Chances are you've seen a zellige tile-clad bathroom while scrolling through Instagram or perusing the pages of your go-to interior design magazine. And while the trendy tile has gotten its fair share of time in the limelight, its storied history dates back to over 1,000 years ago in Morocco. Think of it as the precursor to modern subway tile.
Zellige tile is hand-shaped and made from a special Moroccan clay, fired in a kiln, and glazed with enamel. Its hallmark characteristic is the perfectly imperfect composition that is derived from its handcrafted nature. This means no two tiles will ever be the same and there will always be subtle differences in the coloring — so when they are installed, you won't end up with a completely uniform scheme.
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In a bathroom design, zellige tiles have both pros and cons. On the plus side, these tiles can offer a subtle yet visually impactful element that is otherwise hard to replicate. They're also quite durable, despite their handmade nature, making them a great choice for bathroom surfaces — as long as they're cleaned and maintained properly.
As for the cons, authentic zellige tiles can be on the expensive side. Artisan-made products do (and should) cost more than mass-produced tiles, so that's something homeowners should be prepared for. (There are less-expensive options on the market that do a decent job of mimicking the look, though they aren't quite the same.) In addition, proper tile installation can be tricky due to its natural irregularities, and as such, should be left to a professional who has worked with the material before. This also means that installing zellige tile might not be the best DIY project.
All that said, you can't argue with the organic appeal of zellige tile. "Zellige adds a very hand-crafted style to the bathroom," says interior designer Raili Clasen of RailiCA, "and the rich colors it comes in makes such a great statement without being showy." Clasen also appreciates its versatility. "We use it in modern homes, beach cottages, and even rustic mountain homes," she says. "It works in so many styles of baths."
Thirsty for more? Take a peek at some of our favorites below, along with where to get the look (be it authentic or more affordably priced).
21 Zellige Tile Bathroom Ideas
1. Try an accent wall.
If paint can, at times, feel a little one-dimensional, a textured tile in a wash of color can be just thing you need to add a visually dynamic element to your bathroom. In this two-tone design by Mindy of @gatheringwool.home, the pink zellige tiles provide a rich backdrop for the wood cabinetry while extending the full length of the wall, into the shower, for a cohesive finish.
2. Let the material shine.
Peek inside this stunning bathroom from The Repose, an Australian Airbnb, for all the inspo you need. The aesthetic is serene and spare, and we love the way each material and every piece of decor has the space to shine. For example, the gray zellige tile, with its lovely color variations, not only anchors the freestanding tub but also adds a layer of texture, depth, and visual interest to the space.
3. Go bold.
Follow Studio DIY's lead and embrace a maximalist aesthetic in your bathroom. Here, the vibrant emerald green zellige tile is a great first step, and invites a boho-chic element into the space. The material also offers a bright backdrop for the double vanity cabinet, while complementing the blush-hued ceramic floor tile. A pink patterned rug completes the scene.
4. Keep it moody.
An all-black scheme paired with lustrous brass hardware invites a major dose of drama into this midcentury modern home in Silver Lake. Despite the walls being a dark hue, the subtle textured details of both the paint and the zellige tiles create interest while adding a sense of depth to the space. Lustrous brass fixtures offer a hint of warmth and sparkle.
5. Consider wainscoting.
Rethink a floor-to-ceiling tile installation, and consider tiled wainscoting instead. It's a cost-effective alternative that will allow you to break up the scheme. Here, the vertical orientation of the off-white tiles visually lengthens the cozy corner while beautifully hugging the wall-mounted sink.
6. Set your shower apart.
Designer Raili Clasen really goes for it in this cheerful bathroom design, incorporating everything from a bright yellow bathtub to a busy floral wallpaper on the ceiling. By cladding the shower stall in blue zellige tile, Clasen is able to visually define the tiny alcove. And bonus: The cool and refreshing hue has a soothing, cocoon effect that tempers some of the bolder elements.
7. Keep the grout lines loose.
The contrast of textured tile and polished hardware is as swoon-worthy a combination as any, and this powder room by House of Jade Interiors is all the proof we need. To up the ante, keep the grout lines loose for a cool and beautifully imperfect finish.
8. Tile the sink.
You can count on designer Jake Arnold for a fresh take on the popular tile trend. In this powder room, a wall-mounted zellige-clad sink steals the show. Light wood paneling and a rattan vanity mirror complement the focal point and round out the earthy scheme.
