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Next stop: Subway Tile

June 13, 2017

Remodeling your home can be both exciting and terrifying. Last year when I decided to remodel my kitchen, I went into the process knowing (roughly) what I wanted my kitchen to look like. 

 

White shaker cabinets, stainless appliances, a big kitchen sink (not farmhouse) and white subway tile. Easy, right? Wrong. 

 

Who knew there were so many variations on a simple request -- white subway tile came in about a million different permutations, finishes and sizes. How on earth was I going to pick? 

 

So like most projects, I started out with what I knew I wanted and then worked to fill in the remaining gaps. 

 

I wanted:

  • Larger, skinnier tiles that would make my kitchen look even bigger

  • White tiles - clean without any design or pattern

  • Something with movement (glass tiles were an option, as were hand glazed and everything in between)

  • No detail / trim -- keep it clean and simple

Once I knew these things, I started looking. And looking. Oh, and looking some more. I learned that you shouldn't use glass tiles in a kitchen because they can be harder to clean and show water spots. Strike those off the list. 

 

I discovered that porcelain and ceramic tiles had different finishes, as well as different color depth. Hand painted and cast tiles also added additional texture and movement. Plus, large tiles came in lots of permutations of large

 

 

Easy. Right? Wrong. There are still a ton of tiles that meet these criteria! And, just like with clothes, white meant something different to each manufacturer. Which meant some tiles met the design requirements, but not the color requirements, as I wanted them to "go"  with the undertones of my cabinets, and my light grey countertops.

 

I settled on a tile from Settecento -- called "The New Yorker" -- apropos, no?  These were hand-made tiles, which gave each tile a smooth, glossy feel and the illusion of movement. (My fear was that with white cabinets and white tile, the kitchen would feel too... flat and white. Like a piece of paper. I wanted clean, with some subtle texture). 

 

With a tile selected, all that was left was: 

  • Selecting a grout color (what shade?)

  • How did I want them laid out? (oh the pattern possibilities!) 

  • How do you want to finish it off?

I highly recommend perusing houzz.com for your "dream" kitchen -- and pay close attention to these small details as they make a world of a difference. I chose offset, chose a finishing option (do you want curved end pieces, or do you want a metal rail (also known as a Schluter system). The theme in my kitchen was simple and clean-- which meant Schluter rails were right for me. 

 

If you're looking to introduce subway tile in your home in the near future, be sure to think about the "big picture" -- how do you want it to look up close as well as far away. These looks are often made by the "small" decisions, like grout, trim and layout. No matter your choice, have fun with whatever shape, size or color that may be! 

 

 

 

 

 

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