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A 10 Year Review of Accent Tile; Should you Install the Current Fad Tile?

By 01/30/2020July 21st, 202262 Comments

Should you install the new fad accent tile in your home? Design trends tend to outlive design fads, but does that mean the fad tile is bad? Let’s take a look at the last 10 years of accent tiles.

I started writing this post a few weeks ago and recently received this question which fits right in:

Hello! I have a question that I would like to submit for consideration for ‘Ask Maria’ on the blog. We’re dreaming of a new build right now. Though we have already purchased two edesign consultations and have been absolutely THRILLED and do not intend to embark on a new build on our own (yikes!), it’s still fun to begin envisioning the possibilities.

What I am curious about is – what tile besides white subway tile may be considered classic in a shower? Or is that really the right answer for, say, 4/4 planned bathrooms? Thanks for the consideration!

So first, let’s be clear;  a lot of tile, especially accent tile, falls into the category of a fad and here’s the definition:

An intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.

Here’s the definition of a trend:

A general direction in which something is developing or changing.

Trends are longer lived than fads and they drive change. Especially in design. But they do pass, and that is why we need to be aware of where the trends have been and where they are going. Especially when we are making important selections for finishes in our homes.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about tile trends. I’ve written so many posts about it over the years, sometimes I think that conversation is done and dusted.

But it’s not, is it?

If I don’t continue to update you on the short-lived nature of accent tiles you might run out and install one in the wrong place and then be filled with regret.

Should you install trendy accent tile?

So first, let’s discuss when choosing a trendy tile could be a good idea.

Install a trendy tile if you are selling a house immediately and want everyone to be in love with it.

Even though, I would personally be unhappy to walk into a newly built or renovated house and see a geometric tile on the backsplash of the of the black kitchen, the not-design savvy house hunter might feel it’s updated, exciting and (gasp) current.

Grace Blu Design Photo via Ryan Garvin

My one hot tip here is make sure you install the most current tile.  Wait, I just realized, if you’re reading this blog, you WILL make the right decision there at least. Whew. 😉

I felt bad when I saw this comment show up on my encaustic tile post:

Hi Maria, I recently start a business to fabricate encaustic tile in Mexico, and I feel disappointed when I read a negative comment about this beautiful product, I assume that they didn’t get the right place to buy their product, in Mexico there are many of places were you can buy this product, however I have to say that most of them don’t have quality. PS, I truly believe in the beauty of this product.

What he doesn’t know is that accent tile has a shelf life just like any fad, or trend. Encaustic tile may be hot right now but the design world is fickle. The kitchen I’m showing (above) is more trendy now than Encaustic tile was just last year.

This is not to say there isn’t a place for encaustic tile, it’s just that its moment in the spotlight has passed. Encaustic tile no longer has our attention. And that means, if you install it in your kitchen or bathroom, it won’t look totally current, and unless the context is perfect, it won’t hit the mark for timeless and classic either.

Just try and look for area rugs or lighting (the worst fad culprits).  You can really go down a rabbit hole scrolling very bad and dated items in both categories!  That’s because they still have products that they are trying to sell that NO ONE WANTS, way back from the 80s!! It’s no wonder so many people are paralyzed trying to choose, there’s simply too much bad lighting and area rugs to wade through.

Fortunately, lighting and area rugs are easier to switch out than tile.

Which brings me back to my lovely readers question about tile.

How to choose a new tile for your new build.

What should you start thinking about with your new build?

The reason trends in tile are so important to grasp is that tile trends move fast. And tile is not something that is easy to change. We call it a FIXED ELEMENT for a reason. You can’t pick it up and toss it in the bin. It’s expensive to rip out and replace.

So this is why it always amazes me that people always seem to want to get really creative about tile. The latest tile trend will hold you in a love locked gaze and make you do foolish things.

First, let’s have a quick review of the trends we all fell for in only the last decade.

Pencil Mosaic Tile Trend


At the beginning of the decade, everyone was installing mosaic and pencil tile backsplashes. The seductive call of this style was  variety of colour. In store kitchen designers everywhere pulled out a magic (they hoped) mosaic tile for every and any old combination of countertop, flooring and cabinets hoping the mix of colours in the mosaic would “pull it all together”.

