Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Backsplash Tips - Part 1, Overall Color and Design

You've found your countertop and cabinets and now you're stuck. You can't decide what to do with the backsplash. Many people get hung up here. They tend to overthink it and make more of it than it really is. The reality is, most of the time a backsplash is covered up with kitchen items, small appliances, etc. The stuff on a counter left out most of the time is visually becoming part of the backsplash. The pattern that you carefully laid out is interrupted.

Take a look at all the stuff out on your counter now. Chances are it will be there after you build/remodel. Most people don't want to acknowledge that but it's true. I like to keep things out on my counter. It just makes cooking more convenient. As long as it's good looking, a crock of utensils, a pretty tray of oils and vinegars, a bowl of fruit, I don't see anything wrong with that. Add in a busy backsplash though and things can start to look cluttered. Keeping a simple design can make a nice backdrop for objects you keep out on the counter.

When you look at a kitchen wall, with lower cabinet, counter, backsplash, upper cabinet, then maybe wall space and crown moulding, there are lots of elements to consider. So many things on a wall in a different color or tone are busy looking and not visually strong. I usually like to blend the backsplash with either the counter or the cabinets or have it recede by matching the color tone to the wall color it's on. It needs to relate to something.

Lastly, if everything in your space is toned down or all one color and you want your backsplash to be the stand alone element in the room, go for it. Get some bold pattern or color going, just make sure everything else is subdued and plays a supporting role.

This red tile doesn't relate to anything else in this space. It looks out of place and maybe like the homeowner added it at the end of the job.


I usually prefer simple backsplashes where subtle variation is the pattern.

House Beautiful, John Oetgen

I love subway tile, especially here because it goes to the ceiling.

House Beautiful, Michael Berman

I think this is such a strong kitchen design. Simple and straightforward, it's all about the integrity of materials. The backsplash and counter are both the same color....unifying color in different elements to make a stronger statement.

House Beautiful, Frank Roop

This project also blends the backsplash with the counter for a bolder statement and high contrast with the white cabinets. That dark turquoise is beautiful!

This backsplash, counter, and hood of the same color and tone bring great contrast to the medium oak cabinets.

Traditional Home
If you like pattern, try some mosaics all over the backsplash. They appear as a wonderful texture from a distance and still provide a solid appearance.

Traditional Home

Traditional Home

This tile has such a small repetitive pattern that it reads as a mosaic. Beautiful.

House Beautiful, Jay Jeffers

The overall repetition in this pattern is showcased here. The same pattern is repeated in the chair backs.....great design! That pattern stands out even though it's subtle because everything else is a soft tone on tone scheme.

Elle Decor

This bold pattern is the showpiece here. Nothing tries to outshine it. Not that it could....love it.

House Beautiful, Marshall Watson

I love this blue glass tile. Everything else in this kitchen is toned down and allows the blue tile to become the star! It's like the ocean has come into the house.

To recap......KEEP IT SIMPLE if you have a lot of items you keep out on your counters, RELATE the backsplash to something else to create a stronger look (i.e. same color as an adjacent element), or MAKE A STATEMENT with some stand out tile and nothing else around for it to compete with.

To read another post about backsplash design...go HERE.

I've Moved! Visit my new blog at Designed w/Carla Aston.


Anonymous said...

gorgeous examples Carla,
good guidelines for selecting back splash tiles too, and love the subway tiles too....
they're a classic....

Mona Thompson said...

Great post. Love your examples. I really love the subway tile that goes all the way to the ceiling. anytime you can do that it keeps from chopping things up.

Karen said...

Excellent advice. It really struck me when I was looking at your examples here home bold tiles drew my eyes to the cabinets as well. I suppose there's a lesson there, if the cabinets aren't the greatest, keep it simple!

quintessence said...

Great informative post. I tend to prefer a more subtle backsplash but something with a bit of style - even a crackle in a subway tile adds something!

The enchanted home said...

GREAT post...and so much good information. I am a classic subway girl myself, if you can spring for marble subways..go for it, its a timeless classic that you will never ever tire of seeing. If not then go for a nice quality ivory white or tan subway, crackled is a nice touch..again such a classic...not into the trends with backsplashes..they can be very costly mistakes. Great pics!

designchic said...

I'm such a fan of white subway tile...simple and clean!!

Kellie Collis said...

These are wonderful backsplashes! I'm loving the one from Traditional Home! Enjoy the gorgeous day, Kellie xx

Katy said...

Beautiful blog. Lots of inspiration!! I am glad I stopped by. :)


Kim@Chattafabulous said...

Great post, Carla! Currently my kitchen sports a French vanilla marble backsplash which ties into my Corian countertops in "Fawn". I love the Jay Jeffers JB kitchen, so much interest with the shape!

Mary Ann Pickett said...

I love your taste and advice. Have to save this great post for my files.
Mary An

Ann said...

Nice post, and lots of pretty images to prove your point.

Love the turquoise one from Frank Roop and the red standout, and of course I'm a fan of subway tiles on kitchens.

Kathryn said...

I learned so much in this post! Such good examples of what you are talking about and such good points too. Thanks!

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Carla such terrific advice to pass on to your readers, very much appreciated. Each and every example of great back splashes was hard not to covet. My favorites have to be the kitchens of Frank Roop & John Oetgen. Although I'm drawn to the glass mosaic tiles my favorite has to be the classic subway tile; so very timeless. Thank you Carla and I hope all is well for you? We were at the Woodlands on Sunday & thought of you. Have you taken in a good show @ the Rodeo this year?

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Anonymous said...

wondering what you would do if your upper cabinets ends and the counter below extends to the right for a breakfast bar...about 8 inches. I ended the tile at end of counter since I thought the counter would look empty without extending the tile (glass) to the end of counter. Now the counter has tile to the end, but there is nothing above the tile for about 6 inches. Should I remove tile back to line up with upper cabinets?

Unknown said...

To Anonymous: Sometimes there's just no right decision. I really don't like tall backsplashes continuing on the wall when the upper cabinets stop short but just making it shorter or stopping it is worse. When I have situations like this I try to keep the backsplash short everywhere so that the line just continues on logically to the end of the counter. However, sometimes you just don't have an ideal situation and you have to live with it. If you can plan ahead of your reno with drawings and details to figure out how materials stop and start, you can keep details like this to a minimum. Thanks for the question! Check back to my blog, I think another post on this subject might be coming soon.

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