Ten interior design tips to get perfect subway tile style

One of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever written was on subway or metro tiles and it’s safe to say they’re pretty much everywhere, in every cool store, cafe or lifestyle interior. But somehow the more I see them, the more I like them and it seems many other stylists, designers and homeowners feel the same.

Here’s my round up of the ten best ways to approach Subway Style for 2014-15:


Interior stylists and designers are adding quirky style to plain white metro tiles, especially in bathrooms, with the use of highly patterned and often quite quirky wallpaper:

Christina Murphy bathroom

Christina Murphy bathroom with Cole & Son ‘Woods’ wallpaper

Photo by Lizzie Orme

Photo by Lizzie Orme


The Scandinavian look is huge for Spring Summer 2014 and the feel can easily be fed into bathrooms and kitchens with the use of pale timber, geometric patterning, retro furniture and cool utilitarian accents:

Scandi style interior design using subway or metro tiles

Scandi style bathroom using subways by Linda Bergroth

Scandi style interior design using subway or metro tiles

Clean lines & timber accents on the MyScandinavianHome blog


The heavy industrial trend is slowly developing with warmer, vintage styling such as mirrors, lighting and taps, especially in brass, gold and copper. This lends a luxurious metallic feel to tiles which can sometimes feel a little stark, and is relatively inexpensive to achieve if you’re an avid charity shop, flea market or EBay fan:

Gold metro or subway tiling on full bathroom wall

Pinterest image

Copper pipe tap and vintage styling against white metro / subway tiles

Paul Massey’s London renovation, Living Etc 2014


William Abranowicz interior, New York Times


Smaller subway tiles are popping up on Pinterest and in style magazines, and I also saw some fab ones at a Manchester restaurant recently. They look equally as good used in a vintage or contemporary context:

Pretty mini metro tiles used a splashback behind butlers sink

Pinterest image

Mini green metro tiles used in kitchen

Pinterest image


Blackboards and blackboard paint have been popular for a while now, especially in cafe culture, but why not try them juxtaposed with subway tiles to give a fun and practical feel to a family kitchen?

White metro tiles with blackboard insert White metro tiles with blackboard insert


Colour popping can give a fabulous lift to a room and this look works particularly well with a white kitchen and when the chosen colour is carefully placed to create a visual wow, like the plinth and lighting below. Sticking to plain white tiles but using accent colours also means a room is easy to update each year.

Yellow subway tiles as splashback in white kitchen

Pinterest image

Lime green slipper bath in white metro tiled bathroom

Remodelista image

Pinterest image

Pinterest image


Subway tiles can look stunning when used floor to ceiling as in the images below and I really like the use of huge feature shelving in kitchens – be careful when drilling with this one.

On a practical level, remember bathroom steam & kitchen oils will get high level tiles dirtier than painted walls so be prepared for lots of stepladder polishing. I know this from rental experience!

One Fine Day image

One Fine Day image

Floor to ceiling subway / metro tiles

Pinterest image

Living Etc 2014

Living Etc 2014


You surely haven’t missed the obsession many interioristas have with white marble and it’s sophisticated, sumptuously elegant finish. A marble worktop or basin top works gorgeously with white metros or you can use white marble subway tiles, sparingly if you’re on a budget or liberally if you’re lucky enough not to be. Even just a few sprinkled in as an accent splashback can give an elegant life to a scheme:

Subway / Metro tiles for 2014 / 2015 in bathroom using white marble

Pinterest Image

Image from Daily Mail(!)

Image from Daily Mail(!)

Subway / Metro tiles as kitchen splashback for 2014 2015 using white marble

Image from Pinterest


Framing is a newish trend coming to the fore and is featuring in our renovation of Moregeous Mansions. I love the way it works with subway tiles.

Pinterest image

Pinterest image

Pinterest image

Pinterest image


Of course if you don’t want to use actual tiles for style, practicality or cost reasons, you could always pretend as in this rather fabulous Warsaw cafe pinned by @totmac, or the stunning Metro tile wallpaper:

Warsaw cafe with white drawn walls

2014-03-17_0002Is there a style there which has you name written all over it? I hope you’re inspired do do something a little different with your subways! x

PS Fancy a good tip from a tile specialist on keeping them clean too? – HERE 

9 thoughts on “Ten interior design tips to get perfect subway tile style

  1. Oh I just love this Sian, what a fabulous roundup. I’m loving the framed metro tiles, the mini metros, and the colour pops. Something for everyone here! Thanks for linking up x #LoveYourHome

  2. Oh I have just put some metro tiles in my ensuite. I must admit, I really didn’t like them when they first became popular. Seeing this has made me realise what other unusual and stylish results you can have with them. I’m a little bit in love with the style of them now 🙂

  3. I was the same when I saw the green ones in a bathroom in Fired Earth back in 2001 & still think deep green should be confined to swimming pools & public loos 😉 All the rest, I love!

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