The elongated pencil tile version has a linear thing going on that most people associate with contemporary and now. (Except that although I’m positive this tile is being installed somewhere this very minute, I think it’s easy to agree that it is most certainly not looking totally NOW anymore).

Laser Cut Mosaic Tile Trend

Then fads moved to laser cut mosaic marble which, when done right, was really pretty:

arabesque tile

Haskel Interiors

However, installed with a busy granite countertop, this expensive backsplash was too much:

The Grey Backsplash Trend

The grey backsplash is something we have seen a whole lot of in recent years. The problem with a grey backsplash? It locks you into the grey trend. Now you always need to have grey with the correct undertone to match your grey backsplash in your decor until you renovate it. More about that here.

This grey arabesque pattern (below) is also not looking very fresh in 2020. If you installed it in white or cream with white grout, then you won’t be bossed around by the colour. But in grey, or with contrasting grout that pops out the pattern, you might tire of it. Especially now the black and white trend is here.

arabesque tile trend

Home Depot

The Encaustic Tile Trend

The encaustic trend brought a new and fresh kind of interest with pattern. I love pattern, but the problem with it is, that we live in a world where new prints and patterns come in (and out) every season in fashion. We have attention spans for a specific pattern of only a few years max. This is why, although this kitchen below is perfectly pretty, it will not look NOW, very shortly.

encaustic tile trend


Now before you all mistake my intention and call me callous and fickle and accuse me of trying to enslave you all to the trends, please know I am trying to do the exact opposite. I want to save you from installing a trendy tile in your home that you will regret in 5 or 10 years.

And I’m here to say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with installing white subway surround in all four of your bathrooms.

Have fun with fabrics, area rugs, artwork even wallpaper, but don’t install the trendy tile of the moment in your new house.

In 2012, I wrote a post about what to start thinking about when you’re planning a bathroom renovation. The same principles apply now.

So what are the new accent tile trends that are emerging?

The market loves to respond to our appetite for novel patterns. I’ve been seeing a lot of mod geometrics in tile everywhere. Like the kitchen at the top of this post.

Will you still love this tile in 5 or 10 years?

And here is a bathroom that looks really exciting and new (below). You have to admire the boldness of it. But will you still love it in 5 years? How about 10? That is what you have to ask yourself before choosing a trendy accent tile.

Bob Vila

If you fall in love with a specific trendy pattern, it’s much wiser to have some pillows made, or get your fix with a great outfit.


pattern tile trend

More Mod Geometric Tile Via Design Milk

All this modern geometric tile belongs only in the most modern of kitchen and bathroom designs. Stick it into an average builder kitchen and it will definitely look wrong.

Hand Glazed or Zellige Tile Trend

Another big trend right now, in 2020, is tiles that look hand glazed. Specifically Zellige tiles, which use a centuries-old Moroccan terracotta tile technique with glossy glass-based glazes.

Their tile appeal is imperfection, and the fact that they look OLD.

Hand Glazed or Zellige Tile trend

Cle Tile

How do I feel about this hand glazed tile trend? Well it certainly is sexy. Anything handmade has a bespoke look that everyone wants. The variation in tone and texture is lovely. And, if you install this tile in your shower in your favourite colour, I’ll bet you will love it for awhile to come.

Only time will tell if we will all get tired of looking at it by 2025 or 2030. What’s your prediction?

In white tones, it’s definitely a reasonable substitute for subway tile because it’s not bossy. White Zellige tile is a subtle, pretty texture on the walls with just a little shine.


So, if you really want to try something new in a bathroom, this tile would still be versatile enough to work with lots of other colours when you change it up down the road. Note that it does have a more country-fied feel, so it would not belong in a slick, contemporary bathroom.

Details. We’re back to that again and I’m talking about that more in the video below where I’m also unpacking ‘What is in my classic and timeless tile bag’:


Which tile trends are you living with and how do you feel about them? What will you do next?

If you would like to make sure that your bathroom or kitchen renovation turns out beautifully timeless, I would love to help. You can find my Create a Classic Bathroom eDesign package here. And Create a Classic Kitchen here.

