11 Ways to Beautifully Bring Black Subway Tile Into Your Home

A Spin on a Tried-and-True Classic

Black subway tile in kitchen
@the_fatcushion / Instagram

With farmhouse décor continuing to top décor enthusiasts’ lists, well-appointed yet traditional white subway tile can still be seen in most every stylish home on Instagram. But recently, homeowners and designers have put a twist on the trend, installing black subway tile in a variety of spaces—bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms and even entryways. The black tile brings an added layer of drama to a room, acting as a backdrop for décor pieces or anchoring an otherwise neutral palette.

It seems that subway tile is here to stay (which makes sense, since it’s been used in New York City subways since the early 20th century), so why not kick it up a notch in black? That’s what these Instagrammers, homeowners and interior designers have done, punching up spaces with unexpected black subway tile. For example, here, interior stylist Gabby Townsing uses black tile as a backdrop for charming decorative objects.

Here are 11 creative ways to incorporate the trend into your own home.

Add Visual Interest to a Shower

Black subway tile in bathroom
@alexanderdesignbuild / Instagram

A tile shower is fairly standard, but a shower outfitted top to bottom in black subway tile? Now that’s something a little more special. Using a slightly matte tile, Vanessa Alexander of Alexander Design has created a luxurious look in a shower that serves as the centerpiece of this bathroom. The graphic floor echoes the black in the shower and helps to pull everything together.

Bring Depth to a Living Room

Black subway title in living room
Chris J. Dickson / Instagram

Subway tile can quite literally be used anywhere you can think of, and a living room is no exception. Gone are the days when tile was “supposed” to only be in kitchens and bathrooms. Nowadays, it adds a modern touch to living spaces as well. In this reading nook shot by photographer Chris J. Dickson, a strip of black subway tile plays nicely alongside wood paneling. The black chair and accompanying black throw pillow enhance the dark detailing in this space.

Try a Black Backsplash

Black subway tile kitchen backsplash
@melzivink / Instagram

White subway tile is a safe go-to for a kitchen backsplash, but a black backsplash is just a bit more unique. It’s especially noticeable in an all-white kitchen, seen here in designer Melzi Vink’s streamlined and bright kitchen. She continues to tie in the black through her bar stools and plumbing fixtures.

Create a Chic Setting for Shelves

Black subway tile behind shelves
@caraloren / @andreawestdesign / Instagram

Black is a pretty ideal backdrop for most anything, and that includes shelving holding practical necessities and beloved treasures. Black subway tile, juxtaposed with white grout, acts as an eye-catching background behind gold shelving and decorative objects, seen in Cara Loren’s home and designed by Andrea West Design.

Go Matte

Black matte subway tile
@paintedplanks / Instagram

If you’re shopping for subway tile, there’s nothing that says you must choose the standard subway sizing, sheen and smooth texture. For something on the low-key side, choose tiles like the ones seen here in Yvonne’s bathroom of @paintedplanks—a matte finish with a faintly uneven texture. In a minimalist bathroom, it’s an chance to weave in subtle visual interest.

Make an Entryway Pop

Black subway tile entranceway
@kellyisnotlost / Instagram

Another surprising place to install black subway tile is an entryway or hallway, greeting guests with a flair for the dramatic and contemporary styling, a feel that has been captured flawlessly in an image shot by Kelly Graham of @kellyisnotlost. Graphic flooring pairs well with the black subway tile, while the enamel numbers provide a hint of vintage style.

Showcase a Stylish Bar

Black subway tile bar island
Dana Damewood

When the side of a bar or kitchen island is begging to some visual impact beyond a basic coat of paint, look no further than trusty subway tile in black. In this case, in a kitchen designed by Birdhouse Design Studio, the subway tile ties in seamlessly with the midcentury accents.

Include Brass Accents

Brass accents with black subway title
Kate Marker Interiors

Black subway tile has a knack for fitting into most any décor and going with a wide variety of metals, finishes and colors, but the metal that looks particularly perfect set off against black tile is brass. In this bathroom built by McNaughton Brothers Construction and designed by Kate Marker Interiors, the brass on the mirror and light fixtures pairs flawlessly with the matte black subway tile.

Combine Black and White Tile

Black and white subway tile
Tatjana Plitt

You know what also goes well with black subway tile? White subway tile, of course. Many homeowners have dreamed up innovative ways to combine the two tile hues, from creating elaborate patterns on walls to contrasting one another between the floor and walls, as seen here in this shower designed by Mihaly Slocombe.

Cover a Wall in Subway Tile

Subway tile wall in bathroom
Alden Miller Interiors

They don’t say “Go big or go home” for nothing, and in this bathroom, going big has paid off. In a space designed by Alden Miller Interiors, glossy black subway tile works to create an entire accent wall, covering the surface from top to bottom and creating a focal point in the bathroom.

Put the Finishing Touch on a Laundry Room

Black subway tile in laundry room
Urrutia Design / Matt Sartain

A laundry room can often be an afterthought when decorating a home, and even though it’s a space intended for functionality, it can also be an opportunity to show off some style. In this lovely laundry room designed by Urrutia Design, sleek black subway tile rests above a countertop, mirroring the black seen in the door and surrounding décor.