The Modern Bathroom: Stone Tile

marble tile white-polished-12x12-room

“Gialla Calacatta” White marble tile flooring from BuildDirect.

Stone tile for floors and walls add visual and practical value in modern homes. Here are the broad strokes of these wonderfully varied materials for bathrooms.


Stone seems like the last thing I ought to be discussing when writing about the modern bathroom.

When you think of stone as a building material, what comes to mind? For me, it’s castles. These giant testaments to medieval wealth involved, I’m sure, backbreaking work for hundreds of peasant laborers, cutting, shaping, and moving stone into place in order to protect the interests of the town and its wealthy landowners. The trick was to try and pile the stone high enough, and usually without the aid of mortar, that it would keep out invading Vikings and the like.

You may not need to protect yourself from itinerant raiders in this day and age, but stone, and especially stone tile, can still be a wonderful addition to a modern bathroom. Its naturally refined color spectrum and beautiful texture lends itself to a interior design scheme that is both sophisticated and raw.

Here’s how to get started with stone for your contemporary bathroom space.

Stone tile stats

Made from: Igneous rock (granite, quartz), metamorphic rock (slate), sedimentary materials (travertine, marble, sandstone, limestone)
Production: Cut, sawn, and polished from rock or pressed into shape from ground stone
Common color spectrum: Very wide, from white to gold spectrums, to vibrant blues, reds, and greens.
Durability: From very hard (granite) to vulnerability to acidic materials (travertine, marble)

Gathering no moss

Modern doesn’t have to mean stark and cold. In fact, the opposite can be true. The fundamental premise of modern interior design is that more is less, but this also means that what is chosen for your home ought to be of the best quality.

Think about it this way: If you’re going to eschew frou-frou knick-knacks and colorful borders, what’s left are the walls and the fixtures. In other words, it takes a lot of thought and effort to create a place that is both simple and elegant.

travertine bathroom

“Cappuccino” Light Premium travertine tile from BuildDirect.


Natural materials are a great way to get started with modern interiors, and stone matches well with wood and glass to create a relaxing and warm space in the bathroom in particular. Efficient and aesthetically pleasing designs can be organically augmented through the use of stone and other materials inspired by nature.

Try a palette in soft creams and tans, or draw intensity from darker colors like gray, which can add a dramatic impact in a small room with recessed lighting. And ‘natural’ doesn’t have to mean ‘hipster,’ either. For example, you can create a sleek, European bathroom design with simple tilework using marble, granite, or limestone, and still retain the same warm interior design effects.

Rock and roll

Modern technological advances in tiling processing have meant that stone tile can be used on walls, floors, ceilings, fireplaces, in murals, and even as wall cladding. You can bring the outside in with stone floor tiles, stone surrounds for your shower or bath, as well as stone accent walls. New techniques such as seamless tiling make it easy to create symmetry and a natural balance in your bathroom, but without all of the work.

Choosing stone tile surfaces

Before you start reconfiguring your space, think about how you will use the room, and make sure that you check the specifications on your tiles to see whether they are appropriate for flooring. Even stone tiles can have different finishes which make them glossy or matte.

midnight gold slate tile

Slate tile (“midnight gold” Versailles pattern from BuildDirect) is naturally varied in thickness, color spectrum from tile to tile, and renowned for its slip-resistance in bathrooms.

For example, some marble can be extremely slippery and therefore dangerous in a wet space, even though it can look lovely as a wall tile or countertop in a modern bathroom. Rougher textures such as those provided by naturally cut slate or some kinds of granite can serve a purpose in a bathroom, where a smoother tile may be too slippery for someone emerging from the shower or bath. Ask your chosen vendor about slip-resistance ratings for any floor tile you’re thinking of purchasing.

A pebble doesn’t make a floor… or can it?

Natural, earthy tones bring an easy and modern comfort to any bathroom, but you can ramp up the effect using different sizes of stones. One option that you may not have considered for your bathroom walls or floors is pebble tiling.

New tiling options mean that pebbles are mounted on mesh backing to make it simple and easy to put them into place. Try a mix of pebble colors for a more natural effect, or coordinated pebbles for a more dramatic look.

Contemporary stone tile

Stone looks wonderful, but in my opinion the biggest benefit to using this material in a contemporary space is its feel. The texture of stone shifts the energy in a room so that, when you wake up in the morning, jump in the shower, and pry your eyes open to start your day, you may just be able to convince yourself to get back into rush hour traffic. Stone is calming, it’s comfortable, and its elegantly organic.

While you may not own your own castle (yet… but I believe in you!) there is a lot to be said for adding stone tiles or floors to your modern home. Try this natural and warm texture in your bathroom today.

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