Don’t get us wrong, we’ll always love a classic subway tile. But there are some more exciting options to consider, guys. Zellige, cement, mosaic: Yep, there’s a whole wide world of dazzling tile options out there just waiting for you to discover. We asked a few industry insiders to share the jazziest subway alternatives in their repertoire.
Credit: Stephen Allen
Consider this to be subway tile’s glamorous, tastefully-blingy older sibling. Fun fact via interior designer John McClain: “Metal” tiles are not in fact real metal—they’re actually handmade ceramic, finished off with a metallic glaze. Swoon.
Credit: ali Roth Designs
Trendy? Sure. But we mean, how delightful is the finished effect here? Designer Tali Roth finds terrazzo an especially smart choice for streamlining small spaces, since “it looks awesome en masse.” Color-packed walls and floors? Sign us up.
Credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors
Not a fan of cleaning grout? Same. Which is why we extra-extra love this suggestion courtesy of designer Marie Flanigan: “When it comes to backsplash, I’m a fan of forgoing tile altogether, and instead opting for the counter slab to seamlessly transition up the wall for a streamlined look!”
Credit: Spacecrafting Photography
We’re into this look because it’s little bit rustic, a little bit industrial and yet still totally classic. “Whether you use brick tiles or actual bricks, this solution will add tons of texture and warmth to your space,” insists designer Bria Hammel.
Credit: Thomas Design
STAR AND CROSS
Love a global influence? Look no further than star and cross tiles, which nod subtly to Spanish and Moroccan architecture. While fun and bold, “in a softer color combination, they really add movement without too much distraction,” says designer Courtney Thomas.
Credit: Equipe Ceramicas
Fact: We’ve never met a zellige tile we didn’t want to plaster all over our home. This traditional Moroccan tile offers tons of organic texture and character. Our friends at design firm Studio Life.Style love using zellige tiles “in a rectangular vertical layout for a contemporary and unexpected look.” Chicccc.
Credit: Julie Soefer
Designer Laura Umansky swears by graphic, high-contrast mosaic tiles if you’re not afraid to commit to a statement. (If this isn’t the antithesis to a basic white subway tile, then we don’t know what is!)
Credit: Mary Costa Photography; Courtesy of Glamour Nest
Field tile (aka porcelain tile) in a whimsical cut can achieve a very similar feel to subway tile—but with an edgy spin. Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design calls this option “subway style with a twist—both classic and unexpected!”
Credit: Richard Powers
For earthy texture and an air of age, consider ceramic hex tiles in a layered glaze. “Like subway tile, these won’t overwhelm the kitchen’s overall design—but they offer much more character and detail,” says Cathy Bailey, creative director of Heath Ceramics.
Credit: Alison Phillips
We could wax poetic about cement for days: In addition to being super durable and eco-friendly, it’s also just really cool looking material—especially when hand-painted, like in this stunning powder room by designer Jade Joyner of Metal + Petal. (Tile dreams, realized.)