If you have a question for an Ask Maria post, please take photos with good natural light and email me here. Please note, it’s rare that I can create an Ask Maria post WITHOUT photos.

Related posts:

Is your Bath Perfect or Perfectly Nice?

One More Reason you Should Skip Accent Tiles Altogether

10 Steps for Planning your New Build

2525 pins


  • Marguerite Neuhaus says:

    I have always felt that marble as a material was timeless, but the new “full slab” look, (especially with waterfall counters) seems to be saying, “I have so much money I can afford to use only full slabs like commercial lobbies used to do”. While this is a luxurious way to use a timeless material, it seems limited to only the highest end modern projects (like NYC townhouses) , and also feels very trendy.

  • Totally with you on this. Only encaustic job I’ve done: I did an encastic laundry room in 2016 and tiny powder room because it was black and white and a little gray in a couple of rooms with white cabinets and plumbing fixtures. She found it and wanted it on the backsplash in her white kitchen and I said NOPE! She was so grateful that it was in a room where the door could close and was calmed by the white. So grateful that when it was time to paint the house, she said her husband and she agreed whatever I chose for the exterior, THAT’S what they were doing. PERIOD. AND they referred me to 2 others who’ve ALSO referred me to 2 others who’ve completed all of these jobs and I’m now doing a $45K bathroom for one of them.

    I love green and have my whole life, but wouldn’t like that after a week of using that jaggedy Bob Villa bathroom.

  • Cheryl says:

    You’ve spelled it out very clearly, again, thank you. Fun tiles are SOOOO enticing tho!
    But….. Let the pillows, rugs and lighting do the heavy design lifting!
    We fought all the advice from the “designers” in the new home design center; All bathrooms with white subway. Backsplash, white subway. And you know what? It’s perfect and will be perfect for years to come.
    You will thank Maria later.

  • Fiona says:

    I love love love zellige tile. I like that it is glossy but not flat, so it reflects light better than, say subway tile (but also not too ‘textured – the thought of cleaning that ugly textured ‘mod’ tile gives me the heebie jeebies). That ‘handmade’ look is very appealing. I am considering it for a bathroom we want to renovate next year, but I do wonder if it will seem dated in five-ten years. Does hand made date?

  • Cathy says:

    Loved the tile video Maria! Keep putting the word out there, saving the world from ripping out trendy tile over and over????

  • Dani says:

    I’m curios to know how you feel about marble backsplash tile? Are they considered trended when paired with a white quartz?

    • Maria Killam says:

      As long as it’s not overall too grey, like the example in my post, I think that definitely be timeless because you still have flexibility with colours when decorating! Maria

  • Brenda Pawloski says:

    One reason we choose fads and trends is because they look amazing in the majestic, soaring spaces that we see online. Our spouses also look at Houzz and are disappointed when we choose a perfectly nice classic neutral tile. It would be refreshing to follow design advice that confines itself to to 2000 square foot ranch homes with 8 foot ceilings. I know those homeowners are less likely to spend thousands on new design but we will spend something. It is analogous to 5’1″ me expecting to look like Elle Macpherson because I buy the same outfit. Also, those who own the soaring palaces can afford to tear out that trendy tile after five (or two) years. Thanks for sound advice, Maria, and for good articles for me to hand my SO when we make expensive choices.

  • Jeanine Fish says:

    I am no expert but try to follow the rule of only choosing timeless choices for my hard surfaces. I am about to redo a bathroom. Subway tile is my choice. I am wondering if grey grout is considered timeless? I did that in my kitchen and still love the look. So is white grout the best way to go?

  • Lucy says:

    Good post and timely for me. I have a new client who hates subway tile in any shape or form. I have talked to her about it being the most timeless in her bath or kitchen. She thinks it is boring and wants a shape or geometric. I have shown her the arabesque pattern in white which she likes better but still wants color. I suggested running her quartz countertop up the wall and doing a patterned colorful tile just behind her stove. I told her it would be cheaper to take out if she is tired of it in a few years. She has agreed to do this. The problem is most people who watch HGTV and go on Pintrest think that is the last word in design and want to be part of that trend without thinking down the line. You know what people say “convince a person against their will and they will be of the same opinion still.” Sure makes our job harder!

