photo via Vogue

soooooo, we have this bathroom, right? and it’s not great. the floors have these huge terracota type tiles. the walls are beige. the bathroom vanity isn’t even a vanity – it’s just a piece of formica (!!!) with a fake granite texture (!!!!) and a sink on top. the bath is TOO SMALL. when i was pregnant i could barely fit in it. it’s just… a mess. a total mess. i won’t show you a photo, cause you don’t need to see it. so our next big home project (after just having our leaky roof entirely redone this past winter) is to renovate the bathroom.

i have some ideas! of course. and this is not like picking out my next pair of sneakers. i really have to think about this one. i like so many bathrooms styles at the moment – i love marble tiles, but i also love black hexagon tiles. i like the idea of a wooden vanity, but would also love a slick white one. there are so many options! and because it’s such a lot of money to spend you can really only do it once. and what better way than to moodboard the crap out of it

in my mind i have three options. something on the more masculine side, something on the more feminine side, and something in-between. what do you guys think?

Option 1

this is probably the most popular bathroom style going at the moment. i worry that in a few years time it’s just going to be a bit “done”. but on the other hand it is very classic, drawing on vintage inspiration. and besides, subway tiles never go out of style, right?

Miss Moss masculine bathroom Miss Moss masculine bathroom

Option 2

i love love love marble in a bathroom. there’s something so relaxing and refreshing being surrounded by all that white, and it just feels so clean – something every bathroom should aspire to be. plus it’s beautiful, feminine and timeless.

Miss Moss marble white bathroom Miss Moss marble white bathroom

Option 3

this is kind of an out there option. the rest of our house has old wooden floors, so i quite like the idea of bringing wood into the bathroom too – but in the form of these new wood-style tiles. you can lay them in a herringbone pattern, which i think is super cool. and it brings warmth to a bathroom.

Miss Moss wooden tile bathroom Miss Moss wooden tile bathroom

all a hodge podge of sources, if you want to know where anything is from just ask in the comments!


  1. Vanya Du Toit Reply

    I know what you mean about subway tiles and how they’re classic, but honestly if I see ONE MORE bathroom done with these I’ll, erm, roll my eyes real hard. It’s difficult because wall tiles can be so ugly!!

    My friend recently redid her bathroom with these fake marble tiles, with a wetroom style walk in shower, and with kind of classic, brass fittings, and it works so well – modern but timeless. We have the same tiles on the walls in our rental flat and I love them, clean and grown up. Kind of like this but a bit nicer in real life:

    You can then also have nice patterned tiles for warmth and colour like so: (sorry am obsessed with the idea of buying and renovating at the moment!).

    • yes i think i prefer the larger rectangular (flat) tiles to subway tile! or even medium sized white square tiles, with a black or grey grout.

      i love the idea of patterned tiles for a shower floor, too…

  2. We’ve got the wood tile in the bathroom and loveeee it. I am still pretty obsessed with an all marble bathroom though.

  3. I’m on the marble train as well – classic, timeless, and a great natural material. And while white subway tile might be ubiquitous, it has lasted the test of time. I’m sure in your home you would style it in a way that would make it unique to you and your tastes. The accessories/vanity/etc are less of a pain/expense to redo in 10-20 years than having to rip out old tile for new. I have a fear that the “wood” look tiles might not end up looking the way you want, especially if you have real aged wood floors; like holding up cubic zirconia to a real diamond.

    Best of luck! I’m sure it will look awesome, whatever you decide!

    • good point about the wood! might be a better idea to actually just get real wooden flooring like the rest of the house! but i wonder about it in wet areas?

      • Real wood in the bathroom is hard to do – even marine grade varnish has to be stripped/sanded/reapplied every few years. I’ve read good things about using teak oil on outdoor wooden furniture, but haven’t personally experienced it or seen it used inside a home.

        On another personal note, we have honed marble with light grey grout in one of our bathrooms (we have a house from 1920), and its AMAZING. Polished marble has a tendency to etch and stain, but our honed (matte) finish still looks awesome. I had a bottle of bright blue shampoo that leaked out onto the marble and stained it, and I flipped out. But a week or so (and just one cleaning) later the marble absorbed it and the stain disappeared.

  4. Your house is older, right? What would the original bathroom have looked like? I’d start with that for inspiration, updating as necessary. I feel like something that is a decent nod to the original is less likely to date than just picking out what is kind of fashionable right now.

    I’m kind of mad for black-trim 1930s style bathrooms right now, to be honest.

