I didn’t used to be a huge fan of subway tiles in domestic settings (talking 15yrs ago, when I first started renovating houses) considering them a touch old fashioned and inner city loo like, however over the years my tastes have changed and I’ve come round to a Metro state of mind. They’re so named after New York City’s first fully white tiled underground stations from 1904, and Tony Kelley’s Flickr image above is typical of the style. Increasingly they have been used in domestic projects, with clients appreciating that they seem to be able to form a bridge between traditional and contemporary in a way few tiles can. They are becoming more and more popular in the UK for their clean lines and ability to complement a masculine or a feminine look, be cool yet understated, or provide a backdrop to a prettier scheme.
I opened up my Jan 2011 Living Etc this morning to find this page boldly stating it’s wares, not for the faint hearted these metro tiles….
….had a bit of lunch, headed out to meet a client and guess what she mentioned as a possibility? Yup, subway tiles and from the site visit it was clear her cute Didsbury end terrace would certainly benefit from a bathroom overhaul to incorporate a clean, fresh look, with if, possible a roll top bath! I promised to send some images of our recent projects for her perusal, but then figured these would make a good blog post too, for anyone curious to see what metro tiles look like in situ.
I used white metro tiles as a narrow upstand in a white gloss and walnut kitchen a couple of years back, incorporating a chocolate brown glass feature strip:
Below we used them at a property where I was just helping out so I don’t have finished images, but you get the idea what they look like behind a roll top bath with a limestone floor:
They do look fab in all the different rooms, but clients of ours have stuck to tried and tested white and cream with pale grouting. Feeling brave? You could try using a dark grout as in this image courtesy of Elle Decor and Apartment Therapy:
Personally I’m not a fan of coloured metro tiles but they can look delicately subtle if beautifully finished as here on one of US interior designer Brooke Gianetti’s rooms:
There are some more subway tile room images at this wonderful US blog - http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2010/12/subway-tile.html
There are some practical considerations for smaller brick tiles like these:
- They require a lovely flat surface – so no lumps and bumps!
- They do use more grout that larger scale tiles so buy enough to finish the job
- You don’t have to buy new and can find vintage tiles on-line but rarely enough to tile a whole room – maybe just enough for a splashback though?
- They don’t have to be in a brick style but can be tiled on the bias, like in the mirror on the right above, for a different effect.
- Use a spirit or laser level PLEASE – nothing worse than wonky subway tiles
And if you’ve been totally won over and now consider yourself on the road to becoming a true Metro geek, you’ll want to check this out - http://www.mic-ro.com/metro/metroart.html Who knew the underground could be sexy?
Mostly, Team Moregeous get our white and cream metro tiles from the very reasonably priced Topps Tiles.