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Design Detail: Metro Tiles

Still all the rage, here's how to put a contemporary twist on this classic look
   Amanda Peters  |  written on: 02-10-2021 08:20am

Even after all this time the metro tile is still all the rage – moving out of the subway and into our homes in trendy new ways. Here's how to update the look with a twist.

1. Colour it in
Usually the subway tile comes in white, but Isaac McHale, head chef at The Clove Club decided to add a splash of blue to the metro tile look. He says that along with the food (The Clove Club is ranked number 26 in the world’s Top 50 restaurants), the metro tile kitchen backdrop has become a signature, with foodies always wanting a picture against it. 

The kitchen surfaces at The Clove Club are clad in dark blue metro tiles and steel, Credit: Jean Cazals

2. Cover from head to toe
Thanks to their uniformity, metro tiles seamlessly fit into a contemporary setting. Here, the striking black grout creates a neat, geometric pattern that stands out against the white ceramic surfaces. Jaki Amos of Amos and Amos wraps this master en suite from head to toe in the tile while adding elegant touches of black brassware to create a distinctly refined industrial feel.

Design schemes by Amos and Amos, Credit: Grant Silverman

3. Pair it with a dash of colour
The fact that they are white and symmetrical makes them versatile enough to be paired with any colour. Award-winning interior architect Roisín Lafferty combines the metro tile with handleless minty green cabinetry, creating an unfussy backdrop to highlight the copper accents in this kitchen.

mint green, copper, shiny, industrial, Utensils, accessories and cutlery, copper, kitchen, island, contemporary, wood, green, industrial, metallic, metal, metro tiles, subway tiles, black grout,

Credit: Lind & Cumings Design Photography and Barbara Corsico

4. Add some bling
Emily Murray of The Pink House blog brings a touch of glitz and glamour to her tiny family bathroom located in a Victorian terraced house in Edinburgh. While metro tiles form the base of the look, Emily cleverly manages to turn the least inspiring room into the most glamorous space with brass fittings and a grey and gold fish themed wallpaper.

metro tiles, subway tiles, white, clean lines, symmetrical, symmetry, contemporary, brass fittings, gold, fish wallpaper, grey cabinet, black grout,

Brass taps and shower head from Barber Wilsons, metro tiles from Topps Tiles and Wallpaper from Osborne & Little ‘Derwent’, Credit:  Susie Lowe

5. Contrast black and white
Although there is nothing groundbreaking about using metro tiles in the bathroom, the square grid here paired with jet black sanitaryware makes quite the design statement. For her bathroom, Flat 15’s Gabriella Palumbo was inspired by a particular work by French sculpture Jean-Pierre Raynaud, where he uses geometric white square tiles with black grouting. The square tiles provide a classic alternative while the black grouting creates a graphic appeal.

Tip: Although it may seem easy, when conceptualising a geometric grid like this, make sure the squares align properly, especially in a period property where walls aren’t always straight.

Tara wall-mounted cross taps from Dornbracht, Bilbao tiles from Fired Earth and plant pot and toothbrush holder from HAY

6. Team up with wood
Wood and metro tiles are a perfect pairing – the wooden surfaces add warmth to the cool, shiny ceramic tiles. The pared-back design of this bathroom combines white subway tiles with black industrial style fittings and wooden flooring, giving the space a rustic feel. The addition of the rough weaved floor mat effortlessly ties the space together.

Credit: MadAboutTheHouse from Pinterest

Also read:
How to Up the Spa Quotient of Your Bathroom
9 Design Ideas to Steal for Your Next Bathroom Upgrade
Check out our Pinterest board for more ideas

Would you put metro tiles in your home? Tell us how would you utilise them?

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   Amanda Peters
KBB Ark Web Editor. I've been writing for design magazines for a few years now and like nothing more than ‘exploring’ other people's homes (with their permission, of course).

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