6 outdated kitchen backsplash designs that can bring down a whole room

Backsplash can take a kitchen back in time if not designed with the long haul in mind. Here are the backsplash features designers say you should avoid

Three images featuring kitchen backsplash
(Image credit: Davonport; Audrey Scheck Design; Future)

Backsplash may seem like a small detail, lost within a kitchen's design scheme, but getting this finishing touch right can make quite a big impact. And if the material or pattern you're using to outline the kitchen has fallen out of style, backsplash has the potential to date the whole space. 

Whether you're opting for a bold statement or an understated, functional feature, there are so many timeless options available. But interior designers say there are some styles to keep your distance from to ensure your space stays stylish. Here are the top six kitchen backsplash ideas designers say may be leaving your kitchen feeling dated.

What tile designs make a backsplash look dated?

From natural stone to mosaic tile, backsplash is often bespoke and expressive. Keep these dated backsplash faux pas in mind to ensure you're evading the endless cycle of trends, while also letting your personality shine.

1. Trend-centric designs

A kitchen with dark green cabinetry and a gold sink

(Image credit: Davonport)

Richard Davonport, managing director at Davonport, says you should 'never underestimate choosing classic and timeless kitchen finishes over design trends.' He suggests staying away from the backsplash trends that go big and bold.

'One trend that has had its heyday is patterned splashbacks and being overly fussy. While once used as a way of bringing color and pattern to a kitchen, tile trends change so quickly that this can easily and quickly date your kitchen,' says Richard.

A man sitting on a bench with his legs crossed
Richard Davonport

Richard Davonport is a luxury cabinetmaker and designer, and the Managing Director of Davonport, a bespoke kitchen brand based in the UK.

2. High contrast colors

A neutral-toned kitchen design

(Image credit: Audrey Scheck Design)

Graphic tiles in high-contrast colors also offer an easy route to a dated kitchen, says Audrey Scheck, designer and founder of Audrey Scheck Design.

'While dramatic backsplashes are certainly fun, we’re seeing an exit from patterned tile as more subdued, simplistic approaches come into play. The new trend is shifting to handmade tile like Zellige, which infuses texture and character into a space,' says Audrey.

Audrey Scheck
Audrey Scheck

With more than a half-dozen years of experience in remodels and renovations, Audrey Scheck leads Audrey Scheck Design, a full-service interior design firm based in Austin, Texas.

3. Busy patterns

A white marble kitchen with a wooden island and metal light fixtures

(Image credit: Davis Interiors)

According to Jennifer Davis, principal designer at Davis Interiors, a backsplash can easily 'reveal a kitchen's age.' She says that glass tiles in bold colors and complicated patterns had their moment in the early 2000s, but now give a kitchen an overall dated look. 'On the other hand, subway tiles have proven timeless and continue to be a classic yet contemporary choice,' she says.

Jennifer adds that 'overly vibrant or muted' color palettes bring a kitchen back in time as well. Instead, she suggests neutral tones to give the kitchen 'a fresh and modern appeal. A well-thought-out renovation can breathe new life into the heart of the home.'

A headshot of designer Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Davis

Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs.

4. Glass finishes

A kitchen with marble backsplash and natural wooden cabinetry

(Image credit: Future)

Amber Shay, National VP of Design Studios at Meritage Homes, agrees that glass backsplash is on the outs. 'Glass backsplashes are no longer at the forefront of kitchen design. In 2024, there’s a move toward more textured and statement backsplashes,' she says.

Rather than glass, Amber suggests slab backsplashes that match with kitchen countertops for 'a contemporary aesthetic' that won't date. Natural materials like marble are on the rise, offering a fresh and enduring look.

Amber Shay

Amber Shay is the National VP of Design Studios at Meritage Homes, a real estate and construction company based in the United States.

5. Small-format mosaics

A kitchen with dark blue cabinets and marble backsplash

(Image credit: Future)

Kyle O'Donnell, principal designer of Gramercy Design, is on the same page – natural, handmade backsplash tiles are the perfect option for a timeless kitchen.

'Finishes and lighting are the two biggest giveaways that make a kitchen look dated. Imitation stone, sparkly quartz counters, and small-format mosaic backsplashes don't have the same timeless appeal as natural stone and beautiful handmade tiles,' says Kyle.

Kyle O'Donnell and Christopher Sale

Gramercy Design is a boutique interior design studio based in New York City, and founded and led by Kyle O'Donnell. Christopher Sale is the firm's Senior Project Manager.

6. Visible outlets

A kitchen with minimalistic backsplash and pink cabinetry

(Image credit: Future)

Aside from the material backsplash is made of, Jenny Keenan – principal designer and founder of Jenny Keenan Design – says keeping the surface sleek is important as well. She says that visible outlets take a level of sophistication away from a kitchen's current look.

'There are some really cool outlets now that can pop up out of the countertop or be located in the trim of a window, or just placed in an area so you do not have to interrupt your beautiful backsplash,' she says.

Disposals, too, interrupt a timeless backsplash look. When organizing the kitchen, Jenny suggests air switches for disposal activation, and recommends hiding light switches as well.

A headshot of designer Jenny Keenan
Jenny Keenan

Jenny Keenan is the Principal Designer and Founder of Charleston, South Carolina-based Jenny Keenan Design.

No matter your design style, timeless and enduring backsplash styles are available for the taking. By steering clear of these age-inducing design features, you'll create a space that'll stand the test of time.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.