I love subway tile due to it’s simple, clean lines, versatility, and its affordability. But it is also very adaptable and can be used in many spaces in a home. We decided to use it in the kitchen as a backsplash (which is pretty common). It looks amazing and very much finishes off the space.
Fixer Upper really brought subway tile back to life as they used it in kitchens and bathrooms on their show. But tile and subway tile has been used in homes and for public architectural structures/spaces for decades. Who didn’t grow-up in a home or have a grandparent that had a tiled bathroom in all one color (blue, pink, green, etc.) The toilet and the bathtub usually somewhat matched but it was a room of tiled pink (my great grandma had a tile pink bathroom, from top to bottom).
While we were in New York City over Christmas, I couldn’t get over the subway tile in the subway stations which was very beautiful and at least 100 or more years old. Some stations had basic square subway tiles but some had the subway station name in tile, with tiled boarders and varying colors of tile in blue and green (some in orange). The ceilings in some stations were arched and filled with tile.
Hence the name Subway tile came to be. The small white tiles helped make the subway spaces or stations look cleaner, bigger, and brighter (don’t we all want this type of impact in our homes!) However, as many understand, through history that subways were and continued to be (during this time) very dirty spaces with lots of rodents, soot, and dust. The white tile helped to reflect light and gave subways a cleaner feel.
Today, subway tiles can be found in many shapes and sizes beyond that of the traditional small square tile found in New York subways. Home Depot and Mendards have many to pick from and many are textured or have different glosses. Some are flat and others are angled. Just know, that there is not just one set subway tile. And there are many ways in which you can lay the tile for varying affect (at angles, designs, etc.) Herringbone patterns, running the tile vertically instead of horizontally creates an eye catching pattern.
There is also a huge selection (online or specialty stores) of beautiful patterned tiles. But if you don’t want to commit the money or a long-haul in the design, then there are stick-on tiles you can buy in batches of a dozen or more and they stick over your current tile or you can stick them to space for design impact (think front of stairs, or small spaces, accent wall, or to cover-up or add too current tile in the home). You can find these on Etsy. They are pretty affordable.
Regardless, subway tile is very easy to care for, reasonable and pretty but there are lots of options! Tile adds texture, polish, and brightness to any space which adds character and value to any home. I love subway tile (or any tile for that matter)!