19 Ways to Use Subway Tile in the Kitchen

Kitchen with white subway tiles used as backsplash with wooden shelving installed

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

When it comes to backsplashes, subway tile is the holy grail of kitchen decor. It's classic, affordable and works with a variety of kitchen styles. With a little creativity, it can easily become a show-stopping element of your kitchen, or it can be laid in a way that is subtle and highlights the rest of the space's beauty. Either way, we don't see subway tile going out of style anytime soon.

  • 01 of 19

    The Classic Subway Tile

    white kitchen with subway tile
    The Lily Pad Cottage

    This classic kitchen from The Lily Pad Cottage uses a traditional offset pattern. Though subway tile works amazingly well with all colors of cabinetry, it's also a beautiful way to complete an all-white kitchen look.

  • 02 of 19

    Experiment With Grout

    dark grout kitchen subway tiles

    This kitchen from Neptune proves that grout doesn't have to be boring. We're obsessed with this black-and-white look that creates a hip, dramatic, restaurant-like feel. The brass accessories give the space an uber-modern touch, while the black grout makes the subway tile stand out and take center stage. 

  • 03 of 19

    A Pop of Subway Tile

    kitchen with subway tile in stove

    It's obvious that subway tile works well as a narrow backsplash or covering a full wall, but we also adore this alcove stove from Remodelista. Not only does the pop of subway tile surrounding the vintage farmhouse stove lend a bit of surprise to the space, it's also incredibly useful (splashed spaghetti sauce is no match for this tile). 

  • 04 of 19

    Lay It Chevron Style

    chevron subway tile
    Samantha Kayla / Pinterest

    This kitchen spotted on Pinterest uses a chevron-style pattern for its subway tile, creating a feminine and whimsical feel. The rest of the kitchen is understated, but the chevron pattern adds another focal point to the space and creates a bit of dimension. 

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  • 05 of 19

    Try New Accessories

    kitchen with cafe lights strung
    Fresh Mommy Blog

    Subway tile is universally beautiful, no matter what you pair with it. This bright and airy kitchen from Fresh Mommy Blog feels fresh and modern. Though the subway tile takes a background role in this look, it is the perfect canvas for the rest of the space, and the whimsical string of cafe lights gives the kitchen a Parisian patio look. 

  • 06 of 19

    Go Vertical

    vertical subway tile
    Bicker Design

    If you think subway tile is boring and overly traditional, think again. We're in awe of this kitchen from Bicker Design that utilizes a vertical lay pattern for its subway tile backsplash. The result is clean, crisp lines that work well in a contemporary kitchen. 

  • 07 of 19

    Try a Faux Panel

    small traditional kitchen
    Worthington Court

    If you want a faster and easier job than laying individual subway tiles, this cozy kitchen from Worthington Court proves a faux look can be just as beautiful. A peel-and-stick backsplash can be installed in an afternoon, and is a great choice for quick renovations or house flips

  • 08 of 19

    Rustic and Modern

    subway tile in a kitchen with beams
    Jenna Sue Design

    This kitchen by Jenna Sue Design has a few trendy elements (reclaimed wood beams, gray cabinets, shiplap ceiling) so the classic subway tile provides a great, neutral way to bring them all together. The designer used a soft black grout to make the tiles stand out, which lends itself well to the deeper-colored cabinets. 

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  • 09 of 19

    Go Colorful

    blue kitchen with subway tile
    Home Bunch

    This deep blue kitchen from Home Bunch proves subway tile can work with any kitchen palette. The modern design is sophisticated, but the dark blue cabinets and dark grout lines give it personality and a unique flair. ​

  • 10 of 19

    Subway Tile Works With All Sizes

    large open kitchen

    katemarkerinteriors / Instagram

    By now, it's pretty clear that subway tile is incredibly versatile. This open concept kitchen from katemarkerinteriors is proof of that—and it's big on space and style. The shaker cabinets and hewed barn beam lend this kitchen a modern farmhouse feel that's definitely Joanna Gaines approved. 

  • 11 of 19

    Narrow and Modern

    modern kitchen with subway tile
    Almost Makes Perfect

    This contemporary kitchen by Almost Makes Perfect is all about clean, straight lines. The subway shown here is laid in a stack bond style, with each tile placed directly on top of the next. It gives the kitchen its modern feel, and looks purposeful and spotless. 

  • 12 of 19

    Perfect for Pops of Color

    kitchen with shaker cabinets and subway tile
    Jenna Burger Design

    While we love the colorful backsplash tile look, this kitchen from Jenna Burger Design proves that classic subway tile is the ideal blank canvas for pops of colorful accessories. If you're one to mix up your kitchen look every once in a while, a clean subway tile backsplash is a great choice. 

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  • 13 of 19

    Consider a Herringbone Style

    kitchen with herringbone subway tile

    This kitchen spotted on Decorpad features a straight herringbone pattern in its backsplash. This look is one of the most eye-catching ways to lay subway tile. The tile shown here is slim and narrow, which adds to the zig-zag look. 

  • 14 of 19

    Subway Tile Works in Small Kitchens, Too

    small kitchen with subway tile
    Duchess of York

    Blogger Duchess of York may not have a lot of space to work with, but this kitchen packs a big punch. It's cozy, and features a vintage farmhouse style, with a classic deep sink that acts as a focal point for the room. 

  • 15 of 19

    Quaint and Stunning

    small kitchen with wood

    myinterior / Instagram

    This kitchen from myinterior is even smaller than the one before, but it is one of the most stylish and personality-filled kitchens we've seen. The kitchen is placed in an alcove, but the bright subway tile backsplash and penny tile flooring make it feel open and airy. The reclaimed wood breakfast bar pulls the whole look together and reminds us of a hip coffee shop. 

  • 16 of 19

    Open Cabinetry

    black kitchen with subway tile
    Studio McGee

    Studio McGee featured this modern black and white kitchen with a simple, classic subway tile backsplash we love. The subway tile looks clean and orderly, which works incredibly well with an open shelving look in the kitchen. 

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  • 17 of 19

    Classic and Rustic

    rustic kitchen
    Alice Gao

    Photographer Alice Gao captured this rustic kitchen from a New York City restaurant, and it's everything we love about subway tile. The classic subway pattern, the full backsplash and the vintage-inspired accessories create a welcoming and friendly vibe. 

  • 18 of 19

    Try a Beveled Edge

    beveled subway tile
    Studio McGee

    This kitchen from Studio McGee features subway tile with a twist: It has a beveled edge. The rest of the kitchen is classic and modern, but the beveled subway tile adds a welcome dose of surprise. It gives the kitchen texture, and works well with the understated cabinets. 

  • 19 of 19

    A Striking Herringbone

    kitchen with wood table and chevron tiles
    Design to Inspire

    The subway tile in this kitchen from Design to Inspire is clearly the showstopper of the kitchen. The herringbone style is eye-catching, and when paired with dark grout the tile becomes the focal point of the whole room. This is a great look to pair with a neutral kitchen to keep the space from feeling overwhelming.