15 Designer-Approved Ways To Use Subway Tile In Your Bathroom

It's popular for a good reason.

bathroom subway tile ideas
Heidi Caillier Design

Though they date all the way back to 1904 and were made for New York City's notoriously not-so-clean public transit system, subway tiles are as popular as ever in designer bathrooms. And there's a reason they're so beloved in the design world: They're durable, classic, endlessly versatile, and insanely affordable—especially compared to other bathroom surface materials. Whether you want to go for a bold color, create contrast with grout, play with pattern, or keep it simple, the limit does not exist. So we're spotlighting the trend that'll never die with 15 chic bathrooms that feature subway tile, from modern to quirky and traditional styles. Keep reading to choose which subway tile bathroom idea you want to recreate (warning: You probably won't want to choose just one, so hopefully you're redoing a few bathrooms).

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1 Keep It Classic
white subway tile bathroom
Anson Smart

Subway tiles are beloved for their timelessness, so keep things classic with a white repeating bond pattern. In this bathroom designed by Arent & Pyke, the tiled wall will lend itself to a variety of styles as trends come and go and taste changes.

2 Switch Up Your Colors
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See how cool multi-colored subway tiles can look? A background of vibrant yellow tiles framed by cream subway tiles is a guaranteed way to make a sunny statement in the bathroom. We're loving matching pendant lights over the double sinks, too, in this bathroom designed by Hecker Guthrie.

3 Protect Your Wallpaper
bathroom subway tile backsplash
Studio Lifestyle

We love the mix of styles in this bathroom designed by Studio Life/Style. There's the whimsy of the wallpaper, the classic floor times, subway tiles, and marble, and the contrasting rustic accent stool. One thing to keep in mind when decorating with wallpaper in the bathroom is how well it will resist splashing and moisture. See if you can print your favorite pattern on vinyl or another substrate that's more resistant to water, or simply keep it out of splashing range in a bathroom that gets a lot of traffic.

4 Use a Dark Grout
shower subway tiles 
Studio Life/Style

For a geometric effect, veer away from the traditional grout choice of white. In this high-impact indoor/outdoor bathroom designed by Studio/Lifestyle, the dark grout makes the white subway tiles pop even more.

5 Try the Inverse
black subway tile ideas
Catherine Kwong

For the opposite aesthetic, try the combination of black tiles with white grout as seen in this bathroom designed by Catherine Kwong. It's slightly moodier and still has that bold and mesmerizing repetition achieved through the contrasting tones.

6 Consider a Neutral Grout
grout ideas for bathroom subway tiles
Heidi Callier Design

Another option is to use a neutral grout that plays up the earth tones throughout the space. It be as graphic and statement-making, but it does make a big difference in the overall look and feel. In this bathroom designed by Heidi Callier, the warm grout speaks to the blush and brass tones.

7 Introduce Texture
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In this bathroom designed by Arent & Pyke, the white subway tiles take a backseat so the purple marble, sky blue paint, and yellow tile accents can shine—but they still offer some textural intrigue. Look closely and you'll notice the grooves.

8 Stack Them Vertically
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Though most opt for the running bond pattern, a clean stack can also look cool. Laying them vertically elongates the space, too. Here, Studio Life/Style created a jewel box by covering all the surfaces in bubblegum pink subway tiles.

9 Opt for a Herringbone Layout
bathroom subway tile layouts
Studio Life/Style

Herringbone is another classic subway tile pattern for the bathroom. This Studio Life/Style space proves that it can be just as classic and understated as a repeating bond composition when paired with neutrals.

10 Choose a Fresh Color
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Make a statement in a powder room with an unexpectedly bold pastel. In this bathroom designed by 2LG Studio, the mint green subway tiles soften up the speckled black and white sink base, matte black details, and Art Deco floor tiles.

11 Contrast With the Floors
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Courtesy of Nicole Franzen

Is there actually a chicer combo than white and black? White subway tiled walls are the perfect accent to a black shower stall and black and white penny tiles on the floor.

12 Mimic Marble
subway tile bathroom colors
Heidi Callier

If you love the look of marble but don't want to splurge on a marble slab for your entire bathroom wall, opt for marble tiles instead. As you can see in this stylish bathroom by Heidi Caillier, it still has that cool, natural stone look.

13 Bring In More Tiles
floor tile that goes with subway tile
Leanne Ford Interiors

In this bathroom designed by Leanne Ford Interiors, the white subway tiles gain more dimension flanked by the narrow black tiles on top and the square tiles on the bottom creating a thick stripe. The stripe effect is replicated in the wallpaper.

14 Go Halfsies
subway tile bathroom ideas
Tom Ferguson

You don't have to go ham and subway tile every single surface. Limit it to a single wall, then contrast with a different type of tile. In this pink bathroom designed by Arent & Pyke, the penny tiles on the upper half of the wall play up the circle motif, from the round mirror to the round wooden drawer handles.

15 Match Your Grout to Paint
nemo subway tiles
Annie Schlechter

Gray-grouted subway tiles help add dimension to an all-white bathroom. Here, the black grout goes perfectly with the black painted sloped ceilings.

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