9. Create subtle dimension.
We're loving the chic simplicity of the white zellige tiles spotted in this elegant bathroom belonging to Amory from @amory.wooden. The color variation of the tile lends a hint of wabi-sabi flair and warmth, while also elevating what would otherwise feel a bit too stark a setup. The wood stool and hanging towels add further texture, while the mixed metal finishes play off of the tile's reflective quality.
10. Try a herringbone stack.
The beauty of zellige tile is that it can translate to a variety of design styles, be it modern, farmhouse, or even bohemian. Take this rustic powder room, for instance. Here, a green tile backsplash installed in a herringbone pattern makes quite the impression, especially when framed by dramatic black walls. The wood flooring and floating wood counter provide just enough warmth.
11. Consider an unexpected color.
Yellow isn't the first color you think of for a bathroom, but you can't argue with the wow factor of the accent wall in this setup by Urbaine Atelier. The warm saffron shade, the subtle shine of the zellige tile, plus the flood of natural light coming through the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors are a match made in design heaven.
12. Use the same tile in different sizes.
Light gray zellige tiles are used for both the wall and floor in Emily Henderson's mountain house bathroom. To keep things fresh, the designer opted for two-inch by two-inch square tiles on the floor. On the walls, Henderson went with an alternating triple stack pattern made out of two-inch by six-inch tile, resulting in a customized finish. The quiet play of vertical and horizontal lines is also in keeping with the home's rustic-meets-Scandi aesthetic.
13. Create a warm ombre effect.
Because of the natural color variations that occur in zellige tile, when you cover a whole shower stall — including the walls and ceiling — in one color, you get substantial tonal differences that create an ombre effect. Ursino Interiors complemented the scheme by using the same material in a sand-inspired shade on the floor.
14. Warm things up with a burnt sienna hue.
Nothing will warm up a white bathroom design faster than a burnt sienna palette as proven by this stunning setup from Handelsmann + Khaw. The rust-colored zellige tile — installed in a basketweave pattern — covers the floor and anchors the light-filled scheme. White paint and matching zellige tile on the walls help balance the intense hue, while the checkerboard tile wainscoting ties the scheme together and offers additional visual interest.
15. Try a mosaic.
If you like the old-world appeal of zellige tile, but you'd still like your bathroom to feel contemporary, take note of this design idea by Logan Killen Interiors. The mosaic tile covers the entirety of the shower and yet doesn't overwhelm or read old-fashioned. The secret ingredient is the neutral color palette.
16. Go natural.
For all our writing about the subtle sheen of zellige tile, it should be noted that they also come without enamel coating. Such is the case with the floor tile that designer Sarah Sherman Samuel selected for her own bathroom remodel. It was an apt choice to match the matte finishes of the other elements in the room, and we especially love the earthy quality that is brought out by the tile's flat finish.
17. Add a traditional border.
This bathroom by Lauren Haskett Fine Design hits so many good notes. We love the contrast between the timeless marble counter topped with a vessel sink and the ornate, shimmery diamond-patterned zellige tile backsplash with a flourish-y pink border. The antique brass-finished mirror and sconces further create a sense of harmony in the room.
18. Don't forget the shower niche and bench.
The beauty of zellige tile is truly on display in this spa-worthy walk-in shower by Sara and Rich of The Joshua Tree House. Not only does the cream-colored tile cover the shower walls, but it also clads the bench and shampoo niche, too. Design elements — such as the terra cotta tile on the floor, wood plank ceiling, and tropical plants — really take this earthy escape to the next level. The rain showerhead doesn't hurt either.
19. Create bold stripes.
Designer Heidi Caillier takes black and white zellige tile in a surprising direction here, creating vertical stripes along the bath alcove and tub surround with four-inch squares, and then horizontal stripes along the floor using two-inch squares. Caillier then softens the high-contrast look with a beige linen shower curtain and a floral sink skirt. Simply stunning.
20. Color block it.
How do you do zellige in a beach cottage bathroom? Designer Raili Clasen shows us how it's done with this color-blocked beauty offering major beach vibes. The deep sea shades of turquoise and teal are especially rich when laid side-by-side. Complementary yellow and brass tones add just the right pop of warmth in the faucet, mirror frame, nautical cage light, and mustard hand towel.
21. Pair it with a tonal marble.
With zellige's natural differences in tone, it makes perfect sense to pair it with a stone that shares the same color variations. In this bathroom by Heidi Caillier, the variegated marble slab countertop blends beautifully with the wall tile. The finished result is an appealing mix within the same tonal family that's subtle yet sophisticated.