The Metro tile: ubiquitous wall decor for any Scandi-chic kitchen, or retro bathroom, or pretty much any other style in between. This handy little brick-shaped slip of ceramic has stacked itself neatly into thousands of well-appointed homes, and love for its understated simplicity does not seem to be abating any time soon.
A few years ago, in the first forays, you mainly saw them bravely displayed with industrial rawness, alongside austere metalworks and stark monochromes.
From Remodelista blog, industrial style bathroom
Since then, we have softened and warmed their settings, with woods and colours, making the most of their unobtrusive blankness to provide a backdrop to a thousand different styles. Essentially, these are neutral, easy-to-clean brick walls. Familiar pattern, simple elegance.
It is natural, then, to declare that your splashback or bathroom scheme will be ‘metro tiles,’ but this is in fact still quite a long way from a decision. Thankfully I have stepped up to this job and done the research for you, so you can read this and simply go ahead and order.
If the bevelled edges of the original Paris Metro are still your dream, then take a look at Topps Tiles Metro White at £23 a box (covers a square metre) full of 20cm by 10cm tiles.
Topps Tiles White Metro, bevelled jewels in a kitchen
Or instead, if you visit the branch I do, you could pop next door to Al Murad. They come in at 20cm by 10cm and will set you back only £14.99 per metre. Choose between a plain and simple matte finish or a more reflective gloss.
Matte or gloss: choices abound
Al Murad’s version is comparable but wins on price
Online stores also offer cheaper versions (Tile HQ are selling at a price-busting £9.22 per metre at the moment…).
You may however have a desire for a flat and minimal effect, but keeping the brick design. Fired Earth have some inspirational examples of both the bevelled and the flat in their Retro Metro range. The flat are slightly smaller at 15cm by 7.5cm: the white is called South Kensington and demanding high-end prices at (a currently reduced) £63.73 per metre. The glaze is crackled and adds to a vintage vibe, and I have no doubt these would look stunning in most settings.
Fired Earth’s wall-warming selection of seasonal colours
This flatter version was the style of tiles my friend Emma wanted for her kitchen. After she described it to me, I found a useful picture on the front of my trusty Living Etc magazine which confirmed the overall look.
Metro-clad kitchen graces Living Etc’s front cover
I went searching and came up with Walls and Floors’ White Chapel Tiles at a cool £19.75 per metre. They are gloss and flat little tiles, simple and perfect to cover any wall.
Walls and Floors’ White Chapel tile
We appointed our builder and I chose the grout. The details on a little job like retiling make a huge difference. While tiles are for the most part good tempered and wipeable, the grainy material between is quite another story. Inevitably white turns to a brownish sludge at best, at worst becomes patched with orange or green.
What lovely white grout gleams from this photoshoot/ Original Source’s Metro tiles set in pristine conditions
Most tile retailers offer a massive selection of antibacterial grouts and cleaning solutions, but in fact current trends work in our favour here. Grey is, as we’ve seen, most definitely colour of the moment, and between the tiles is no exception. The shade does define the tiles more, like a subtle web of pencil outlines, but where the little accidents of life occur — the blender rebels riotously over the walls, a kids’ biscuit-icing session goes off-piste, spatters of tomato paste make their livid way inexorably onto every surface you ever had — you have a forgiving base to which you can return with a wipe of a cloth. So BAL’s Micromax Smoke it was.
Save yourself a job: BAL grout in Smoke
Emma’s kitchen was a little dark between cupboards before — you can just about see the moss-green tiling scheme in these pictures:
Before: Emma’s greenish walls…
But now the perky little metro tiles have been fitted, this space is bright and fresh.
…and after: a light and bright space
In the evening, cosy lighting
She was so happy with it that she styled a photoshoot in it for a new favourite range of homeware. Check it out on her blog here.
Meanwhile, on a roll, I have continued to clock how these little tiles are being used in new and exciting ways. I think my favourite variation on the theme so far has to be these marble brick tiles from Original Style. Stockists are dotted around the country and you’d need to contact them for prices, but what a great combination:
Delicately veined marble brick tiles give a translucent glow to this bathroom/ Original Style Viano White Honed Bevel Marble
I suspect that the little brick tile is only just getting started. Materials and treatments will be expanded this year, and I can’t wait to find out how.