Interior Inspiration Pattern

How To Use Subway Tiles

March 31, 2017

I thought you might like a little light reading after my last post on 100 Years of Italian Interior Design at Heals. It was quite a mammoth post even if I do so say myself. So today we’re taking it easy and seeking some inspiration from a classic tile for your homes, the Subway Tile.


How To Use Subway Tiles

Subway Tiles feature beautifully in this farmhouse kitchen providing practicality with subtle pattern in an all white environment. Source

I actually have them in our kitchen, and you may have too, as they’re  a popular choice. The Subway tile is your no-nonsense, versatile, and easy on the eye tile. You’ll find it in restaurants, butchers, houses, pubs. Well just about anywhere and everywhere.

I’ve put together some Subway Tile inspiration for you today, but first a tiny bit of history behind this beloved tile that never seemingly will go out of fashion….


How To Use Subway Tiles

Original City Hall subway station, IRT Lexington Avenue Line, in 1904. Source

The Subway tile has been around since the 1900’s, and is one of the most popular tile choices today. Of course, this tile was originally designed for subways by George C Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge for New York’s very first subway station in 1904. The original Subway tiles were 3″x6″ rectangles. Nowadays, they come in a number of different sizes and colours, and textures.



Subway tiles are great at adding pattern to walls, floors, kitchens and bathrooms, and there are a number of pattern combinations to choose from. For such a simple tile, there are a number of looks that you can achieve. It all boils down to your personal preference, and style.

Tile patterns provide a sense of stability and order to them with their repetition. They are not only easy on the eye, they don’t distract us from the task at hand, which is why they’re a popular choice for kitchens.  So I’ve put together some inspiration for you below…..



The brick pattern is a classic, and one of the easiest to implement.


Bevelled white Subway tiles provide a classic backdrop for this black modern kitchen space. It goes to show how versatile this tile is mixing a classic brick formation with modern units.


Opting for a black Subway tile, and contrasting grout colour this time gives a completely different vibe to a space. Coloured grout provides more of an emphasis on its repetition. And it certainly makes more of a feature.   I’d personally only suggest only go half way up the wall in a kitchen, and not the whole room. Otherwise you’ll give yourself a headache just looking at them!




The stacked pattern has to be one of the easiest ways to introduce Subway Tiles to your spaces, especially if you’re a DIY enthusiast.  The simple stacking of tiles to form a repeating grid pattern provides you with a clean and minimal look. Creating clean angles that are best suited to modern interiors. Be sure to add some warm textural qualities by way of natural wooden accents to help keep things looking less sterile. Oh and don’t forget a few plants dotted around too!


How To Use Subway Tiles

Larger Subway Tiles contrasts nicely with penny mosaic flooring. Source


Proving that Subway tiles aren’t just for your bathroom or kitchens. This amazing mid-century modern living room benefits has used Subway tiles stacked on the horizontal to create a fantastic feature fireplace.



Placing your Subway Tiles on the vertical, adds an unexpected twist providing a more modern vibe to your spaces. It’s also very good at creating the illusion of height, so they’re perfect for those of you that have lower ceilings.




The vertical offset still has the same lengthening effect to the height of a room with a mix of classic and modern look to it.



The herringbone pattern is perhaps the most complex of the Subway Tile pattern layouts with its repeating zigzag pattern formations. The herringbone has a perchance for making a space look expensive, and in reality it will cost you more. A lot more cuts have to be made when laying this tile and therefore, more tiles, and more waste. The herringbone pattern can be overwhelming on walls, so don’t be tempted to do every wall.


Keep it simple and use sparingly in small spaces like this shower room above.  Continuing the line of herringbone pattern to the floor helps draw the eye and visually makes this small space larger/taller.  The herringbone pattern gives the illusion of space as your eye is drawn outwards by the angles of the formation.


Probably not for the fainthearted, the diagonal adds a bit of a punch, especially if done in darker tones and contrasting grout. Not for the whole room as it’d be overwhelming. Although you’d probably get away with it if your space is on the large size, and you opted for white Subway and grout to blend in, so it wouldn’t be as prominent.


That’s all from me this week. And just to let you know, I’m away to Cornwall on a last-minute weeks holiday. Yay!! I’m hoping to come back all refreshed as they are promising nice weather (fingers and toes crossed). Although the reality of Cornwall’s constantly changing weather, I may end up coming home looking like a crazy haired banshee that’s battled with the elements! I’m hoping to pop into a few of my favourite interior shops whilst we’re there, especially Any Old Lights. I wrote a post on here last year about them. So if you’re following me on Instagram and/or Facebook watch this space…

So until next time, thanks for stopping by!






Please follow and like us:

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Enjoyed reading? Please spread the word :)

Visit Us
Follow Me
%d bloggers like this: