Subway tile is a rectangular, brick-like, usually polished ceramic tile that reminds you of subway stations. Adorning kitchens, bathrooms and powder rooms, it comes in many colors and fits all kinds of styles, from traditional to contemporary.
The best thing about subway tile? It's always fashionable. Like the little black dress, subway tile is the best choice if you want your bathroom to look great and retain its decor value through the years.
01 of 20
Try Subway Tile All the Way Around
With its sleek look and modern feel, you can never really have too much subway tile in a bathroom. This bathroom by Burchard Design Co. proves our point—all the walls are covered in the crisp white tile, with a few black accents (including that stunning clawfoot tub that's in the shower) and a few plants to add some color.Continue to 2 of 20 below.
02 of 20
Use Different Types of Tile
Who says you need to simply stick with one type of tile? Not us. This romantic bathroom by Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions contains three different tile styles and sizes, including a large version of marble subway tile in a traditional pattern and a smaller version arranged in a herringbone style. The color scheme keeps everything cohesive, yet the different patterns create a dynamic space that keeps the eye moving across the room. The gold accents on the tub and the chandelier add a bit of elegance that ties it all together.Continue to 3 of 20 below.
03 of 20
Keep it Simple and Straightforward
Adding subway tile can take a smaller space and give the illusion of something larger, as shown in this shower from Brophy Interiors. The tile is only present in the shower, and the traditional pattern gives the impression of a larger shower as it wraps around the corners to fully envelop the space. It seamlessly blends in with the rest of the white color scheme, creating an effortless transition.Continue to 4 of 20 below.
04 of 20
Try Colorful Herringbone
Same tile, different orientation, a whole lot of fun: this herringbone inset in a navy subway tile shower is interesting and eye-catching in this design by Cathie Hong. The tile is the same, but in a different orientation: herringbone. It's an easy project that doesn't add to your renovation costs and adds a whole lot of design value, while the color also adds an element of surprise to what is typically expected.Continue to 5 of 20 below.
05 of 20
Implement a Different Arrangement
Herringbone isn't the only way to present stunning subway tile. This vanity wall from AE Designs alternates between horizontal and vertical positions to create a complex design that isn't actually all that difficult to put together. We also love the way the sharp, sleek lines from the tile contrast the circular mirrors.Continue to 6 of 20 below.
06 of 20
Try Modern Meets Rustic
Pairing subway tile with metallic accents is easy but is far from the only ideal pairings. The exposed wooden beams and chair in this bathroom by Marie Flanigan Interiors add a distinctly rustic touch, while the subway tile creates a modern feel. However, rather than clashing, they mesh together to bring a unique atmosphere that can easily implement plenty of other decor styles and options.Continue to 7 of 20 below.
07 of 20
Add a Stone Bench With the Same Design
One of the easiest ways to seamlessly blend subway tile with other aspects of your bathroom is by simply using the same design or pattern. This bathroom from Maite Granda is a great example—the stone bench and the subway tile walls are united by the same marble pattern, creating a seamless transition.
Continue to 8 of 20 below.
08 of 20
Use Larger Tiles to Make an Impact
Most of the examples we've seen so far use small or medium subway tiles. But this one uses quite large tiles, which has a completely different effect than the smaller ones (as you can see from the hex tile on the floor.) This design by Marie Flanigan Interiors shows how an oversized subway tile can enlarge and lighten up a room.Continue to 9 of 20 below.
09 of 20
Use Vertical Tile With Dark Grout
This bathroom doubles up on new ways to present subway tile. Changing the layout from the classic horizontal to a vertical position gives the effect of a taller shower, especially since it goes all the way up to the ceiling. Additionally, AE Designs opted to change things up from an all-white effect by choosing a darker grout for contrast and visual interest.Continue to 10 of 20 below.
