A reflection on subway tile and a little history of those beveled edges.

PicMonkey CollageTop right: Bright white subway tile with white gout from  Chez Larrsson  | Bottom right:  White subway tile with thick dark charcoal grout from Design Manifest. See link for great before/after pics. | Left: White subway tile with light grey or aged grout from Byron View Farm

Several years ago when we were remodeling our tiny bathroom in our small Montreuil apartment my husband wanted to use white subway tile. I said “no way”. Since I already waste an hour and a half of my life each day commuting on the Paris metro, the last thing I wanted to see was the same tile staring at me in my home bathroom.

Fast forward to our bathroom renovation ideas for our Tour in Normandy…and I can’t wait to use subway tile!

I know, I know. Subway tile is so on trend for the years 2000. Some say subway tile will look dated before long. But I think subway tile is timeless and we want to use the exact same style found in the Parisian metro. The ones with the biseauté edges.

430Credit: DR via CoteMaison

A little history: The Parisian Métropolitain is one of the oldest underground subway systems in the world. Even before the turn of the century, small white earthenware tiles with raised geometric edges lined the vaulted stops in an effort to reflect the dim artificial lighting as much as possible. In 1889, Hippolyte Boulenger’s entreprise, La faïencerie de Choisy-le-Roi, started developing the now famous earthenware tiles covered in white pottery glaze. The authentic 1890 Parisian metro subway tiles measure  7.5cm  X 15cm  (3′ X 6′) and featured the now iconic beveled edges.

 Subway tile with beveled edges and rope trim
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Above credit left: Kelseyoff  |   I got the idea to measure a subway tile from this site. But I think their math is a little off.

As there will probably be little or no natural light, this form will hopefully help to brighten up our future bathroom just as they helped brighten the dank corridors of the Parisian metro over a hundred years ago.



Favorite examples of creative apparent plumbing and surface mounted piping.


collage1PicMonkey Collage2PicMonkey Collage Credits from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

With our apparent stone walls, we’ll have a hard time hiding much of the plumbing work. Fortunately, exposed, apparent and surface mounted piping is everywhere these days. I love how it can be used to give either a modern industrial or vintage feel.

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