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Kitchen Backsplash Design: Tips, Trends and Techniques for Creating Your Unique Style

Aug 17, 2007
A new kitchen backslpash design can revitalize an otherwise out-dated or tired style without remodeling your entire kitchen. Turn your kitchen backsplash into an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind design with exotic pieces, murals, mosaics, marble or metal tile. Backsplash ideas are endless, so good planning is important.

Follow these style tips and ideas to create that perfect backsplash design that you've been dreaming of.

Kitchen Backsplash Styles and Themes

I'm sure you've been in kitchens that you really loved and some you didn't. Also, you've seen enough pictures to have a good idea of the "look" you want to create. Adhering to a central theme will help you avoid a mish-mash style and turn your kitchen backsplash idea into a design that you enjoy for years to come.

Old World: This look is cozy and comfortable and easy to achieve. A classic style. Use tumbled marble, chipped or worn kitchen backsplash tile, cobblestone or generally any aged material in the subtle earth tones of beige, gold and light brown. Dark browns are out.

Hand-painted tiles, murals and mosaics are also right at home with this style. And although not traditional, a copper backsplash or tin backsplash could be interesting too.

Mediterranean: Colorful, hand-painted tiles in seaside colors of blue and green are what create this fresh, vibrant and comfortable look. The boldly colored tiles can be used as accents, or as a distinct kitchen tile design in a particular section or for the whole backsplash. This look works best when paired with light earth toned countertops and cabinets.

Contemporary: Clean, sleek lines and smooth surfaces are the keys here. No complex tile designs, rough textures or a busy stone. Polished granite on both the countertop and backsplash is perfect for achieving this look. But also consider a glass backsplash, metal backsplash or stainless steel backsplash for that ultra-urban appeal.

Metals are HOT! Copper, tin and especially stainless steel backsplashes and countertops are quickly gaining popularity with many new tiles and designs on the market.

Uniquely Yours: Don't be afraid to take elements of style, but not too many, from different themes to create a design that looks and feels good to you.

Just remember a simple, elegant backsplash design will be most pleasing. So, plan it all out first, have a clear picture in your mind what the finished product should be like and play with the design a bit.

Putting It All Together: Colors, Textures & Patterns

Your goal of course, is to integrate the backsplash with all the other elements and structures in your kitchen to establish the them you desire.

The colors of your backsplash material should be chosen to complement the countertops and cabinets.

Bits and splashes of non-complementary colors can be integrated if they don't compete for attention, but start by picking colors that are represented in your countertop.

The texture of the backsplash materials should be consistent with the style or theme of your kitchen. Rough and uneven for "Old-World" or smooth and sleek for contemprorary.

Avoid creating a busy pattern or using too many textures, colors or intense colors if your countertop has a lot of movement or veins. Creating harmony is the key and you don't want to confuse the eye with an
intricate backsplash design on top of a dramatic countertop.

More Fun Backsplash Ideas

Murals and mosaics in general will look better when paired with a countertop that has a uniform or subtle color and pattern.

Niches and ledges can be interesting and useful elements to add to your kitchen backsplash design. Place these above the sink or behind the cooktop to display a collection of colorful bottles, ceramics, plants or all your spices!

Picture frame designs are often added above the cooktop if space allows creating a focal point for a mural, mosaic or a more elaborate tile pattern.

Choose Your Countertops Before The Backsplash

You want to choose your countertop material prior to designing your backsplash for a few reasons.

First, the countertop is generally the
centerpiece of the kitchen and should be the first material chosen or matched to an existing color scheme.

Second, the countertop material is
going to cost you more than the backsplash, unless you are using the countertop material for a backsplash as well, which for most of us makes it a higher priority.

Lastly and probably the best reason to pick your
countertop first is that the design possibilities for your backsplash are virtually infinite; therefore, it is much easier to match the backsplash to the countertop rather than the reverse.

Designing Your Backsplash Space

First off, you need to determine the space you have available and whether you can or want to change it.

Measurements of a typical backsplash are 16 to 18 inches between the countertop and cabinets. Now, the countertops must be installed before adding the backsplash so, the countertop will be at a fixed
height.

The top cabinets, however, can be moved increasing available backsplash space to 20 inches or even 24 inches allowing more room for your design.

Of course, moving your current cabinets higher or installing new cabinets means that it will be more difficult to reach the top shelves and you may
lose space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling, which is often a nice space for displaying plants, glassware, ceramics or other personal
treasures.

Before you decide, consider the size of your kitchen. A 24 inch backsplash may be overwhelming in an intimate kitchen, but if your kitchen is large and open with tall ceilings then the bigger space expands the
design possibilities and adds to the dramatic appeal of the backsplash.

Outlets and switches are an important consideration too. In most homes the outlets are right in the middle of the backsplash and will interfere with your design.

If you're only replacing the countertops and backsplash then it's probably not worth the trouble to have them moved.

If this is the case, you can faux paint the cover plates to match the backsplash, use stainless
steel cover plates if you have appliances to match or buy cover plates that are a close color match to the backsplash.

If you are doing a big kitchen remodel or building from scratch, then consider placing the outlets under the cabinets.

Other options are an outlet strip installed at the top of the splash or turn the outlet horizontal and place
them just above the countertop surface at the bottom of the backsplash where they are more likely to be hidden from view by all the stuff on your countertops.

Also, installing under-cabinet lighting will help showcase your backsplash and provide additional workspace light. Of course, messing with the electricity means you'll need to get a permit and adhere to building codes.

Creating a kitchen backsplash design is an exciting project since even simple designs are unique reflecting your personal taste and style. So have fun and good luck!
About the Author
Ryan Burden publishes CountertopSpecialty.com, which provides information on custom countertops AND . . . produces a nice income. Perhaps YOU have a business or passion that you'd like to turn into online profits. Discover the right tools at My SBI Story.
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