SOURCE: Southern Living
One of the main ingredients for creating a gorgeous kitchen design is backsplash tile. We don’t give it enough love but it’s truly an integral part of the overall design. Getting it wrong can be a high stakes mistake because it will jump out and slap you every time you walk into your kitchen. And while it’s not impossible to remove backsplash tile and reselect it’s not what any homeowner wants to do after they’ve wrapped up their renovation.
I know it’s not for a lack of desire that anyone gets that wrong. We all want to pick something that will work and yet I see a lot of homes with backsplash tile that just isn’t working. Here are a few pointers to get you on track if you’re looking at renovating your kitchen.
FINDING THE PERFECT BACKSPLASH TILE
1/ Consider Its Function and Role
One of the mistakes that I see so often is that the backsplash tile was chosen as an accent and it really stands out. You want your backsplash tile to integrate into the overall design. It can be visually interesting but it has to work with all the other elements in the space. That means you can’t go tile shopping without considering the colour and pattern of your countertop, flooring and cabinetry. The role of the backsplash tile is to be a team player and work with the other elements in the space. It’s not meant to be the star of the show.
The way to avoid tile mistakes is by holding off on any selections until you’ve made the more important (and costly) decisions first. Select your cabinetry, countertop, wall colour and flooring before you start shopping for backsplash tile. This way you’ll be sure that the colour, pattern and scale of the tile will integrate perfectly into the overall design.
2/ Lead With Colour
Start by pulling out all of the colours you can see in your countertop. You want to do the same with the flooring but that’s honestly secondary to the countertop. While you’ll be mixing materials throughout the kitchen you want the colours to be consistent.
If you’re installing a quartz countertop with a marble look, examine it closely. It’s likely going to have a base of white or cream but what colour is the veining? It may look gray initially for instance but if you look closely you might find that there’s some blue in there. That’s the colour you want to use in your backsplash tile. It doesn’t need to be entirely blue but it can be.
More commonly I’ll try to find a backsplash tile that has the same colours but in a completely different pattern to the countertop material. This colour matching will bring a cohesiveness to the look. It’s when we have a completely different set of colours on our backsplash tile that our eyes notice the difference. The colours of a great design are all interwoven into all the materials.
3/ Avoid Trends
SOURCE: Room for Tuesday
SOURCE: Amy Pearson Design
I don’t mind a trend when it comes to decor or art but I never recommend following trends in your materials. These are pieces you don’t want to look dated when the trend is over in a few years. Any kind of marble inspired tile as well as plain, classic tiles are timeless and will never date your kitchen. If you want an example of this just consider the subway tile. This absolute classic has been used since the early 1900’s and it’s not going anywhere soon.
PRO TIP – Understand how you behave in the kitchen and pick a tile accordingly. If you’re a messy cook you’ll want to avoid adding real marble to your backsplash because any stains and splatters will be difficult to remove. You want your tiles to be as low maintenance as possible. In this case find a tile that’s easy to wash and maintain and won’t stain over time.
4/ Dealing With Coloured Cabinetry
SOURCE: House and Garden UK
SOURCE: The Interior Lab
One of the hottest trends at the moment is deeply saturated cabinets in the kitchen. It doesn’t necessarily mean your entire kitchen will be painted a dark colour but some portion of the cabinetry is dark. See my client’s black and white cabinets in a recent project reveal here. Dealing with dark cabinetry means you need to pay extra attention to the backsplash tile.
If for instance you have dark blue or green cabinets and a marble quartz countertop you’ll want to stay neutral and quiet on the backsplash. Just like with an outfit, you have to know which pieces can be loud and which need to take a supporting role. In the case of painted cabinetry, let your backsplash tile support the bold colour.
5/ Don’t Forget About the Grout
SOURCE: Kristina Lynne
You can have stunning backsplash tile but it can still go wrong if you don’t get the right grout. Start with the colour of the grout. Generally, I like to match the grout to the colour of the tile for a seamless look. I don’t want the grout to stand out unless it’s a specific look like white subway tile with a black grout for a retro look.
Always be sure your grout is stain resistant. Nothing will ruin the look of your gorgeous tile more than stained grout.
PAM’S FAVOURITE BACKSPLASH MATERIALS
- Subway Tile – as I mentioned earlier, this is a classic that will never go out of style. I love it because it’s available in multiple colours and sizes. It really works everywhere!
- Handcrafted Tile – this is handcrafted by artisans and when I say handcrafted I mean all of it. From cutting to glazing to embellishments, it’s a labour of love. And yes, you will pay a price for that.
- Extending the Countertop Up the Wall – this is a new process and some might consider it a trend. I think as long as you go with a classic material like beautiful marble or quartz in a neutral colour you’ll love it for many, many years.
If you need help selecting tile or any other materials for your home I can help. My Designer By Your Side package includes 20 hours of my time for whatever you need. If you would like me to review your plans and help you select materials learn more about the service here.