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Details~ Subway Tile Backsplash

When it comes to details- sometimes simple is best.

It can be like choosing the perfect outfit and then adding the way too big earrings
instead choosing the subtle but elegant pearl or diamond studs
 that compliment but in a quiet way.

You don't want someone to look at your fabulous pale pink beaded top with the perfectly matched cropped jacket,  your form fitted black skinny jeans and those amazing nude heels
all wrapped into one knock out outfit...
and have the first thing that people notice
 be the too big, too blingy, too over the top look at my ears
 earrings you put on.

I like big earrings as much as anyone else, but the point is- 
each element in your outfit should blend together- so that there isn't one thing 
that says Bam- look at those earrings
 and instead, the whole look that says BAM with capital letters.

If I have learned one thing about designing a space
 it is to keep some things on the subtle side rather than over the top in a room
so that everything comes together as a whole picture.

When we were planning the kitchen renovation, I kept that in mind.
I knew that I wanted classic. 
Something that was elegant but also approachable.
Something that said 1940's cottage - but not plain 1940's cottage
a cottage with style.
I am talking cottage with some sparkle.

I knew I wanted marble slab counters
but the backsplash? So many great choices.
But I really wanted to keep it classic and simple and compliment
 the rest of the era of the kitchen.

Enter white subway tile.
Is it too plain or too simple?
Not at all.
Whoever said that white subway tile was plain was wrong.
Friends- white subway tile is amazing. 
It is definitely classic and paired with the right counters 
and right grout-  can be the perfect compliment 
 to something like a gorgeous marble countertop and fluted farm sink.

Subway tile is not difficult to install- especially if you go with the types
that come in a 12x12 'grid' sheet rather than individual tiles
They are a little more expensive- but in my opinion worth it.
And quite honestly, I didn't love that larger size as much when I stacked them up to try them
so it was an easy decision.
(pardon the upcoming quick iPhone shots) 

(Yes- we did use teeny tiny nails to secure the sheets while waiting for them to dry.
A trick I learned on a previous tiling job)

Tiling can be messy- so I would advise wearing
long sleeves and gloves to protect your skin - and eye goggles or sunglasses if you
are a messy kind of tile person. A splash of sandy grout or mortar in your eye 
is not only a not so fun experience- it involves and eye wash and maybe a trip to the ER
so - safety first folks. 

The other safety? Protect your counters and floors.
Thick paper on a roll can be found at the hardware store- roll it out and tape it down to secure it.
The mixture for grout will scratch and ruin surfaces- don't ask me how I know.

Overall though, a fairly easy job.
My sons girlfriend and I installed the tile in just a few hours
and I grouted on my own a few days later.

Here it is part way. I will admit, I really did
kind of like the dark lines -which is not the grout- it is just the tile lines waiting for grout.
I walked by and admired that look for a few days
and then decided it was mostly what I saw when I walked by. 
So I went back to my first thought which was simple white grout to keep the look cohesive.

Grout is easy to apply- you just fill in the grout lines and wipe off the excess.
It is a messy, messy job though- so keep that in mind.
But it is rewarding as you go along and see the difference it is making.
After the grouting was wrapped-it was clean up and enjoy time!

I think that this subway tile backsplash was the perfect choice
for this vintage kitchen refresh.
It adds character and charm
without overpowering the space- which is exactly what I was looking for.

If you would like to see more of the kitchen- including before, before
and after photos- you can find them here
and you can find the subway tile we used here

Imperial Danby Slab- Arizona Tile
Farmhouse sink- Lowe's
Faucet- Delta
Hardware- DLawless
Paint- Lowe's 
Island- Costco (back in the day) 
Farmhouse oak stool- Restoration Hardware

If you have any questions- let me know and I will try to answer them.

I am off to find the perfect outfit for the day
and the perfect earrings to go with it. 

Happy Monday everyone!

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  1. Your choices in design beautifully made and shows off its space amazingly. This room does not compete for attention up against each elament used ..... BRAVO Courtney!
    Your calculated well thought out choices make your cottage kitchen timeless, Gasping every time I visit.

    A kitchen to love.


  2. Stunning! Your kitchen is absolutely fantastic! I, too, want to install white subway tile. I agree with your opinion that it is elegant and classic.
    Michelle from

  3. Courtney, the white subway tile black splash looks beautiful!!! So classic and I love it with the marble counters. I want to add the same tiles and counters in our house when we finally get around to redoing our kitchen:).

  4. It looks so beautiful. We would never want such an addition to our kitchen here as mould tends to grow where we live, so I am jealous of those who can have it. :-)

  5. Really really pretty. I love how fresh and clean it all looks. The subway tile was a perfect choice...


  6. Courtney, you have one of the most "to die for" kitchens in all of are such a lucky and talented girl! Enjoy your gorgeous re-do!

  7. Simply stunning! I agree with everyone else! Absolutely amazing!

  8. Love the white subway tile - agree it adds a quiet elegance - the perfect backdrop to what else you have going on! As for the earrings... I would liken them to the fabulous chandelier... so maybe, a wonderful pair of earrings with an elegant outfit just might work... ;-)

    1. I think that is absolutely true- the perfect earrings are just that and play a part in the whole look!
      It is the 'earrings' that just don't go or are too showy that to me feels like they take away and grab the attention.
      Thanks for stopping by Lory!

  9. Beautiful! It so clean and fresh. Makes a wonderful backdrop for all your little pretties. Nicely done!

  10. Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful. Wow, you are amazing installing all that tile yourself!
    I love carrara marble for my kitchen counter tops. But I worry they are very delicate. I do have them in my master bathroom and they are gorgeous. But I am scare to install them in the kitchen. What is your input, advice, experience with marble in your kitchen?

    1. I love the marble- and I haven't had an issue with it in the kitchen. I did seal it several times and do make sure to wipe anything off if I notice it but so far- it has been a dream countertop. I did a post all about marble and how we chose this type, what I learned, etc if that helps -

  11. Bonjour chère amie,

    J'aime la clarté de votre cuisine. Merci pour le partage de vos photos.
    J'ai utilisé chez moi un carrelage presque similaire pour le petit coin toilette des invités.

    ❀ ✺ Gros bisous ✺ ❀

  12. Your kitchen is beautiful & the tiles are a perfect choice. We decided on cream subway / metro tiles when our kitchen was redone, & they are a prefect choice & lovely to look at too.

  13. Truly lovely choices!! The overall effect is beautiful. Nothing screams at you like huge earrings--just classy Audrey Hepburn.I would love to change our counters and back splash -- it is turquoise. No we didn't pick it out it was here when we downsized. Your kitchen certainly is an inspiration.

  14. I love everything about this room but especially all the bright white with the golden chandeliers.

  15. I am planning to use Carreras marble for our countertops but need to paint out kitchen cabinets. What paint did you use for your cabinets and how are they holding up? Did you use an oil base?

  16. Beautiful!! We bought the same tile for our backsplash and I love your grout choice, it's white but there's a hint of definition. Would you mind sharing what brand/color you used? Thanks!

  17. Courtney, I am new to your blog. I love your decorating style. Do you have a source for the wood top in laundry room and on your kitchen island? I would like an island top like yours and wood counters in our laundry room.