    Also, tip: *don’t* use white grout on the floor. I’ve had two bathrooms with white grout now (own property before we renovated, and the rental we’re in now) and you cannot EVER get it totally clean. It’s awful. I put down black and white tiles when we renovated, and used grey grout. Tiler helped me pick the shade least likely to show grunge! It doesn’t look weird at all, and saved my sanity.

    • our house is from 1935ish – i think! but it’s not “fancy”, it wouldn’t have had those classic 1930s bathrooms. i do love them, but i’m not sure i can get the right tiles and fittings in South Africa for that to look really authentic. and i’d hate to have a bathroom that’s trying to look vintage…

      good call about the grout!

  5. Totally in love with everything about option 2, that would be my dream bathroom.


  6. love them! you can’t go wrong. slight preference toward #1 or #2 as they look more cohesive. one thing i’d say, if this is your primary bathroom, i’d suggest not doing bowl or raised sink. they are not as practical and you end up with less room around the sink for bottles etc while getting ready. you also cannot swipe a mess onto the counter into the sink as a quick cleanup. good luck and keep us posted!

  7. Option 2!! So classy/classic, less trendy…. spa like, soothing, gorgeous!!

  8. Also, totally unrelated, but any chance you’d have tips on good pregnancy/ baby lifestyle blogs? Are there are in particular you like? I’ve, ah, reached that point in my life, and would like some good leads on less-ugly stuff… I want, like Miss Moss Jr. or something ;)

      • Right – I’m mean, what are you even doing on maternity leave? Must have heaps of free time for a second blog, right? ;)

        But for reals, I’d read it.

        Most of the ones I find while googling stuff are… not my style. I’ve got some great instagrammers, but they don’t go the extra mile with product identification in their adorable photos ;)

  9. I like option 1 but with a twist, the satin flat “subway” tile in a herringbone pattern on the wall is epic when paired with the mini hexagonal floor tiles in slate grey with occasional pops of white marble. For basins have you seen the organic range from kohler. Fantastic if budget is a word you dont like. Pair that with the new rose gold fittings or old school copper for some classic feminine style that even a guy won’t mind.

  10. For what it’s worth, I was immediately drawn to option 3. I love the continuity of the wood look tiles with the rest of the house and that herringbone texture. You can still have some marble elements and I don’t think it would be overkill.

  11. Definitely option 1. With a bathroom you want timeless fixtures and then to make trendy/ current with your accessories. The age of your house also suits this. If you’re concerned that metro tiles may date, look at getting more of a rectangular tile- the same height as a metro, but double the length. It’s a nice twist to the standard metro. I saw some at Italcotto this week for about R279 a metre squared.
    Avoid using wooden tiles in a house that already had wooden floors – they have a tendency to look fake.
    Good luck. Our bathroom is also scary, but similarly we need to fix the leaking roof before tackling it (buckets to catch rain drops just aren’t my style…)

  12. Love this post…in Option 2, where is the bathtub on the bottom row from? Many thanks!

  13. To me, they’re all gorgeous. I think the thing I would start with is how easy are these things to clean? My mom loves white grout and how clean it is, and did all three bathrooms in our home with white grout. Unfortunately, three kiddos and a dog running around have made her regret that decision, it’s hard to keep grout clean! I know that sounds very house-keeper-y of me, but it’s more the opposite, I don’t want to spend any more time cleaning than I have to.

    • yeah i would definitely consider dark grout and/or tiles if it means the cleaning is easier. that’s why i’m worried about the all white / marble bathroom.

      • We did grey grout with marble floor tiles* and it looks good/ fine. Picks up the grey veining. And highlighted the fact we paid good money for a herringbone layout ;)

        * we went all out on the bathroom, and the budget ended up… actually, we refuse to add it all up because it’s embarrassing. Then because we were moving out of the place we had to do the laundry urgently and on a serious budget (apparently you can’t really rent a place with the explanation “Oh, this terrifying old bathroom is actually the laundry – just run an extension cord across the house to plug in the washing machine, then drain it into the toilet. See – if you close the toilet lid on the drainpipe, it stays in place!” I did all the demo work and wall patching myself to save on costs, I bought the toilet “second hand” off gumtree (someone bought it, then realized it didn’t fit in their bathroom!), all the fixtures and cabinetry were clearance floor stock from cheap import no-name bathroom places. Window sill replacement was a bit of scrap wood. BUT because the space was 2m x 2m I went and bought marble subway tiles for the floor, and had them laid herringbone. Because it was such a tiny space it was still pretty cheap, and made the whole thing look way chi-chi. Marble in the laundry. Oo la la!

