If you’re looking for a new take on an old standby, you’ll want to check out the updated look of “subway” tile. Originally installed in New York’s public transportation system facilities in the early 1900s, subway tile was cheap, functional, and easy to rid of dirt, smoke and graffiti. Today’s subway tile retains the utilitarian qualities of the original workhorse with an appealing retro chic vibe.
A classic in bathrooms over the years, subway tile looks modern and clean in kitchens. This tile can look industrial, as if it came from a prewar factory, or as warm as the kitchen of a favorite Italian restaurant. Equally at home in a country kitchen or modern loft, subway tile adds visual interest and timeless appeal to small spaces. The nondescript color and uniform texture of the original subway tile has given way to some beautiful adaptations that are perfect for today’s kitchens.
For an update in a hurry, try installing subway tiles in a hue that complements your existing color scheme. Black-and-white works almost anywhere, or choose your own two-tone color combo. Add copper tile as an unexpected border or frame for your design. You can also turn the classic subway look on its head with a vertical installation that extends the eye to the ceiling, instantly making your room look larger.
If you like the crisp look of the original product but prefer a different texture, consider the variety of colorful glass subway tiles on the market, or those designed to look like marble. As long as the individual tiles measure no more than the standard 1:2 (height/width) ratio, you will achieve the classic subway look with modern appeal. As shown below, this looks great with a farmhouse kitchen sink in a brushed nickel finish.