  • Diane says:

    I went with mfg beadboard. Say what you will, it suits the style/“era” of my townhome, my husband installed it, it’s a non-event and can easily be painted or torn out. There’s no perfect choice. If you’re in the position to go uber-trendy, then you’re probably in the position to change it when it’s run it’s course. Otherwise, take the subway! 😉

  • Patti Wright says:

    You are so right. We built our home nine years ago and although we didn’t use accent tile and chose beige tile, I sure wish we had gone with a plain white or cream. Nine years ago I didn’t understand all the different undertones of beige so my neutral bathrooms aren’t as neutral as I thought.

  • Emily says:

    The pencil tile is in one of those skinny strips around my shower! And I definitely regret it.
    Thankfully I found this website before we redid our kitchen. It is beautiful and white and timeless and always gets compliments.
    Even though we did the bathroom and kitchen within 6 months of each other the difference of BM and AM (Before Maria and After Maria 😉 ) is really quite something.

  • PERFECT summary Maria and thank you for addressing Zellige. What is your go to classic and timeless floor tile? I’d love to know. It’s a hard one. Simple rectangle or hex in black or white?

  • Kristen says:

    So thrilled to have my question answered, thank you SO much for taking the time to share your genius insight. As always, your perspective is always clear, unwavering and to the point, which is refreshing and instills such confidence. Looking forward to continuing to work with you via eDesigns and as an avid reader of your blog. 🙂 thanks again! -Kristen

  • Phyllis E says:

    Your analysis of how we make mistakes in picking tile is so spot on, and, as someone who has been there, done that,(Before finding this blog, of course) and also as a real estate agent, you had me rolling on the floor laughing at “…and you cherry pick (ideas from pinterest)…and you are disappointed..and now your kitchen or bath turns into all the ones you see when you go shopping for a new home…” Hysterical and Priceless!

  • Phyllis E says:

    Oh, no–I haven’t seen that geometric tile around here– yet– PUH–LEASE tell me that that trend will die-out before the average homeowner or contractor gets wind of it— UGHHH–that will ruin more home sales than termites and mold….
    BTW- I’ve yet to hear a home buying client say, “I wish they hadn’t used subway tile”, or ” I wish the backsplash tile wasn’t so plain”, yet I’ve heard, “I wish they hadn’t put in that busy backsplash (or accent) tile!” plenty of times!

  • Julie S says:

    Fantastic post!!! I love the video too. We’re preparing for a bathroom renovation and getting the ducks in a row… I am replacing the yellowed acrylic shower surround with white (elongated, handmade) subway tile. I love how it is simple and will outlast the design trends, yet has a more organic, textured surface and line that goes well in my California casual house. Bonus, the shape and texture echo my painted brick fireplace in the living room! Hex tile floors don’t feel like a good fit for this house though…I’m still musing on flooring but leaning toward a 1×2 shape in a natural stone-looking tile, probably green beige as that is repeated through my home.

  • Ange Mills says:

    22 years ago I picked out simple white 4×4 tiles for both of the bathrooms in our spec home. I remember the owner of the tile/carpet store asking if I was sure I didn’t want something more colorful and stylish. After all these years I’m still happy with my choice.

    • Vicki says:

      FWIW on this older post—we are building new home (production not custom) and the tile used in shower/tub area is a 6×6 white—everything else is an upgrade….We just went with the no-up-charge white and paid extra to extend to ceiling (9ft) in all 3 spaces. I looked on line and there is an amazing number of shower spaces done in 4×4 or 6×6 tile—usually white. Using a 50/50 offset vs straight on which I feel is more modern/clinical and not my look…

  • Jeannine says:

