Part 2: SOURCES for Fresh Classic Alternatives to Subway Tile!


Home Style Compatibility Quiz


Well, I guess I took more than a few weeks off … more like the whole summer. Doh!




Honestly, it was a move I made for myself and my family overall. The spring was so tough with trying to homeschool and work at the same time, and so many of the summer camps were shut down. Something had to give so that I wasn’t working 24/7 while my kids twiddled their thumbs. I wanted to enjoy being with them a bit, where we weren’t as scheduled. And that thing to give was writing the blog. I hope you all will forgive!


The boys started a new school on Monday. It was a very difficult decision (one so many of you are facing right now) and was made for many different reasons and after much, much soul-searching and prayer. While I’m sad that summer is over, the boys were excited to try new things after being home for so long, and I’m looking forward to being able to focus more on this side (decorating education for my lovely readers!) of my business.


Fingers crossed all stay healthy.  My thoughts are with all of you  — amidst all the stresses of virtual and hybrid learning. So very, very stressful.


Upcoming Reveals & Press


The Remuddle Remodel was finally photographed for Old House Journal at the very end of June, and I can’t wait to show it to you all! I’ve been given permission to leak some pics early, so stay tuned for the reveals of the Boot Room, the Butler’s Pantry/Laundry Combo, and the Kitchen/Converted Porch.

Also, over the summer, I was very grateful & honored for my little biz to be selected by Business of Home Magazine as the interior designer for New Hampshire in its 50 States Project. If you’re new to the blog and don’t know my story, I hope it provides an interesting read about how & why I got into this business, along with what I try to deliver to my clients and readers!


Sources for Fresh Classic Alternatives to Subway Tile!


On to today’s topic!!! While objectively it seems silly to talk about home decorating when families are under so much pressure, people have died and families have lost loved ones, and thousands of jobs have been lost & businesses closed, interest in making our Forever Homes as comfortable and beautiful as possible has spiked in a big way during the last 4 months. All my tradespeople are completely booked out with renovation projects, if that’s any indicator. I can’t get my own bathroom vent replaced for 3 months!


Anywho! If you read Part 1 of this topic, you know that I have a special fondness for subway tile. IMO, subway tile is the blue jeans of the tile world:

  • It goes with everything.
  • It’s a proven classic and never goes out of style.
  • It can be very inexpensive.
  • And it can look like a million bucks when part of a fabulous design scheme.

But there are a number of people out there who DO NOT share my opinion. And even if you do, it’s always a pleasure to find new inspiration for fresh, timeless design!


Be sure  to read Part 1 for all the inspiring designer rooms with the below tiles. Today is all about SOURCES. 😉


So for the different categories in the Part 1 post, here come some of my favorite sources, from $-$$$.



1. Square Subway Tile


You can’t beat a look like this for as little as a $1/sf. I like these inexpensive, mass-produced square tiles best in white. Regardless of whether the tile is glossy or matte, the colored tiles just remind me of bathrooms from the ’50s-’60s, but not in a good way.


Stagger your installation for a twist on tradition, or stack it for a more modern look. White or pale gray grout if you prefer subtle, dark gray if you want to make a more graphic (but still classic) statement.


alternatives to square white subway tile
Left design by Brooke Wagner.


4 x 4 square white subway tile
4 x 4, $0.08/piece


square white subway tile
6 x 6, $3.04/sf


Fireclay 4 x 4 white tile


If you want to spend a little more for the artisanal feel of handmade tile, Fireclay has 4 x 4 tiles starting at $15/sf.

2. Glazed Thin Brick


Glazed thin brick is a beautiful option, especially in homes with other brick elements or homes with either an industrial (think brick factory walls) or farmhouse rusticity.

Once again, we see Cle and Fireclay are the big players in the glazed thin brick realm. I think that Fireclay has the most beautiful and variegated colors, as well as the nicest-feeling finish, but there are other options out there, including some pretty reasonably priced look-alikes.


