A Look that is Never Out-of-Date: White Subway Tile

Sometimes we look back at design ideas and can’t help but wonder, “What were they thinking?!”.  Take for instance the hugely popular pink tile bathrooms from the 1950’s.  Whether you love it or hate it, you have to wonder, “Why pink?”  Does it represent postwar exuberance, women’s place being the home, or a love of Mamie Eisenhower?  Though it is an important part of our domestic design heritage, it is a look, like faux wood paneling and avocado green appliances, that most people consider out-dated.

In contrast to pink tile, a look that is never out-of-date is white subway tile.  And with so many different ways to style while tile, this classic is anything but boring.

This kitchen uses the white tile as a backsplash that blends with the stark white of the kitchen cabinets, ceiling, and walls.  By having all these items white, the beautiful stainless steel appliances and dark countertops become the main feature of the space.

In contrast to the blending of whites, this kitchen uses contrasting colors to make a bold statement.  Nothing contrasts better than black and white, and the painted black cabinets stand out against the white tile on the wall.

This modern kitchen repeats the idea of using white as the main color of the kitchen – on the walls, cabinets, and counters.  Splashes of color are added through bright colored accessories – such as vases, bowls, and glassware – giving the space an attractive vibrancy.

Taking the idea of a bold color even further, this kitchen pairs the white tile with colorful walls, filling the space with life.  The addition to the tile, white cabinets allow the colorful walls and beautiful hardwood flooring to pop.  Any color would work with the use of white, and could be easily changed with a coat of paint.  The addition of the glass colored tile accent band, however, limits the pairing options.

Another look that can be created with contrast is this backsplash using darker grout.   Instead of the backsplash reading as one unified surface, the use of dark colored grout outlines each tile, allowing each to read as an individual piece of the overall.

A bonus to the neutral nature of white is that it can be great in smaller spaces as well.  White tile is not just limited to use in the kitchen, but can provide a timeless style in bathrooms as well.   This bathroom paired the classic white tile with contemporary features, such as the floating natural wood vanity and stainless steel fixtures.  Paired with the pale blue, the bathroom is a calming oasis of tranquility.{picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6}.

Published by in How To, Tips, and Advice, on September 26th, 2012


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