Bathroom Renovations

10 reasons we’re still loving subway tiles

Proof this enduring style will always work in your home
Nicki Dobrzynski

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 monochromatic setting.

Here are 10 gorgeous rooms that show there’s more than one way to lay a subway tile.

1. 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.

white subway tiled splashback with light blue cabinetry

2. 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.

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

3. 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.

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

4. 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.

all white modern farmhouse kitchen
(Credit: John Downs)

5. 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.

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

6. 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.

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

7. 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.

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

8. 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.

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

9. Mini-me

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.

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

10. 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.

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

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