Fresh Classic Alternatives to Subway Tile
Home Glow Design


I used Fireclay’s Big Horn ($18/sf) it for the backsplash behind the oven range in my kitchen. I was going for a “renovated hearth” look, and it subtilely blended with my beige paint and let my blue oven range shine. (But you’ll see more of these pics in the coming weeks!)


Cle has its Modern Farmhouse Brick Collection in whites, grays, and blues, and starts at $11.39/sf.


classic alternatives to subway tile glazed thin brick
Amy Courtney Design

The above kitchen, with it textured brick walls, uses the Cadenza Collection from Tilebar.  Great value at $12.50/sf.


Interior Design Floor Plan Tips Tricks Measurements


3. Zellige Tile


Zellige is a beautifully variegated handmade tile, which I used in my No Plain Jane Powder Room. As I discussed in Part 1, I don’t think this tile is right for every home — it needs a home with either “age” or with a contemporary upscale farmhouse feel.


(I adore my zellige tile floor, but installation is tricky. Make sure to read this post about 3 Important Things to Know Before You Install Zellige Tile.)


fresh classic alternatives to subway tile


Cle tile is the big player in the U.S. for zellige tile, starting at $19.50/sf and going up to $32/sf depending on the color and shape (like hexagon). BEAUTIFUL watery-deep colors.


Riad Tile is another supplier of real zellige. Fewer (but still lovely) colors that start at $16.50/sf.


discount zellige tile


But I just found this Etsy seller that has a few colors of zellige for an incredible $9/sf!!! Wish I’d known about it earlier!


HOWEVER, there are also some fun “look-alikes” on the market that, from a distance look pretty d*** sweet! You’d never mistake them for the real thing when they’re in your hand, but if the end result is gorgeous, does it really matter?


fresh alternatives to subway tile, zellige look alike
Arcadia Blue Design

This ceramic tile is pretty fabulous, dontcha think? Also comes in pale blue, rose, ivory, green, and black.


4. Mini Brick Mosaic (Single Color)


Mini brick is awesome. I really want to use it in a project. I’ve seen marble and glass tiles in this format, as well as typical ceramic. I recently saved this image from Katie Rosenfeld’s IG account.


alternatives to subway tile mini brick
Katie Rosenfeld

I mean, it’s a GREEN kitchen, so of course I’m going to love it, but how about that mini-brick backsplash?!


Mini brick is relatively inexpensive. Pair it with a pale gray grout to show the texture, but I wouldn’t use a dark grout — the result would be way too busy.

alternatives to subway tile mini brick
1 x 2 porcelain mosaic, $5.57/sf


alternatives to subway tile mini brick
Porcelain 1 x 3 mini brick mosaic, $11.99/sf


alternatives to subway tile mini brick
Ceramic, handmade look 1/2 x 3 mosaic, $19.95/sf

This one by Tilebar has an almost-rough, handmade quality. Just a little industrial. Love it.




5. Glass Tile


Glass tile is on the more expensive side, but I found one here for $8/sf! I LOVE this tile in showers for a spa-like experience or a backsplash in a coastal kitchen (think sea glass!).


alternatives to subway tile glass tile

On left: Super White Frosted 3 x 6, $16.95/sf

On right: Ice Blue 3 x 6, $7.95/sf. A total steal for this kind of tile!



The Loft Collection by Tilebar comes in beautiful whites, blues, and dark gray. The “Natural White” is more of a subtle blue-green. It’s really nice and subtle. Well priced at $13.95/sf.


subway tile alternative glass tile

This gorgeous collection comes in 5 subtle colors and 7 different shapes, including stacked brick and fan tile. $15.99/sf.


Fireclay Tile has a GORGEOUS array of glass tile in every color under the sun, including the above “Rosy Finch.” Starts at $35/sf for 3 x 6 size.


(I’ve always thought that rose-colored tile would be so beautiful in a shower. Think about how it would make your skin look all rosy, too!)


So what do you think? Any favorite looks? Like I said, I’d love to do a mini-brick backsplash or a rosy glass tile shower!



