A whole lot modern. A little bit nostalgic.


Subway tiles are always up there in the choice set when we’ve got a reno or a build on the go, especially on a kitchen mood board. Is it because they are gleamy and glossy? Defo. Or on account of their neat-and-natty bevelled beauty? Natch. Their easy-clean nature? Obvs. Or that evocative, contemporary classic vibe? Forever modern. Ah… now that’s interesting.

If we said: “ Queen Victoria… and go”, what would your first thought be? A dumpy, frumpy, frowny-raced old bat who lived in a bunch of draughty old castles and pretty much ruled the world from a tiny island, right? Well, she wasn’t always overweight and frowny-faced… but she did preside over arguably the most extraordinary era of expansion the world has ever known. And front and centre in this Great Move Forward was the birth and growth of the electrified subway system. Now read on.

Around sort of 1860-something into the early 20th century, some pretty awesome brains got together to create, among other things, amazing people-mover networks. The subway systems. In London, then Budapest, Paris, New York, Chicago and Moscow. And beyond.


But, being underground, subway systems got grubby and gritty and unhygienic pretty quickly. The Victorians were obsessed with cleanliness and a dirty system was unthinkable. two bright sparks in New York found an easy-to-maintain and hygienic solution to the problem.

Designers George Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge created the distinctive stain-resistant, low maintenance 3” by 6” rectangular tiles for the very first station of New York’s new-born subway in 1904. And the rest, as they say, is history, with subways tiles appearing in butcher shops, kitchens and pretty much everywhere that needed to be kept squeaky clean.

A classic contemporary that never dates.

So here we are, over a century later, still loving the subway tile’s crisp, easy-clean, every-contemporary and durable personality.

Chances are, you’ve got them in your home, which means you live with a little bit of history. How ‘bout that? Subway tiles are practically perfect in every way. And with little design evolutions here and there, they remain a modern choice with a nostalgic twist.

And with subway’s sleek, streamlined, easy-to-clean design, it’s no surprise that the trend is still going strong today… and only gaining in popularity. They’re efficient, inexpensive and versa-tile.

Running bond or not?

Lay your subway tiles in the traditional brick pattern – called running bond – or try something a little non-traditional and quirky, with a diagonal herringbone pattern.

White? Or what?

Classic white’s always wonderful. But you’ll find a massive range of different colourways, coloured (try metallic) grout options and even patterns at Italtile. We’re loving white… but then there’s also that cool grey, or mint green, or sexy black with black grout (gasp) or…

Try white with dark grout for some real standout!


Go bananas with floor-to-ceiling subway.

Hit the pastel trend with the sherbety, sorbet deliciousness of the Chalk range.

Add some unexpected zing with zig-zag patterning.

Grab yourself some mini magic with sensational subway mosaics. (On promo right now from only R49.00 a sheet. Sheet-hot or what!?)

Turn the subway trend on its head with marble-veined subways for instant luxe.


Hop on the subway trend if you haven’t already. But where to start? Make your next stop Italtile. And ask an interior design-certified sale adviser to walk you through the ever-growing range (armed with a cup of Italtile’s signature blend coffee to stay woke). Together, you can put a bit of a mood board together, and you’ll leave with some samples to take home and try before you buy.

Live beautifully.