kid-friendly bathroom design ideas & inspiration

by clé tile | published: Sep 15, 2022

modern farmhouse brick in brindled blue gloss. design: Raili Clasen / photo: karyn millet. carrara 12x24 (wall) 12x12 slate cut into 6x6 squares (floor). design / photo: studio mcgee.

it’ll happen before you know it: your littlest kid will become a teenager. And then just a minute after, that young adult will come home on vacation. We know. Unimaginable.

Nothing else reminds us more that that by selecting the right tiles, you can enjoy these surfaces for generations.

But never fear! We wouldn’t ever suggest that you design a kids’ bathroom as if it’s for a short-term rental. This is the perfect opportunity to incorporate your child’s budding personality into your design in ways that last. She might not be five forever, but we’re sure she’ll still be into bold colors… or calm spaces… or nature… or glamour… until the day she inherits your tile installation.

key elements of kid-friendly bathroom design

Many people look to things like step stools, towel hooks, and bath toys as they approach designing a bath for younger children. Those special accommodations for little ones are helpful, of course, but you also have the interior design to think about.

A successful kids’ bathroom design will reflect who children are now, but will remain relevant for who they grow up to be. (and neither has to be too serious.) This is a fabulous opportunity to be playful and bold with your design choices—moreso than you might be with your own bathroom.

A kid-friendly bathroom should also remember that kids are, well, kids. Tile is durable, hard-wearing —and thus an essential for messy spaces. Look at options that will make everyday cleaning easier. In addition, consider your patina tolerance and what you can realistically commit to in terms of maintenance. Don’t forget safety when selecting tiles, either.

selecting kid-friendly bathroom tiles

Overall, tile is a top choice for any bathroom, and there are a variety of tile options that work well in a kids’ bathroom. What you choose will depend on personal preference, maintenance, safety, and other factors. (Tip: Get a start with our bathroom approved tiles here.)

Don’t sweat it

Many bathroom tile options have a tendency to patina, which can add depth and history to the room over time. However, you might want to consider first if you are a Patina Person(™). We love the signs of life that tiles can show, but it’s not for everyone—and a kids’ bathroom will inherently include some patina producing events.

It’s especially important to consider how the tile will interact with water. Cement tiles, for example, will show the effects of water splashes, spills and life in general more quickly than an option like ceramic tile. All carrara marble, on the other hand, contains naturally occurring iron deposits that can cause rust spots if exposed to excessive moisture (or un-picked-up towels). Raw terracotta, even when sealed, is particularly prone to patina in wet areas because of its porous clay body.

We consider this all part of natural patina that should be embraced, not shunned: your tiles will mellow with wear and tear and the passage of time - so keep this in mind. If you’re afraid of patina, we suggest you stick to glazed textured tiles appropriate for wet surfaces (see below). These will patina too – just less than some of the alternatives.

And don’t slip!

If your tiles will be on the floor, tub, shower floor, or other surface a kid might walk (skip, run, dance) on, consider the slipperiness of the tile. Smooth, glazed, and glossy tiles have less grip, especially when wet. A selection with some texture can be a safer option.

Modern farmhouse brick tiles, for example, can be used on shower floors (after being treated with an appropriate penetrating sealer!), where the natural variation on the surface of the tile can provide some protection against slipping.

Additionally, using a thicker grout line, an off-center placement, and/or using smaller pixie (2” x 2”) tiles can also provide protection because there are more grout lines to provide traction.OR, make it super simple and have your installer cut any of the tiles you are using in the rest of your installation to a 2" size and you will create your own slip-resistance.

Take it easy

We’ve talked about longevity and safety—now let’s get into how tile choice can affect everyday living. Smooth, less porous tiles like glazed ceramic are easier to wipe down and less likely to trap dirt and stains. Those are worth considering for walls and other areas where traction isn’t a priority.

Then there’s grout to consider. We’ve waxed poetic on the subject before; suffice it to say that a good grout sealant, applied correctly by an experienced contractor, will go a long way in streamlining everyday maintenance.

