kitchen backsplash

A Beginner’s Guide to Kitchen Backsplash Selection

A Beginner’s Guide to Kitchen Backsplash Selection

In more ways than one, the interior design world and the fashion world go hand in hand and just like in fashion, accessories such as your kitchen backsplash help to achieve the look you’re going for in the kitchen. Color and pattern trends you see on the runway become the colors and pattern trends you see in the interior design magazines.

To take this comparison a bit further, consider the steps to putting a great outfit together: you tend to start with great base pieces (pants, shirt), add layers of color, texture, and pattern (a sweater, blazer, scarf, etc.) and finish off the look with accessories ( like a statement necklace or chandelier earrings). Designing a space is very similar—you start with your basics (sofa, chair), add your color, texture, and pattern (fabric window treatments, area rug, pillows) and end with accessories (like decorative mirrors, vases, statement art pieces) to finish the space.

Using this analogy, let’s think about one of the “accessory” pieces for the kitchen: the backsplash. The backsplash, which is typically some type of material added to the walls above counters to protect against splashes, can be made of a variety of materials to help achieve the desired look for your kitchen. Here are a few common types to get your creativity flowing:

Subway Tile Backsplash:

A classic! This is truly my favorite backsplash. Subway tile, which typically refers to porcelain or ceramic 3”x6” tiles installed in a brick lay pattern reminiscent of the tile used in subway stations, has been in fashion for decades. The classic, simple styling of this tile will hold its longevity for years to come.

It really has the ability to seamlessly work with a variety of design styles: it can look period-appropriate in an antique home, sleek and modern when paired with streamlined cabinetry, eclectic when done in a colored glass application—the options are seemingly endless. These tiles come in almost every color and can be made of porcelain, ceramic, or glass.

Being creative with your grout choices can also make subway tile unique. In tile applications like flooring, the grout is usually selected in a color that will blend with the tile as to not draw attention to the not-so-pretty grout lines. However, a subway tile backsplash is an application where being creative with grout can really add visual interest. For example, white subway tile with white grout is a much different look than white subway tile with black grout. Green glass subway tile looks fantastic with bright white grout, as the white lines add almost another pattern to the backsplash.

The versatility of a subway tile backsplash is one of the best features about it and one of the many reasons why it is my favorite option for backsplashes.

Metallic Options for Your Kitchen Backsplash:

This is one of the more avant-garde kitchen backsplash options that I have been seeing more and more of lately. Just like adding a sparkle of jewelry in fashion, adding shine to a space is a great way to elevate a room to meet its potential.

For example, mirrored mosaics of today are a far cry from the mirrors seen everywhere in design in the 80s (thank goodness). The mirrored mosaics of the modern day come in sheets (which makes installing pretty simple) and come in a variety of sizes and designs including staggered 1×2 mosaic tiles, pencil thin rectangular mosaics, and mirrored hexagon tiles are just to name a few. The beauty of these mirrored tiles is that they reflect light, can visually give the illusion of a more open and airy space, and act more as a pattern rather than as an actual mirror.

Another option to add metallic shine is with metal penny rounds. Available in stainless steel, copper, mirrored material, and combinations of mixed metals, these small circular tiles are another material that can work in both traditional and contemporary settings. Penny round tiles have been around since the 1900s, but the sparkle and shine of the modern day materials make them a great choice for backsplashes today. Similarly, tin sheets are also a great way to add some sparkle while also being reminiscent of a time gone by.

These are all fantastic options for adding a touch of glam to the often utilitarian kitchen.

Slate Kitchen Backsplash Options:

A slate backsplash is another material that can really work in several different styles of kitchen. I find that is really works well when wanting to increase the rustic feel to a space or when wanting to bring a natural element in to the design scheme.

Just like any other natural stone, slate offers a variety of colors and patterning depending on where and when it was harvested from. Similarly, the size of tile can vary from 4” square tiles to long linear rectangular pieces, to mosaics that are a combination of slate and glass. Another favorite: three dimensional chunks of slate mounted on a mesh. The three dimensionality of this application can pose some difficulty when it comes to keeping the backsplash clean, but adding that extra geometry to that typical 16-18” backsplash space is a nice way to add some dimensionality and interest.

A Vast Array of Kitchen Backsplash Options:

Now, keep in mind that there are SO many more than the options I mentioned. Think marble, glass, mosaics, tumbled travertine—the options are virtually endless. But as a jump off point, these three backsplash favorites can help you properly accessorize your kitchen in no time!  Click here to visit Houzz page for some of our recent kitchen backsplash installations.

For my next blog, I will talk about another functional accessory for your kitchen; some stellar faucets that can really make a statement! Until then, happy designing and to learn more about kitchen backsplash options, contact me (Alex Yavarow) at

Click to arrange a consultation.

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