Step Up the Impact with Tile

One way to add graphic punch and sparkle to a space is by creating simple grid and block patterns in glass tile, like these in bathrooms by designer Valerie Borden of Chimera Interior Design.

Recently, Valerie and I discussed how she developed the designs and how you might get a similar impact in your space.

Glass Tile Stair Step Design by Chimera Design

HomeWorkshop (HW): What inspired the tile colors and design in the green and white bathroom?

Valerie Borden (VB): The first thing we chose was the terrazzo tile floor. We chose one with a white matrix and green colored glass chips. Our inspiration was nature as the home is located on a desert preserve. As this bath is part of a guest suite we wanted it to feel like a boutique hotel.

Terrazzo Tile Floor Closeup

HW: Did you intend to use two shades of green with the white or how did that come about?

VB: The two shades of green are completely intentional. We wanted color, but not a circus. Using tone on tone colors is a great way to create interest, without overdoing it.

HW: Did you start with the stair step idea for the design….?

VB: I made several sketches for the client and she loved the stair step one. It really leads the eye in an interesting way. It highlights the transom window and shows off the sinks without overpowering.

HW: What made you decide to tile the whole sink wall and window surround?

VB: Drama!!

HW: Talk about the decision to go with glass tiles vs. ceramic. Could you get a similar effect using ceramic?

VB: I love using glass tile. Glass reflects light in the room to make the space brighter and more dynamic. As the only window in this space is above the sink, we wanted it to feel brighter and more in touch with nature than it really is.

You cannot achieve this with ceramic. I have done some work with glass inserts in a ceramic tile field to help the budget.

Glass Tiles in Green and White Shower

HW: Talk about the column of colored tiles in the green and white shower, how does that work with the sink wall design?

VB: The green column in the shower is designed as a secondary focal point in the room. I wanted the shower to be fun and dynamic, but not take away from the sink wall.

Here’s the other bathroom space Valerie and I discussed, highlighted by a fiesta of rectangular glass tiles in the shower area.Glass Tile Design in Multicolor for Dramatic Shower

HW: How did you arrive at the design for the multi-colored shower?

VB: I spent a lot of time brainstorming on this one. I actually found this really cool art online that consisted of blocks of color with a vertical line to break them up. I then used my artistic license to modify the concept into a glass tile design for the shower. The time to brainstorm, conceive and then implement this design was about 40 hours.

Neutral Sink Area for Surprise Graphic ShowerAs you can see from the other photos of the bath (sink area, left) this home is extremely minimalist. I wanted to have a huge surprise as one walked into the shower. What a great way to wake up in the morning!!!

HW: What was your color inspiration?

VB: I incorporated the blues to represent water, and the brighter colors for a dramatic punch.


HW: Why did you choose to incorporate granite and the glass tile design together in the shower?

VB: You can’t see it in the photo, but if you were standing in the bathroom looking in to the opening of the shower you would only see slabs of the granite that matches the counter tops and tub surround. The same stone is used to break up the glass tile design.

HW: What advice do you have for a homeowner wanting to make a graphic design in tile?

VB: Find something that inspires you and then don’t be afraid. I did a glass tile backsplash in my kitchen that is a representation of a pixilated photo of the skyline of New York City. I used 11 colors of 2″x2″ tiles. Anything goes, and there is no wrong answer.

If you want something simple, use one color, or tone on tone of one color and vary the size of the tiles to create a pattern.

If you want something more elaborate, geometric shapes work best, but the only limitation is your imagination. Make sure the tiles have an opaque backing for best results, and use white thin set!! Darker thin set shows through.

Here’s a kitchen where Valerie used blocks of colored glass tiles in her design.Graphic Design of Glass Tiles for Kitchen



Valerie Borden is the founder and designer for Chimera Interior Design with projects in Metro Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona as well as many national locations.


What designs in tile have you or your designer tried at your place?

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