Alternatives to White Subway Tile

By Kate Riley November 9, 2016

Well the sun came up today. Half the nation is upset, the other half is celebrating, we knew that would happen. My hope is for healing and a more united country now that the election is over. Now it’s time to get back to business!

This week, I went searching for backsplashes for the two kitchens I’m working on for my transitional housing projects for a non-profit. For one kitchen with white cabinets, I chose a gray hexagon backsplash. The second galley kitchen will have dark wood base cabinets and white upper cabinets, and for that space I want to do a white backsplash but not in the basic subway style.

I’m drawn to clean white geometric backsplashes with movement: raised shapes, swirls, circles, hexagons, and quadrilaterals. (Still loving the white backsplash in this kitchen so much).







A white brick pattern will always be timeless but I went in search of something different and discovered some good ones for bathrooms and kitchens.

These mosaics are all under $15/sheet, they’ll give you clean white look and are a nice alternative to the basic 3 x 6” subway tile. I ordered a few samples for my project to see which one I like best. With white geometric mosaic tile, stick with white grout for subtlety, or opt for darker grout to make the pattern pop.


glossy prism / triangular mosaic / white kanga hex / basket herringbone / merola glossy white / white bubble / victorian soho  / paissan glossy / dovetail elongated hex / straight stack / white hexagon / broadway porcelain


If you’re looking for more interesting shapes, take a look at patterns available at Heath Ceramics and Fireclay Tile  (below).





If you’re still a fan of the basic white subway tile and love that classic shape, stick with it, but consider the different patterns you can create with it. If you’re interested in different ideas for basic subway tile, read my article on white subway tile patterns I posted earlier this year.



Find inexpensive 3 x 6” subway tile here and here. Also consider basic white square tile. I love this look adding contrast with a border and different shape elsewhere (like the dark hex on the floor).



inspiration image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5/ 6

Saving Money in College

By Kate Riley November 8, 2016

Hello everyone, today’s topic is slightly different than the usual around here. I mentioned yesterday that this month my stepdaughter is traveling in Spain, and she returns home in a few weeks. She graduated from a university last year and will continue her education when she moves away and begins nursing school in January. We got to talking the other day about her financial choices and what her plans were for the future. She’s very sensible, she spent only what was necessary while in college to achieve her degree and is already planning her budget for her years of continued education.

I was asked by Regions Bank if I knew any college graduates that could recommend some tips for saving money during that stage of life, so this partnership was timely. I asked my stepdaughter to list for me some of her resourceful ideas that’s she utilized over the past few years to save money, and I’m happy to pass them on to you today. I know many of you have high school age children, or kids already in college, and I thought her tips were very clever. Perhaps you or your offspring will gain some insight from her savvy ideas since she’s lived them!


1. Research local second hand stores and sell your clothes there to turn a profit. You can usually either get cash (at a lower percentage of the buying price) or store credit (at a higher percentage).

2. Buy or sell your textbooks online! Often times you’ll find books much cheaper on the internet than in your university bookstore. After your course (and depending on the school) you can sell it back to your school’s bookstore and make a small profit. If not, just sell it back online. You can also rent textbooks on Amazon, Chegg, and a number of other great websites.

3. Educate yourself on your loans and pay off the ones with the most interest first. Loan grace periods vary in length so keep track of them. You usually don’t have to wait until your grace period ends to start paying, so if you can you should start doing it as soon as possible (less interest!)

4. Set a budget and transfer money from your savings to checking account only as needed. The extra step helps you not spend as easily.

5. Tutoring or babysitting are great side jobs because you can pick and choose if and when you work. Also, working local gigs or events can be a non-committal way of making money.

6. If you want to watch shows or movies, there are several inexpensive online streaming services available. Also, keep in mind you can check out DVDs from the public library, you’d be surprised how many videos are there!

7. Hot water is free at most cafes, so BYOTB (Bring Your Own Tea Bag) when you study there.

8. Shop in bulk for staples and share meals with friends. Meal prepping lunches and snacks for the week can help save too. Crock pots and rice cookers are golden!

9. Most colleges have a Free or For Sale Facebook group so take advantage of these to get good prices on books, furniture, clothes, etc. There is usually one for on campus free food/events too.

10. Get a finance app on your phone so it’s easier to hold yourself accountable. There are several available if you do a search for “financial app.” There many ways to save money while in college and every dollar counts.

11. Eat and drink at home before you go out so that (ideally) you will spend less when you go out. Also, keep track local specials for food and drinks so you can capitalize on them. Two words. #TacoTuesday

12. If you have a car and are planning a long drive home, find someone who needs a ride so they can split gas with you. Most colleges have boards for this and there are also ride sharing apps.

13.  Work somewhere that serves food and provides meals to employees so that you can eat for free.

14. Take the time to make homemade gifts and cards. Not many people print photos anymore so giving someone a nice print they may have forgotten about can go a long way.

15. Go to free events and use public transportation whenever possible. When I lived in San Francisco, I used and most cities have a similar site.

16. Exercise for free. Run or walk around your city, watch free YouTube fitness videos, or find free yoga nearby. Yoga To The People ( offers donation based yoga classes.

17. With your first job offer, learn about all the benefits that the company offers and when you need to enroll or use them by to take full advantage of them.

For more helpful tips, read 10 Things College Grads Wish They’d Known as Freshman.

Thank you to Regions Bank for sponsoring this post and these tips on saving money while in college and in post graduate years. All opinions expressed are mine and my stepdaughter’s. Proceeds from this post assist in her continuing education, so thank you for supporting this blog.