Tile backsplash ideas – 10 ways to add elegance and detail to kitchen walls

Be inspired by tile backsplash ideas that bring beauty to the room

A white kitchen with blue island, and white and blue patterned tile backsplash ideas.
(Image credit: Studio Vernacular/Ruby & Peach Photo)

Tile backsplash ideas can cover an entire wall, or be used in a smaller area between countertops and cabinets, or behind a range but, however they’re employed in a kitchen design, they’re a feature that makes an impact.

As wall decor, tile can can look timelessly elegant and understated, or bold in a color that pops. Wonderfully versatile, it can complement kitchens with rustic appeal or contemporary credentials – and every style in between.

The choice of backsplash should never be neglected among your kitchen ideas as it’s fundamental to the kitchen design. And of course it’s functional, too, protecting the walls from the splatters and splashes inevitable in the room’s environment.

Tile backsplash ideas

While they can be simple or standout, tile backsplash ideas should always bring interest to the room and complement its aesthetic including the color and materials palette. Here we’ve put together various kitchen backsplash ideas to consider for your kitchen remodel, along with advice from designers.

1. Make the design cohesive 

Kitchen with blue cabinets, sink and faucet, window, and tile backsplash

(Image credit: Colordrunk Designs Photograph Elizabeth Day)

Go for tile backsplash ideas to make a kitchen design cohesive. ‘A mix of soft gray, white and a bit of a stripe was all that we needed to give this tiled wall depth and interest,’ says Jenna Buck Gross of Colordrunk Designs of this pretty kitchen wall tile idea.

‘The hint of terracotta glazing around the edges of these handmade tiles references the rich color of the flooring and perfectly unites the entire room, from top to bottom.’

2. Play with color tones

tile splashback idea

(Image credit: Future / Jon Day)

If you are looking for white kitchen backsplash ideas, it’s easy to add an accent with the tile selected for the backsplash, but think about whether a block of color is preferable or a range of shades. 

In this kitchen, the latter path was taken with tile in a mixture of blues and greens. The effect is a little softer than the alternative, but the organic tones still bring natural energy into the room, while the small, diamond format of the tile design makes them an eye-catching feature, too. 

3. Change shape

A white kitchen with blue island, and white and blue patterned tiles.

(Image credit: Studio Vernacular/Ruby & Peach Photo)

Consider shape when it comes to tile backsplash ideas. While the rectangles of subway tile as well as square tile can be great choices, there is an array of wonderful tile shapes on offer. The benefit? Going for an interesting shape can create beautiful geometric pattern on the wall, which can be emphasized by picking a grout color that contrasts with the tile.

Pick a curvaceous tile shape like this one, created with mosaic tiles, and you can also create pleasing contrast with the straight lines of cabinetry and appliances in the room.

4. Let subway tile pop

Kitchen with white white cabinets and blue subway tile backsplash

(Image credit: Kim Armstrong Interior Design)

A white subway tile is a classic backsplash option, but do browse other colors as well – especially when your preference is for white cabinets. A backsplash in a bold tone can create an accent for the room that can be picked up in small kitchen essentials for a cohesive look.

Consider a high gloss finish like this one as well. It makes the backsplash even more eye-catching.

5. Go dark

Kitchen with dining table and chairs, island and stove with backsplash

(Image credit: Maestri Studio Photograph: Nathan Shroder)

A trend for which many of us have fallen is the one for kitchens with black or charcoal gray tones, and we’re confident it’s not a look that will fall out of favor, partly because it's such a practical color for stove backsplash ideas

It could mean using cabinets in one of these sophisticated shades, or perhaps combining them with white or wood cabinets. But these tones work equally well as tile backsplash ideas, as in this room.

A range of gray shades along with subtle pattern make this backsplash a design with interesting detail, and the gloss finish keeps the kitchen light filled.

6. Create high-end style

Kitchen with neutral cabinets and island and neutral floor and white tile backsplash

(Image credit: Mark Williams Design Photograph: Erica George Dines)

Simple white tile is deservedly popular, but how to make its effect far from everyday when considering tile backsplash ideas? Take your cue from Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos of Mark Williams Design

‘Tile backsplashes don’t need to be too busy or bright to be beautiful,’ they say. ‘Even a simple subway tile backsplash can be elevated by using an oversized, hand-cut, and glazed tile. The handmade quality and subtle texture give even the simplest kitchen a beautiful, high-end feeling.'

7. Bring in nature

Kitchen with white and wood cabinets, white island, wood floor and natural tile backsplash

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio Photograph: Chad Mellon)

Bringing the outside in is a winning decorative strategy, including for a kitchen where it will create a comfortable, cozy, and welcoming space. For a room like this, pick a natural stone tile that features a range of shades plus appealing texture for the backsplash, and team with other natural finishes like wood.

What’s key with natural stone is to check the choice is suitable for kitchen wall decor ideas

8. Add an extra dimension

Metal backsplash ideas with tiles

(Image credit: La Cornue)

For a sophisticated kitchen design, turn to 3D metal backsplash ideas for the backsplash. It can create amazing wall decor with light and shade that boosts the visual interest of the kitchen without compromise in the functionality stakes. 

For a luxurious effect, follow this room’s example with gold detail along with the crisp tile.

9. Brighten up with pattern

Patterned tile backsplash behind sink and faucet in kitchen

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

An injection of pattern suits a country kitchen, and the backsplash can be the perfect place to introduce it into the room. While a whole wall of a colorful motif might prove overpowering, tile behind the sink and faucet, above a stove, or between the countertop and base cabinets along one wall could make a charming feature. 

Classic pattern choices could complement a home’s history, but modern geometric designs can be equally appealing, and create a rustic look for a kitchen wherever your home is actually located. 

10. Bring out the best in a favorite tile

Kitchen with gray island and wood countertop, white cabinets and wood floor

(Image credit: Maggie Griffin Design Photograph: Brian Bieder)

Pay attention to the textural quality of white subway tile to make it an attention-grabbing feature.

‘Tile can make a bold statement in a space, and I love the look of a textured tile to really accentuate the movement and to add a layer of sheen to the room,’ says Maggie Griffin, founder and lead designer of Maggie Griffin Design.

What kind of tile is best for a kitchen backsplash?

Both ceramic and porcelain tile are a fabulous choice for a kitchen backsplash. Although porcelain has the edge for durability for kitchen flooring, footfall isn’t an issue for a backsplash so ceramic tile is equally suitable for the wall. The other advantages of both ceramic and porcelain are that they are easy to maintain and the range of designs on offer makes it simple to find a tile you’ll fall for.

Natural stone tile can also be an option, but take advice from your supplier as sealing may be necessary, and maintenance needs will likely be greater.

Should the backsplash be lighter or darker than the countertop?

There’s not an absolute rule on whether a backsplash should be lighter or darker than the countertop and you should always consider the color palette for the room as a whole.

But for international interior designer Katharine Pooley lighter can be preferable. ‘I generally feel that a contrast backsplash works better as a shade lighter (rather than darker) than the other finishes,’ she says.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.