First and foremost, kitchen backsplash ideas are designed to protect your walls from the spills, stains and splashes that are inevitable in the kitchen. Installed in the areas where spills are most common – behind cookers, ranges and sink areas – they are typically made from easy-to-clean materials such as ceramic, metal or porcelain.
However, kitchen backsplashes bring so much more than just practicality. Installed at eye-level, the backsplash is often the first element that’s noticed in your kitchen, therefore it is important that it makes a statement, bringing color and texture to your kitchen ideas.
‘A backsplash is a key decision in a project,’ explains Alex Beaugeard, design director at McCarron & Co.
‘As vertical surfaces, they carry significant design weight and there is a real appetite to experiment with alternative kitchen tile ideas at the moment. I’m seeing artwork installed behind glass and resin bronze as well as wallpapers. Some materials, such as marble, are prone to discoloring but they’re so beautiful we are prepared to forgive them.’
Backsplash ideas for kitchens
These creative kitchen backsplashes are a great example of how planning the practical elements of a space and the beauty of interior style have become intertwined when designing a kitchen.
‘A beautiful backsplash is a great way to decorate a kitchen in a functional way. If you can take the backsplash all the way to the ceiling or above the cabinets, it will help draw the eye up and create a wow-factor,’ says Erika Souza-Mejia is an interior designer based in South Florida, where she runs Concept 2 Design.
Elevated from a purely practical role, like cabinetry, the one humble kitchen backsplash has taken on more of an architectural feel, with luxe materials and a new industrial aesthetic becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Explore this range of kitchen backsplash designs to suit a whole range of styles to give you plenty of inspiration for choosing the right backsplash and look for your space.
1. Go luxury with marble
If you’re looking to give your kitchen a luxury edge then marble is a must. With myriad colors and veining options available you can choose from classic white to moody greens or even blacks. Plus since your backsplash covers a smaller area of the room, it is a more affordable way to incorporate this luxury material into your space.
'Using marble or quartz with an active pattern for a backsplash combined with a less busy countertop material adds panache to what might be an otherwise flat homogeneous look,' says Linda Sasson, designer and founder of Linda Sasson Designs.
2. Make a small statement with tiles
When looking for kitchen backsplash ideas, it's worth noting that you don't have to commit to decorating the whole wall. For sink areas, a row or two of tiles is more than sufficient. When decorating over a smaller area you can afford to go bolder with your style and try new kitchen tile ideas. Here, a mismatch of kitchen wall tile ideas has been used to create an interesting feature – if hoping to adopt this look just make sure that they are all the same size.
3. Reflect light with a mirrored backsplash
If you want to bring more natural light into your kitchen, consider a mirrored glass backsplash.
‘Mirrored backsplashes are great for increasing natural light around the room if natural light is limited. If you’d like to inject a little personality and interest into your kitchen, choose antique glass. There are so many variations of glass to choose from to suit your aesthetic, adding a vintage look whilst still creating an open, airy feel,’ says Tom Howley founder of the eponymous kitchen company. Gloss tiles also have a similar effect.
'Mirrored backsplashes are especially good for dark, internal kitchens where there is no or very limited light, as they help to bounce light back into the room and create the illusion of space. Deep recesses in kitchens, like range cookers, are an ideal spot for a mirrored backsplashes as they help to create some movement. We would always advise that you use an antiqued glass in the kitchen, as the slight foxing on the mirror can help to hide marks more easily,' adds Emma Deterding, founder and creative director, Kelling Designs.
4. Opt for Victorian tiles for a traditional kitchen
If you are looking for a backsplash for traditional kitchen ideas, then tiles are the go-to choice. Tiles are easy to install, hardwearing, and available in an endless range of colors, textures, and patterns.
‘Using tiles as a kitchen backsplash is an exquisite way of displaying and accentuating their pattern, texture, and glaze. Victorian tiles are increasingly being used as decorative pieces of art in the home. Be it your kitchen, bathroom, hallway or even on the stairs, using tiles within any scheme shows off their beautiful textures and patterns while at once uplifting a space,' says Diane Hyde of Craven Dunnill Jackfield.
5. Try a panelled backsplash for a farmhouse charm
When channeling farmhouse kitchen ideas, wood paneling is the way to go.
'Panelling can be an ideal choice for a kitchen backsplash. Aside from the fact that it will probably be cheaper than tiles it has the obvious advantage that when an update or fresh look is needed then it should be no more than a light sanding and a couple of coats of paint rather than having to hack off tiles, make good the walls and start all over again,' explains Jon Madeley, founder at the English Paneling Company.
However, there are some practicalities to consider. Avoid solid wood and instead opt for ‘high-quality Moisture Resistant (MR) grade MDF boards, as these will not expand or contract'.
Also ensure that they are painted with a kitchen-appropriate paint to ensure maximum moisture and heat resistance.
6. Jazz up the subway tile trend with marble
If you want to incorporate not one, but two hot trends for kitchen tile ideas, then give the standard subway tile a luxury touch with marble. While the classic glazed subway white tile is still a stylish option, opting for either a marble-effect finish or rectangular tiles made of the natural stone itself is a great way to elevate an otherwise simple scheme, as demonstrated in this kitchen by designer Tiffany Leigh.
It’s also a pocket-friendly option – smaller marble tiles are often much more affordable than trying to cover the same area with one slab or large panels.
7. Add some razzle dazzle with zellige tiles
For a backsplash that encompasses both rusticity and a touch of sparkle, look to Morocco. The North African country’s famed zellige tiles are seriously on trend right now, with good reason. Handmade from clay and highly glazed, the uneven texture of the square tiles means the surface bounces light across the room.