Kid-friendly bathroom ideas and inspiration

The world’s your oyster here. You could lean on the simpler side of things with neutrals, earth tones, or a monochromatic palette. Feeling bold? Go for strong contrasts, playful patterns, and or even an imaginative theme.

Here are just a few of our favorite kid’s bathroom ideas.

go all-in on a single color

have conviction. go all-in with a bold color like black…

cle-tile-encaustic-cement-star-bright-black-white-bathroom-floor-shower-niche-design-whelan-design-house-photography-alex-lark-11.5x13.1-300DPI-HR-2.jpg__PID:5b786128-ec9d-4e82-9a49-5a2526d5835d

cement star bright in black + white in 8x8. design: Whelan Design House / photo: Alex Lark

create a graphic statement with classic subway tile (with contrasting grout to set it off) and a boldly patterned cement on the floor.

cement hex in mocha. design lourdes hernandez / photo: deasy penner podley

or go for strong contrasts

bring on the color! strong contrasting tones, glossy textures, and unexpected pairings make for cheerful bathrooms and showers.

zellige 2×2 squares in indian saffron. design: sally breer / photo: meghan mcneer

zellige 2×2 squares in secret lagoon (shower) cement hex clip in mocha/barn (floor). design studio diy / photo: jeff mindell

create a graphic statement

A fun pattern to get kids moving in the AM (especially with some bright towels and accessories) can also enliven the small space of a future guest bathroom.

cle-tile-encaustic-cement-point-green-white-bathroom-shower-wall-Meredith-Marshall-milkshake-design-Alex-Zarour-Virtually-Here-Studios-photography-14.9x22.4-300DPI-HR.jpg__PID:b3b00dbf-8e42-4d7a-82a8-4e71bf5715d2

cement point in kelly, leaf + white in 8x8. design: Meredith Marshall / photo: Alex Zarour

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cement erica tanov jacobsen in plaster + black 8x8. design: dayhouse studio / photo: spotlight

Or go minimalistic and fun

This look is for those future graphic designers who can’t keep away from the magna-tiles.

cle-tile-C22723-encaustic-concrete-cement-swiss-cross-black-white-bathroom-floor-Designer-Modern-Beach-House-Photographer-Ryan-Rachel-Moser.jpg__PID:c68a0b55-d2e3-45f5-bb92-c42b9b55fd6d

cement swiss cross in white + black 8x8. design: Modern Beach House / photo: Ryan Rachel Moser

opt for earthy and organic

…and this one’s for that nature-lover in the house. bonus: it’s a sophisticated, timeless look.

embrace playful patterns and colors

To embrace color, go full-in on pattern and use fixtures as accent pieces for the tile.

incorporate accent tiles and borders

Accent tiles and borders are a great place to add a little additional personality, without too much commitment.

cle-tile-liberty-brick-glazed-atlantic-matte-subway-bathroom-shower-designer-raili-clasen-raili-cadesign-photographer-karyn-millet-karynmillet-rmB.webp__PID:46d82de6-298b-44f4-a46a-329db6d99c8d

modern farmhouse brick in brindled blue gloss. design: Raili Clasen / photo: karyn millet

inspire with imaginative themes

Like this ultimate enchanted cottage bathroom, that either a plucky protagonist or a fairy godmother would find irresistible.

And a bathroom that is ready for disney royalty, but still has all the sophistication of elevated marble.

clé carrara 12×24. design: denisa gilligan / photo: margaret trajic

Or a bold wall that can go through mermaid, mythology, punk, motown, hollywood glam phases and beyond, with ease.

cle-tile-terracotta-zellige-square-2x2-mounted-glazed-fired-opal-bathroom-wall-design-cecy-j-interiors-@cecy_j_interiors-photography-Kayla-Schmah-@kaylaschmahphoto-v2.jpg__PID:a135207c-769a-4347-833f-aaa6c959611a

zellige fired opal in unmounted square 2x2. design: cecy j. interiors / photo: kayla schmah.