As with most things in the home, the kitchen backsplash started with a purely utilitarian purpose: keep grease, food splatters, and moisture from staining and damaging the kitchen’s drywall (because scrubbing marinara sauce off of a painted wall is a sure-fire way to mar the paint’s finish).
Tile was, without fail, the go-to for standard and high-end kitchens alike. But the materials and ideas for this space have taken on new life over the last 50 years, becoming a simple way to add visual interest to a space that rarely lends itself to loads of artwork or decorative knick-knacks. While tile is, undoubtedly, still the most popular choice, bold colors, intricate tile designs, and the use of non-traditional materials like wood open up a world of possibilities.
Finding a New Use for Lighting
Purple-tinged rope lighting installed behind frosted Plexiglas adds color and brightens the darkness produced by upper cabinets, all while creating the illusion of a more intricate finish.
Exploring Wallpaper-like Tile
High-design tile masquerades as wallpaper with a floral pattern that, when installed correctly, adds an unexpected visual extravaganza to an otherwise simple space.
The choice of white grout transforms a relatively basic black porcelain tile into a show-stopping kitchen backsplash that plays off the sharp modern cabinets.
Warming Up Modern White
A kitchen backsplash featuring the same finish as the countertops in a slightly brighter hue creates clean lines while still achieving separation between the two surfaces.
Marrying Traditional and Contemporary
A mirrored backsplash brightens this very traditional kitchen while adding a playful touch and an easy-to-clean surface. Grease is no match for the slick mirrored surface.
Adding Interest With Elegance
Mixing tile types, colors, and shapes as well as altering layouts adds interest to the space without shocking colors or non-traditional backsplash materials.
Playing With Mosaic Inlays
Gorgeous stone tile in classic beige blends beautifully with a mosaic focal point in slightly richer hues. This technique keeps the backsplash from looking ‘too busy’, while still allowing for a more eye-catching design.
Blending Backsplash With Countertop
Cool-tone gray mosaic tiles look crisp instead of dreary when mixed with white glass tile. This design showcases the idea that you don’t have to match your counter to your backsplash perfectly – they just need to complement one another.
Transforming the Checkerboard Look
The mix of glossy white porcelain and black textured tiles updates the classic checkerboard look typically used for flooring. These stronger backsplash design choices work best with simple, clean counters, a ’la this beautiful white solid surface.
Going Colorful With Granite
Highlight the colors in granite and explore reclaimed backsplash ideas with a colorful mix of tiles that blend seamlessly with the rich stone.
Creating a New Take on Black and White
Black tile with white grout coordinate easily with a black and white tile floor design. When mixed with a speckled gray granite and bright white cabinetry, the simple color pallet makes for a visual masterpiece.
Mixing Patterns and Materials Elegantly
Shades of blue hexagonal tile contrast with a floral design. Why does this work? Because the flooring is simple and the tile is surrounded by white, creating a buffer for the two seemingly-opposing design choices.
Incorporating Colorful Glass Tile Without Kitsch
Glass mosaic tile pairs beautifully with a matte charcoal counter, mixing shades of blue and teal with flecks of gold for an eclectic look that doesn’t overwhelm the eye.
Transforming Basic Backsplashes With Lighting
A taupe tile backsplash could be a bit boring, but the perfectly matching cabinetry and expertly-placed downlights let it hold its own against the stunning black granite.
Warming Up Stark White
An all-white kitchen avoids looking sterile with a rich wood backsplash. This choice could easily look out of place, but by installing the wood so the grain runs parallel with the floor, the backsplash melds with the clean, modern lines of the cabinetry.
Highlighting Unique Architecture
The curved lines of this kitchen pair beautifully with the intricate mosaic backsplash. Monotone shades punctuated with strategically placed lighting strike a balance between approachable and high-class.
Melding Kitchen Design With Mixed Media Mosaic Tiles
This combination of mirror glass and stone in a striking thin, horizontal layout ties the counters and lower cabinets to the glossy white upper cabinets. The result is a seamless kitchen design where the backsplash plays a starring role, but doesn’t overpower the space.