10 of 20
Go Simple and Subtle
This stunning bathroom from Emily Henderson Designs is an ideal example of the subtle impacts of subway tile in a shower. "The subway tile is super classic, in a forever timeless “stagger” install," She says, "but this tile has this amazing beveling that gives it a bit more depth while still keeping it simple. I love the soft texture and shadows that it creates on the wall without making anything too visually crazy."Continue to 11 of 20 below.
11 of 20
Try Shower With Green Subway Tile
With a more colorful version of the subway tile that we've seen yet, this green shower by Charlie Interior Designs shows how subway tile can fit more daring designs. The marble stone bench, handheld showerhead, and marble-lined cubby feel more like a luxurious getaway than a closed shower in a bathroom. The strength and direction of the lighting are essential for this space to work.Continue to 12 of 20 below.
12 of 20
Use With Vintage And Eclectic Styles
There's nothing out of the ordinary about this subway tile in a bathroom by Erin Williamson Design. But it's here to show you that subway tile is the perfect backdrop for showcasing vintage or eclectic pieces. It's subtle, classic, and doesn't distract from more stimulating elements of your design, such as the copper clawfoot bathtub and patterned floor shown here. So if you get tired of your mismatched mirror and rustic vanity, change them up to something different without needing to change the tile—because it will accommodate any style.Continue to 13 of 20 below.
13 of 20
Try Black Subway Tile
While white is always a classic, it isn't the only color you have to work with. This bathroom floor from Marie Flanigan Interiors proves that black subway tile is a gorgeous choice to implement—it adds an almost dramatic flair that complements the grayscale scenic wallpaper perfectly.Continue to 14 of 20 below.
14 of 20
Work With Similar Shapes
Subway tile serves as an ideal backdrop for different styles and concepts. However, reinforcing the pattern by incorporating similar shapes in other design aspects can highlight your tile choice. This bathroom vanity from House 9 Interiors includes a mirror that holds similarities to the rectangle pattern established in the subway tile, which creates a cohesive effect.Continue to 15 of 20 below.
15 of 20
Use Tile in Multiple Places
While some bathrooms stick with keeping subway tile in only one area of the bathroom, it can be beneficial to add the tile to different, unconnected spaces throughout the room. The shower clearly represents the majority of the subway tile in this bathroom by Erin Williamson Design, but if you take a closer look at the vanity, you'll notice a line of tile on the vanity shelf as well.Continue to 16 of 20 below.
16 of 20
Don't Leave the Bathtub Out
The shower may be the most common place to find subway tile, but that doesn't mean it's the only place. This bathroom from Jessica Nelson Design doesn't just limit the tile to the shower walls but also adds it to the outside of the connected tub. The result is a unique placement that allows the tile to be showcased from floor to ceiling rather than cut off at the start of the tub.Continue to 17 of 20 below.
17 of 20
Try Elongated Tile With Plenty of Plants
Mixing subway tile with a large dose of plants creates a modern yet earthy feel to any bathroom—especially when you add wicker and wood accents like this bathroom from JC Designs has. It's further proof that subway tile really can accentuate almost any style.Continue to 18 of 20 below.
18 of 20
Opt for the Floor
One of the major benefits of subway tile is its versatility. Whether you want to use it on walls, counter, vanities, or even the floor (like this bathroom from JK Interior Living), it's going to be stunning. This marble herringbone arrangement is the only source of pattern in an otherwise white space, adding some depth and interest.Continue to 19 of 20 below.
19 of 20
Mix Tile With Wallpaper
Subway tile also suits different patterns, like this autumnal blue and orange wallpaper choice from K Shan Design. The vibrant colors and whimsical pattern is surprisingly not as overwhelming as you might think. And, of course, as a blank canvas to start from, a classic white subway tile allows for infinite decor possibilities.Continue to 20 of 20 below.
20 of 20
Use With Vanities of All Shapes and Sizes
Subway tile is highly adaptable and can be used in spaces of any shape and size. This stunning example from Marie Flanigan Interiors used marble tile as the backsplash for the triangular-shaped double vanity area, serving as a complement to the almost column-like sides and arched top of the structure. The result is a vanity full of elegance and sophistication.