In this post:  Our new subway tile wall in the kitchen plus some tips and tricks we learned along the way!

So we just finished tackling a project that’s been on my wish list forever…THE SUBWAY TILE WALL in the kitchen!

diy tips subway wall in kitchen

Subway Tile Wall Rustic Coffee Bar Kitchen

When we first redid the kitchen (painting the cabinets, installing the stainless steel counters, changing the backsplash in the original part of the kitchen, flooring, light fixtures, faucet, etc.), I really wanted to do a subway tile (to the ceiling) over at the coffee/breakfast bar.

Coffee bar, chandelier, white mugs, monogram, bottle drying rack

But time and funds definitely got the better of us.

And so the project got put on hold.

Rustic floating shelves subway tile wall

But it’s finally finished.

Monogram mugs, bottle drying rack, subway tile, stainless counter

Tips for Tiling A Full Wall with Subway Tile

This isn’t your typical DIY tutorial where I tell you exactly what to buy and how to replicate our project step by step. (There are lots of good ones online.)

This is just some of  things we’ve learned over the years. Sort of like “extra lessons” or tips should you want to try this at home.


Kitchen Before Subway Tiles

Coffee bar Breakfast Bar Before Subway Tile

1. Draw straight vertical lines. If you’re not tiling from wall to wall, you need these lines to guide you in installing your bull nose tile in a nice straight line. Our tiles line up with the edge of our counters on both sides.

Draw Level Vertical Line

2. Start tiling with vertical bullnose tile. This sort of creates a box (with the counter and ceiling) to tile within. The bull nose makes a nice finished edge. (Don’t mind the giant holes – they were for the shelves before.)

Start with vertical bullnose tiles

3. After you have a “box”, start tiling at the bottom with the subway tile. Make sure you used spacers between the counter top and your bottom row of tiles.

Subway Tile Backsplash Step by Step

Backsplash Edges

4. Build up in a brick pattern from the bottom.

Subway Tile Backsplash Brick Pattern

5. Leave the cutting to last. Use full tiles all the way to the ceiling, leaving room for the tiles that will need to be cut on either end. This just helps the job go faster.

Installing white subway tile kitchen

Subway Tile wall no grout

6. Invest in a diamond tipped glass and tile drill bit if you need to drill through the tile.

We were honestly a little nervous about drilling into the tile to hang the floating shelves.

But the shelves were a must!

So Dean bought and used a diamond tipped glass and tile drill bit and he said it drilled through the tile like butter.

Much to the relief of both of us.

Open Kitchen Shelves

Coffee Bar, subway tile, open shelves, white mugs

White Subway Tile Wall, Stainless Counter, Crystal Chandelier

There are just a couple more little things I want to do in the kitchen.

But I think it’s pretty right now too!

Open Shelves, mini fridge, breakfast bar, large wall clock

Subway tile, crystal chandelier, stainless counter, open shelving

And I’m thankful for a handy hubby. 🙂


This post is of course sponsored by the lovely Home Depot Canada as part of a series by the #HDBlogSquad.


You HAVE to visit the other #HDBlogSquad bloggers too!

Jennifer  – Rambling Renovators

Brittany – My Daily Randomness

Tim – Design Maze

Shannon & Dean – Home Made Lovely (that would be us!)

Lena – Listen to Lena (not pictured)


shannon round pic and xo signature

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  1. Fabulous Shannon! White subways are so classic and they work beautifully in your kitchen! love the mix of stainless and wood elements in your kitchen as well for a refined rustic chic + an industrial twist look! Thanks for the tips on tiling and all the consideration! I would be scared to drill the holes in the newly installed tiles!

    Love your island! great details!

    1. Thanks, Tim. We were scared to drill into the tile too! That was Dean’s first concern when we talked about the project. But that drill bit, I tell ya – magic!!!

    1. I hear you. We did it in our last house (albeit with some glass tiles too) and when we moved in here our kitchen was so dark. I couldn’t wait to rip out the tiny dark tile backsplash and put up bright white subway tile!

