7 Ways With Metro Tiles To Avoid Being A Design Cliché

Versatile, affordable and eternally stylish, metro tiles are like the white shirt in your wardrobe. They are a staple of the modern interior, and you can’t go more than two minutes without clapping eyes on them. They’re everywhere – in your local coffee bar, restaurants, trendy delis, pinned to death on Pinterest, all over instagram, in your bestie’s new flat, on the walls of tube stations – oh, wait. But even so, you can’t help but like them – you just need to come up with a way of making them your own. This is the beauty of the metro tile; there are countless ways to use them. Developed for underground stations around the turn of the 19th Century, they were traditionally tiled horizontally across walls in a staggered formation, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same layout. Here are seven formations to ensure bona fide tile-envy…
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Grid Up

Do as the Scandinavians do and you can’t go far wrong in life. Stack your tile bricks vertically for a utilitarian, fuss-free look as commonly seen in Nordic countries – the guaranteed way to avoid a kitchen like a Clapham yummy mummy. Make sure you use grey grout to highlight your geometrically perfect grid pattern, and one more thing: make sure your first layer of tiles are straight before you end up with an unintentional sloping wall effect.
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Let’s Tessellate

Get playful with your patterns; the humble rectangle can give way to some pretty decorative formations with a bit of imagination. Traditional flooring brick patterns such as herringbone and basket weave look fresh and directional all of a sudden when used on walls. Or, bring an element of the unexpected into your space by changing tile direction halfway through, like this Auckland shower room does. See, tiling can be fun (really).
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Photo: Fired Earth
Two Tone

Add an op-art dimension to your tiles by using two colours or even two different shades of the same colour in a snazzy chevron pattern. A classic monochrome scheme won’t date and brings an on-trend graphic feel to spaces. Top off your patterned section with a thin pencil tile to give a polished look, and don’t forget to coordinate the skirting board too.
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Great Grout

The word ‘grout’ probably doesn’t conjure up sexy, glamorous thoughts (for most people), but there is more to this bonding cement that you think. It comes in colours! Excited? Thought so. Choose a bright shade of grout to add a playful twist to classic white tiles, or coordinate your tile colour with a matching hue of grout for a seamless look, and say goodbye to that horrible yellow tinge that inevitably white grout turns with age.
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Photo: The Home Depot
Good To Glow

Kitchens don’t get much hotter than this. Here, mini metro tiles in a metallic finish create a statement that’s pure Studio 54. Glass, metallic and mirrored tiles add glamour to any space, but they also have the added bonus of creating the illusion of more light and space – the next-level metro tile, if you will.
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Black Beauty

Opulent and moody, dark colour palettes in interiors are going to be big in 2016 and beyond, and this applies to tiles as well. Midnight blues, forest greens and charcoal greys are understated and easier to live with than full on black walls, plus they look a treat when combined with metallic fixtures and fittings. Add some industrial lighting and you’re channelling Shoreditch House chic – without the membership fee.
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Photo: Residence
Beyond Bathrooms

Prepare to have your mind blown: Tiles aren’t just for bathrooms and kitchens! Oh no, they also look damn fine in hallways, living and dining spaces too. Just make sure you pick your other materials and fabrics carefully to counterbalance the ceramic element. For example, this living space has teamed sleek white tiles with earthy and textured exposed bricks. Finish with heaps of cosy throws, rugs and cushions and low-level lighting and you’ve got yourself a perfect night in on the tiles.

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