How to Spice Up Your Subway Tile Backsplash

Oh, subway tile! It's such a classic. Literally, the 3x6 tiles have been around since 1904, which is when the New York Subway station was designed. You might have seen some older home's bathrooms filled with colored subway tile. This was a classic mark of Victorian style. Want to know why they loved it so much? Because of the awesome cleanability factor. From what I read, they were impeccable people!

Well since then, subway tile has taken off. And for some reason, it transcends styles and design niches. Traditional, modern, contemporary, name it and it works! Another plus is the price point.

It works so well, in fact, that 100% of my kitchen remodels and new construction design client's homes have chosen subway tile for the majority of their kitchens and baths in the last 3 years. Holy subway tile!! Don't get me wrong, I love it as much as the next person and honestly, I think it looks so good there's almost not a better option, but when everyone is doing the same look and I promise my client's unique spaces, I want to deliver by not giving them the same standard subway tile look that their neighbor has. 

Enter this massive roundup of all my favorite ways to spice up your subway tile backsplash! There are tons of things you can do to give your backsplash a unique look, while still going with the subway style.  

1. Different Material / Stone in a Subway Tile Shape:

This one is done in a beautiful marble. Yes, the price is going to be significantly higher than ceramic tiles, but it's certainly a way to bring more elegance and style to your space. There are also faux marble tiles, but I'd be really careful with those-- they mostly end up looking fake and at that point, I'd suggest sticking to a genuine tile you can afford :)

My client's laundry room features a stainless steel subway tile and it's such a fun look. It's not over-the-top crazy, but the size and finish of the tile is different enough to give the room a special look.
2. Colored Subway Tile:

Think out of the box a bit and you might find another color that would be more effective in your design plan anyways! A lot of people want the look of a white, bright and airy kitchen, but when they choose white cabinets, white counters AND a white backsplash, sometimes it feels a little sterile. 

You can see we went with a warm greige subway in the below client kitchen of mine from a couple years ago. Doing this color pulled the greige colorway out of the countertop and pulled everything together!

Big risk = big reward! I think this blue herringbone tile pattern Young House Love did a few years ago turned out great. While I would probably only do this in a vacation home, I just love it. It's whimsical and sweet and this shade of light blue is PERFECTION to me. 
 via - blue herringbone

3. Subway Tile Laid in a Different Pattern:

The most common style subway tile is laid in is called "offset joint" or "running bond" which is where you set the tile at the 1/2 way point from the one above it, like below:


But why not mix it up and lay the tile in a different pattern?! Same product, whole new look. This one is laid in a zig zag herrinbone style. It definitely reads a bit more modern / contemporary, but in the right context, I love it!

This one is called Crosshatch and it's so cool when done right. It's a very bold look, so I love that they did it on just one wall here.

The Stacked look below can really go with any style as well, especially when grouted in a color very close to the tile color. It almost just disappears here and creates a nice sleek background.

Another herringbone pattern, but this time it's laid on a diagonal. This is gorgeous! If it was me, I'd do it in white grout to cut on how bold it is, but it's still really lovely here (especially with the amazing all glass shower and brass accents!)

4. Textured Subway Tile

So you want to do white subway tile. That's totally fine! Maybe you can think about going with a textured look to spice it up.

This first one is actually a little off white and looks a little more gray in this photo, but I LOVE this so much. Of course, it's designed by Emily Henderson!

This is one of my client's homes below and we went with a handmade subway tile, which means the tile wasn't perfectly smooth. It looks handmade, so it has an awesome texture to it, giving a really beautiful sheen when light hits it.

Stop into any Starbucks bathroom and you'll probably see the bevel tile on their walls! I was inspecting the one at my local Starbucks today and it's not grouted very well, so it's a poor example ;) But THIS bathroom, on the other hand, is gorgeous. The thing with white subway tile with a little detail, like the bevel, is that one single room can take a lot of it! It's not too overwhelming. (Also, how pretty is this tiled hardwood?!)