    1. Thank you Jen. Freshening things up is great – but it’s even better when it totally fits the house. xo

    1. Thank you – the best is at night when the chandelier lights bounce off the tile. So sparkly. (I’ll have to take a pic!)

  2. I love this wall so much!! It is honestly a thing of beauty, and the wood shelves are the perfect contrast to the white subway tile. Congrats on getting it done!!

  3. It’s gorgeous, Shannon! Subway tile is at the top of my wish list for our kitchen in the next year too. I love how yours turned out! Looks great with your lovely topiaries too. 🙂

  4. I LOVE your kitchen my friend! It’s fantastic…the subway tile is amazing…I came over from Monday Funday and would love it if you have a minute if you’d link up to Shabbilicious Friday (it’s still open from last week!) ox

  5. Hi Your kitchen and subway tile looks amazing and I love how you accessorized and that chandy….oh my. Coming over from Inspiration Monday Link Party. If you are around tomorrow we also have a Something to Talk About Link Party that goes live at 6 am est and I know our friends would love this. If you have time come join us and link up. Thank you, Lisa at Concord Cottage

  6. I love the subway tile, what color is it? My cabinets are off white and I’m struggling to find a color that works. Thanks and it looks beautiful.

    1. They’re just basic white. You can purchase the tile individually – maybe buy a few and bring them home to see how they look with your cabinets in the light at different times of the day.

  7. I really love the way your kitchen turned out. And, I really like the wood shelves with the stainless steel bracket at both ends. Is there a tutorial for these or did they come ready made?

    1. We made the shelf brackets. But they needed equipment at Dean’s work. We’re working on something for all of you though! Stay tuned!

    2. Waiting to hear about the brackets. We’d like to install something like this for our microwave shelf, and have found similar brackets at IKEA and Home Depot, but they are too shallow. Thanks – and it looks fantastic!

    3. Dean made our brackets. We’re working on making them to sell as they’re not a DIY project, but for now the only option is the IKEA brackets.

    1. Hi Colleen, We built them but we don’t currently have a DIY for them. Ikea sells very similar (albeit smaller) brackets.

  8. Looks beautiful! i am working on a similar project now. Did you have to hang the shelf on studs and if not what kind of wall anchor did you use? Has to be small enough to fit through the tile hole but strong enough to hold up the self! that is my dilemma right now.

    1. Hi Katy,
      One side of each shelf is on a stud and the other uses butterfly anchors. We actually decided placement of the shelves before we put up the tile. Dean pre-drilled the holes and made sure to mark them when installing the tile. I think we also put the butterfly anchors into the wall before we installed the tile. But I’ll have to double check with Dean on that.

  9. For the floating shelves on the white subway tile kitchen … where did you get the brackets for the floating shelf?

  10. Hi Shannon! Beautiful job! ? Curious where you found those end cap/shelf supports? I love that look but have never seen anything like that around!

    Thank you! ?

    1. Hi Grace. Dean actually made them. We are working on producing them to make them available for sale to our readers!

  11. I LOVE the open shelves and have wanted something very different…and bingo! This hardware us it! What is it and where can I find it? What about weight… like do you have to use shorter boards to compensate? Btw…this my first time to find your blog, and it really resonates with what I am discovering I like as my style (after 45 years of being married and having no style) I have one other question, did you make your own wood crates? I want to make some so much…but have to find a place to do it as I live in a mobile home and have no work space : ) Thanks for any input!

    1. Hello Shellie. That hardware is hardware we designed and made. Dean works in a sheet metal shop, so he’s worked with metal for YEARS. *Hopefully* we’ll have them available for sale soon. And yes, you do have to be careful of the weight – our brackets were screwed into studs. I’m so glad you’ve begun to find your style!!!

    1. We made them. Actually Dean made them at his work. But Ikea sells similar brackets, the difference being the shelves would need to be made from thinner wood.