A Heated Internal Debate – Are There Some Tiles That Are More “Bathroom” Than “Kitchen” And Are There Rules?

A few years ago as I was designing the mountain and portland house I was knee-deep in tile samples. As I was looking at some Julie said, that one feels like it doesn’t belong in the kitchen, it’s more ‘bathroom’. At that point, I wouldn’t say I was a seasoned designer, but certainly had some experience and this has never occurred to me. Ever. I kinda thought that any tile could go anywhere (as long as it works functionally and practically, of course). This notion that ‘this belongs in a bathroom, not kitchen’ blew my mind. So as I continued to design, I did in fact see what she was talking about and I had also mentally (subconsciously) categorized some tile. Here we go.

Can Penny Tile Go In A Kitchen?

design by amber interiors | photo by tessa neustadt

This feels like an ‘only floor’ tile to me and more specifically, in a bathroom, not a kitchen. But why??? One reason is that it’s highly grouted (and therefore harder to slip on when stepping out of the shower) and marinara spills in the kitchen would be hard to clean out of all those grout lines. But then as I was researching for this post I saw it in kitchens and it looked cool. Would I still do it? I’m scared, but it clearly looks good.

design by joan schindler | photo by lucas allen | via house beautiful
design by splinter society | photo by sharyn cairns | via est living

Why Is Subway/Square Or Brick Tile Or Brick-Shaped Tile Almost Always The Kitchen Backsplash?

photo by tessa neustadt | from: emily’s kitchen and dining room reveal

For whatever reason, brick tile is my strong go-to for kitchens in a multitude of finishes and configurations of course, but any other shape always surprises me. Here’s my theory – there are a lot of ‘starts and stops’ in a kitchen – shelving, cabinetry, outlets, window frames, etc, and having the tile be linear allows for less awkward cuts of the tile shape. If it’s square/rectangle it’s a cleaner break – does that make sense? But then I look at these examples below and I’m like, yah, those look awesome.

photo by zeke ruelas | from: the casa soria kitchen reveal (+ 5 things i would have done differently if it were my kitchen)
design by dee murphy | photo by sara ligorria-tramp

Both of those examples (by friends of mine and rooms I love) had to then order a bull-nose (the thin top row of tiles that caps it off) which complicates the cutting, install and ordering process for sure. But it looks awesome.

design by kate arends of wit & delight | photo by 2nd truth photography

Albie asked me to look at her kitchen design board (coming soon!) where she has a large scale hex tile as her backsplash and my only comment was ‘I just feel like a ‘hex’ is more ‘bathroom’, but I don’t know why

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