Coming Up


Reveals of the Remodel Remuddle will start in just a couple of weeks! I’ll be giving you ALL my sources. Which room do you want to see first? 


I also have some news for all of you who have been asking for some sort of DIY Forever Home Decorating Course … yes, it’s coming! And in just a few weeks!


I know what it’s like to be a homeowner/decorator terrified that you’ll make a mistake, wanting to purchase better quality decor but afraid to invest in a wrong decision, paralyzed as to how to make a plan in which you feel confident.

This won’t be a course from a blogger telling you her tips for decorating-on-a-dime budget, but rather a homeowner-turned-pro-decorator guiding you through how to make a plan, how to budget, my inside tips & tricks, pitfalls to avoid, and sources for quality furnishings within a realistic viewpoint that prioritizes your unique needs and wants while balancing your spending.


I’ll even be offering my personal review and advice to a select group who choose to go the VIP route.



But I don’t want to give it all away.  I’ll be holding an information sessions in a few weeks with the course launching the last week of September. Sign up for Home Glow’s Saturday Blog in the sidebar to make sure you don’t miss the heads-ups!


See you next Saturday!



Insider's Guide to Space Planning

10 thoughts on “Part 2: SOURCES for Fresh Classic Alternatives to Subway Tile!”

  1. Hi Amy,
    Yes, I did miss you and your lovely blog–it’s so great to have you back!
    Loved this article on tiles, and you show some real beauties. One of my favorites is the glazed brick!
    Good luck on your boys going to their new school.
    Looking forward to the Fall 2020 edition of the Saturday blog.

  2. I am 61 years old and over the couple of years, I’ve gotten interested in decorating and have been trying to learn to be my own decorator (since I can’t afford one). I’ve been listening to Paloma Contreras and How to Decorate podcasts, reading design blogs and magazines and following designers on Instagram. Some of the well known decorators seem like nice people but some seem completely obnoxious and cut throat. When I read in the 50 State Project article that “And she said to me, “How can you charge what you do or buy these products for people if you don’t get to see the new launches every year—when you have only been to High Point twice?” , it almost didn’t surprise me. That is SO mean and frankly a ridiculous statement. Life is too short for that. I think that you are doing the right thing by balancing your family and professional life. Your kids will be grown up before you know it and then you will have plenty of time to focus on your work. My career didn’t blossom until my son graduated from high school. I see good things for you. Stay true to yourself and keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you so much for this heartfelt note, Sandra. I think most of us struggle, at least occasionally, with comparison. It’s tough to truly believe we are enough, as we are, sometimes! I’m so grateful if what I’ve learned of of use to others in making their homes more beautiful and their lives more comfortable and joyful in them! I appreciate the encouragement!

  3. Barbara Houldsworth

    Hi Amy,
    Missed you over the summer and I totally understand spending lake time with family making memories. Good for you!
    I am looking forward to learning more about your DIY decorating course!

    1. I can’t wait to tell you all about it! I’ve been really thinking through how I started decorating before I went pro, and what I’ve learned in the trade, and tried to synthesize it for homeowners.

      I’m only launching it to readers and other social media followers (which I’ve never really worked to build in a bigger way) this time around, so you all will get the inside scoop! Students will have lifetime access to all my updates as I continue to refine and add to it, but at the initial Blog launch price 😉

  4. Missed you! No apology necessary for the break – these are challenging times and are reshaping everything, especially our kids. Looking forward to the reveal, the course, more Amy!

  5. Good for you taking the summer off from work. Priorities are a must for a family to stay healthy and close.
    Loved the tiles. The green kitchen is my favorite. I don’t think I would have the nerve to do it, but it is a joy to see.

    1. Thank you, Judy. It may just be a summer break that I take each year. It was so good for us.

      I hear you about the green kitchen, it’s a brave (& really trusting) really trusting client that allows a designer to do that! That’s why we so often have to all-out with color in our own homes … like in my pantry post today 😉

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Home Style Compatibility QUIZ!

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