Is Accent Tile in Shower Outdated or Still In Style?

Last Updated on December 5, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Tiles have been a staple in bathroom design for decades, providing both functionality and aesthetic appeal. Among the various types of tiles, accent tiles in showers have particularly gained a lot of attention.

These tiles, usually distinguished by their color, texture, or design, are used to create a focal point within the shower area. They can add a burst of color, introduce a new pattern, or simply break the monotony of the main tiles.

However, like every aspect of interior design, trends in tile design also change over time. What was once considered chic and stylish may now be seen as outdated and old-fashioned.

This is why it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and styles in interior design, especially if you’re planning a renovation or building a new home. It ensures that your space not only looks modern and attractive, but also holds up well in terms of resale value.

In this article, we’ll delve into the topic of accent tiles in showers. Are they still trendy, or have they become a thing of the past? Let’s find out.

Understanding Accent Tiles

shower accent tile

Accent tiles are a type of decorative tile used to create a focal point or add visual interest to a tiled space. They’re often distinguished by their color, texture, pattern, size, or material, and they can be used in various ways to enhance the design of a room.

In showers, accent tiles can be used to highlight a particular area, such as the shower niche or a specific wall. They can also be used to create a border or to add a strip of color or pattern that breaks up the main tiles.

By doing so, accent tiles can enhance the aesthetic appeal of the bathroom and make the shower area more visually engaging.

There are many types of accent tiles available, each with its own unique characteristics:

1. Glass Tiles: These are popular for their ability to reflect light, which can make a small bathroom feel larger and brighter. They come in a variety of colors and can be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

2. Mosaic Tiles: These are small tiles arranged in a specific pattern or design. They can be made of various materials, including glass, ceramic, and stone, and they’re often used to create a decorative border or feature wall.

3. Subway Tiles: These are rectangular tiles that are usually laid in a brick pattern. While they’re often used as the main tile, they can also be used as an accent when they’re a different color or finish than the main tile.

4. Stone Tiles: These are made from natural stone, such as marble, granite, or slate. They add a touch of luxury and sophistication, and they’re often used to create a spa-like feel in the bathroom.

5. Metal Tiles: These are made from metal or have a metallic finish. They add a modern, industrial edge to the design, and they’re often used to create a striking contrast with other materials.

The role of accent tiles in enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a bathroom cannot be overstated. They add depth, dimension, and character to the room, turning an otherwise plain and utilitarian space into a stylish and inviting retreat.

Whether you opt for a subtle, understated design or a bold, vibrant pattern, accent tiles can make a big impact on the overall look and feel of your bathroom.

The Rise and Popularity of Accent Tiles in Showers

The use of accent tiles in showers has a rich history that has evolved with changing trends in interior design. As we trace back to the Victorian age, tile became the wall covering of choice for bathrooms, heralding a rage for sanitary-ness.

Over the years, different types of accent tiles have gained popularity for their distinctive characteristics and the unique touch they add to bathroom designs.

In the early 20th century, California Bungalows often featured historically accurate tile designs that added an element of vintage charm. Fast-forward to the mid-20th century, subway tiles made their mark in the world of interior design.

Originating from the subway stations of New York City, these rectangular tiles were valued for their clean lines and versatile design, which could be used as both main and accent tiles.

Over the past decade or so, accent tiles have seen a surge in popularity. Whether it’s the iridescent tiles adding depth and width to shower stalls or the hand-painted Delft-style tiles introducing a touch of contemporary wit, accent tiles have become a staple in modern bathroom design.

There are several reasons behind the popularity of accent tiles.

Firstly, they offer an easy way to inject color, pattern, and texture into a space, making a big impact without requiring a complete renovation.

Secondly, they provide a focal point that draws the eye and adds interest to the room.

Thirdly, they allow for personalization, enabling homeowners to express their individual style and taste.

Lastly, they can enhance the perceived value of a home, which can be a significant advantage when it comes to selling the property.

However, like all design elements, accent tiles are subject to trends. While they’ve been a popular choice for home décor, especially in showers and on kitchen backsplashes, it’s important to consider whether they align with current styles and preferences. To understand this better, let’s explore the current trends in shower tiles.

