Subway Tile Design Ideas

Like classic Levi jeans, Subway tiles are “classics” that have been redesigned and modernized throughout the years. Traditional subway tiles date back to the 1900s when they originated in the underground train stations of  New York as the 3×6 tile we all came to know and love. To learn more about Subway Tile, check out our blog post. Modern subway tiles have been reimagined over the years to keep up with the times. These tiles are effective in any room of the house from the bathroom to the living room and with their unique patterns and sizes, they have completely transformed the traditional subway tile look into the new decade. 

Subway Tile Design Ideas 

Modern subway tile sizes include 2 x 4, 3 x 12, 4 x 8, 4 x12 and 6 x 12 tile. Any rectangular tile with 1-to-2 dimensions can be considered a subway tile. Here are some of the trending new subway shapes we’ve been seeing: 

Luna 3x6 Glass Subway Tile in Illiminiscent bathroom backsplash
Luna 3×6 Glass Subway Tile in Illiminiscent

Square Subway Tiles 

The unique minimalist look that square subway tiles provide makes them a go-to for Scandinavian interiors. Standard square subway tiles come in 6×6, 4×4, and 3×3 sizes. These bigger tile sizes provide a dramatically different effect than smaller square 1×1 or 2×2 mosaics. 

Square tiles are versatile to their core and provide more flexibility with mixing and matching different tile patterns, sizes, and styles.

bathroom accent wall Zellige 5x5 Glossy Subway Tile in Aqua
Zellige 5×5 Glossy Subway Tile in Aqua

Picket Subway Tile

Picket tiles are known as “alternative” subway tiles but we prefer to view them as the cool younger sister to the traditional style. This trendy subway tile style is inspired by a classic hexagon silhouette which is elongated in the center to appear a slimmer subway-esque tile. We are a particular fan of this shape for a subway tile backsplash as it gives the appearance of a longer counter space. 

Watercolor 3x12 Picket Glazed Ceramic Tile in Peacock Green backsplash in kitchen
Watercolor 3×12 Picket Glazed Ceramic Tile in Peacock Green

To add some flair to your design, try mixing subway tile shapes and designs together!  Not only are they two different tiles here –  but the laying pattern helped create a visual layer that separates the tile on the wall for a unique visual effect. 

Scandia 2x8 Crackle Finish Subway Tile in Stellar Blue bathroom wall tile
Scandia 2×8 Crackle Finish Subway Tile in Stellar Blue

Subway Tile Color Options 

The best part about subway tiles is that they come in so many different colors, there’s no right or wrong choice. Designing with subway tiles is all about curating a specific look. 

Riviera 4x4 Subway Tile in Santorini Blue bathroom backsplash
Riviera 4×4 Subway Tile in Santorini Blue

Classic white subway tiles will always be a timeless choice in backsplashes and bathroom shower walls. 

Origin 2 1/2 x 10 1/2 Glossy Subway Tile in Birch White kitchen backsplash
Origin 2 1/2 x 10 1/2 Glossy Subway Tile in Birch White

Modernize your subway tile look with a picket shape tile! 

Watercolor 3x12 Picket Glazed Ceramic Tile in White featured in shower
Watercolor 3×12 Picket Glazed Ceramic Tile in White

This year’s top trending colors are jewel tones and we are seeing that pop up in our favorite subway tile collections.

Riviera 4x6 Subway Tile in Rimini Green bathroom wall tile
Riviera 4×6 Subway Tile in Rimini Green

Subway tiles that have color variations are also popular as homeowners continue to individualize their homes and design with pieces that have character. 

Zellige 5x5 Glossy Subway Tile in Graphite wall tile
Zellige 5×5 Glossy Subway Tile in Graphite

Subway Tile Pattern Ideas 

Herringbone Subway Tile Pattern

Herringbone has been a popular design pattern in home interiors so it’s no surprise it’s a tending subway tile pattern. This Subway tile pattern is created by laying tile at a 90-degree angle. A herringbone subway tile creates a stunning accent wall but can pop in anywhere in the house. For a more geometric effect, the double herringbone pattern creates a stunning design moment in your home. 

Kitchen backsplash featuring Watercolor 3x12 Subway Tile in Velvet Pink
Watercolor 3×12 Subway Tile in Velvet Pink

Chevron Subway Tile

The Chevron pattern is similar to herringbone but at a 45-degree angle instead of a 90. This pattern gives the stunning illusion of a  fish scale and is used to draw the eye up. 

Scandia 3x6 Crackle Finish Subway Tile in Stratus bathroom backsplash
Scandia 3×6 Crackle Finish Subway Tile in Stratus

Horizontal & Vertical Running Bond 

Classics are classics for a reason and the classic running bond pattern for subway tiles has dominated homes since the early 50s. This pattern is simple to lay out with tiles offset and centered in the middle of all adjoining subway tiles. 

Origin 2 1/2 x 10 1/2 Matte Subway Tile in Sky Blue kitchen backsplash
Origin 2 1/2 x 10 1/2 Matte Subway Tile in Sky Blue

Even classics have their modern counterparts and Vertical Runningbond is the updated version of the running bond pattern. Blending form and function effortlessly, vertical subway tiles give the appearance of a taller bigger room. 

H-Line 4x16 Subway Tile in Nautilus shower wall
H-Line 4×16 Subway Tile in Nautilus

Horizontal & Vertical Stacked Bond 

Sometimes simple is better, don’t sleep on horizontally stacked subway tiles. This minimalist pattern is easier to install than the more complicated patterns. The stacked bond pattern is achieved by stacking the same size tile over each other. 

Watercolor 3x12 Subway Tile in Atoll Blue in farmhouse kitchen wall
Watercolor 3×12 Subway Tile in Atoll Blue

Similar to the horizontally stacked bond, vertically stacked bonds are stacked on top of each other in the vertical position. This pattern gives the impression of a fresh, crisp space. 

Watercolor 3x12 Subway Tile in Atoll Blue bathroom backsplash
Watercolor 3×12 Subway Tile in Atoll Blue

Basketweave

The basketweave pattern is the perfect subway tile pattern for small spaces. It creates dimension in the space and gives the illusion of a bigger room. The basketweave pattern is created by laying out each tile to appear woven. 

Habitat 2.5x5.1 Glossy Subway Tile in Cloud bathroom backsplash
Habitat 2.5×5.1 Glossy Subway Tile in Cloud