One of my clients just put in a bevel backsplash in her kitchen and it's so lovely. I can't wait to share!
via - bevel

5. Play with Size:

A really simple change to subway tile is going with a size other than the standard 3x6! In a shower you could go with a much bigger size (it's cheaper to lay, too!), in a kitchen you could consider doing something a little smaller like Emily Henderson's 2x6 size in her kitchen:


I helped my cousin design their kitchen a couple months ago and we did the standard 3x6" size around the whole kitchen, but switched it up behind the range with a 2x6 size in a herringbone pattern. Subtle but effective!
via - anna's kitchen
6. Switch up the Grout:

Last but not least, your look totally changes depending on the grout color you choose. I pulled lots of examples for you! A general rule of thumb is the closer the grout color to your tile, the more you'll let the tile shine as a whole. The more contrast in the grout from the tile color, the more you'll eye will see the pattern the tile was laid in and the more you'll notice the grout. Neither one is a "right" option, they're just different looks to take into consideration! Typically the more contrast, the more modern look.

White Tile / Gray Grout

White Tile / White grout

Black (Square) Tile / White Grout

Gray Blue Tile / White Grout

Marble with gray and white veining / Light Gray Grout with gold trim (Had to include this because it's so unique and I LOVE IT! I have no idea where to get this-- I'm so sorry! I wish I could find it, but after much Googling...nothing! Ha ;))

So...what's your favorite look?! Describe your dream kitchen / bathroom in the comments. I love hearing what everyone else loves!

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Budget Decorating: Home Accents, Throws and Rugs

Last week I shared my favorite clothing and shoe finds with you here and here from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  I'm sure you're totally over hearing about the sale, but the only reason I post about it is because it truly is amazing, in that they are brand NEW items just released on MAJOR sale! I use this sale to get a couple key items I wouldn't normally buy at normal prices and stock up on some basics for winter. 
Today it's all about the home decor. Not sure about you but once I find a piece for my house, it usually stays put for a while! My bookshelf has been the same version of how I currently have it styled for the past 3 years. I change items out seasonally (but always keep it pretty neutral!) but typically I stick with the same formula for my decorating. I was browsing the sale section of decor and was blown away by how many adorable and beautiful pieces I found! I'm sharing some of my favorite neutrals and sweet items just to freshen up your house a little. Take a look below.
1 / 2/ 3/ 4
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21/ 22/ 23/ 24
A couple standouts for me:
1. Everyone needs a vase of this shape and size! Loving the seaglass color of this one.
2. I'm all about Quatrefoil shape anything, so this mirror caught my eye. I think it'd be so pretty in a set of two stacked.
8. I have this soy candle in a smaller version and love the smell of it. What I adore about this one is the unique shape! It's the perfect thing to put on your dining table or on a glass tray on your dresser.
12. This rug doesn't look like anything special, but it is! It's a great quality neutral, wool rug that's the perfect backdrop for a dining table or living room where you want a simple textured rug.
14. This rug is the exact rug I have in my kitchen by the sink. It's cotton so it's washable, very durable and cleanable! I love the slight herringbone pattern and seaglass color. I love pretty much ALL Dash & Albert rugs!
18. I'm ordering this blanket in the vanilla color. I've heard from multiple people that this is one of their favorite blankets to cozy up with. One of my clients has it in 3 colors!
21. How cute are these pom pom storage baskets?!
24. This marble lazy susan would be perfect for hosting, especially for a cheese plate appetizer!

Have you snagged anything from the decor section of the sale?
Have a wonderful start to your week!
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Nordstrom Sale Picks for Every Season

Happy FRIDAY! I'm excited to show you some Nordstrom Anniversary Sale picks for each season today! Dresses and tops for warmer months are on the top and sweaters, the best leggings, and cardigans are on the bottom. Sprinkled in is some beautiful jewelry-- ALL on sale! You can shop the pieces below the graphic with the widget. If you missed my top 15 picks from the Nordstrom sale yesterday, you can find it here. And if you're not a cardholder to be able to shop the sale early right now, get signed up here! You can shop almost immediately.

I'm hoping to get my hands on one of these Barefoot Dreams cardigans for winter. I've heard they feel like PJ's!

