7 Ways to Make Gray Bathroom Tiles Feel Modern and Fresh — 'This Shade Can Still Work for Your Space'

Drop the notion of builder-grade for these modern gray tile upgrades. These configurations, finishes, and shades of gray will turn any blasé bathroom into something design-forward.

Gray and pink tile in bathroom
(Image credit: @pierce__dev)

Swaths of charcoal and mist tones in a bathroom can lean more blasé than stylish, leading you to seriously consider ways to make gray bathroom tiles feel modern. These foundational components are more than a place to step, they play a large part in how a bathroom looks overall too. The right tile can elevate your wet room or primary bath but the wrong kind can just as quickly put a damper on it.

While it's easy to settle on a blanket of basic square tiles in your preferred shade of gray, a little more brainstorming goes a long way in ending up with a modern configuration and tone that'll never feel outdated. If your current grout and tile combination is subpar, there are a few modifications you can make to update the look. 

We spoke with a few designers to get their perspectives on the most exciting bathroom tile ideas for transforming boring builder-grade layouts into punchy modern spaces that show just how adaptable gray can be.

1. Warm Up Gray Tile With Wood

Gray terrazzo-style bathroom tile

(Image credit: @studiomkn / Instagram)

If you're looking for a sleek, cool-toned bathroom, using gray is one of the quickest ways of getting there. Without the right features, it can feel a little sterile and not quite like the relaxing atmosphere you'd expect from a bathroom. To counteract this issue, Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight suggests bringing in 'natural features such as wooded vanities or plant life to add warmth to the cool gray tile tones.'

He says that this will help make any 'modern bathroom a harmonious and welcoming space.' A little extra texture can break up the monotony of all-gray tiles. Terrazzo flooring and wall tiles, for instance, do a great job of this.

2. Opt for Different Shades of Gray

Gray tile in arch in bathroom

(Image credit: @thetileclub / Instagram)

Monochrome certainly contributes to a modern bathroom, but it's not the only way to achieve this design style. You can create a niche full of glossy tiles and then add terrazzo flooring with specs of gray. Or you can have one particular type of gray shower tile and a lighter version around the sink. There are so many ways to go about it.

Artem suggests to 'play with different gray scales in a gradient-like manner to give additional depth.' He notes that it's a 'subliminal but potent technique' that's actually a trick for creating the 'illusion of a larger and more exciting space.'

3. Blend in an Unexpected Color

Gray and pink tile in bathroom

(Image credit: @pierce__dev)

Although gray bathroom tile will never go out of style, it has its lulls like any other color. To instantly jazz up a gray bathroom Artem recommends incorporating 'bursts of colors through accessories or wall paint that will go in harmony with the gray tiles.'

As this eye-catching space shows, even a different color of tile is a great choice for complementing and contrasting against the neutrality of a gray. The right combination will 'uplift the space.' Pink, teal, and cobalt are just a few hues to experiment pairing with charcoal or light gray. 

4. Select Matte Gray Tiles

Gray tile and shower with wooden cabinet

(Image credit: @shaunawaltondesign / Instagram)

When it comes to a modern bathroom, you can go two ways for tile finish: matte or glossy. Depending on how you implement them, both can work in this style of room. Artem is on team matte tile for this purpose. Not only will it contribute to the aesthetic you're working toward, but 'the finish also can conceal water spots and smudges, which would make it appropriate for bathrooms.'

This flatter appearance tones things down and it won't lean toward glamorous or maximalist in instances where some lustrous tiles will.

5. Go for Big Format Tiles

Gray bathroom with tub

(Image credit: TileCloud)

Typically penny tiles, subway tiles, and small squares reign supreme as the most popular tiles for home bathrooms. While these are all classic shapes, they might not feel as modern as you'd hope. There's actually a different configuration that can help you achieve this. 'For a sleek look, consider large-format gray tiles, which can create a seamless and expansive aesthetic, reducing visual clutter,' says TileCloud interior designer Courtney Cole. 'They can be particularly impactful in walk-in showers, or as statement walls when combined with minimalist fixtures.'

6. Experiment With Color Temperature

Bathroom with shower head and gray beige tiles

(Image credit: TileCloud)

Gray is gray is gray — or so you would think. But after looking at the selection of gray tiles available, you'll quickly realize just how many shades and tones are out there. The color temperature can help sway the aesthetic.

As an example, Courtney points out that 'opting for a warm gray can bring a more modern feel as opposed to cooler grays which tend to feel more traditional.' The size, shape, and pattern that the tile is laid out in will influence the final look, too, but this is one other factor to have in mind when you're shopping around. Cole says that 'layering different shades of gray' is also possible and will lead to a more contemporary space.

7. Use Moody Shades

Dark gray bathroom tiles

(Image credit: Brio Design Homes)

FLOOR360 interior designer Nichole Abbott notes that 'choosing darker and moodier shades like charcoal gray or slate gray' contributes to a modern-feeling bathroom. This bathroom color idea and a mix of small and large tiles works wonders for constructing a shower room that doesn't feel basic by any standards. 'By installing large tiles vertically on the walls, you draw the eye up and make the space seem larger than it is,' she says. 'Add smaller tiles in the same color and material for an eye-pleasing monochromatic modernizing effect.' This is a winning combination and a unique way of mixing sizes in one area without it feeling jumbled.

The Best Gray Tiles for a Modern Bathroom

Melissa Epifano Varley

Melissa Epifano Varley is a freelance writer and editor who has covered interiors for a variety of publications. Most recently, she served as the global editor-in-chief for Real Homes. She has also contributed to Forbes, Apartment Therapy, The Spruce, People, InStyle, and more. When it comes to design, she covers trends, advice, house tours, and how-tos. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in journalism and spends her free time writing, reading, and traveling.