Your kitchen backsplash is a personality piece. Refined or funky, neutral or loud: What's your style? The tiles you choose to spruce up the wall space between the countertop and cabinets and above the range, should showcase the color scheme and theme of your kitchen, whether contemporary or traditional. Ultimately, that backsplash is a focal point. And it's an opportunity to be creative.
That said, why is this important decorative feature often the last detail planned in a kitchen design? Probably because there are so many choices. To make the process easier, we asked designers to provide some guidelines for choosing tile backsplash. Consider these points before you make your selection:
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.
Countertops often dictate the backsplash color and style, says Kira Van Deusen, designer at Covenant Kitchens & Baths in Westbrook, Conn. Also consider fixtures like your lighting and hardware.
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.
This is the place to play up pattern. Some options include installing tile on the diagonal, or applying a staggering brick pattern with slim subway tiles (now they come in sizes like 1-by-2 inches or elongated 4-by-12 inches). "Often, we will use different tiles in this space, or we'll take the same tile and turn it differently or create a border with a contrast tile," Spang says.
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.
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