Is Joanna Gaines Over Subway Tile? (And What’s She Using Instead?)

Her new looks are so chic

joanna gaines next to a subway tile backsplash kitchen that's reminiscent of her style
Cavan Images/Getty Images

A Fixer Upper kitchen is, historically, a lot of things: Bright, open, rustic and filled with Joanna Gaines’s favorite materials. Think quartz countertops, reclaimed wood and—you guessed it—white subway tile.

Indeed, back in the Fixer Upper heyday (we’re talking 2014 or so), most of Jo’s kitchens featured classic subway tile in a brick pattern, usually with dark grout and often climbing the wall behind the stainless oven hood. This was in tune with the modern farmhouse look du jour, and millions of homeowners and developers followed suit. (I personally hopped on the bandwagon, updating my kitchen at the time with a subway tile backsplash and iron cage bowl pendant lights.)

But in recent years, I can’t help but notice that Joanna Gaines has changed her style. Suddenly, the shiplap and gather signs have made way for new materials, like plaster walls and volcanic ash floor tile.

And as for that subway tile…per her most recent flip, Fixer Upper: The Lakehouse, she’s clearly swapping it for two new backsplash materials.

The first is marble, which—in fairness—she’s used for a while as a countertop and behind-the-hood material. But in her newest iteration, she’s wrapping those marble countertops about three-quarters of the way up the walls, with both rounded edges and a useful ledge. The look is organic and lovely, though a heck-of-a-lot more expensive than tile. (For reference, subway tile is typically about $10/square foot, while marble is more like $75/square foot, though some estimates are as high as $150.) The good news? She also has a cheaper material for consideration.

Joanna’s second backsplash alternative is really a kindred spirt to the subway patterns you know and love: gridded tile, aka porcelain or ceramic tile cut into small (typically 2-inch by 2-inch) squares and laid out, well, like a grid. In the Lakehouse, she’s used it throughout the coffee nook, in an olive green hue set against the wooden trim and cabinets, all for a look that’s very mid-century cozy.

Bottom line: I’m loving both backsplash ideas and appreciate that they span the luxe-to-attainable spectrum. But for the record, I still like my good old-fashioned subway tile too, thank you very much.

jillian quint

Editor-in-Chief, Avid Reader, Wallpaper Enthusiast

Jillian Quint is the Editor-in-Chief of PureWow, where she oversees the editorial staff and all the fabulous content you read every day. Jillian began her career as a book editor...