    End of October I specified white subway tile for an en suite guest bath and you should have seen the disappointed faces of my clients. When I arrived they had tile and floor/wall combos set out for my approval. All crazy bad. I knew immediately that they didn’t want me to specify tile, they wanted me to affirm what they already wanted. The husband wanted 6″ yellow beige squares with a hammered finish and white grout with a white penny tile floor. The wife wanted gray with a multi colored accent about 6′ from the floor. They were both desperate to get me on “their” side. I pulled out my boring white tiles. They shock their heads in disagreement the entire time I spoke and when I left they said they’d look around a bit more and call me at the end of the week. By the end of the week they had ordered the wall tiles, not because they liked them, but because they just didn’t know what else to do. They were clearly disappointed in my advice but they wanted me to now help with the floor. It took me less than 1 minute but they didn’t argue with me this time. I don’t know that they trusted me, they’d just wanted to get it done. The bathroom is now finished, they’re thrilled with it and showing it off and have decided I should help with their kitchen. All worked out but if they didn’t have a hard deadline I don’t think they would have taken my advice. I get the feeling they would have kept looking for help until someone gave them the answers they wanted. I knew I was doing the right thing and I honestly was explaining it and “selling” it as best as I could but I still felt bad that when I walked out the door they were clearly underwhelmed with me.

  • Ana says:

    I love this line: „The latest tile trend will hold you in a love locked gaze and make you do foolish things.“ Fun and informative post, thanks.

  • Liz in Oregon says:

    Lucy, Even though I’m a fan of Maria, I, too, dislike subway tile. Go figure LOL. But I do like classic and would love the white arabesque with white grout. You handled your client’s need for color well by putting it on a small area behind the stove.

    Speaking of people liking go-big-or-go-home color, I visited someone in southern Utah who had built a beautiful adobe style home. There was Talavera tile on a kitchen wall and counters, showers, around sinks…literally everywhere (they had bought large lots of it on eBay). They did it well and it suited the house and was gorgeous and classic in its own way. But if they ever want to sell, the buyer had better like Talavera! 🙂 I happen to love it, but I would have mounted the tiles on panels that could be hung on the walls in case I wanted a change. I like my hard surfaces white or cream and my color easy to remove.

  • Gaile says:

    I renovated my kitchen 12 years ago and got sucked in with dark granite and a busy dark glass tile backsplash. I was certainly tired of it after about 3 years. The glass looked dated and sucked the light out of my kitchen . On your recommendation i switched to a cream subway tile and couldn’t be happier!
    So when I came to renovate my master bath last year I was much wiser . White subway tile with traditional black and white small penny tile on the floor ! Thank you .

  • Tanya says:

    My answer to her question would be marble, no? I never get tired of seeing it and if I look at magazines from 10 years ago and see it, I still love and admire it. Especially white marble, anything that looks like it could be in an expensive classic hotel.

  • Sandy says:

    Maria, you are not only helping homeowners love their homes longer, you are also doing a great service for our environment in keeping all that once-trendy tile we would have installed out of future landfills. We all need to just relax, think about our privilege in being able to remodel, and do it in a more conscious way. Thanks for encouraging us to build and decorate our homes in a way we’ll be happy with them longer, and hopefully future owners will be happy too. (maybe I’ve said this before, but on white subway tile: we toured the 1903 home of Art Nouveau Architect Victor Horta — what was on the wall of the bathroom? — white subway tile. Still beautiful, and right at home across many styles and trends)

  • Marina says:

    Hi Maria,

    You hit the spot with this Moroccan tile! I totally love this OLD looking colourful and bright pieces. I also adore their famous 4-leaf tiles.. I am sure that is what I want in my rooms..
    That is my area of consern as well haha.. How to choose the materials that will not get out of time … I guess the Moroccan tile is the one of the ‘long-term’ elements as it always pleases the eye ..

  • Kim says:

    Fantastic post and video, Maria! You may remember my bathroom that we completed in 2018. I wanted a more modern look, so I chose glossy true white 12”x36” tile for shower walls, and glossy true white 6”x6” embossed tile for vertical walls of niche, with bright white grout. I used silver schluter trim around the shower wall and the niche. Guess what? I still ADORE my bathroom! It makes me so happy to see it every day. It is definitely thanks to you and your online classes that my bathroom turned out so beautiful. Those ladies at the tile shop really wanted me to inject some color but I persevered. The color comes in through my towels and accessories. Thanks for trying to keep trendy tile out of landfills!

