Spotlight On: Kitchen Backsplash Trends Interior Designs Love Most
When remodeling your kitchen, so many of the decisions you'll have to make involve the overall function of the space. Your appliances are the perfect example. The color and finish of your refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher are important, but it's even more crucial to consider how these elements fit the layout of your space and your lifestyle. That's why choosing the finer details, like your kitchen backsplash, feels so liberating. Though you should always keep your budget and the amount of effort you want to spend on upkeep in mind, a backsplash is your opportunity to have some fun in the kitchen.
In fact, the backsplash is one of the key features that define the style of the space, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association 2019 Design Trends Report. The report—which polls 583 leading designers, remodelers, architects, and manufactures to identify the styles that will be popular in the next three years—confirmed that kitchens with distinct backsplash designs are here to stay. A stand out: Subway tiles, which define a classic aesthetic, are anticipated to remain a top kitchen trend in the coming years.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, retailers are also seeing evidence of a bolder trend emerging. "The past several years have been dominated by [dramatic] white and grays—but color is finally making a comeback," says Nancy Epstein, founder and CEO of Artistic Tile. "We're seeing more ornate backsplashes, and, in a continuing trend, those backsplashes are now going up the entire wall behind stoves and above countertops."
In all, the best kitchen backsplash is one you'll love to look at every day. To get your inspiration flowing, take a look at these designer projects that show today's trends in action.
According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association 2019 Design Trends Report, slab backsplashes were the top choice for contemporary designs. "A marble slab is a modern and luxurious detail to incorporate in your kitchen design," says Nadia Subaran, co-founder of Aidan Design. "It can create a dramatic and bold statement and can help a small kitchen feel larger."
Subway tiles work well in nearly any kitchen—but if you want something a little more unexpected, focus on placement. "The subway tile has long been, and continues to be, a classic," says interior designer Anne Hepfer. "For a more traditional or transitional look, stagger. For more contemporary look, stack or soldier."
Another way to mix up subway tile? Opt for a herringbone pattern. "In this kitchen, we went with a smaller format subway tile," says Hope Hassell, director of project development at Case Architects and Remodelers. "Laying it in a herringbone pattern allowed us to maximize the small backsplash area with a design that was interesting, yet timeless."
For an eye-catching look that isn't too distracting, choose tiles in the same color palette as your kitchen, then opt for a standout pattern. "After settling on a navy and white color scheme, we really wanted to inject a sense of fun and whimsy into the space," says Allie Mann, Case Architects and Remodelers designer.
"Slab marble backsplash that bleeds into the countertop creates a sleek look in the kitchen," says designer Jessica Gersten of Jessica Gersten Interiors. "It eliminates the "choppiness" of backsplash tile, and lends itself to a more calm, streamlined feeling."
Can't decide on making a statement or keeping it subtle? Choosing a shapely tile in a light color gives you the best of both worlds. "The arabesque shape is a design motif that has timeless attributes," says Subaran. "We are seeing the arabesque—along with other geometric shapes return—as more homeowners are looking for unique shapes in backsplash materials, like ceramics."
For a new twist on marble slab backsplashes, opt for marble with high-contrast veining. "Dramatic black and white marble brings contrast and movement on the counter and backsplash to the otherwise balanced design,"says Shannon Kadwell, kitchen/project designer at Anthony Wilder Design/Build. "The swirl of black and white marble mimics a drift of smoke."
Smaller tiles help solve a common kitchen problem: They're a great way to cover awkward-sized areas. "For kitchens where we wrap tile around windows with limited space in between, finding a small mosaic is the most balanced and practical option," says Subaran.
The color blue is a great choice for kitchens for the same reason it's a great choice for the rest of your home: It provides a relaxing feel to any space. Choosing blue tiles that subtly vary in hue keeps the look fresh while also creating a dynamic effect. "The dramatic kitchen backsplash was created from thousands of smaller cobalt blue titles that give it a beautiful undulating texture, almost like the surface of water," says Karen Williams, creative director and principal of St. Charles New York.
Brass and gold remain popular for fixtures and hardware in kitchens. Complement the look by incorporating a hint of warm-hued metallics in the backsplash. "This custom white and gold backsplash adds a pop of pattern, and ties in the brass hardware used throughout the space," says Jessica Parker Wachtel, senior project manager at GTM Architects.
While white tiles are often selected to make a kitchen feel bigger, the same effect can still be achieved with darker colors—especially if you choose a longer shape. "This backsplash tile is one of my new favorites," says John McClain, owner of John McClain Design. "It's reminiscent of traditional subway tiles, but has been amped up with a hand glazed metallic finish and hexagonal shape. I loved it so much that we had custom upper cabinetry built with no backing to showcase the tile."
Large tiles with bold motifs are one of the top trends in kitchens today. Not only do they add an artful element to a kitchen, but they provide pattern without the labor involved to install mosaics. "I love to use a patterned tile on a backsplash because it becomes a 'wow' factor in the kitchen," says interior designer Brenna Krouse, co-owner of K Squared Interior Design and Construction. "It's truly the focal point and a conversation starter when people walk into the room."
"Where designers once created smaller decorative panels, now they're using more decorative elements on the entire backsplash, and turning backsplashes into feature walls that envelop hoods, surround cabinets, and reach up to the ceiling," says Epstein. This dramatic backsplash adds unique character to a kitchen filled with stainless steel appliances.