The kitchen backsplash may seem like a small project at the end of a remodel, but it can actually have a huge impact on your space. It’s one of those finishing details with huge visual impact in a kitchen that ties it all together. I don’t necessarily think there’s a right or wrong way to go about selecting the perfect backsplash. To me, it is more a personal preference of the homeowner and what fits their style and personality.
Know the focal points. Your eyes are naturally drawn to two areas in the kitchen. First, the space above the cook top and second the area above the sink. Often times there are windows above the sink, which really only leaves the space above your cook top to elaborate design. One option is to chose one tile for the whole backsplash, which keeps it nice and clean. Another great design element, is a niche behind the cook top.
Overall vibe. Take a step back and look at your kitchen as one whole space. Rather than focusing on the color of your cabinets or countertops and trying to find a tile to coordinate, look at the big picture and figure out what you want your kitchen’s overall vibe to be. What reflects your personality? Are you going for classic, elegant? Or do you want your kitchen to feel modern and sleek? Everything in the kitchen doesn’t need to fit a specific design style, but it’s important to determine what the overall feel is that you’re going for in your new space.
Stand out or compliment. Once you’ve decided on your overall kitchen vibe, it’s time for the next decision. Do you want your backsplash to stand out or do you want it to be a subtle beauty and compliment? Basically, is the backsplash the one design element you want to take center stage or would you rather that it blends in with the other elements in your kitchen?
Material choices. For a long time now, tiles have been the most common backsplash choice because of its versatility. You can chose from a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, as well as a wide price range. Ceramic, porcelain, and glass tiles are all resistant to heat and moisture and are easy to clean because of their glossy surfaces. Natural stone tiles are another choice which would give your kitchen a more tradition feel. It’s a bit more labor intense as you need to seal your backsplash about once a year. If you want a more industrial style vibe go with a stainless steel backsplash. Very popular in Germany are photo glass backsplashes. There’re several photo options to chose from that will be installed behind glass. Your whole backsplash is glass which is super easy to keep clean and it gives your kitchen a hip, modern feel.
Color impact. Light colors can make your kitchen appear bigger, while darker colors can add a cozy feel to your space. If opting for a darker backsplash, ensure your room has plenty of natural light to balance it out. Neutral colors can often have just as much of an impact on your space as bold colors. Play with complementary colors to round out a palette.
Patterns and shapes. Experiment with patterns, e.g. by composing the tiles vertically rather than horizontally for a contemporary, staggered look. Alternatively, switch it up with a crackle effect, shiny or matte finish, or herringbone pattern. Consider adding a subtle pattern to create some depth and texture if you go with e.g. an all white kitchen.
Consider functionality. From coverage to appearance, make sure that your backsplash does what you need it to do. First and foremost, your backsplash should provide protection behind the cook top, the sink, and other areas where you intend to prepare food within your kitchen. But, you can also make it work harder, e.g. by installing a rail for kitchen tools or an ipad holder. Or, consider a magnetized material for your backsplash. That way you can use it to hold items without the need to install shelving to clear up counter space. There’s also a very cool under-counter lighting system by Legrand which makes your backsplash work hard.
Backsplash placement. Depending on your budget and overall vision for your new kitchen, you have several options for your backsplash. Most of the time, the backsplash will be installed from the countertop up to the cabinets or shelves. But, with the trend for open shelving or bare upper walls, continuing the backsplash from the countertop right up to the ceiling makes sense and creates more of a statement feature. For sure I suggest to run it all the way up to the ceiling behind the cooktop when you opted for a chimney style hood for a beautiful and functional focal point.
Protect your investment. Different tile materials have different sealing needs. Natural stone tiles like granite or marble need to be resealed once a year; travertine needs resealing every other year. While it is not necessary to seal either porcelain, ceramic, or glass tile, it is critical to seal the grout. Invest in a good grout, as it’s the backbone of your backsplash. There are some grout products available that never need sealing. Ask your contractor or tile guy about it.
Calculate your material needs. Multiply the width by the height of your backsplash area to determine the square footage needed. This will tell you how much material you'll need to order. To be safe, add an extra 10-15 percent for cuts. Also, don’t forget to order Schluter pieces with your backsplash tile order if needed. Schluter are thin metal pieces used to finish up your tiles at the ends instead of having quarter round tiles. They come in 8 feet long pieces and in a variety of colors and shapes.