7 Ways To Redesign With Subway Tile Patterns

Elegant kitchen with black subway tile backsplash, brass fixtures, and a central island featuring a dark countertop and wooden accents.

Subway tiles have remained a timeless favorite, seamlessly integrating into diverse decorating styles since their origins in New York City’s subway stations. Predominantly found in white glazed ceramic with a 2:1 width-to-height ratio, these tiles offer extensive versatility across a myriad of sizes and materials. They provide a clean, enduring aesthetic that suits a variety of interior designs, from modern and traditional to farmhouse and cottage. The true potential of subway tiles comes to life through creative arrangement. Mastering patterns like the sophisticated running bond, intricate herringbone, or charming basket weave can dramatically elevate the visual appeal of your space. Dive into these patterns to discover the ideal subway tile layout that will revitalize and enhance your home's decor!


Elegant bathroom featuring white subway tiles with a golden trim, vintage wall sconces, and fresh greenery.


Classic Running Bond 

The classic running bond pattern, inspired by traditional brickwork, brings a seamless floor-to-ceiling elegance to both kitchens and bathrooms. This layout is not only straightforward to install but also minimizes the need for intricate tile cuts, making it a practical choice for both novice and experienced DIYers. In this pattern, subway tile joints are staggered, each centered on the tile above and below, creating a harmonious and orderly appearance ideal for the high activity areas of your home.

When applying this pattern across large wall areas, opting for bigger individual white subway tiles available in sizes like 3x6 inches, 4x8 inches, and 6x12 inches coupled with white or light-colored grout can keep the space from looking overly busy. On the flip side, using a contrasting grout color, such as black, can highlight each tile distinctly, introducing a striking textural element that is especially effective in smaller spaces. Choose the right combination to either blend smoothly or stand out dramatically, tailoring the look to your personal taste and the specific needs of the room.


Textured marble subway tiles in a unique, staggered pattern complemented by a bronze shower head.


Vertical Running Bond 

Installing subway tiles in a vertical running bond pattern can transform your space by creating the illusion of elongated walls and loftier ceilings. This arrangement features tiles laid vertically, with each row offset by half a tile's length, which brings a dynamic and expansive feel to any room. The use of light-colored grout not only enhances this effect but also adds a bold and striking contrast, making the subway tiles pop with an unexpected visual impact.

In settings like walk-in showers, pairing vertical ceramic or porcelain subway tiles with stone-look flooring can provide a substantial, grounding contrast to the lighter, more ethereal appearance of the tiled walls. This combination balances the room's aesthetics, adding both depth and dimension, making it an excellent choice for those looking to create a powerful statement in their interior design.


Elegant chevron patterned marble subway tiles in grayscale hues.

45-Degree Herringbone Pattern 

The 45-degree herringbone pattern features subway tiles angled precisely to create a visually striking design reminiscent of fish scales, hence its name. This layout showcases tiles set at 45-degree angles with joints that offset, aligning with the centers of adjacent tiles. This method introduces a dynamic movement within the space, guiding the eye along the pronounced peaks and valleys of the pattern.

The subway tile backsplash featured in the photo was expertly finished with gray grout, enhancing the room's aesthetics distinctly outlining each tile's shape. The result is a compelling visual flow that not only enhances the room's dimensions but also anchors the space with its sophisticated and modern appeal.


Classic white subway tiles in a double basket weave brick pattern


Vertical Offset Running Bond 

The vertical offset running bond pattern offers a creative deviation from conventional tiling layouts. In this approach, each subway tile is staggered vertically from the tile immediately below it by a fraction—such as 1/3 or 1/4—instead of the more traditional half. This technique does not align the tiles' edges centrally, but rather offsets them, enhancing the visual interest and complexity of the design. It's particularly effective for creating an illusion of height, making it a superb choice for visually expanding the walls in compact areas like small bathrooms or narrow kitchens. The vertical configuration lends a contemporary and dynamic flair, perfect for accent walls, shower surrounds, or kitchen backsplashes that demand a distinctive, eye-catching feature.


Warm terracotta subway tiles in a 90 degree herringbone pattern.


90-Degree Herringbone Pattern 

The 90-degree herringbone pattern is a superb choice for those aiming to inject a sense of timeless charm into their traditional-style or vintage-inspired kitchens and bathrooms. This design arranges subway tiles at right angles to each other, forming crisp 90-degree intersections. Its straightforward, stair-stepped appearance offers a visually appealing simplicity that can echo the straight lines of a room while introducing a gentle dynamism to soften the hard surfaces typically found in these spaces.

To achieve a subtle, unified look, it's advisable to choose a grout color that closely matches the tiles. This low-contrast approach creates a harmonious backdrop, allowing the other elements in the room to stand out and capture attention. This method also ensures that the herringbone pattern enhances the space without overwhelming it, perfectly balancing functionality and style.


