The humble subway tile has its origins in the subway stations of New York City, where a surface finish that would be simple to keep clean and maintain as required. These original subway tiles would normally feature a simple rectangular shape in a white, glossy finish that offered a sense of brightness in these underground areas that would receive little to no natural light.
Since then, subway tiles have been reimagined and redesigned in a myriad of ways, from more elongated rectangular shapes to bold and bright, fanciful colors, ornate patterns, 3D designs, mirror finishes, and plenty more! These more modern takes on an old classic also extend to the way the tiles themselves are actually laid. Stepping away from the traditional brick bond layout where each tile is staggered against the next, we are now seeing these simple yet elegant tiles being used in a wide range of laying patterns, each creating its own distinct look and even allowing for the manipulation of space’s overall dimensions.
Caption: Subway tiles can be used in many different ways, allowing for a myriad of styles to be achieved in your next design project that can create a wondrous sense of pattern, energy and movement in the space.
Visual Tricks with Subway Tiles
As demonstrated by the above examples, there are many different ways to lay subway tiles that will create a wonderfully unique pattern and help you achieve your design goals. These classic rectangular shaped tiles can help you create the perception of additional space in your new design depending on their specific layout and placement on your walls. For example, a room with a low ceiling can appear taller when running subway tiles vertically up the wall (using either the vertical stack bond, vertical offset bond or running bond tile layouts) that will draw the eye upwards and create a sense of added height in your design.
If you are instead looking to add a sense of increased width to a more narrow space, running the tiles horizontally on your walls (a stack bond or traditional brick bond layout works best in these situations) will effectively elongate the dimensions of the room. Larger spaces can also benefit from these visual tricks with more intricately laid subway tiles (using layouts such as the basket weave design or herringbone styles) can create an element of interest and movement in the space which will help in making the space feel less empty and rather full of life, energy and pattern.
Modern Subway Tile Designs
Aside from the traditional subway style that features a simple rectangular shape with a smooth, flat surface, modern subway tiles are now available in a vast range of different designs, opening the door for more creative looks to be achieved while using these classic tiles. 3D textured designs on subway tiles are a popular option that can make for an especially stunning feature element in any design, especially when strategically lit in a way that will emphasise the shadows of the tiles.
Caption: 3D textured subway tiles can make for the ultimate feature element in any design, being especially effective when lit up in a way that will emphasize the shadows to create a spectacular play on light and dark in your next design project.
Other exciting modern takes on the classic subway tile include elongated rectangular shapes that stretch out the usual brick sized dimensions of these spectacular tiles, handmade varieties that create lusciously organic lines with a roughly textured surface and even intricately etched designs that include patterns or geometric line-work elements that make for a wonderfully unique look. Other exciting styles include bevelled mirror subway tiles that provide a perfect solution for dimly lit spaces that could use a bright, reflective element, to more rustic styled brick-look tiles that offer the appearance of a traditional brick wall without the additional maintenance and care that would be normally be required.
Caption: Handmade tiles make for quite the impact in any area of the home, from a stylish bathroom to a fresh kitchen look. These collections are especially popular as each individual tile is unique, showing all the loving characteristics and charm that can only be achieved with a handmade product.
Subway Tiles in a Period Style Home
Renovating a period style home comes with its own set of unique challenges! Where a completely modern redesign in the home’s interiors may not suit the style of home, a completely period style renovation may sometimes feel dated and dusty. In these situations, using elements that will respect the home’s era while still providing a modern spin are the perfect choice, combining the old with the new to create something that is truly magical!
Subway tiles provide the perfect solution in period style home renovations as these classic tiles featured prominently in many classic styles, from traditional 1950’s era designs and even as far back as 1920’s homes, making them a highly versatile tiling option that will blend in well with many different styles of the house while also respecting the home’s heritage. Whether you opt for a timeless classic subway tile or decide to use a more modern design, the final look will still help you tie together two different eras to create a stunning design in your next home renovation.
Subway tiles have certainly come a long way since their introduction in underground subway stations. A simple solution that provided a low maintenance finish in these incredibly busy and dimly lit areas, subway tiles have been reinvented and redesigned countless times over the years to allow the creation of many different looks, from traditional to contemporary. Aside from the actual style of your new tiles, the way you choose to actually lay your subway tiles will also play a role in the final look of your design, allowing you to manipulate the space’s dimensions or instead, to create a dramatic feature element that will fill in any gaps in an overly large space.