  • Lisa says:

    I just leafed through a 2006 Sunset publication of “Before and After Bathroom Makeovers” and the majority of them are ready for a makeover as the tile choices just felt so dated in 2020. Maria, your post is an excellent reminder as I plan a spa-like bathroom in our basement.

    I did, however, use a black & grey mosaic tile for one wall in my baker’s pantry — the rest is white subway tile — and while it seems inconceivable that I will tire of this tile, ask me in 10 years!

  • Julie says:

    Good morning Maria:

    As usual, you write a fantastic article. There ARE lots of gorgeous and current tiles. The real questions are: 1. how soon will they not be current and look like a dated fad or tired trend?, 2.How quickly will you be sick of your choice? 3. Is the tile really really right for your setting? No wonder some basic tiles and white/creams stay classic and timeless. The timeless subway just happens to have been trending as well for some time. For me, my budget and my sanity, I went with white subway and white cabinets. It doesn’t “fight” anything. I can choose ANY color for art and fabrics and decorative items. I’m not stuck with having to only have decorative type items that cooperate with busy fixed elements. I need my “backbone” fixed elements to be just that, a plain backbone. No matter how beautiful a tile is (looking at you super detailed marble mosaics), I would be exhausted with “busy” quickly. That’s not true for everyone, hence the proliferation of tile patterns and colors. Maybe classic patterns is the answer as not everyone likes subway. Basketweave, herringbone and hexagons sure have been around forever. I have hex in one bathroom and basketweave in 2 others. Zellige has been around for centuries and might be a classic. The rustic chippy crooked look is not for me, but others rave about it. At the end of the day, whatever you choose, do YOU love it and will you love it a long time so it’s cost and time effective? Also, I have a deep emotional connection to basketweave tile. My grandmother and great aunt had it in all of the bathrooms and I associate that tile with the love that was in those houses. So, I put it in my house. Maria, could that be a topic? Designs and colors to which we have emotional attachments and why and how we use it.

  • Lisa says:

    Correction: Moroccan, not mosaic, tile!

  • Jenn says:

    Classic fixtures and tiles really are the way to go. My parents recently sold their home with a 23 year old kitchen – it had white shaker cabinets, wood counters and maple floors. They replaced the counters with quartz, refreshed the floors and it looked like it had been done recently. I recently bought a 12 year old house with white shaker cabinets and white subway tile and again, it looks current and I love it.

    On the other hand, I redid my tiny condo kitchen 13 years ago with pencil tile and when I sold it two years ago people were still saying they loved it but I was totally over it. In fact I was over it after about two years and wished I’d done something simpler.

  • Maureen says:

    Me too, Kristen. Real wood beadboard, suits the style and age of the house. While I wouldn’t want it everywhere in the house, in here it looks good. I have square blue 4″ tiles (already installed when we bought 25 years ago) in the tub area so I ripped out the “accent” tile and everything above, replaced it with one small line of glass tile, then one row of white 4″ above. Would have had just plain white, to go with the beadboard, but needed something to tie it all together, so small random glass tile, one row did the trick. I love love love the beadboard in the rest of the sizeable room, drywall above in a lovely aqua colour.

  • Cornelia says:

    I am still blinded by some of the crazy tile choices shown in the pictures! Let’s just all keep it simple and timeless and rather play with the things that are easy to change… Thanks so much, Maria! Excellent post! I
    bought your book the other day and have found my perfect neutral with the help of this book!! Hooray… peace (on my walls) at last.

  • Judy says:

    I love these short videos, they are so perfect. Just what we need for little reminders. I also like that you are posting them not just on Instagram but also on your blog. Keep them coming!
    Thank you!

  • Pam says:

    Whenever I see these large, bold tile patters, all I can think of is what was around in the late sixties and early 70’s. When I see those types of patterns today, all I can do is say, “what we’re we thinking back then”, only now they are here again. People will regret those choices I’m afraid.

