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Photography by Wynn Meyers

Not all tiles were created equal and this certainly rings true when looking outside the realm of the standard. We’ve seen our fair share of

subway tile

and allow us to say that it’s time to finally retire the tried and true classic. While there is something undeniably elegant and modern about the look, there is an array of equally stunning and captivating alternatives worth trying out instead.

From the small and the intricate to the large-scale pieces, the world of tiles boasts an impressive scope of options we simply can’t get enough of. And in this vein, we’re looking to an alternative that is drumming up a conversation: square tiles. The retro look is making a comeback—much to the dismay of many—and we could not be more excited.

In the spirit of remaining transparent, it should be noted that square tiles were on our list of the emerging tile trends for this year—one that we’ve seen beautifully carried out by the plenty. Ahead, a look at the eclectic and creative ways you can bring this throwback look home, all with a refreshingly modern twist that will fit just about any style and space.

Photography by Claire Esparros; follow on Instagram at @clairesparros

Terrazzo has been a standout material, especially in the last few years, creeping up in a vast array of homes and restaurants alike—and it’s easy to see why. The composite finish results in a unique speckled detail that invites an organic dose of color to the space it embodies. In this modern bath, the pattern comes in the form of large-scale square tiling, boldly encompassing the entirety of the bathroom with a floor-to-ceiling display that steals the show.

Photography by NACHO ALEGRE via living.corriere.it

Just when you thought the era of all-out-pink was over, it makes a comeback with a retro twist. Pink square tiles are an ’80s classic, and this blast from the past is one we’re welcoming back with open arms. Best when paired with an equally alluring wall paint of a complementary scheme, you can easily take on the look with a modern spin. The secret? Decking the space with sleek fixtures and matte black details that double as the room’s framework.

Photography by fantastic frank

When it comes to marble, bigger is (almost) always better. The organic nature of the slab is better when preserved as a whole in lieu of coming in the form of mini square tiles, which lose out on the effect of the original piece. Let’s face it, a large-format tile is more conducive to pattern, repetition comes grander in scale, and in turn, allows for a refined finish. This Stockholm-based bathroom makes use of the trend—albeit the square tile is bigger than the typical—with a high-contrast color block that highlights the streamlined aesthetic of the Scandi-chic space.

Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Here is all the proof you need that square tiles can work with just about any decorative scheme, even the modern-farmhouse aesthetic we’ve been loving as of late. Take a style cue from Leanne Ford’s freshly renovated home, where a whitewashed palette only means more opportunity to design with texture and tonal contrasts. The bathroom is certainly no exception, where an accent wall curated with an off-white mix of square tiles beautifully offsets the bucolic nature of the shiplap surround.

Photography by Aaron Bengochea 

If you’re not quite ready to implement square tiles in the form of a backsplash, reserve the look for the flooring for an equally statement-worthy finish. Better yet, take things a step further by opting for a tile in an untraditional tone: matte black is always cool but vibrant hues of a saturated scheme will definitely tack on the style points.

Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

File this one under one seriously creative use of tile. Susan and Ben Work reinvented their San Francisco bathroom with an install so detailed and ingenious we can’t help but find ourselves in a constant state of awe. A mix and match of two diverse sets of square tiles result in a finish that definitely borders on the artful yet still manages to uphold its functional qualities. If there were ever a reason to love and embrace square tiles, this would be it.

Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Emulate the concept of a classic subway tile but implement a twist for a much-needed element of differentiation. Yep, square tiles can work just as well in this vein when installed in an alternating motif, one that will impart the bathroom with an eye-catching and unique detail. Just take note of Christene Barberich’s Brooklyn Heights home, where the square tiles are used to line the tub and its surround, inviting a boldly modern feature to the tiny bathroom.

Thoughts on square tiles? Sound off in the comments below!

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