Sleek kitchen with horizontal taupe subway tiles and reflective surface


Horizontal Stacked Bond 

The horizontal stacked bond pattern stands out as one of the most straightforward subway tile installations, presenting an immaculate alignment of same-size tiles in consistent, even rows. This minimalist approach not only offers an unexpectedly contemporary flair but also maintains an organized appearance that is ideal for both transitional and modern interiors. When applied as a subway tile backsplash, this pattern recedes gracefully, allowing the more striking features of a kitchen and stylish fixtures to take center stage. This clean and uncluttered layout serves as the perfect canvas to highlight a space’s finest attributes, seamlessly blending functionality with aesthetic appeal.


Marbled white subway tiles backdrop with pears and greenery.


Vertical Stacked Bond 

Revamp your subway tiles by setting them vertically to create a unique and modern layout. The vertical stacked bond pattern employs smaller rectangular tiles arranged in neat, vertical rows, making it an excellent choice for a contemporary kitchen backsplash. This arrangement adds height and drama to the space, enhancing the perception of taller walls. To polish off the look, a horizontal line of trim tiles is used at the top, providing a clean and crisp boundary that defines the edge of the pattern. This innovative approach to tile installation not only modernizes the space but also introduces a sleek, orderly aesthetic that can transform any ordinary bathroom into a standout feature of the home.


Neutral subway tile wall with rustic vase.



Subway tiles, particularly those made of ceramic or porcelain, have firmly established themselves as a lasting trend in home design, combining timeless beauty with functional ease. No matter your design preference, be it classic, modern, or a mix of styles, subway tiles provide limitless opportunities to elevate your home's decor. These tiles are a perfect fit not only for kitchens and bathrooms but also for any living area looking for a hint of elegance. 

To truly visualize how subway tiles can transform your space, try our innovative AR technology. It allows you to see the tiles in your own rooms, making it easier to make the perfect choice that reflects your unique style. With their classic charm, subway tiles allow for a personalized expression of your distinctive taste.


45 degree herringbone pattern marble tiles with a modern black vase and greenery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Explore these common inquiries about the versatile and stylish ways to use subway tile patterns in home design.

Reminder: When undertaking a complex project, it's important to assess whether the scope or the technical requirements might be beyond your current skills or resources. If you find yourself facing tasks that involve complicated patterns or require specialized knowledge, consider the benefits of hiring a professional. This not only ensures a higher quality outcome but can also save time and reduce the risk of costly mistakes.

What are subway tiles?

Subway tiles are typically white, glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles with a 2:1 width-to-height ratio. They originated from New York City’s subway stations and are known for their clean and timeless aesthetic.

What makes subway tiles versatile in interior design?

Subway tiles come in various sizes and materials, making them suitable for a range of styles including modern, traditional, farmhouse, and cottage designs. Their versatile nature allows for creative arrangements that enhance the visual appeal of any space.

What is a classic running bond pattern?

The classic running bond pattern, inspired by traditional brickwork, involves staggering the joints of subway tiles, with each tile centered on the tile above and below. This creates a seamless and orderly look, ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.

How does a vertical running bond pattern differ?

In a vertical running bond pattern, subway tiles are laid vertically with each row offset by half a tile's length. This arrangement can make walls appear taller and add a dynamic feel to the room, often enhanced with white grout for a bold contrast.

What is a 45-degree herringbone pattern?

A 45-degree herringbone pattern features subway tiles set at 45-degree angles, creating a visually striking, fish scale-like design. This pattern introduces dynamic movement and a sophisticated appeal to the space.

How is a 90-degree herringbone pattern arranged?

In a 90-degree herringbone pattern, subway tiles are arranged at right angles to each other, forming crisp intersections. This design adds timeless charm and a gentle dynamism to traditional-style or vintage-inspired kitchens and bathrooms.

What is the horizontal stacked bond pattern?

The horizontal stacked bond pattern involves aligning same-size subway tiles in consistent, even rows. This minimalist approach offers a contemporary flair and serves as a clean backdrop to highlight other striking features in a space.

How does the vertical stacked bond pattern enhance a space?

The vertical stacked bond pattern uses smaller rectangular tiles arranged in neat vertical rows, adding height and drama to the room. This modern layout is often finished with a horizontal line of trim tiles at the top for a clean boundary.

Why are subway tiles a lasting trend in home design?

Subway tiles combine timeless beauty with functional ease, making them suitable for various design preferences. They can enhance any living area, adding elegance and allowing for personalized expression of style.

How can I visualize subway tiles in my space before installation?

You can use innovative AR (Augmented Reality) technology to visualize how subway tiles will look in your rooms. This tool helps you make the perfect choice that reflects your unique style. If you want to ensure the best results, consider hiring a professional. Our experts are adept at helping translate your vision into reality, providing advice on both design and installation. Contact us to see how we can assist in achieving your dream design with precision and care.

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Modern kitchen featuring a sleek black faucet, wine cooler, and vertical beige subway tile backsplash, with natural light streaming in through large windows.