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Subway tile backsplash via @l_atelier_paris IG

The Best Kitchen Backsplash Ideas To Try Now

The feature has recently graduated from practical to prominent.
Roxanne Robinson Nov 12, 2020
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Ask anyone who’s in the middle of kitchen renovation what part of the design process excites them most, and you might be surprised at the answer. Many will cite the backsplash, which has quickly become a focus of a modern kitchen. It’s akin to choosing a new fashion item for your wardrobe, such as a coat. The garment keeps you warm and covered, but it can also make a major statement.

Backsplashes are a cook’s safety measure to prevent soiling the walls behind a stove with a splash of sauce or a deluge of water after cooking and cleaning pots and pans. Many of he best kitchen backsplash ideas evolve from tiles composed in interesting patterns; metals such as stainless steel and copper; stone and minerals; and other rather unexpected materials.

Tiles

The number of tiles available on the market can be dizzying, which is why letting an expert guide you with suggestions is recommended. Subway tiles have been the go-to choice for more than a decade. The standard white is wildly popular in variable sizes and crackled or rustic finishes. The grout that holds them together is also crucial to the look. Contrasting in dark grout adds to this dimensional backsplash idea.

Tiles in extra glossy or glazed styles lend themselves well to bursts of bright color. Conversely, currently trending backsplash ideas are black, deep blue, and brown tiles offset with white walls to keep the setting from looking too moody. Breaking up tile patterns and sizes from a backsplash to an island wall also helps offset the “black box” effect caused by dark materials in a kitchen. Whether recalling a French country garden or a Portuguese tile motif, blue-and-white ceramic slabs on the lighter side add Insta-worthy charm.

Rectangular shapes aren’t the only type of tiles to bring a stir of delight to your kitchen. Hexagons can also produce a visual treat. Penny tiles, usually reserved for bathroom floors, invigorate a kitchen space as a fresh backsplash idea. Larger Moroccan hexagonal shapes add an exciting approach when arranged in an incomplete manner and staggered at different heights, creating small “towers” against the otherwise bare wall space.

The possibilities are endless. Don’t stop at the space between the counter and cabinets: One compelling backsplash idea is to extend tiles to the ceiling to include even a stove hood. Tiles can be applied in a chevron or herringbone pattern, creating a sunburst effect by spreading out like rays of light from a center point. Fifties-diner checkerboard patterns get an update when placed against intense bright colors in the room created by an accent wall or cabinetry. Curved fish-scale tiles in seafoam green evoke a mermaid’s tail. And if you love the British brand Burberry, there’s even a tile that pays homage to its iconic plaid pattern.

Metals

While too much stainless steel as a backsplash may conjure memories of a school cafeteria, just the right amount in a kitchen can be super chic (even tiles can be stainless steel these days!). And besides, cleanup is generally a snap on metal surfaces. A single stainless steel backsplash square behind a stove becomes art-like when paired against contrasting materials and colors. This idea may appeal to those who like to coordinate their appliances. 

Copper is a sign of good taste when it comes to cooking pots — so why not let it adorn your walls as a backsplash? When paired with patina or sage green, bronze ups the ante by continuing the glowing metallic on the counters. The copper may lend itself to a nostalgic design, but when done right it will read thoroughly fresh and modern.

Another innovative approach to a metallic surface backsplash is Teflon-coated wallpaper. Its advantages are numerous, starting with its ability to be changed more easily than tile and other more permanent types of backsplashes. It’s a good option if you aren’t sure what direction you want to take regarding more fixed surfaces. Though you may spend a lot of time cooking at home, you might want to consider a surface in the same material as your stove, presumably stainless steel, to continue on the wall behind the stove.

Glass

Glass has also found its way into the home kitchen as a new backsplash idea. Painted glass, which is popular in commercial and industrial spaces, can also make a dramatic focal point in your home kitchen space. Painted glass (and its cousin, stained glass) hearken back to the Middle Ages, but today’s interpretations are positively futuristic. This backsplash looks especially good when paired with lacquered cabinetry.

Sea glass — the real thing, or glass with a weathered or frosted effect — has a warmer vibe, appealing to a salt-washed seaside design mindset. Not surprisingly, this is a popular type of glass made in Venice, typically in smaller tiles versus large sheets. What better spot than a beach house to try out this backsplash idea?

But perhaps the most exciting use of glass in a kitchen comes in the form of mirrored glass. A mirror has its obvious vanity purposes in bathrooms and bedrooms, and mirrored walls are usually throwbacks to 1970s and ’80s living rooms. But bringing them into the kitchen as 12-by-12 panels or mirrored tiles is a refreshing way to add depth and pizzazz. After all, they tend to make spaces look more prominent and open.

Natural Minerals

Quartz and marble are gold-standard design materials in kitchens right now. With their good looks, why stop at the counter? Islands and backsplashes can continue the vibe up to the cabinet lines. Statement marble in bold black-and-white or red stone creates visual drama offset by simple decor and minimal appliances in the rest of the kitchen. If marble is beyond your budget, marble tiles can sub in for an entire slab and still give that elevated touch.

Raw Materials

Sustainability is a big topic right now, and home building and construction is one of its key growth areas. Green home–building was a budding concept 15 years ago, and certain practices that were novel then, such as using recycled materials, are commonplace today. Reclaimed and treated wood planks can be stacked to create a backsplash finish that extends the wall’s height, paired with light cabinetry for a fresh look. Older homes often reveal boarded-up brick walls that, when uncovered and lacquered, provide automatic interest and intrigue for a backsplash. Elements such as zinc from a bar or antique port windows can also be reclaimed and incorporated into a backsplash for a truly unique take.

Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in Forbes.com, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter, CRFashionbook.com, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and Editorialist.com among others.
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