Stretching Small Spaces With Tile

March 20, 2015

You don't need to physically increase square footage to make a small space live larger than its dimensions. Strategic color choices, thoughtfully selected furnishings, and expertly designed premium surfaces visually expand the tiniest of rooms. When creatively laid out on walls and floors, natural stone and porcelain tiles can open up a room to create an airy feel.

General Space-Stretching Strategies

Contrasting colors and patterns, dissimilar materials, and massive furnishings create visual breaks that stop the eye, which in turn make small spaces feel smaller. So, when decorating spaces too petite for your tastes, amplify the perception of space by using light or neutral color schemes, compact furniture, and tiles similar in color and texture to adjoining surfaces.


Alter spatial perceptions by setting light-colored floor tiles in diagonal patterns that draw attention into and around a space. Install flooring designs that use large tiles, which require fewer grout lines (the fewer the grout lines, the more seamless the visual flow). Keep tile patterns simple, tone on tone, and borderless to ensure eyes will move freely through the room.

In addition to creatively designed tile floors, tile installations/layouts can create the illusion of more space in small bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. Here's a look at ways to use tiles to stretch a room's measurements.

Install Mosaics in Bathrooms

While large format tiles remain popular inclusions in kitchens and living spaces, smaller mosaic tiles are the go-to material for enhancing the sense of space in bathrooms. Cover walls, shower enclosures, and even ceilings with Polished Multi-Green Onyx 1x1 tiles that reflect light, which in turn makes a small shower or powder room appear deeper, wider, and taller.


Stretch it Horizontally with Glass Subway Tiles

Install glass subway tiles rendered in soft neutral colors to build dimension on accent walls and showers. Our Arctic Ice 3x6 Glass Mosaic tiles can stretch your room when installed from the floor to the ceiling and bring on the perception of increased height to the space.


Add Interest Underfoot in Bathrooms

Marble mosaic floors, like the one below created using Greecian White Octagon mesh-backed tiles, draw the eye down and into small spaces. This timeless flooring option blends well with a variety of styles and coordinates with large format marble tiles used to decorate showers and accent walls. In small bathrooms, match floor and shower floor mosaics to make the structures appear as one component; the fewer things the eye has to process, the larger a room will look.

Another option for using tile in the bathroom? Go big by installing our 12x24-inch Pietra Calcatta porcelain tiles on the floor and shower walls. With its waves of white and cream accented with darker elegant veins of gray and browns, this large format tile makes this bathroom feel bigger and walls to feel taller. Adding a fashionable mosaic band in the shower will increase interest without lessening the illusion of a spacious environment.


Keep it Light and Bright with Textural Kitchen Backsplashes

Bold backsplashes continue to be the trend; however, they can easily overpower a space, and make it feel smaller. Selecting backsplash tiles that are similar in color to your kitchen cabinets will create greater visual depth and will allow you to include different flooring materials, colors, and patterns. In this kitchen, the Antique White Arabesque shape adds interest, without being busy. 

Lay Large Format Tiles in Living Spaces

Large format tiles, generally those measuring 12x24 and larger, create the illusion of increased space because they require fewer grout lines. In this room, 24x24 porcelain Pietra Lagos tiles provide a good-looking anchor for lighter finished cabinets. With the grout closely matching the tile color, the nearly seamless floor magnifies the sense of space. A contrasting grout would stop the eye and make the space appear segmented and smaller.


While you cannot add actual square footage to a room just with the installation of tile alone, you can add to the perception of a more spacious feeling environment. Whether you select mosaics for walls and floors, large format tiles, or a combination of tile sizes, choose the proper grout color and pattern design and your room will "grow," spatially and stylishly, turning your small, quaint space into a large living area.