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Rectangular subway tile is known for its uniformity and its simple and streamlined beauty. This durable and decorative wall tile lends a clean yet highly-refined ceramic tile option for any living space.

icy mist glass subway tile

Kaska Glass Mosaic – Reflection Series “Ice Mist” Subway tile / 3″x6″

Used extensively since the Victorian era and remaining a mainstay well into the present day, subway tile is now manufactured for the twenty-first century and it’s a phenomenal interior design look. Here are some ways to bring this beautiful and modern tile into your home.

Choose your space

kitchen subway tile white

Hammersmith Subway Tile, (White / 4″x12″) used as a backsplash. It is a Victorian texture, but suits a modern kitchen just as well.

Subway tile can work simply in kitchens and bathrooms because of its relative durability, but it’s also a great backdrop for design in any room. Because of its relatively small sizes, it works well around built-in cabinets in kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms.

It also looks fantastic in hallways as the glazed porcelain reflects light, bringing interest and brilliance to darker spaces that aren’t lit by large windows. Try subway tile in your utility room as well: easy to install in small spaces, ceramic tile like this is simple to clean and won’t warp in a room where the temperature and moisture levels change all of the time.

Try out different sizes and colors

The most popular sizes for subway tile include 3×6, 4×12 and 4×16 inch dimensions, but more sizes and styles are being introduced every day. Bigger tiles will likely look more contemporary, while rectangular, short tiles will bring a classic or retro look to your home. Beveled and flat edges are on offer as well, and if you want some additional texture, you might want to look at new designs with convex surfaces that really stand out in modern homes.

black beveled subway tile accent wall kitchen

Alzatina Ceramic Wall Tile  (Champs Elysees Collection Black China / 2″x20″) used here as an accent wall in a ultra-modern apartment setting.

You can find these tiles in classic white to black, and any color from bright yellow to subdued blues and greens. Antiqued finish tiles are a fantastic option to add subtle shades of color to a room, and provide warmth and a soft appeal.

The most modern subway tile looks are often those in every shade of grey. Grey tile is neutral, but it isn’t as stark a look as black or white. It can add contrast with built in white cabinetry in any room, and is a softer option for a background that fades in comparison to designer-bright shades of soft furnishings.

Create some contrast

A standard-edge or beveled-edge subway tile can be used with either matching, complementary, or contrasting grout to emphasize its design and to create different looks in your home. Different colors of grout can be used – like dark grey grout with white tile, or white grout with black tile – to make your room pop.

subway tile minimalist living room

Piastrella Ceramic Wall Tile – Hibury Collection (Blanco White / 8″x12″ / Glossy).

You can also try alternating these tiles, or developing a pattern using a number of different tile colors, in order to create contrast in a room. Try using a contrasting tile every five to ten tiles to bring attention to a small space. Or, taking another path, you can match the grout and the tile and install them in a very coordinated fashion to create a blank backdrop for dramatic lighting in your kitchen or bathroom.

Install a tile pattern than works for you

Most people assume that subway tile should be installed in a standard overlapping horizontal fashion, but it can provide so much more design interest if you want to get creative. You can create patterns with this tile in whatever design you imagine, including vertical, herringbone (zig zag), chevron, stacked, and off-center approaches.

No matter what approach you take, subway tile offers a wonderful and adaptable take on wall design. With all of the benefits of ceramic tile, such as durability under any conditions, this is a flexible and easy to install option for your home. At the same time, subway tile also offers a range of looks, from subtle elegance to intense color, that can make an impact in your next interior design project.

multicolored glass subway tile

 

Try subway tile if you want to add a retro look to your hallway, a modern intensity to your bathroom, or a soft and classic design to your kitchen.

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Lisa Michelle

Lisa Michelle is an editor, lifestyle writer, and novelist. She’s also an avid traveler, lover of animals, and admitted Anglophile.