What You Need to Know Before Picking New Tiles for Your Luxury Renovation

So, you’re thinking about renovating your bathroom or kitchen, you head down to your local DIY store you pick some tiles you go home and you fix them to the wall, simple yes? Well what if I told you choosing a tile has more to it than meets the eye.

Tiling an area of your home can be a cheap and easy way of making a huge impact in your home as well as a quick renovation spruce, however it’s important to know what to look out for when designing with tiles and not fall into the common traps that’s can turn your DIY to DI- WHY THE HELL DIDN’T I GET A DESIGNER TO DO THIS!

We’ve been speaking with our self-proclaimed tile expert, Hannah Soulsby, the Director at Anima & Amare, with a strong background working within the tile industry, completing her Interior Architectural Degree many moons ago, Hannah was fortunate enough to get her first graduate role at the prestigious Porcelanosa the leaders in all things tiles and my god what sexy tiles they have! Hannah shared some of her experiences of tile design mistakes that have been witnessed over the years.

Hannah worked within the trade section working with mid & large-scale developers across the south East & west of England. When working with Developers it’s important to know they are often working to short lead times and tight budgets so it was imperative to ‘know your shit’ as to speak. Sorry couldn’t think of a more diplomatic way to put that.  

From tile formats, textures, slip resistance, tile make up, what trim sizes go with what tile etc all the way to grout brands and colours as well as thickness. See, I told you there was a lot to take in when preparing the dream bathroom design.

Throughout our years within the design industry we have seen many tile faux pas from homes to commercial spaces and when you know what to look for, you’ll never be able to walk into a bathroom without pinpointing the mistakes again.  

We’d go as far as probably calling it a curse, maybe a design curse actually less dramatic. Trust me we’d love to be able to go for a wee like the average joe, staring at their phone or day dreaming about what to have for dinner instead of staring at the walls thinking “wow that grout line is far too thick” or “why did they choose that colour?”


So, If you don’t want your bathroom breaks to be ruined for life by what we’re about to share with you it’s probably best not to continue on from here as once we divulge this information you’ll never look at a tile in the bathroom or any space in fact the same way again!

Aren't tiles simple?

Tiling is not just a simple as picking a tile and plonking it on your wall or floor, well you could but I guarantee it will look awful and cost you more money than you first thought if not planned out properly. We have even seen so many proclaimed design professionals get this wrong.

With so many tile formats to consider, from small to large format knowing what’s right for you can be tricky, your budget and room size tend to determine these choices.

Once you’ve chosen your tile it’s important to think about what scheme and style you are looking for whether that’s rustic, modern & contemporary, minimal or bold etc. This will then determine your next move, which is your grout colour.

With great tiles comes grout colour!

“I thought you just picked up a bag of white and that was it?” Well this is where so many people get it wrong. Grout lines are what keep us Interior Designers up at night, HA! and there you were thinking all we worried about was cushions not being plumped enough!

For those of you who do not know what grout is it’s that chalky powder lines in between the tiles. We are so advanced in 2020 but when it comes to grout homeowners appear to be living in the stone ages still. (they had en-suites back then, right?). Which is why employing an Interior Designer sorts all these boring details out for you.Why are most homeowners still just going for a basic white no matter the tile colour?

Why would you spend so much money on a beautiful tile let’s say it’s a Anthracite grey large format tile and ruin it with thick white grout like some ones got a mastic gun and infilled all the gaps.

Your tile should be the centre piece, your tile should be the main focus point and not the grout lines.

Always match the colour of the grout lines to the tile so it blends in.

Like this design from Porcelanosa for example.

However, there is of course exception to every rule, it does depend on the type of effect you are trying to create. Industrial for example, yes, I know Industrial has been done to death but you still see it popping up in many tile schemes and can actually be an effective design for small spaces.

Take this design for example from Topps Tiles. A simple white tile with contrasting grout lines really enhances this design and creates a specific feel.

Now look at how different the design on the right is… Exactly the same tile but different grout colour, this design now has a more country simplistic feel rather than industrial and bold.

And finally, if we look at these 3 tiles from Blue print ceramics from their Cathedral range you can see how playing around with grout colour really changes or enhances the appearance of the tile.

Now if we hadn’t complicated things enough were about to move on to grout line thicknesses. How boring you say well you are probably right it’s not the most design enthusiastic subject out there but trust me you will thank me after when you’ve completed, your bathroom project and your design looks the bees knees.


Attention to de-tile

I’ve walked on to many sites in the past where the contractor hasn’t realised that on our professional technical drawings we have even gone in to the detail of specifying the thickness of a grout line as well as colour and supplier. We do all this to make the developers or private clients life much easier as well as the guys working on site. Giving everyone less headaches and stress during the build and renovation process.

If my client is spending £50-£100 psm on a tile, it’s important that the tile is getting the attention it deserves so we keep the grout lines to a maximum thickness 1-3mm, it’s also not just from an aesthetic reason but also a practical one too, smaller joints can reduce problems such as grout discolour over time also the joints are the weakest part of a tiled surface so the bigger the joint the bigger chance of cracks or crumbling appearing over time, so a rule of thumb is 1-3mm on wall tiles and 3mm plus on the floors.

Of course depending on the design you are hoping to achieve similar to the grout colour there is exceptions to this, if you are wanting a more industrial feel thicker lines work well but for a more elegant design go for thinner lines.  If you are wondering what grouts to use, we use Butec, its high quality and less chance of decolouration over time.

As a designer budget can be our biggest challenge in a project , trying to get the best possible finishes at the lowest price in order to keep profit high for the client. So it’s important you know your materials and cost alternatives.

Two common types of tiles can be ceramic or Porcelain, don’t fall for the easy mistake of seeing a pattern or colour on a tile you like and not checking whether its porcelain or ceramic. Porcelain is more heavy duty and durable but more expensive whereas ceramic is much cheaper but not as durable, with a biscuit clay base. So know your project and what the tile is being used for as to what type or durability is needed.

Don’t just choose a porcelain tile because you like the pattern, chances are you can find a similar design in a ceramic finish saving yourself and your client a pretty penny.

So there you have it a quick crash course on choosing the right tile for your home renovation.

We wanted to leave you with this god damn sexy tile design from Solus ceramics, don’t you just love the pastel vibes that are going on? oh look you can’t notice the grout lines either. Ok Ok, we’ll shut up about grout lines now.

Your time and money is precious so consider contacting an Interior designer to do the hard work for you. At Anima and Amare we are highly trained and detailed Interior Designers as well as cost effective leaving no stone untouched coming up with unique individual designs every time.  

Give our Interior designers a call at our Hampshire or Kent office to see how we can help with your project.