Your kitchen backsplash is a personality piece. It can be refined or funky, neutral or loud, contemporary or traditional, depending on your style. Ultimately, the backsplash is a focal point. And it’s an opportunity to be creative. But, keep the rest of your kitchen in mind. Countertops, lightening fixtures and hardware often dictate the backsplash color and style.
Match colors, mix materials. Having a tough time deciding among tiles? Live with them for a while. Tape color and tile samples to the walls to see what they look like throughout the day as natural light changes, suggests Stephen Kahn, president of Anchor Bay Tile in Phoenix, Ariz. Choose one main color and a couple of accent colors to use throughout the kitchen, including the backsplash.
Try mixing metallic tiles in different shades with various finishes, such as brushed stainless steel, oil-rubbed bronze or even an antique brass. By including small tiles of marble or granite, you can pull in the countertop color without being boring with a panel of granite that extends up from the countertop, says Barrie Spang, interior designer at Lee Meier Interiors in Westlake, Ohio. As for glass tiles, check out some of the newer tiles with a bit of crackle or frosted finish, Spang says.
Invest in the high-impact zone. There is more square footage of wall space above the range and sink, so you can play with tile design. “That area gets a lot of visual attention,” Van Deusen says. Consider a neutral field tile for the rest of the kitchen, then bring in a funky glass tile to create a showy centerpiece above the stove.
Don’t be afraid to spice it up in this typically 2-by-3 foot area. Even as one of the larger swaths of tile space, it’s still small. So if you choose a bold color or trendy tile pattern for this zone, you can always change it down the road without tearing out your entire kitchen backsplash, Van Deusen says. Looking for a bold idea? According to a 2011 trend report released by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, back-painted glass in strong carrot orange is fresh but refined and works well in a contemporary kitchen.
Be budget savvy. When on a budget, avoid trendy tile and revisit classic white ceramic that can cost less than a dollar per square foot. But don’t skimp on the grout. “How the tiles adhere to the wall is important, so make sure you get a nice grout,” Spang says.