subway tile shower with black and silver accents

How To Upgrade Your Tile: 5 Stellar Subway Tile Swaps

A couple of famous HGTV superstars helped to make subway tile a modern farmhouse staple for many years. It is undoubtedly a classic and understated option for any space in your home. The question now is, “has subway tile become a farmhouse cliche?” I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a cliche, but I would venture to say that it has become a bit overdone.


Why Subway Tile?

Subway tile earns the title of the most classic option because it’s a simple, neutral tile that can be styled practically anywhere in your home. Need a backsplash for your Laundry? Pick subway tile. Need something simple for your kitchen or bathroom? You guessed it, subway tile.

It’s so simple that you can dress it up or down. The bright color and sleek design melt into the backdrop allowing your bold counters or beautiful decor to really shine. Think of it like an art canvas. The white subway tile provides the perfect, sleek canvas for you to paint with all of your decor and other home accents.

So what can you do instead of subway tile? What will provide that same timeless look that’s fresh and new? I’m glad you asked. I’ve got 5 tile substitutes for subway tile that you can use in your farmhouse.

Start Simple

large scale white tile similar to a big subway tile in walk in shower with black accents

If you don’t want to venture too far from the classic subway tile, start by thinking bigger. Swap your small-scale white tile for a large-scale white tile. Bonus points for you if you find one with a little bit of texture. This provides the same look and feel you get from subway tiles, but the bigger tiles make the shower appear larger and in my opinion, more luxurious.

These are more so perfect for your shower, but I wouldn’t recommend these in your kitchen or laundry room. If you feel like your shower looks a little plain with just these big white tiles, you can go ahead and add an accent tile with some color or a different shape to the floor or shower niche to help spice it up.

Upgrade With Texture

Glazed ceramic tile kitchen backsplash behind open shelves

Think of subway tile with a textured twist. Glazed or polished ceramic tile provides an excellent twist on the original subway tile. The simplicity of the design along with the eery similarity to subway tile provides that clean, timeless look that is so loved in modern farmhouse design, but the texture provides a nice organic movement that subway tile lacks.

This stunning tile is perfect in any place in your home that requires tile. Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, you name it and this timeless tile will make the perfect addition to any space. It’s still a beautiful backdrop, but it provides a lot more character and intrigue to the space. Give this tile swap a go and see how elevated your space feels.

Concrete Changes

large scale concrete tile in half shower half bath

Now this one may be a stretch for some, but it can really be a beautiful option for certain homes. Concrete tiles give such a subtle, natural look that will always be in style. It’s neutral, simple, and draws in a more organic feel than a shiny tile. The larger scale tile makes the shower appear larger and if you spring for a full sheet, the seamless look will give a very luxurious feel.

I highly recommend not using it for your shower base as it can get a bit slippery. Try adding some intrigue and swap to a smaller scale tile with a little more grip for the bottom and tie it in with an accent strip or shower niche elsewhere in the shower. There are plenty of fun accents you can toy with since the “tile” is so simple.

“Picket” Out

neutral picket tile as kitchen backsplash

Instead of swapping your subway tile for a bold, crazy color, bring the fun and character with a brand new shape. Trade your long rectangular tiles for a picket or fish scale tile. This smaller scale tile fits perfectly as a laundry room or kitchen backsplash. It’s also the perfect elegant accent for your bathroom. I could see this as a beautiful accent wall behind your vanity or decorative strip behind your bathtub or in your shower.

Now, I do recommend keeping this on a smaller scale as the tiles are small and anything open could start to look a little busy. However, when done to the right scale, this beautiful neutral tile can add the just the right va-va-voom to any room.

Go Bold

charcoal gray square tile in shower bath

If you’re willing to take a huge risk, why not go bold? Pick out a large scale tile in a bold, dark color. Something like a charcoal grey won’t show as much dirt and grime as a shiny, black, but will still provide that same moody impact. A bold tile choice like this can elevate your space and create a major impact in your room.

With such a bold tile choice you can keep your decorations simple and let the tile speak for itself. I do recommend that if you go bold, go bold in only one aspect. If you pick a bold color, don’t also pick a bold print. This can often feel quite busy and may even give your home a cheap, dated look instead of offering that same timeless look that you love about subway tile.

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