You’d be forgiven for thinking the classic white subway tile is enjoying a renaissance. The fact is, it never went out of style.
Like a classic white t-shirt in your wardrobe, this staple tool of home decorating hits the top of the list for interior design must-haves time again for its sheer versatility.
Just as a classic white t-shirt plays nicely with other decorative layers of colour and texture, white subway tiles can be relied upon as a base from which to work – an elegant shape that wraps around any interior space to fit perfectly – negotiating its curves and corners with aplomb.
We can’t think of an interior decorating situation that this quiet achiever wouldn’t be welcome in and, more than simply a safe choice, its appearance of quiet elegance anchors a scheme with style. Nuances can be executed to take things in a particular style direction with a coloured grout, a bevelled edge or a textured surface, or a real departure might be to lay them in a way other than the conventional “stretcher bond” or brick wall pattern.
White subway tiles are both budget- and design-friendly in the home, says HB editor-in-chief Wendy Moore. “It’s an affordable, classic look and it means you can really splash out on a design feature elsewhere in the space,” she says.
Here are five great examples of kitchen designs that do just that.
1. Secret service
The stunning navy blue cabinetry is allowed to take centre stage in this kitchen, though the white subway tiles do the heavy lifting in terms of functionality. A white grout is chosen to ensure they fade into the background and blend seamlessly with the white cabinetry overhead.
2. Blond ambition
Not quite disappearing from view, these tiles have been given a very light grey grout to bring definition to the pattern. This introduces texture to an all-white scheme and breaks up the larger format surfaces, whilst providing a background for timber details to come to the fore.
3. Contemporary country
Gone but not forgotten, white grout is once again used with the white subway tiles in this kitchen that draws on shaker-style cabinetry and timber benchtops to bring a note of classic country, with a touch of modern butcher shop chic.
4. Stainless style
A light grey grout ties in subtly here with almost all of the design elements in this kitchen, including the steel-coloured benchtop below and the natural veins in the marble island bench. Above the grout lines are reflected in the shiny steel frames of show-stopping glass pendant lights and again in stainless steel appliances.
5. Hello yellow
Touches of citrus in this kitchen shine like the sun, as do the white subway tiles – this time made from glass. The shimmery surface picks up the ample light streaming in and bounces it around the room.