choosing tiles and that is this:

Interesting = Trendy

Marble tilesUsing the same tile much better than trying to coordinate three in one space. (source)

The shelf life of an interesting backsplash is about five years. I have never been in a house with trendy backsplash tile that is more than five years old and had anyone tell me they still love it.

I’m serious. Take this accent tile below. See the green and yellow-beige in the tiles? Until the day you renovate a bathroom with tiles like this, these are the colours of your walls.

One more reason you should skip accent tiles altogethersource

So when people say to me, “Maria, subway tile has got to be dated now right.” My answer is, “No.” Does it have to be a subway tile? No, but anything simple and neutral might still look boring to you before it’s installed but trust me, you will thank me later.

Hey wait, I just thought of something else.  Everyone asks me for neutral walls, neutral furniture but then when it comes to tile, something that is permanently stuck to your bathroom or backsplash FOREVER, you suddenly decide it has to be interesting.

Show me a trendy and interesting backsplash tile or accent for your shower surround and I say be prepared to hate it very soon after you have it installed.

Modern tilessource

There are pretty ways to incorporate accent tiles into your fixed finishes (above) but getting the look right usually takes perhaps more than you’ll want to spend. So in general, it’s best to stick to the simple plan, tread carefully into the accent tile section, take a look and then run for the hills.

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Related posts:

Which Backsplash Tile goes with Granite?

The Hottest Trend in Backsplash Tile; Yay or Nay?

Selecting your Kitchen and Bath Backsplash Tile; Accent Tile or Not?

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  1. Years ago when I was re-modeling my first home, it was the tile layer who wanted a hand in the design and was pushing the “interesting” look. I kept it simple and neutral and never regretted it.

  2. Very interesting. I always think that someone should come up with an “easy switch” system for installing and later changing out accent tiles; you’d make a fortune! I know Centsational Girl just dremmeled out the ugly medallion tile she tired of and switched it to something more plain. http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2011/02/basic-tile-installation-backsplash-bliss/

    Also, I love subway tile but it *will* look dated some day. People used to use subway tile until it fell out of favor. I don’t think anything has remained “in” for decades and decades and decades. Not to say you shouldn’t use it, but it isn’t timeless. No idea what will replace it (or when), but something will one day.

  3. Maria you are so right, you are brilliant…I have found validation on so many decorating topics on your
    site. It`s like you are the afirmation of my inner voice and decorating gut instinct. Many light bulb moments
    after reading your blog.
    Thank you

  4. We just built a new house. All of the tile I picked was some version of off white. Tile salesman, and builder both tried to talk me into accent tiles. So glad I didn’t let them sway me.
    I have lived in a lot of houses that had tile I couldn’t stand. I wasn’t about to do that in this house. It looks beautiful. There are a lot of other (better) ways to bring temporary color into a room. Replacing a backsplash is very expensive, and a major headache. I’ve done it in 2 other houses.

  5. True – totally agree.

    I have yet to upgrade my kitchen – so I will definitely steer way away from the accent tiles.

  6. I love reading your blog! I just spent a few hours in a tile store the other day, and you are so right. I’ve been using the same showroom for years, and I walked by their permanent display, which I was in absolute love with when they first put up (2007) and just shook my head.

    I will say for mosaics, when the are the dominant feature, they are EXQUISITE, however few people have the kind of budget that allows that.

  7. sometimes clients will come into the paint store with all their tile for the bathroom, floor, counter, shower and then the dreaded band of accent tile to go around the shower/tub area. after some conversation and looking at wall color, I ask them if they’ve bought the tile? if they haven’t, I suggest leaving out the accent pieces because they are not happening any more, they look at me like ‘it took a long time to pick out this tile to match the other tile’.

    My recommendation to them KIS…

  8. Wow! So glad I found this post! We’re currently putting an addition on our house and I’m glad we didn’t do a backsplash in the kitchen or accent tiles in the new half bath. We put a pedestal sink in the half bath and kept it simple and we love it! I just told my husband no crazy tiles in the new master bath! Neutral tiles, same color scheme-larger tiles on the floor, smaller in the shower-but no accents or designs! 🙂

  9. This is great advice. The manufacturer’s make the coolest accent tiles and it’s easy to get seduced. This advice will save us money now and later – thank you!

  10. Maria saves the day again!! I absolutely agree and you obviously posted this just in time for some of us – whew.

  11. The skinny stacked/alternating/too many colors tile band in the shower/tub is about the ugliest thing ever! I don’t care how many I see. Clients come into the paint store and show me what they are thinking of buying for that accent tile and how the paint can coordinate (of course, it’s on their iPhone) I’m with you subway tile in all it’s variations of colors, transparencies etc. is the way to go.

  12. I think you just saved me from myself! I’ve always wondered if so-called “boring” was better, but now I get why I need to trust my intuition. Paint, towels, flowers, art, and interesting perfume bottles all can add the accents I need and are not “cemented” to a surface. Long-live subway tile and simplicity!

  13. …oh, and it’s for the same reason I’ve never understood the interest in using anything other than classic, white bath fixtures. I love Kohler, but I cannot understood who would ever order/install colors of toilets, tubs, and sinks in pink, black, green, beige or… BROWN. Clean white rules in a bathroom. I like to see the dirt on a surface to know when it needs attention. Definitely not trying to hide it.

  14. I have not heard/seen any mention of the pebble tiles/sliced pebbles. Considering it for my shower floor..possibly bathroom floor? I have lived the clean organic look of them ( i am speaking of the ones that are white tones/sandy tones).
    I originally liked the actual pebble ones but have heard that the sliced stones are easier to maintain.
    Your thoughts please? thank you! <3

    • I don’t know about maintenance but I like the look of those tiles too. . . if you have a beach house? Or the entire room has that look and feel? Maria