4 Subway Tile Ideas for Your Kitchen Backsplash & Bathroom
As far back as the early 1900s, subway tile has been a top choice for tiled surfaces. Why? Well, there are a few reasons…
SUBWAY TILE IS BUDGET-FRIENDLY
The average kitchen needs 30 sq ft of backsplash. You can easily find FABULOUS subway tiles for under $8 sq ft. So, worst case scenario your tile is going to cost $250 (do not check my math on that one). Best case scenario you’re looking at approx. $90 (plus grout and spacers).
SUBWAY TILE IS TIMELESS
If you stick with good old white/off-white in a standard subway tile layout you will get YEARS’ worth of style out of it. There’s a good reason why this tile has been kickin’ it since the early 1900s – it’s awesome.
SUBWAY TILE IS FLEXIBLE
Subway tiles are a versatile product that can transition into a TON of styles depending on personal tastes, colour, layout, grout choice, etc…
And while subway tile might sound boring, being so ‘affordable, practical, timeless, etc…’ there are some SUPER fab ways to jazz it up to make it LOOK like you spent more money, without bustin’ out the kid’s piggy banks!
Kylie M Interiors E-Design
1. SUBWAY TILE IDEA – choose your material carefully
Traditionally, a subway tile would be porcelain or ceramic but you can get the subway tile PATTERN in any number of products such as marble, travertine, glass and more. Don’t limit yourself to what has always been done, see what else is out there!
Let’s start out simple with none other than the classic white subway tile (two different sizes)…
Notice that in BOTH of the above projects, the grout is a soft gray, which accents the brick layout of the subway tile, whereas white grout would have blended more.
In this next photo, we chose a beautiful tumbled travertine subway tile for my local client. It complements the warm veins in her granite as well as the natural cherry cabinets…
This next kitchen features a gorgeous marble subway tile backsplash, coordinated with the quartz countertop and white cabinets…
2. SUBWAY TILE IDEA – add colour & texture
Choosing a subway tile in a colour (solid or mixed tones) is a great way to keep things classic and simple, while still adding a personal touch. The classic SHAPE of the subway tile gives you room to be brave with colour and style!
I’m OBSESSED with this next blue subway tile with its hand-glazed look…
Benjamin Moore White Dove on cabinets and walls
In this next photo (similar tile, different bathroom), notice that while the tile is flat (unlike the above tile), it still has a hazy, glazed look to it…
See this bathroom remodel HERE
3. SUBWAY TILE IDEA – tile edge & grout details
Traditionally, subway tiles are flat with very slightly rounded edges. While this is a ‘timeless and classic’ approach, you can also jazz things up with a bevel, reverse bevel or glazed finish as shown below…
I looove me a bevelled tile…
See the whole project HERE
You can also consider a unique glazed porcelain subway tile with dark grout to really define the pattern, as shown in this next kitchen…
See the before and afters of this kitchen HERE
Click HERE or on the above image to see available packages
4. SUBWAY TILE IDEA – size & layout
As shown in a few of the previous photos, you can also jazz things up via tile size to add a slightly different look to your tile installation.
In this next bathroom, we chose an elongated 4×12 cream coloured subway tile in a staggered layout. It suits the shape of the floor tile (12×24) and the warm tones are softer than the traditional white.
Next up, with its matching grout, the 4×12 off-white subway tile is a subtle complement to the white cabinets and quartz countertop. My clients were wanting a more contemporary look so we did a stacked layout, rather than a brick layout.
In this next photo, I LOVE the colour my clients chose for their kitchen cabinets – Benjamin Moore Kitty Gray. And they couldn’t have chosen a BETTER backsplash – love the elongated, glazed look!
And seriously, there are MANY more ways to play with subway tile and I’m sure I’ll be writing ANOTHER long-winded blog post on this topic – but for now, that’s it!
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Originally written in 2017, awesome updated in 2021