A change in perspective can totally reinvent this white-bathroom classic.

By Maggie Burch
Updated: January 14, 2019
Laurey W. Glenn

Subway tile is a , whether it’s on the backsplash of your kitchen or the walls of your bathroom. And it has gained that status for good reason: It’s timeless, a chameleon for all design styles, and very affordable. However, it’s become such a classic that we’ve nearly hit our threshold for finding subway tile interesting. There are lots of great, for white subway tile if you want to try something different, but if you want stick with the original, we’ve discovered a great hack for reinventing subway tile in our bathrooms.

If you want to completely change the look of original subway tile, turn it on its head—literally. Rotate the pattern of the tiles so they run vertically instead of horizontally. We’re so used to seeing subway tile laid in a brickwork layout—also called the running bond pattern—that simply changing the direction of the tiles creates an entirely new look.

WATCH: 5 Keys To A Relaxing Master Bath

Note: We say this is a genius hack for bathrooms specifically because it would be a bit cramped in most kitchen backsplashes, but if you are tiling a larger wall in a kitchen, this is a great alternative there as well.

Take a look at these bathrooms that show how a simple change of perspective can make a big difference when it comes to subway tile:

Compared with the many inevitable cuts you have to make when running tile horizontally, stacking it vertically creates clean lines along all the edges in this bathroom. These tiles are skinnier and longer than your typical subway tile, which adds to the modern feel of this space.

We love the unique design in this bathroom, with a mix of both vertical- and horizontal-running tiles. The “corner” where the direction changes cuts diagonally across the shower wall, making for an eye-grabbing focal point.

Dark grout is a sure way to draw attention to your tile pattern, which is played up even more by the black fixtures and hardware in this space.

Switching the standard glossy white tile for a textured green already makes a big impact in this bathroom, but stacking the tiles vertically (no running bond pattern this time) makes the room look taller and more modern.

Another non-white example: Gray glass tile with white grout is a winning color combination. We love how the tile pattern corresponds with what it’s near: horizontally above the edge of the tub and vertically in the shower.

Advertisement