  14. I love option 1 but switch out the walls and shower tile with option 2. – makes it a little more unique.
    Also, where is option 1 bath mat from?

  15. Options 2 & 3. I think underground type tiles, in my opinion, in a muted colour (light grey, sage, light blue with light grey grout), go very well with Edwardian type taps, floor standing washbasins and baths, and a Carrara marble floor tiles or even a wooden floor (not great for wet areas but its not going to be wet all the time and hey, there are rugs!). It is a bit traditional, I know, but because is understated, works well with more contemporary things. If you have space, convert a nice wooden chest of drawers into a vanity unit with a Carrara marble top and splashback to match the floor. Whatever you decide at the end, I am sure it will be great. Looking forward to the pics.

  16. Love option three – it reminds me of a friend’s family holiday home, where they have this amazing kelim and wood floors! Feels so… “out of Africa” and cozy, but then still has the “clean” feel with white hardware.

  17. #1 and #2 are both lovely! I’m wrestling with making final decisions on a bathroom remodel myself, and I recognize inspiration images from both moodboards from my own research. Loving the idea of the floating wooden vanity w/vessel sink and wall mount clean-looking faucet these days, but glossy white and modern also has its appeal. (Personally, I’m trying to balance the original 1920’s clawfoot with a modern wall-hung toilet, all in the only not-big bathroom: need to do more moodboarding!) Oh, and that narrow rectangular field tile in a herringbone pattern paired with black hex/dark grout in #1: so great! And a nice twist on classic white field/subway tiles.

  18. Hi! That is actually a pic of my bathroom on the top. :) I have had it for 2 years now and still love it so much. It’s true that style is everywhere but it is also sort of a blank canvas. You can wallpaper or paint the cabinets to change it up a bit.

    • Hi Rony – what are the tiles with the curve edge at the top? Currently re-doing my bathroom to look very like Option 3! Thanks!

  19. Hi. I was wondering where the spherical light fittings come from. Are they steam proof?

  20. Ramonaquimby Reply

    Definitely #2 which is sort of the ideal bathroom. #1 will definitely look dated sooner than later. Love the idea of original wood floors but could see that being very hard to maintain…fun post!

  21. Whatever you choose I’d say just make sure it is easy to clean. Not always the most glamorous thing to think about when designing, but working as a professional house cleaner has taught me that no matter how chic a space might look it all gets derailed if you have something that constantly looks dirty or is hard to keep tidy. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you have a house cleaner but it is still very satisfying to know you are living in a low maintenance space. One thing I can tell you is marble in the shower may look nice but it is a b to clean as almost any product will ruin it. That’s my sort of Debbie downer practical advice, but whatever you choose I’m sure it will be on point! The wood clay tiles are slick imo.

  22. I am also doing a bathroom revamp at the moment and i must say i am tired of the subway tiles everywhere already! I like the marble option and it would work well with a black tile floor – which if you get any sunlight on it during the day acts as a heat sink – double win! You can also get cool small black hexagon marble or similar squares etc that if trimming white tiles could act as a marble accent like the 1930’s tuxedo bathrooms without the cost of a full wall of marble.
    Also, i love the oversized round mirrors also! You can often get extra large ones secondhand that were attached to a vintage dresser for a fraction of the price. The older mirrors have a beautiful bevelled edge and the glass is a lot thicker than modern mirrors and reflects light sooooo much better – the quality is so much more lush looking than modern mass produced mirrors.

  23. I love all the options- I just finished my redo last last year (In Gordons Bay) and I have a blend of all three on my house! Since I recognized most of your sample pics from local outlets- can I send you some photos?

  24. Susanita Darling Reply

    Ps- I second the motion that vessel sinks make you loose counter space! So much easier to clean and use!

  25. Hi Miss Moss,
    Do you have a resource for the round natural-fibre rug in Option 2?

  26. Could you share the source for the black framed mirror in option #1?

  27. Beth Pierce Reply

    I’d like to comment on black or the bronzed look metal fixtures that are the trend now in bathrooms (at least here in the South). What color is soap? Right! Mostly white-ish. So when soap dries on the trim around your shower and the faucets, etc. your beautiful dark metals will look AWFUL. I know, I have lived with them for four years now. And nothing really cleans it well. Even if it did, it would only last until the next shower, or teeth-brushing! My next home will have shiny chrome. Timeless and classic.

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