Backsplash—it’s the design detail that can take your kitchen from blah to beautiful.
Of course, at its core, a backsplash is meant to be functional—a protective backboard to catch spills and prevent stains behind your stove or sink. But it’s also a blank canvas just waiting for your personal stamp. And boy, are homeowners having fun with it. Gone are the days of square beige tiles. Today, you have a whole host of backsplash design choices—each one brighter, funkier, and more impressive than the last.
If you’re looking for a way to make a statement and elevate the heart of your home, a new backsplash could be the answer. We’ve pulled together nine of the hottest design trends for you to swoon over.
1. Oversized tile
“One of the hottest looks for kitchen backsplashes is the emphasis on larger-scale materials, rather than smaller mosaics and subway tiles that had been commonly seen before,” says Gale Sitomer of G Sitomer Designin New York City. Installing big glass tiles, for example, means fewer grout lines to scrub, so the look is clean and the maintenance is much lower.
2. Single slab
A uniform look—using one type of stone or slate over the length of your kitchen’s surfaces and up the backsplash—is also hot in kitchen decor right now, Sitomer says. If your material has veining, it can even have an enlarging effect on the room, making your kitchen appear more spacious.
Of course, to get this look you’d have to change out your countertops, too. It’s definitely not a cheap endeavor, but it’s a kitchen renovation that will pay off if you have the means to take it on.
3. Black glass
Sheet glass, particularly in black, is making its way into kitchens. Not only does it look sleek, it’s also very functional, says Larry Patterson, owner of Glass Doctor in Dallas.
“A glass backsplash positioned across from a window will reflect natural light, plus it doesn’t mold or stain and is cheaper than a lot of materials, including marble,” Patterson points out. Dark shades and black are chic in the kitchen, especially when paired with white subway tile and stainless-steel appliances.
4. Reclaimed wood
Wood is warm and homey—and gaining fast in popularity, especially when it’s reclaimed from an old barn or floor, says Bee Heinemann, a decorating expert at Vant Wall Panels. “Repurposed wood has a very distinct look, though it may not be the best material for a high-use kitchen,” she cautions.
That’s because wood is less durable than tile or ceramic; it can nick easily (say, if you knock it with a heavy pot or cooking utensils); and it can show water stains if it isn’t sealed properly. Consider this rustic detail for a backsplash in a less trafficked spot such as the butler’s pantry or a wet bar.
5. Tin sheets
If you’re looking for a durable, easy-to-clean backsplash with fabulous patina and texture, give tin a try. Plus, upcyling something vintage is eco-friendly and on trend.
“When this material is reclaimed from those classic old ceilings, you can bring the same kind of beauty into your kitchen,” Heinemann says.
To find this coveted material, search estate sales, antiques shops, and flea markets. “And if you can’t locate it there, new tin plates are available with some of the similar feel of yesteryear,” she adds.
Who doesn’t love to grab a fat piece of neon-pink chalk and doodle? You can do this all day long with a chalk backsplash behind your cooktop or kitchen sink.
“Chalkboard is a great trend to try, especially if you’re artistic or have kids,” Heinemann says.
And if you’re not really into drawing, you can write up the evening menu, keep a running shopping list, or spell out a recipe for your teen cook in training. Or just motivate/annoy the family with a new inspirational saying each day.
7. Brick pavers
Exposed brick walls are all the rage, but most homes don’t sport this feature. Don’t feel left out! Instead, try brick pavers on your kitchen backsplash.
Jenna Sue of Jenna Sue Design Co. re-created an entire cottage with a farmhouse feel—and bricks played a starring role.
“I used them in a herringbone pattern above the stove,” she notes. Just keep in mind that brick is fairly porous (water can seep in). So if you’re hoping to install them, speak with your contractor about applying a sealant to protect against moisture and debris.
8. Linear mosaic
Whether you choose stone, glass, or marble, a linear pattern is a more modern take on traditional mosaic backsplashes, according to Monica Mangin, host of Lowe’s DYI series The Weekender.
“This look is thin and sleek—and the multihues help to add texture,” she notes. Seek out specific tile lines with this type of pattern (allen + roth has one) or create your own by mixing and matching tones you like.
“Wallpaper is definitely making a comeback,” Heinemann says. “It’s an inexpensive way to add color and pattern to the kitchen or bar area.”
To protect your design, choose durable self-adhesive panels or paper that can withstand some scrubbing. You’ll also want to buy a little extra to replace the strips that gets the most wear and tear. Or consider tile or marble on the lower portion of the backsplash, and save the paper for above.
Also on the team: Lyons Construction (general contractor; flooring installation)
Peninsula accent paint: Lead Grey, Benjamin Moore; cabinet paint: Simply White, Benjamin Moore; wall paint: On the Rocks, Sherwin-Williams; countertops: Calacatta Nuvo quartz, Diamante Granite and Marble; pendant lights: Union Lighting; backsplash tile: Olympia Tile; stools: Shelter Furniture; faucet: Plumbing & Parts Home Centre; runner rug: H&M Home; art: Art Interiors; flooring: hardwood, Summit International Flooring
Location: San Francisco
Size: 169 square feet (15.7 square meters); 13 by 13 feet (3.9 by 3.9 meters)
Homeowners’ request: An open, family-friendly kitchen in a Scandinavian style that’s not too cold.
Balance: Honed black granite countertops, black steel stools and shelf brackets contrast the white cabinets and walls. A butcher block countertop on the island, along with wood shelves, adds warmth. “Then we layered on our accent color, which was mint,” designer Senalee Kapelevich says. “We worked that in through the accessories and the lighting.”
Designer secret: “Anytime you work on a home that is 100 years old, you always have surprises hiding in your walls after you open them up,” Kapelevich says. “Typically you are forced into upgrading most of your electrical and plumbing. These are upgrades that are expensive but necessary. I always have clients reserve 15 to 20 percent of their total budget to address unexpected issues.”
Also on the team: Michele Lee Willson Photography
Cabinetry: Columbia Cabinets; countertops: honed black granite and butcher block; pendant lights: Barn Light Electric Co.; bar stools: Etsy; shelving: Rejuvenation
Designer: Kellie Boyce of Studio77 Interiors
Size: 358 square feet (33.2 square meters); 26½ by 13½ feet (8 by 4.1 meters)
Homeowners’ request: More open layout, classic look, clean lines, modern fixtures and finishes, mudroom.
Balance: Red oak floors and custom range hood with walnut stain bring warmth. A gray painted island introduces contrast.
Special features: Motorized pullout trash can next to the sink. Microwave built into the island. Large pantry cabinet.
Designer secret: “Some might ask why we didn’t take the cabinets to the ceiling,” Boyce says. “It was really a matter of cost. To add additional cabinetry would cost more.”
“Uh-oh” moment: “We knew we had a plumbing vent stack to deal with which was located in the kitchen,” Boyce says. “We were under the assumption that we could move it. When opening up the walls and investigating further, [we discovered] it was not an ideal situation to move this pipe. We went back to the drawing board and had to rework the cabinetry at the sink wall to accommodate this pipe. We were able to turn the pipe into the mudroom and rework the cabinetry slightly in there as well. There is an end cabinet at the sink wall that is actually a shallow cabinet, and behind it we hid the pipe.”
Also on the team: Piedmont Craftsmen Homes; Dove Studio (cabinetry); Jeff Herr Photography
Backsplash tile: Specialty Tile Products; cabinetry: Shiloh, Dove Studio; countertops: LG quartz, Toro Granite; pendants: Elk Lighting; cabinet hardware: Lily pull, Top Knobs; island paint: Classic Gray, Benjamin Moore