  • Paul says:

    As a installer I always ask if it’s there forever home, if so do what you like they see it every day. I do tend to lead them to splash of color to tie things in and stay away from bold. Simplistic is always best and accent with other media, towels,pics, paint, wallpaper ect. Most of my clients agree.

  • Josh Ulrikkson says:

    I feel like you’re an idiot just spouting your personal opinion as fact.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes, this absolutely is my personal opinion and I’m certainly not attached to my opinion nor am I attached to being right. I wish I WAS MOSTLY wrong but if you had seen as many homes as I have in my 20 years of being in this business, you would say the same.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂 Maria

  • Lorri says:

    I think context is everything. There are tile installations in old buildings that no one ever wants to rip out because it’s an integral part of the design. People fall in love with something they see in old buildings in Europe and want to install it in their suburban tract house. It will probably look out of place. I do love colorful tiles, but they have to somehow look like they belong and the house would be worse without them.

    • Lorena says:

      Exactly. Many choices here are beautiful in the right context and right style or era house, but not on a McMansion or a tract home, for sure.

  • Keira says:

    I agree with everything you said, Maria, but I want to add that in some parts of the world, encaustic or other colorful tile is a classic element in vestibules/foyers, restaurants, kitchens, etc.–think Mexico, France, Spain…

  • SConn says:

    Maria… I just love you. You’ve said all of this before, many times, but it does bare repeating. If not just to solidify it in our minds!
    Having just helped a client with a whole house remodel (Tuscan trend) and now working on their 3 bathrooms, I am doing my best to help them steer clear of trendy tiles. Unfortunately, she is enamored with some that just make me cringe and she is willingly going against my advice/suggestions. Sometimes, all you can do is give them the information and consequences and clearly as possible, but ultimately, it’s their house.

  • Katie Jane says:

    Great post. While I agree that you shouldn’t let the most trendy tile influence your decision, I also think we have to empower people to make choices other than white subway tile. As a designer doing large scale renovations, people ask me this a lot. A tile shower, for example, is a pricey addition. In our region you would tile it for wow factor, not function or practicality. So when people feel obligated to choose white subway tile because it is safe and timeless, it takes the fun out of the remodel.

  • Vered says:

    Cultural context- after traveling to Peru, Columbia, Mexico and Guatemala, I noticed that some of the trendy tile we see in the US, is considered “classic” in other countries. Ive seen lots of coffee shops, restaurants and old houses with encaustic tile, and, growing up in Israel, I have seen this kind of tile in old houses in the middle east. My point is- for some of my clients, the trendy encaustic tile actually feels connected to their culture, history and memories of places they grew up in. I agree with Maria that we need to he careful not to over use tile that is trendy, but I also think that if I can help my immigrant clients feel more connected to their homes by using materials that remind them of their childhood homes, I have done something right..

  • Jessy says:

    I have never liked backsplashes and have never had them in any kitchen or bathroom where I had control of the design. Never really knew why, just always told the contractor I was still thinking about it! 🤣

    I’m not very minimalistic and don’t shy away from color. After reading this I think I could tolerate subway tile, with similar colored grout. For my next personal project. In the mean time, I’ll think about it! Thanks Maria!

  • Susie Posson says:

    Love your article on trending tile.We purchased a 1970’s ‘ranch’ style house back in the nineties. The kitchen had white tile, not exactly subway, but pure white 4X4 square tiles covering the counters and the back splash! I didn’t replace the counters until mid 2000,(after years of cleaning/bleaching grout) with granite, but had left the white tile back splash since it went with everything. Now the cabinets were originally a very yellowish pine (custom made by the original homeowner) and of very good quality. Through out the years, I have painted them brown and now they are a very dark grey/charcoal color (Benjamin Moore’s Almost black, pearl finish). You are so right that the white tiles have been absolutely timeless and now the early 2000’s granite looks perfectly fine! I did remove the upper cabinets several years ago and added more white tile (natural marble, subway style with a grey veining) behind the stove and above the original white tile back splash, all the way up to the ceiling! We installed a white pencil tile for the separation. It’s pretty and classic and I’m thrilled to still have some of the original design in my home from 1977 when the house was built! I never really thought about it too much until reading your blog this morning, thank you !!

