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6 Ways to Make Basic, Versatile Tile Look Upscale

If your visions of grandeur for your kitchen remodel just don't sync up with your budget, there's good news. It is possible to take simple-and less expensive-tile and make it look high-end. Become a master of upscale illusion without breaking the bank. Read on to find out how.

Starting Line in White 4 x 8 on the backsplash. Available at Lowe's.

Starting Line in White 4 x 8 on the backsplash. Available at Lowe's.

White vs. Color

White tile is generally the least expensive. But basic tile in a color doesn't add that much more cost and it's well worth the attractiveness it adds to your design. Add a pop of color to white subway tiles or create a pattern in color. Whether you use a neutral color or go for something a bit bolder, color can make a simple tile look more high-end.


Simple 3 x 6 or 4 x 4 tile takes on a hint of luxury when it's arranged in a pattern other than a basic grid or brick layout. Use color to create a pattern or go for a herringbone. American Olean has several suggestions for great patterns that are sure to take your design to the next level.


Using a basic tile in an unexpected place or in an unexpected way is a hallmark of upscale design. Take the backsplash all the way up the wall to the ceiling. Use tile on the fireplace. Put up a feature wall behind the bed in the master bedroom. Most of these applications don't require a large amount of tile so you might even be able to splurge on a tile that you've had your eye on.

Photo features Delfino in Mixed Blue-Grey Linear.

Delfino in Mixed Blue-Grey Linear available at Lowe's


The key to high-end looks is in the detail. Trims, accents, and tile with detailed design can take a plain design to a deluxe one. Think beveled edge on the subway tile. Satin finish on the floor. Color variations and grain movement on wood and stone looks. Use jolly trims, bullnose, and accent pieces add an air of attention that comes with the upscale.

Stick to Classics

Most high-end homes are fairly neutral. They stick to classics. It's the quality that makes them look so gorgeous. There is greater value in simple and clean than in a design that is over-customized. Neutral colors, conservative patterns, and classic materials (or look-alike materials) are your best bet for an upscale look.


The right light goes a long way to making a room look great. Lighting tile can be tricky though. It can be unforgiving if the light source is too close. For the wall, keep light sources 12-24 inches away. The closer the light is, the more vertical light will create harsh shadows and bring out tiny imperfections. Hire out tile installation. Proper installation will result in fewer imperfections.

Give your home's design an upscale edge with a little extra thought and planning. Find basic tile that you can dress up at Lowe's.

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