Current Trends in Shower Tiles

As we move into 2023, a new wave of shower tile trends has emerged, reshaping the way we design our bathrooms. These trends reflect a shift towards more personalized, creative and nature-inspired designs.

  1. Earthy Neutrals: Cool grays and bright whites are giving way to warmer, earthier tones. Think various shades of beige, brown, and green that give the bathroom a serene, natural vibe.
  2. Bold Colors: Contrasting the trend of neutrals, bold colors are also making a statement in 2023. From vibrant blues to deep reds, these colorful tiles can add a lively pop to your shower.
  3. Mosaic Tiles: Mosaic tiles continue to be a popular choice for creating intricate patterns and designs.
  4. Geometric Styles: Geometric tiles, with their sharp lines and shapes, are being used to create striking visual interest.
  5. Matte Finishes: Glossy tiles are stepping aside to make room for matte finishes, which offer a more understated, sophisticated look.
  6. Black and White: The classic black-and-white combo remains a perennial favorite, providing a timeless look that never goes out of style.
  7. Natural Stone: Luxurious natural stones, like marble and onyx, are on-trend, and often used to create a spa-like ambiance.
  8. Textured Tiles: These tiles add depth and tactile appeal to the bathroom, enhancing the sensory experience.

Role of Minimalist and Natural Designs in Modern Bathrooms

In recent years, there’s been a significant shift towards minimalist and natural designs in bathroom décor. This trend is largely driven by the desire to create a calming, spa-like environment where one can relax and unwind.

Minimalist designs with clean lines, simple forms, and a neutral color palette help to create a sense of tranquility and spaciousness. They also allow the beauty of the tiles themselves – whether it’s the subtle texture of a matte finish or the intricate pattern of a mosaic – to take center stage.

On the other hand, natural designs tap into our innate affinity for nature. By incorporating elements such as earthy color palettes, natural stone tiles, and botanical patterns, these designs create a soothing, nature-inspired retreat.

Whether you prefer a minimalist aesthetic, a natural vibe, or a combination of both, the key is to choose tiles that reflect your personal style and enhance the overall ambiance of your bathroom.

Debating the Outdatedness of Accent Tiles

The debate on whether accent tiles are outdated or timeless is a polarizing one. Let’s explore some arguments for and against their continued relevance in contemporary interior design.

Arguments for Accent Tiles Being Outdated

  1. Trendy but Not Timeless: Some argue that accent tiles, particularly those with bold patterns or colors, can quickly become dated as trends change. What might seem stylish and current today could look tired and old-fashioned in a few years’ time.
  2. Overuse and Overkill: Another argument is that accent tiles are often overused, leading to a cluttered and chaotic look. This can detract from the overall aesthetic of the room and make it feel less cohesive.
  3. Maintenance Issues: Certain types of accent tiles, such as mosaic or glass tiles, can be more difficult to maintain than simpler, more durable tiles. This could potentially lead to them looking worn or dirty over time.

Counterarguments Defending the Timelessness of Accent Tiles

  1. Personalization and Character: Supporters of accent tiles argue that they provide an opportunity to inject personality and character into a space. Whether it’s a splash of color, a unique pattern, or a luxurious material, accent tiles can help to make a room truly your own.
  2. Focal Point Creation: Accent tiles can also be used to create a focal point in a room, drawing the eye and adding visual interest. This can be particularly effective in otherwise plain or minimalist designs.
  3. Versatility: Additionally, accent tiles come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and materials, making them incredibly versatile. This means they can be adapted to suit almost any design aesthetic, from traditional to contemporary.

Ultimately, the relevance of accent tiles in contemporary interior design depends largely on personal taste and the specific context. While some may view them as a fleeting trend, others see them as a timeless design element. As with any aspect of home décor, the key is to choose what you love and what makes your space feel like home.

Alternatives to Accent Tiles

While accent tiles have been a popular feature in bathroom design, there are several other trendy options for shower tile design that homeowners might consider.

