Subway Tile – How I Decided on the Pattern and Grout

Finally, we are getting to the end of this renovation!  This week, the guys came to install the white subway tile backsplash.  At that point, I still had a couple quick decisions to make.  Did I still think white subway tile with white grout was the way to go?  Did I want to change the backsplash pattern above the stove area…maybe have them lay that subway tile in a herringbone pattern?

Before I tell you how I decided on the pattern and grout color, let’s back track to when I was undecided about which white subway tile to use…

Subway Tile Decisions:

White Subway Tile - beveled and traditional tiles

White Subway Tiles – My Final Two:

Once I decided to go with glossy white subway tiles, I narrowed my choices down to two styles – beveled and plain. 

Even though I love how the beveled subway tiles (on left) add some dimension, I prefer the way the plain flat ones don’t distract from my raised panel cabinets.  Plus, I think the standard plain ones were cheaper…you gotta save where you can!

White Kitchen Renovation - choosing a backsplash

Subway Tile Color:

Also, I went back and forth between a cream color and pure white subway tile. 

Since my cabinets are White Dove, I had a hard time with that decision.  Finally, I decided on the whiter tiles since they looked better with the White Ice granite.  All along, I knew I wanted to lay the tiles in the traditional subway tile pattern.  At least that decision was easy!

But then there were more decisions…

Herringbone Pattern Backsplash - Subway Tiles decisions

White Subway Tile Backsplash – Behind the Stove:

Tile layout options…

Originally, I had planned to just continue the subway tile in the traditional brick pattern for the area above the stove.  At one point, I think my kitchen designer had suggested doing a creative tile pattern in that area but I wasn’t ready to commit to anything early on. 

Once I was ready to purchase the subway tiles, I consulted with Jessica from our local tile store.  She also suggested we try something different over the stove and recommended that we set the subway tiles in a herringbone pattern with a border.

At that point, I thought it sounded like a good idea so she emailed me a drawing for the contractor to follow.  Of course, at the last minute I panicked because I felt the whole boxed in section looked too big.  Basically, I was worried you wouldn’t see the top border from a distance because of the range hood.

As you can see in the photo above, my two options for the top border are marked by the arrows.  These were the only two options if we wanted to avoid cutting the border tiles which would look weird.  All along, I was leaning towards the original plan but I called and emailed the tile store just to make sure it made sense.  Jessica agreed that going with the top line would look better so we went with it.

White Subway Tiles in Herringbone Pattern above stove

Overall, I was happy with the decision.  Now when you are in front of the stove or sitting at the island, you see the whole box.  When you are standing across the room, the top is a little hidden behind the range hood, but it’s totally fine!  If we had lowered the top border, it may have looked a little squished.

Herringbone Backsplash - white subway tile with white grout vs gray grout

Gray Grout vs. White Grout with White Subway Tile:

Should the grout stand out or blend in?…

When the guys left for the evening I stared at the non-grouted tile for awhile.  Of course, I kind of fell in love with the idea of maybe doing a more noticeable grout…like a gray grout.  Maybe I was just getting used to looking at the tile this way but wow, it was definitely an option! 

Using a gray grout would give a more modern farmhouse look to the kitchen.  If we used a gray grout for the backsplash, the herringbone pattern over the stove would stand out more as well.

Modern Farmhouse Kitchen - White Subway Tile with gray grout vs. white grout

Here is the room from a distance before they applied the grout.  Sure, I could have gone the white subway tile with gray grout route…Plus the gray would pick up the colors from the granite.

But in the end, I went with my original plan…

Herringbone Pattern Subway Tile over Stove - White Subway Tile with White Grout

White Subway Tile with White Grout:

Subtle and timeless…

Here is the finished white subway tile with white grout.  After considering using a gray grout, I decided against it.  In the end, I didn’t want the grout color to compete with the granite.  Our white ice granite is busy enough on its own.  Plus, I think the white subway tile with the white grout is more timeless and the herringbone pattern in the backsplash is more subtle.

Subway Tile Backsplash - Herringbone Pattern over Stove

Seriously, I could not be happier!

White Subway Tile - White Grout

As things are moving along, I am starting to think how much fun it will be to set up a little cocktail area over here!  (Some cocktails will definitely be in order after this renovation!)

White Kitchen in the evening with new white subway tile.

Here is the kitchen last night.  I love the glow of the subtle under cabinet lighting and the way it highlights the white subway tile.

Only a few more small details and we will be done!!

Herringbone Pattern Subway Tiles - White subway tile with white grout

Well, I guess it’s time for a dinner party!

You also might notice in the photo above that we switched the handle on that door in the left corner.  After seeing it this way, I can’t believe I ever second guessed the placement on that!

Would you have chosen the white subway tile with white grout?

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Herringbone Tile Backsplash - Things to Consider Before Choosing Pattern and Grout Color

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  1. Your kitchen is absolutely gorgeous, I love everything about it! When we are finally ready to redo our kitchen I am definitely going to look to yours for inspiration, the cabinets, tile, counter tops it's all so beautifully put together, you did an awesome job!

  2. Shelley the tile is gorgeous! I love how the box came out and the white grout too – so classic and in 10 or 20 years it will still be in style! Everything came together beautifully – you did an amazing job!! Now tell me about your range – is it the Viking 48" with double ovens? I can only fit a 36" and currently don't have gas but am contemplating burying a propane tank in the yard. Do you like this oven so far? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  3. I think you definitely chose the right tile. And I am glad you went with your original plan. They normally are the best. It looks great you must be so pleased.Cheers,Nat

  4. Your kitchen is gorgeous and I love the subway tile! I bet you can't wait for the project to be finished. We have been priming and painting cabinets all week…..so fun!

  5. love the area above the stove, that looks great. enjoy your new space! we're in a backsplash situation over in our kitchen reno, too. i want a longer white subway tile, and i think i want light gray grout…but i will see on tuesday when the countertop is installed! exciting times.b

  6. Absolutely beautiful! It's mind blowing all the little details that go into making a space look great. You are nailing it! I bet you are ready to stock that cocktail bar 😉

  7. I've come over from Amaze Me Monday to admire your kitchen. I have a love affair with subway tile. I lived with it in our previous house for a number of years and when we moved, it was a no brainer what I was going to have installed. I love your design by your stove. Very beautiful.

  8. I love it all & think you made the right decisions–especially about the herringbone design. But, maybe I'm just biased because it looks so much like mine!! Thanks for sharing it at the Pretty Preppy Party!

  9. Boy, do I have kitchen envy! It's just gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing at Something to Talk About! Karen

  10. I'm a huge fan of subway tile and yours looks great! Can't wait to have my own home someday to put some in. We're in an apartment right now. :)Whitney whitneydonae.com

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