Tile Tips & Current Affordable Faves

Tile can be a paralyzing thing to choose when doing a renovation- it’s not technically permanent, but redoing tile is no easy feat. And while you can go absolutely crazy price wise with designer tile options, I find that some of the best, most timeless choices don’t cost an arm and a leg.

At first patterned tile may seem trendy, but really the style is based in so much historical inspiration that it really is not. One of the most popular styles is cement tile, which can be tricky to keep clean. We’ve sourced some tough porcelain versions that give that same look for much less money.

via Halcyon House

Tile 1 // Tile 2 // Tile 3

Subway tile will never, ever go out of style- and luckily, it’s one fo the most affordable choices available!  The standard 3″ x 6″ size however is not your only option. I’ve been using a lot of elongated size subway lately, in various textures and glazes, to give kitchens and baths a more interesting, yet classic, look.

Tile 1 // Tile 2 // Tile 3

Neutral tones is always your safest bet, but not always the most fun.  We’ve been incorporating colored field tile into a few bathrooms and even kitchens lately.  Typically more subtle tones of blue and green, which feel crisp and clean.

Design by Steven Gambrel

Tile 1 // Tile 2 // Tile 3 // Tile 4

IN my own bathroom I chose a marble chevron tile (that did in fact, cost many limbs per square foot- but it’s a tiny space so it wasn’t TOO bad overall). Herringbone, chevron, basketweave and large format hexagon tiles are completely timeless choices.

Photo by Sarah Winchester.

Tile 1 // Tile 2 // Tile 3


  • If ordering the tile yourself, always add 10-15% overage to the square footage needed to account for breakage in transit and in the case of marble, natural tone variations (sometimes lots vary a lot and you’ll get a few tiles that look a totally different color from most of the batch).
  • When it comes to grout, avoid using bright white on floors- it looks dingy in a minute.  Stick to light greys or darker tones to avoid scrubbing grout lines with a toothbrush for hours.
  • Don’t try to mix faux marble and real marble. If using a faux marble floor tile, I like to do the countertops in a solid quartz to avoid comparison.


  1. Excellent! I wish I had seen this roundup before I put encaustic tile in my bathroom. It is a beautiful Mexican pattern similar to the first tile you feature, but it is etching and staining terribly. Do you know if there is a way to clean encaustic tiles?

  2. Love posts like these – super helpful to be able to search for future projects!!

    Quick Question on bathrooms: Do you recommend that they match/coordinate? I have two bathrooms downstairs ( small guest bath and a large kids bath), and re-did the guest bath 2yrs ago with painted cement tile floors and the Thibaut vinyl grasscloth. It’s about time to re-do the kids bath – should I do the same cement tile floor? Would it be weird if I did it in one, but not the other?

  3. This is perfect timing as I’m getting ready to redo my kitchen and the flooring. Thanks for the helpful tips and suggestions. Love these posts!

  4. This couldn’t have come at better time! I’m renovating a house and picking out all the finishing. I saw that porcelain sapphire field tile (tile 2) a few weeks ago and it’s been on my mind for my upcoming kid’s bathroom renovation. I love it! I have also been coveting Clé’s weathered white zellige tile for our kitchen backsplash but it just may not be in the budget so these subway tile alternatives are great!

  5. I love the glossy white as well as the glossy handmade- looking white tiles in the Tile 1,2 and 3 grouping. The photo of the kitchen backsplash in the white glossy weathered handmade style is one of my favourites. Can you list the names of these tiles please and where they can be purchased. Really enjoyed your blog! Thanks so much!

    1. I bought a very similar tile (maybe even the same tile?) at Flor and Decor. I couldn’t believe I found it there. Love it.

  6. Thank you for doing this type of post! I just moved into my first home and your budget friendly tips/ style advice is so appreciated! Keep it coming :)

  7. Great post, Erin! I’m building a house and have been knee deep in tile decisions. I used subway tiles 4×12 in my children’s baths and love the modern yet classic look. Now I’m selecting a kitchen backsplash….and loving some of the mini beveled subway tiles. I could agonize over white or gray grout for weeks! These decisions can make one go nuts!! Thanks for the wonderful post. Would love to see a series of new construction decisions posts …🙌🏻 .

  8. Woo hoo! You backed my top choice! We’re finishing our lower level this fall and the Paloma tile is my top contender for the bathroom flooring, I absolutely love the look of it! Maybe seeing this coming from a pro will get my husband on board with it. I think the bold pattern is scaring him off… Thanks for having my back ;)

  9. I renovated my kitchen in my contemporary style house. The kitchen is all white, black, light grey and some glass-bottle green. In keeping with the contemporary look I am torn between a hex backsplash or a rhombus shaped tile. Definitely in white with dark grey grout. In a contemporary home, do you think rhombus could be just as timeless as the hex?

  10. Would love to know the gray color on the vanity — Do you happen to know the color?

  11. Love the fail safe floors section where you have mentioned about the honed finishes. Can you suggest more about this section? Bianca

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