It may be just a small area in your kitchen, but make no mistake: the wall above your sink or range is usually the first thing people notice when entering a Kitchen. It makes sense to give careful thought to this feature when renovating.

The backsplash is a smart place where the owner can let his or her personal style be showcased.  Because the backsplash is a small space, it can be a spot to highlight design preferences.  Paired with a distinctive countertop, the backsplash can set the mood and style for the entire room. Having a backsplash that makes you smile is a worthwhile investment, and since it is usually a small area compared to the countertop, it makes sense to budget more money per square foot in this feature.

When renovating, a backsplash is often an easy feature to update. Many kitchens have only a 4 inch splash that is the same material as a countertop. Others may have a dated pattern that was installed in a way that allows for easy removal. This makes installing a trendy, stylish backsplash even more appealing as it can be changed out as trends shift.

From a functional standpoint, the backsplash protects the walls near the sink or range from water, oil and other damaging elements. It should be a surface that can be cleaned easily. Texture can add interest, but also trap dirt. Natural stones can stain or discolor so quality materials paired to the function is also important.

Based on a 2105 poll by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the top five backsplash materials are:

  • ceramic tile (83 %)
  • natural stone (74%)
  • glass (67%)
  • quartz (41%)
  • granite (35%)

If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, investigate some of the trends popping up in design magazines and showrooms recently:

  • Extending a backsplash all the way to the ceiling, which gives the illusion of a taller ceiling, like this one by Fox-Nahum Associates in NYC


  • Laying out tile in interesting patterns, like herringbone or tile with inherent geometric patterns
  • Instead of a 3×6 standard subway tile, consider a larger scale large format tile with slight texture, like this one from Architectural Ceramics:


  • Using new materials that traditionally aren’t chosen for backsplashes, such as wood veneers or glass slabs


  • Neutral colors such as grey and bone have staying power and remain a consistent selection. Water jet patterns in this color scheme are also increasing in popularity


  • Monochromatic backsplash designs that incorporate handmade fireclay tiles with crackle can reinforce a classic, timeless kitchen


  • Handpainted concrete tiles in neutral or bright colors provide a unique option that is a growing trend


  • New products like porcelain printed full slabs, such as “Slim Slab” by Architectural Ceramics which mimics natural marble are also growing in popularity.


  • A recent client of mine chose beautiful hand worn Bianco Antiquo marble tile from New Ravenna by Giovanni Barberi.   The soft, warm color palette complements the timeworn finish and adds depth to the overall look. In addition, its a low-maintenance, easy-to-clean surface in her newly renovated kitchen.


  • If you are really interested in thinking “out of the box” consider researching a ground-breaking product such as this digital screen as used in the FutureHAUS by Virginia Tech.



Here are some important questions to think about before selecting a new kitchen backsplash:

  • Do you desire to have a distinctive backsplash as the “pop” piece of the kitchen, or do you desire it to blend in?
  • Will the backsplash harmonize with your other kitchen surfaces and materials?
  • Will it serve a function as well as give you the aesthetic results you’re going for?
  • How often do you clean your current backsplash and what is the durability requirement for the new one?
  • If you select tile, what role do you want the grout to play? Should it offer more contrast or blend  to look like one continuous surface?
  • What finish of hardware will the kitchen have? Make sure it doesn’t clash with the hue of the backsplash.
  • Where will the backsplash end? How will corners and transitions and edges be finished? Using metal strips or specialty coordinating accent tiles can make cuts at the ends of tile clean and thoughtful, instead of looking like an “oops”.
  • How will under cabinet lighting affect the color and look of the backsplash?

Updating your kitchen with a new, modern backsplash can make a huge impact on the space. Whether you desire a timeless classic look, or a more modern unique personal flare, consult with a designer or architect about what options might be best for your space!