Backsplashes 101

February, 2017

So…you’re remodeling your kitchen, eh?  Congrats!  You selected a beautiful grey cabinet finish with that amazing new quartz countertop that looks like real marble – great job!  Now it’s time for that backsplash – right?  Wait a minute – you started your entire renovation by selecting your backsplash?  Well…I hate to break it to you, but we’re gonna have to start all over!

My first suggestion when it comes to backsplashes is that it should be the last thing selected in the space, with the exception of your wallcovering or paint selection.  When working through a design project, finalize the item that has the fewest selections first, (usually your cabinet finish) and finish with the item that has the most selections (paint colors). This process will help narrow the field as you go along, guiding you to a more limited selection of appropriate products and finishes. 

While working through that more limited selection, please consider these three helpful tips to ensure you make the right decision:

  1. Let your cabinets and countertops do the singing.  Your backsplash can be one of the doo-wop girls.
    A lot of good design is about restraint and focus – choosing what design elements need to be center stage versus what elements need to provide a much needed supporting role.  When it comes to backsplashes, using classic shapes in a unique way is my top suggestion to finishing your kitchen with a beautiful, tasteful backsplash.  Consider using classic subway tile but with a contrasting grout.  Or maybe a chevron tile in a unique color.  Or maybe that plain grey slate looking tile that has a pillow effect to it.  Creating the interest with one shape, one pattern, or one texture will provide a beautiful, unifying backdrop for your new cabinets and countertop while not stealing the show!

  2. Just like your car bumper, your backsplash is not the ideal place to express yourself.
    Yes – the tile store had all sorts of cool stuff!  You’re telling yourself that you need them all!  Metal tiles embossed to look like a wine label – wow!  Tiles that appear to be made of wood – awesome!  Glass tiles with glitter in them – amazing!  Let’s put them all together because I love wine, wood and glitter!  Pause – how about we don’t.  You’re investing a lot of money in this project.  Do you really want to, frankly, ruin it by putting your personal stamp on something that is rather permanent in your home?  That wouldn’t be my advice!  Please consider the fact that you’re going to not only have to look at this, but like it, and potentially sell it in the future.

  3. Don’t get sticker shock.  It’s truly not that bad.

    Remember – your backsplash isn’t that big, so while the per square foot price of your favorite tile you found at the tile store might be dramatically more than what you saw yesterday at the box store when you add up the total job it might be pretty easy to digest.  Take your time, do the math, and make an educated decision regarding how much you want to invest.  My best suggestion is to start your selection process with a designer or with a local tile professional.  They can guide you into appropriate selections for your space while considering your budget.

Good luck on your kitchen project – there are so many options out there, you’re going to need it!