All the Ways You Can Riff on Basic Square and Rectangular Tile

As it turns out, the layouts are limitless.
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Should you have the chance to dine at La Sastrería, a seafood-centric restaurant in Valencia, Spain, you’ll experience next-level piña coladas; exquisite anchovies; and, most notably, a kaleidoscope’s worth of tile combinations. More than 15 different patterns cover the walls, window trim, and countertops, estimates Christophe Penasse, one of the principals at Masquespacio, the design firm behind the interior. The exuberant mashup, which was inspired by the detailed facades that define the eatery’s beachfront Canyamelar-Cabanyal neighborhood, seems complicated at first sight, but look a little closer and you’ll see that simple shapes are at the core of it all. 

Each arrangement is made up of only squares and rectangles. The slightest shape shuffle, change in colored cube–to–white subway ratio, or alternation in scale gives classic stripes and trendy checkers new life. The difference between the drab and the dynamic comes down to centimeters. 

Pulling off a mélange like the one at La Sastrería in your home might require you to push your imagination to the max but not your budget. On average, basic 3-by-6-inch subway tile costs between $7 and $13 per square foot (before sealant and grout). You also don’t have to use a million hues to create an impressive setup—just two will do the trick. Here, we’ve done the artful arranging for you. Then again, coming up with your own cool combinations is all part of the fun.


Courtesy of Masquespacio

Tilting a tile in a new direction creates optical illusions that lead the eye down unexpected paths.

The Crooked Crew

Classic Field Tile in Soft White and Jade, Heath Ceramics.

Staggered rectangles make surfaces look like they’re receding into outer space.

The Hidden Gem

Cursive Triangle and Square Tiles in Soft Teal and Ghost, Nemo Tile + Stone.

Twist square tiles, surround them in triangles, and—presto!—you get diamonds.

The Wall Climber

Bread & Butter Tile in Kiwi and Cream, Tempest Tileworks.

Forty-five-degree angles require more cuts, but the fun-house vibes are worth it.

The Border Line

Hanley Tile in Forest and Snow, Balineum.

Tie your diagonal patterns together by outlining them with a straightforward 1-to-1 border.

The Classics, With a Twist

Courtesy of Masquespacio

Checkerboard and stripes don’t only come in the form of wallpaper. Go full-on Rubik’s Cube with these graphic sequences.

The Pac-Man

Portmore Glazed Ceramic Tile in White and Green, TileBar.

Place a white square in between every horizontal row of four colored ones for a mazelike effect.

The Fine Line

Laguna Polished Concrete Tile in Alabaster and Jet Black, Concrete Love.

Solid columns make ceilings appear taller than they really are.

The Little Check

Zellige Tile in Sea Salt and Scribes Ink, Clé.

When placed next to a field of big, graphic squares, mini ones look more intricate.

The Big Check

Sheeted Tile in Whitewash and Crater Lake, Fireclay Tile.

A supersize grid is super on trend and, most important, easy for first-time DIYers to lay.

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.