Splish Splash…So Many Ways To Use Subway Tile

Are You Living In A Bus Terminal?

If you are reading this blog, chances are you are not.  There is a pretty good chance that you are also one who wants to live in a home that works seamlessly for you and looks great doing that.  One that gives you a “Yes, I am home!” feeling every time you walk in the door.  A home that doesn’t look like a transportation depot.  So why are you decorating with a standard 3×6, white subway tile-bus station pattern with “I’m afraid to use colored grout?”  There are so many choices that could really reflect your personality with just a smidge more confidence


Ouch.  But isn’t this what every magazine, Pinterest, Instagram photo tells us to do?  Yes, pretty much lately.  Plus the big push to minimize everything seems to only translate into “white” and “sparse”.  Before we go further, we want to say there is nothing wrong with white subway tile.  It’s economical, safe and can be a fresh choice over some really bad tile you just can’t stand to look at another minute.  However, it is a tad overdone and designers have already begun taking it out of homes.  Here’s what seems to be the new “standard” in kitchen counter splashes the last few years.    We see it repeated over and over again.


So on Motivational Monday, let’s look at ways to be excited using the humble subway tile in different patterns and with grouts appropriate for our decor.  Then let’s go a little outside of the norm to and look at some of the  “what ifs” when considering a new, or updated, splash in your kitchen.


Already Have The 3×6 In Block Pattern Installed-Remove One Upper Cabinet and Use Open Shelves. Max Out The White Palette.

Studio McGee

Limiting The Use Of A 3×6 Block Pattern With Black Grout-Makes A Statement.

Botley House

A Herringbone Pattern With Soft Gray Grout-Define the Pattern and Enjoy.


Herringbone Over The Range With White Grout-Classic!

Subway Tile Herringbone section.jpg

A Glossy, Fire Glazed Finish In Standard Block Pattern-Reflects Light Beautifully.


An Irregular, Wood Brick Mold Thrown Tile In A Glossy, Off White Finish-So Much Dimension.


Installed In Vertical Staggered Pattern-Smashing With White Grout Too!


Use 3×6 In Full Walls for Impact-Play With The Size And Layout Of The Tile.

Becky Owens
Becki Owens


subway tile patterns.jpg


A 2×12 In A Chevron Pattern-A Classic Pattern With An Edge.

Sarah Richardson Design
Sarah Richardson

A 2×6 Iridescent Vertical 2/3 Stack-Simple Yet High End Design

Photo by Amy Bartlam. Design by Veneer Designs.
Photo by Amy Bartlam. Design by Veneer Designs.

Europeans have used 4×4 white ceramic tiles for centuries.  What a classic, and still inexpensive way to leave the station. We like this minimalistic approach!

Marble and Glass Subway Tile Options-Stretch A Tiny Bit Out Of The Box.

Fresh Home
Fresh Home

BOLD Colors…You Know You Love This Idea…Choose Your Own Color And Go For It!

Derring Hall copy 3
Derring Hall
Derring Hall copy 2
Derring Hall
Becki Owens
Derring Hall  copy.png
Derring Hall
Derring Hall
Derring Hall

Let’s stop and take a breather.  Some of the most wonderful “splashes” in a kitchen are the windows!  If you’ve got a good thing going with lots of windows and natural light….forgoing any splash at all is an amazing look. The examples below show both a small splash of the counter top material, which can be good if the walls are out of square, and counters with no splash at all.  If this appeals to you, keep a magic eraser and use paint that can be touched up and enjoy this architectural look.  Isn’t the last photo with the bowl cubbies just too perfect for the chef in all of us?!


Photos Pinterest

Here’s A Few More Gems…Full Stone Slabs, Multi Size White Tiles With Metal Grout and Rough Cement Block.  All Perfect For Each Application.

Photos Unknown

We couldn’t leave out just a few photos to show there are other options from the retangular ideas above.  Any kitchen splash is a realatively small area in terms of square footage and thus cost to install, even with the most expenisve of tile, can still be within many budgets.  For new kitchen projects, we encourage our clients to select the tile splash 1st in a project.  Own your decision and build the other selections around it.  For existing kitchens getting an update, make the tile a feature you will enjoy for years.  The opportunities are endless….just look at these examples that are beckoning us in.  This is an area you can shine and show off your decorating skills and rock it!

Full Walls of Patterned Tile-This is High End Design At It’s Best.  Don’t Be Shy!

Traditional Home

On Flip Side-A Statement With Full Quartz Splashes.  This Works Because The Under Island Cabinet Is Daring.  This Could Also Be Outstanding With A Pattern.  What Could You See In This Space?

Home Polish

Maybe Something Like This Subtle Knock Out?  The Design Theories For Both These Kitchens Is The Same.  The Splash IS The Personality. (Plus this family eats more fruit and we all know they get points for that!)

Derring Hall copy 4
Derring Hall

And Finally My Personal Fav.  Look At The Color Of This Tile, The Shape And The CutAway Top Install.  Add In The Mix of Natural Wood And This Is A Winner!  I’d Even Use White Laminate, Color Core Counter Tops To Save Money Letting This Tile Take Center Stage.  Good Design Does Not Have To Be Expensive!


That’s A Rap!  

NY City

Need a little more inspiration?  Remember our post on counter tops?

Look Here

Still need a bit of confidence?  Digital Design is a great way to use our services.


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8 thoughts on “Splish Splash…So Many Ways To Use Subway Tile”

  1. I love the classic subway tile look, and I think the reason that many use it is because it is classic. However I think these other tiles choices are fabulous! Especially the kitchen from Trad home! I saw that in this months magazine and loved it.

    1. Agree it can be classic IN A CLASSIC decor. Unfortunately, often it is used simply because it has been marketed too much. Just a few minutes with a professional can either confirm or advise otherwise the standard 3×6 block pattern is the very best option. There are just so many choices…why not explore a bit!?

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