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Bigger Is (Sometimes) Better: The Forever Classic Subway Tile Has A New Look


NY SubwayA Brief History of Subway Tile

Long recognized for its durability and ease of care, ceramic tile was a natural choice for the walls of the New York Subway system which opened in 1904. The shiny white tile was selected for its durability and stain resistance, and the light color and high gloss made it a good choice to brighten the dark, subterranean spaces. This underground transit system can be credited with helping to popularize the use of these tiles in subways around the world. The material’s clean lines, enduring nature, and low maintenance requirements allowed it to emerge from the underground tunnels into our bathrooms and kitchens, where it has remained a popular surfacing choice for over a hundred years.

The Subway Tile Resurgence

Freestyle Subway Tiles in Purple
A fresh take on subway tile: Freestyle Bright and Decoria by GIO in 5″ x 7″

Though subway tiles have been a staple of kitchen and bath design for decades, with the traditional brick-patterned 3″ x  6″ white rectangles being a perennial go-to, the tiles have seen a huge resurgence in popularity in the first decade of the 21st century. But as with many classics, it’s often the twist we place on “expected” materials that gives the designs longevity. We now see subway tiles in every color imaginable, often with contrasting grout, and we’re no longer obligated to arrange them in a traditional brick (offset) pattern–herringbone, crosshatch and even straight-set are just a few of the ways designers have been adding interest and dimension to subway tile installations.

The Latest Spin: Big Is In!

Retro 4" x 16" subway tile by GIO
Big is in: Retro subway tile by GIO in 4″ x 16″

The latest spin that’s keeping subway tile on-trend is the larger format. These oversized tiles, as large as 4″ x 16″, transcend the ordinary and add subtle drama to any space. Long and linear subway tiles can visually expand the size of a room and as an added bonus, fewer grout joints mean less maintenance. If you’re looking to add an interesting twist to any design, go BIG!


GIO is your gateway to beautifully designed, strategically selected collections of floor and wall tile sure to fit your demanding specification requirements and unique style. We look forward to working with you!

Gray is the New Beige. And the New Black. And the New White, too.

Claystone floor and wall tileGoogle “gray” and “design trends” and you will find that gray is the new everything. Black, beige and white are what you call foundational colors. If gray is being touted as the the new beige, white and black, then suffice it to say, gray is superfoundational. It is truly an exceptional color to design with–and for good reasons.

Why Gray Works


Gray is a versatile neutral, working beautifully with all decorating styles and in all settings from traditional spaces with dark woods and classic elements to ultra modern spaces with sleek stainless steel, glass and lucite. Gray can be casual or elegant, depending on the design elements and accessories you choose. 


Gray is more dramatic than its beige counterparts. Gray can create a bolder statement without shouting, offering depth to subtle colors and causing bold tones to pop. It works beautifully with other shades of gray, black and white, as well as with bright accent colors like aqua, yellow and pink.

Spatially Neutralizing

Gray can be used to fool the eye. For example, used on a long wall, it can make a narrow room appear more in proportion. Gray can minimize the impact of a too-high ceiling and, used monochromatically, can make a small room feel expansive.

Choosing the Right Gray

Gray can be warm or it can be cool. Cooler shades of gray have blue or green undertones and can make a room feel temperate and inviting on a hot day. Choosing a warm grey with red and yellow undertones will provide a feeling of warmth to a room with north facing windows.

Cool grays tend to work better with cool colors, like blue and aqua, but the right shade of cool gray can be stunning with some warm colors. Warm grays are a little more forgiving with cool coolers if the warm undertones are more prominent.

How to Use Gray

Gray is an excellent choice as a main color in a scheme. It’s a great backdrop for accent colors, making a stylish statement as wall colors, floors, furniture and window treatments.

As an accent, gray works great texturally, such as in a stone fireplace surround or a nubby fabric. Gray is a wonderful in striped or printed fabrics and it’s also perfect for breaking up large expanses of other colors.

Gray is not the dull and boring institutional color anymore; it’s the hot new neutral, and it’s here to stay.