Kitchen Trends: What’s in This Year

If you want to give your kitchen a classic, almost-whimsical look, then a kitchen backsplash of subway tile is by far one of the simplest ways to do just that. Described by interior designers as simple, sleek and elegant, the basic 3×6-inch subway tile traces its origins to when subway systems in New York first opened in 1904, characterized by walls of tiles giving off a brick-like appearance. To this day, subway tunnels in faux brick backsplash New York City still feature miles of subway type of tiles, thanks largely to their ease of installation, as well as ease of cleaning and durability. These ceramic tiles are also strategically arranged to create colorful mosaics, designs as well as signs for commuters. New subway tiles are installed in the tunnels each year to keep the classic look while making the system more cheerful and pleasant to the eye.

A Brief History on Subway Tiles

The creation of these ceramic tiles can be attributed to the firm Heins & LaFarge, headed by artists George C. Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge, who were both related to renowned stained-glass artisan John LaFarge. All three were part of the then-ongoing Arts and Crafts movement, specializing in the Beaux-Arts architecture style, two of the most prolific trends in the art world during the turn of the 20th century.

Heins & LaFarge worked with the Grueby Faience Company and Rookwood Pottery, prolific ceramics companies that produced the tiles that fit the description of being heavy-duty, capable of withstanding frequent cleaning and scrubbing while maintaining their appearance.

Aside from designing motifs through the use of ceramic tiles, Heins & LaFarge were also responsible for a significant amount of the architectural work that shaped the appearance of many subway stations scattered across New York.

Subway Tiles in Kitchens Today

The use of subway style tiles, particularly in kitchen backsplashes, is popular due to a number of compelling benefits. For starters, subway tiles are remarkably resistant to stains, due to the ability of ceramic to resist moisture. This is precisely the reason why glazed and even unglazed subway ceramic tiles are so easy to clean. Consequently, ceramic is a great material for hygiene-sensitive areas (think kitchens and bathroom shower walls) since its surface is poor at retaining allergens and odors from smoke and fumes. But more importantly, these tiles are cheaper than glass tiles and stainless steel tiles, allowing for cheap kitchen renovations.