HomeDesign5 Ways to Include Subway Tiles in Your New Kitchen

5 Ways to Include Subway Tiles in Your New Kitchen

Subway tiles have long been a kitchen design staple, thanks to their simple and versatile nature. Originally designed for the New York Subway as an easy-to-clean, friendly and familiar surface that would welcome train-dwellers to the underground, the humble subway tile has since been transplanted into Sydney kitchens for the very same reasons. Despite their enduring popularity, new takes on traditional subway tiles are becoming more and more popular. Here are five ways you can change up the subway tile to bring life to your kitchen. 


White on white

Matching tile and grout colour may seem like the obvious choice, but if you’re a stickler for tradition, opting for white grout with your white subway tiles is actually breaking the status quo. White on white subway tiles look best in Hamptons or country style kitchens with accenting tones in cupboards and fittings. 


One of the main benefits of opting for white grout is it allows your tiles to shine. If you want your tile to be the wow factor in your kitchen, and have chosen one with textural detail, marrying the grout to the tile colour will allow the eye to catch on the light patterns created by the tiles themselves, and not on the grout patterns. 


Contrasting grout

Traditionally, subway tiles have been set in contrasting grout colours, with the New York underground lined in white tiles with dark grey or black grout. Opting for a contrasting grout colour in your kitchen will really make the white in your subway tiles pop. It also allows the tile’s shape to be seen more clearly, giving the true subway effect. A light grey grout will not only complement the white of the tile, it will also create a striking pattern in the negative space. 


If you’re not a fan of darker grouts but find all-white too striking, an almond or alabaster tone will also suit subway tiles. Opting for warm-toned grout also creates a sense of colour harmony in kitchens with pastel-hued cabinetry or natural timber accents. 



Simply changing the direction of the tiles can have a stunning effect in your kitchen. Laying subway tiles in a herringbone pattern means each tile is laid at a 45 degree angle on your wall, but at 90 degrees to the one next to it. This creates a ‘fish bone’ pattern not dissimilar to the look of arrows or triangles. 


When laying a herringbone pattern on your kitchen walls, first you should decide whether your pattern will run up, down or across the walls. This will then determine where the pattern will start, and therefore where the tiles need to be cut. If you’re using a tiler or kitchen designer, cutting will be their responsibility. 


Vertically stacked

A simple and striking subway tile option is also to stack the tiles vertically, running up the wall. Stacking your tiles this way can make the ceilings appear higher and can lengthen the appearance of the space between the bench and upper cabinets. 


You may also like to run subway tiles up the wall in the classic layout. This means simply rotting the classic style 90 degrees, giving the traditional look a more contemporary spin, and again giving the kitchen more height. 



Chevron tile patterns are becoming increasingly popular the world over, for their simple sophistication. If you’re after the chevron effect in your kitchen, this can be achieved with parallelogram subway tiles laid pointing up or down to create a ‘V’ effect throughout. You could get a similar effect by rotating a herringbone pattern 45 degrees, however the true chevron style gives a neater finish. Chevron is another way to elongate the area where the tiles are laid.


The good thing about subway tiles is that they’re not solely suited to the kitchen. If you’re doing a comprehensive home renovation, installing subway tiles in your laundry and bathroom will create consistency throughout the home.


Looking for more kitchen design inspiration? Download our exclusive Design Trends eBook today.

Contact the Apollo Kitchens team to learn how we can help bring your dream Sydney Kitchen to life.

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