Do you have your eye on anything?!


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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds: Basics & Favorites Under $100

Hey friends! Big day-- it's the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for cardholders, which is the biggest sale Nordstrom has all year! Today I'm giving you my top 15 favorite finds (almost all under $100), keeping in mind fall and winter is coming and this is the time to stock up on your favorite brands that never go on sale! You can only shop the sale if you're a cardholder, otherwise, the sale opens to the public next week! It's not too late to sign up though, so grab your card here then start shopping. You can still see the sale items without being a cardholder, but likely most things are gone by the time early access is over!

Sidenote: I know almost every blogger posts about this sale, and I don't want my post to be redundant or annoying (ha!) so I really only picked out items that I truly love and would buy myself. And a couple items that I'm actually buying, of course. My style is simple and feminine and honestly in the winter, I'm practical above all else. Hopefully these favorites of mine are some that you adore, too!

Okay, let's get to it: 

1. This Blondo Nova Waterproof Bootie. This is more close to the style I got and wore all last winter (still in amazing condition, so they will be on repeat again, too!) I'm so excited to add another version of this shoe with a higher heel this time to my wardrobe! I live in booties and boots, so it's really a must ;) (Okay, husband?!)

2. AG Raw Legging Hem Ankle Jeans. If you follow on Instagram, you know my puppy chewed one side of these jeans from last year's sale. I've now cut them into capris, but I'm SAD because this is the only pair of jeans I loved wearing in the winter and now I won't be able too because #michiganwinters = no ankles showing! They are the best, softest jeans I've ever owned. The slight raw hem and distressing gives it something extra special. This is my only pick over $100, but they are SO WORTH IT.

3.  7 For All Mankind Skinny Jeans, Release Hem. Under $100 and so cute! Love the dark wash and that super fun hem line. They called this style "release hem".

4. Kut from the Kloth Toothpick Jeans. Even cheaper than the above, this jean is a medium wash with some distressing and still a skinny jean (that's all I wear!) I could get away with these in winter since they come to my ankle.
5. Ruffle Sleeve Top. It's so similar to my eyelet ruffle that I got a couple weeks ago that is now sold out. Ruffles are such a fun way to add some detail to your outfit without blowing the budget!
6. Gibson Convertible Fleece Wrap. I love it styled both ways and feel like I'd LIVE in this in the fall and winter months. 

7. Caslon Back Zipper Sweater. Comes in 5 colors! Love the cream and coral. An exposed zipper is one of my favorite things ever. I have a sweater from Loft with an exposed zipper and I get compliments every time I wear it!

8. BP. Exposed Seam Sweater. It comes in my favorite color ever-- lilac/lavender! It also comes in cream and yellow, in case you're not a lilac girl like me ;) The airy bell sleeves were enough to sell me on this one. And it's not wool, which I appreciate considering I am allergic!
9. Hinge Mix Print Peasant Dress. This is really similar to the dress I wore for our Christmas card pictures last year. I love the flowy, bohemian style of it. The tassels are a cute added touch, too!! Comes in two colors, but I'm kinda loving this darker one most!

10. Socialite Tie Waist T-Shirt Dress. Love this easy throw on and go type of cozy and soft dress! You could wear sneakers or wedges and sandals with it.
11. Chambray Cold Shoulder Dress. How sweet is this?! I love a chambray dress for all occasions! 
12. Raw Edge Stripe V Neck. This is $11, ladies! It comes in tons of colors and is SO soft. Perfect for a half tuck with some summer shorts and under a cardi in the fall.
13. Hinge Lace Peplum Top. This comes in a classic black or white. I'm partial to white tops, so that'd be my pick!
14. Vince Camuto Stripe Back Tee. Love the stripe detail in the back! These are the kinds of shirts you can throw on with shorts or jeans, toss a long necklace over your head and head out the door. With shoes of course ;)

15. Caslon Braided Bootie. How fun are these braided straps?! I could only wear these in the fall and spring since winter is brutal here, but These would dress up any outfit in that effortless-chic way :) Comes in 3 colors.
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