15 reasons we’re still loving subway tiles

Proof this enduring style will always work in your home.
A blue and green modern country kitchen with a subway tile splashback.Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes

Subway tiles are here to stay. Hardly a passing trend, we’ve been in love with the look for over a decade and they just keep growing in popularity. We’re here to sing the praises of the humble subway tile – both its versatility and enduring style. 

If you’re looking to branch out a little stylistically, however, there’s a host of different riffs on a basic white brick coming onto the market all the time. So don’t discount the power of a simple white tile in any setting – be it a moment of calm in a colourful kitchen, or a key choice in a classic Hamptons bathroom.

Here are 15 gorgeous rooms that show there’s more than one way to lay a subway tile.

White bathroom with black shower frame and brass tapware
(Credits: Photography: Helen Ward)

Less is more

With the bold black vanity and hexagonal marble floor tiles, gloss subway tiles provide just enough texture to play second fiddle to the black-framed shower screen and shiny brass tapware.

A contemporary kitchen with a blue island, rounded pendants and a timber table.
(Credits: Photography: Elise Scott / Styling: Bea + Co)

Light reflecting

Glossy subway tiles lend sparkle to this relaxed coastal kitchen in a heritage home in Melbourne. The shiny surface of the tile maximises sunlight streaming in through the windows and also make cleaning up kitche splatters an absolute breeze. 

butler's pantry with grey herringbone subway tiles
(Credits: John Downs)

Herringbone heaven

This butler’s pantry features glossy grey subway tiles laid in a herringbone pattern along the splashback to catch the light and inject a little design fun into a functional space. Above is timber open shelving teamed with brass wall sconces for added interest.

pale grey hamptons kitchen with marble subway tile splashback
(Credits: Martina Gemmola)

Just a little bit extra

This elegant Hamptons kitchen combines Shaker-style cabinetry with marble subway tiles as a feature splashback. The lighter grey colour of the marble picks up the grey tones of the kitchen island and timber flooring.

A green subway tile splashback above turquoise cabinets in the kitchen.
(Credits: Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

Colour wow

We often think of subway tiles as bright and white, but there’s no reason they can’t add colour and depth to a room. Take  this gorgeous jewel-toned kitchen at a renovated home on the Sunshine Coast. Hand-glazed tiles in Emerald from Middle Earth Tiles add warmth and personality to this space, which is grounded with kitchen joinery painted in deep blue. 

White tiled bathroom and freestanding bath.
(Credits: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Siobhan Glass)

Subway tiles stacked

Turning subway tiles around and laying them in a stack bond pattern can give these classic tiles a contemporary twist. Just take this energy-efficient cottage in Melbourne as a prime example. This minimalist bathroom features matt white wall tiles from Signorino, which have been paired with ‘Melk Natural’ floor tiles from National Tiles. 

all white modern farmhouse kitchen
(Credits: John Downs)

Farmhouse fantasy

This modern farmhouse uses white subway tiles with a softly bevelled edge to show just a little decorative detail in an otherwise all-white kitchen scheme.

Hamptons style kitchen with pale blue subway tiles
(Credits: Abbie Melle)

Moody blues

For a modern twist on Hamptons style, these pale blue subway tiles speak to the classic blue-and-white colour palette of this kitchen, tying in with the ginger jars and forming a visual go-between dark flooring and light cabinetry.

white bathroom with vintage clawfoot bathtub
(Credits: Brigid Arnott)

Tub time

This serene space has all the hallmarks of history – a clawfoot bath, overhead rain shower and sleek plantation shutters for a little privacy. Classic brick-laid subway tiles are handmade so have a lovely textured profile to complete the picture.

Laundry with pale blue cabinetry and subway tiles
(Credits: Chris Warnes)

Contemporary class

Sleek and minimal, this contemporary laundry uses simple subway tiles on the walls with pale grey grout, which fade to a backdrop where feature black tapware and chequerboard floor tiles take centre stage.

Black and white bathroom with patterned tile floor VJ panelled walls and black grouted subway tiles
(Credits: Eloise Van Riet-Gray)

Modern classic

Black grout need not look industrial in style – the organic curves of this contemporary bathtub stand between more detail patterned floor tiles and below VJ panelled walls to create plenty of interest with clever use of subtle pattern in architecture.

ensuite with small white subway tiles
(Photography: Ema Peter)


Small in scale and with white grout to complete the crisp look, these tiny white subway tiles recede to create a quiet textured effect to allow other details, such as tapware and lighting, to shine.

A powder room with blue and gold wallpaper and a timber vanity.
(Credits: Photography: Elise Scott / Styling: Bea + Co)

Power powder room

A palette of warm neutrals in this powder room lays the foundation for gorgeous Harlequin ‘Moku’ wallpaper in Ingdigo/pebble to shine. The lower two-thirds of the wall are tiled in glossy subway tiles from Life’s Tiles which elevates the room without competing with the room’s indisputable hero feature. 

small laundry layout rattan folding doors
(Credits: Photography: Ess Creative)

Laundry luxe

Want to know how to make even the tiniest laundry look and feel luxurious? Pay attention to the wall tiles. Here, glimmering subway tiles add a moment of glamour to this pared-back yet totally stylish, compact Euro laundry. The selection of simple splashback tiles allows the Spanish ‘Blossom’ floor tiles from Kalafrana Ceramics to capture the eye. 

white subway tiled splashback with light blue cabinetry

(Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Black grout backdrop

Whilst this kitchen has a soft colour scheme, it’s anything but boring. All in the details of brass edges and drawer pulls on pale blue cabinetry, timber cabinetry overhead and elegant natural marble on the benchtop, the classic subway hits above its weight with the addition of black grout.

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