  • Elizabeth Rogers says:

    I love the white tile, but am wondering about grout color? Especially in tub with mold/mildew issues and kitchen with grease or splashing incidents. Also, what is ideal spacing in these areas? Im not a designer, just someone learning from your so helpful blog for when Im ready to build my house!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Nothing wrong with contrasting grout as long as you don’t do it on BOTH the floor tile AND the wall tile, that can look too busy! Maria

  • Reuven says:

    I like your tile choices. I would love to hear your opinion on glass backsplash. Here to stay or fad?

    • Maria Killam says:

      It depends on how you install it and what you use? And a lot of glass changes from daylight to incandescent lights at night which could make it look like you choose the wrong colour. Hope this helps, Maria

  • Diane Kipp says:

    Thank you for being willing to repeat ideas, Maria, as some of us need to hear things over and over, and each post explains things in a slightly different way.

    I love classic and simple and neutral fixed elements, and intend to go in that direction. I am wondering what you think of a simple subway or square tile backsplash in a classic color such as light seafoam or sage green? My reason for considering this – I have my heart set on a white or off white countertop, and I am considering painting my cabinets white, and I am left cold by all white kitchens, even though I realize they are classic and the easiest to decorate with long term. (Adding warmer decor elements in the kitchen is not enough to get me past my dislike of an all white kitchen.) The only way I can see myself having white cabinets and white countertops is by having a colored backsplash. Green will be my main accent color in the kitchen and adjoining family room. What do you think? Still a mistake to go with a green backsplash?

  • Helena says:

    I wanted chess checkerboard tile in the mudroom, but let my hubs go nuts with encaustic tile in there- knowing even as it was being laid that the clock was ticking on it. It’s important to be informed by your own point of view, vs. HGTV’s. That’s the key to creating a space that is personal, chic, classic, and that you love to call home. If I’m inspired to lay tile that reminds me of a part of the set of a Verdi opera I fell in love with at The Met… then I can be 100% sure that I won’t stare down that same tile in 5 friends’ houses: it’s fully my own.

  • Carole says:

    I’m getting ready to renovate a beach house that has 1500 sq ft of tiger eye manufacturer wood 🤦‍♀️ I’m looking at the large profile porcelain in 24X48 with minimal grout and cost more to install but concerned that’s it’s trendy it’s a BIG change and expensive and messy to replace. Should I stay with the 24X24 in a neutral color ? Help this is a big decision and I don’t want to make a costly mistake.

  • Vonnie G says:

    I have no problem with white tile, but why must everything be subway tile? Such a boring shape unless you get creative with it. One should also consider the architecture of their home especially if they you live in an older house. Having spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean, the American obsession with subway is so basic and bland in my opinion. Unless you are planning on selling your house soon, choose something you love and can live with. There are many other options besides the ole 3×6 subway tile stand-by!

    • Diane says:

      One person’s boring is another person’s classic and elegant! I love my white subway tile and it makes me happy every time I walk into my kitchen and bathroom, and I don’t like it any less knowing many other people have it in their house. But I can easily understand that some find it boring.

  • Lorena says:

    I love very ornate things. What is considered a fad in the USA, is not in other countries, which in turn they become classics. Encaustic tiles are beautiful and used for centuries in other countries like Morocco and such.

    I had seen beautiful encaustic tiles in older and antique houses that are very much worth keeping.

  • Erika says:

    I agree. My 1930 Tudor cottage has square tiles as do most of the original bathrooms in my neighborhood. And gasp, the colors are peach, black and white — the horror. I love it!! Probably wouldn’t do that much color in a master bath, but I will likely do a similar bathroom for the kids bath but with blue. For my bath, I did marble herringbone for floors and Zellige for shower. ! I am not sure why subway is considered the “classic”. I do like subway for sure but I think there are several “classic” types of tile. And I don’t think I have ever stayed in a European hotel that is all white subway tile (usually marble). We have 2 other bathrooms that were laid all in white tile (floor, walls, shower) in the 90s and I HATE them (feel so sterile) and can’t wait to rip them out. I suppose it is a “classic” look but give me marble, color, and a variety of shapes any day.

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