  1. Solid Color Marble Tiles: Marble has long been associated with luxury and elegance. Solid color marble tiles can create a sophisticated and cohesive look in the shower, without the need for accent tiles.
  2. Classic Ceramic Squares: Ceramic tiles are a timeless choice for showers. They can be arranged in different patterns for added visual interest, and their simplicity can make them a more versatile alternative to accent tiles.
  3. Zellige Squares: Zellige squares are gaining popularity for their handmade feel. These tiles, known for their irregular surface and glossy finish, can add a unique touch to any bathroom.
  4. Seashell-Inspired Tiles: These tiles bring a touch of the beach into your bathroom, creating a relaxing and serene environment.
  5. Green Tiles: Green tiles can bring a fresh, natural feel to the shower. They can be used to create a monochromatic look or paired with other colors for contrast.
  6. Different Tile Orientations: Using the same tile in different orientations (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) can create visual interest and break up the monotony without the need for accent tiles.

Comparison Between Accent Tiles and These Alternatives

While accent tiles offer a way to inject color, pattern, and texture into a space, the alternatives mentioned above provide other ways to achieve a similar effect. For instance, zellige squares can add texture and pattern, while green tiles or seashell-inspired tiles can introduce color. Different tile orientations can create pattern and visual interest, much like accent tiles.

However, unlike accent tiles, these alternatives often involve using the same type of tile throughout the shower, resulting in a more uniform and cohesive look. They also tend to be less trend-driven and more timeless, reducing the risk of the design looking dated in a few years’ time.

In the end, the choice between accent tiles and these alternatives will depend on personal preference, the desired look and feel, and the overall design of the bathroom.

Making the Right Choice for Your Bathroom

Choosing the right shower tile design can be a daunting task given the myriad of options available. Here are some factors to consider that can help guide your decision:

  1. Durability: Consider the durability of the tiles. Bathrooms tend to be damp and wet areas, hence it’s important to choose tiles that can withstand these conditions over time.
  2. Maintenance: Some tiles require more upkeep than others. For example, natural stone tiles may need to be sealed regularly to prevent water damage, while ceramic and porcelain tiles are typically low-maintenance.
  3. Safety: As shower floors can get slippery when wet, opting for tiles with a bit of texture can provide some grip and prevent slips and falls.
  4. Budget: The cost of tiles can vary greatly depending on the material, size, and design. Setting a budget can help you narrow down your options.
  5. Size of the Bathroom: Large tiles can make a small bathroom appear bigger, while smaller tiles can add detail to a large bathroom.
  6. Aesthetics: The color, pattern, and texture of the tiles should complement the overall style and decor of your bathroom.

Balancing Trends and Personal Style

While it’s good to be aware of current trends, it’s equally important to stay true to your personal style. Trends come and go, but your personal style is something that will endure over time.

It’s all about balance. You might choose a trendy tile color or pattern that you love, but opt for a classic shape or layout to ensure the design has longevity. Or, you might decide to use a trendy tile as an accent, while keeping the rest of the tiles more timeless and neutral.


Throughout this discussion, we’ve explored the debate on whether accent tiles are outdated or timeless. On one side of the argument, critics argue that accent tiles can quickly go out of style, are often overused, and certain types can be hard to maintain. However, proponents of accent tiles argue that they add a unique touch of personality, create a focal point in a room, and offer a versatile design option.

Alternatives to accent tiles were also discussed, including options like solid color marble tiles, classic ceramic squares, zellige squares, seashell-inspired tiles, green tiles, and different tile orientations. These alternatives each offer their own unique appeal and may be more timeless than accent tiles.

When it comes to making the right choice for your bathroom, it’s important to consider factors such as durability, maintenance, safety, budget, size of the bathroom, and aesthetics. Balancing current trends with your personal style is key. While trends can provide inspiration, your personal style should be the guiding force in your decision-making process.

Ultimately, whether you choose to use accent tiles or opt for an alternative, the goal is to create a space that feels like home to you. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and choose a design that suits your personal style and the needs of your home. Remember, the best design choices are the ones that make you happy and enhance your home’s comfort and functionality.