8. Double the impact
If you’re torn between the prettiness of tiles and the practicalities of quartz, take a dual approach and enjoy the best of both worlds.
In this beautiful kitchen by Roundhouse, opting for split surface kitchen backsplash ideas has married texture, shine and color to make the most of the vertical space around hob and hood.
‘The glossy green tiles are a particular triumph as they reflect light from the sliding glass doors opposite,’ says Oli Moss, designer at Roundhouse.
Oli explains that knowing how to install a backsplash for the perfect finish can be difficult - but with the right professional onboard, anything is possible: ‘It can be tricky to achieve a neat connection. Here, the quartz upstand has a rolled edge detail to create a smooth juncture between the two materials.’
9. Make a kitchen feel bigger with a mirrored backsplash
A kitchen backsplash can do more than look pretty and save your paintwork – it can actually make your kitchen look bigger too. Mirrors are handy for making all small rooms feel roomier, but use one that stretches the length of your kitchen and the effect can be substantial. In this kitchen, a mirrored backsplash gives the sense of a whole other kitchen beyond, but is saved from being too disorientating with the addition of a rustic tarnishing.
10. Create a pop of contrasting color
Abundant color is having a big moment in interior design, and joyfully hued tiles are helping it lift our most utilitarian spaces. Use them to create a pop of color in your kitchen, and even go for an invigorating contrast. In this kitchen, pink porcelain tiles from Bert & May are used alongside Prussian blue cabinetry for an exciting mismatch. Adding a burst of pattern and hue is a great option for kitchen floor tile ideas too.
11. Instil natural beauty
While natural stone like marble is comparatively delicate, used vertically it is less likely to come under fire from knives and pans. Splashes are the main threat, and a quick response with a damp cloth will go a long way to prevent stains.
For many, the beauty on offer is well worth judicious cleaning. ‘Natural materials have an incredible calming effect in a space,’ says Alex Beaugeard, director of design at Lanserring.
‘The historical significance of using marble for backsplashes, along with the knowledge that every slab is completely unique, creates an emotional connection that will help your kitchen resonate with you.’
12. Play with 3D textures
Modern marble is working its way into our homes for the past few years, but this 'trend' is here to stay the course.
In this project by Brian O’Tuama Architects, a fluted Calacatta marble white kitchen backsplash was combined with oak cabinetry to provide a versatile and modern treat hidden inside slimline pocket doors. ‘We wanted the fluted marble to add visual interest and surface texture in contrast to the flat, contemporary exteriors,’ explains Brian O’Tuama.
13. Add interest with wallpaper
Using a swatch of luxury wallpaper, fabric or a painted pattern is an easy way to inject color and pattern into a kitchen design.
You can use a variety of wallpaper ideas in the kitchen, but just make sure that whatever you choose is covered with toughened glass (making sure it’s low iron to avoid a greenish tinge), Perspex, or a protective lacquer. This way you can ensure your wallpapered kitchen backsplash is just as practical and wipe clean as more traditional backsplashes.
Alternatively, keep wallpaper completely moisture-free – and prevent it from coming away from the wall – by sandwiching between two sheets of glass.
14. Wow with wood
Timber comes in many varieties, from durable oak, to those that have natural oils that make them more water-resistant, such as iroko.
A wood backsplash will be more work to upkeep than traditional kitchen wall tiles, as it will need regular oiling or waxing to keep it protected against stains. It’s also best to avoid installing wood around hob areas as it can scorch and be a fire risk.
Hardwoods are especially resilient, water-resistant and hard-wearing but they’ll need to be conditioned and acclimatised before fitting to prevent shrinkage and splitting. And, as timber can be cut on site, there’s no need to wait for templating.
15. Incorporate a beautiful stone
Unsurprisingly, marble backsplashes have become the pinnacle of high-end luxury, and for good reason. This sumptuous stone is not only beautiful in design, but also incredibly hardwearing – making it a worthwhile investment.
Stone will need sealing once it’s installed, and regular resealing, especially if it has a honed or brushed finish, but is a great way to showcase beautiful vein patterns.
Marble is practical as it’s stain, heat and water resistant but will need specialist templating. This means that a template will be taken of the units once they’re installed, taking into account cut-outs for sockets, which will additional time to the project depending on the complexity of the cutting required.
What is the most popular backsplash for a kitchen?
The most popular backplashes for a kitchen are often the most durable ones. Think marble, tiles and stainless steel.
How the latest backsplash materials are incorporated is also a fundamental consideration. Different surfaces can be used to define distinct areas of the kitchen for cooking, relaxing and dining, or create contrast with worktops.
Pairing metallics, such as copper or gold, with crisp marble work surfaces is proving popular, as is expanses of antiqued or smoked mirror to make a small kitchen look bigger and even the most compact design seem lighter and more welcoming.
Similarly, black and grey stone backsplashes, which are widespread on the continent, are becoming more prevalent in the US as they’re the perfect partner for furniture in pale grey or chalky white tones.
No matter what material you choose, be sure to make the most of it visually. Maximize the area of wall space for your backsplash and add lighting to help highlight subtle sparkle, delicate veining or texture.
For further advice, see our guide on what is the best kitchen backsplash material?
What kitchen backsplash is in style?
Marble is undoubtedly the material of the moment for your backsplash.
If there’s one thing that’s storming the style charts and shaking up kitchen interiors, it’s the return of marble. So if you’re after a hot new look that’s bang on trend, a splash of marble in the kitchen is the way to go.
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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