6 Creative Material Options for a Kitchen Backsplash

The most important rule for a kitchen backsplash to stand by is right there in the name. An imperative part of kitchen design, backsplashes are there to guard walls and unreachable undercabinet space from problematic stains, splashes, and spills. They also, however, represent a useful creative outlet for kitchen designers and interior architects.

By adding outlandishly striking slivers of color, pattern, and texture, kitchen backsplashes can cut a strong, confident line straight through the monotony of the kitchen’s color palette.

Here are some of the different materials and design techniques that help backsplashes keep kitchens both clean and creative.

Extending the worktop

When searching for a hardwearing surface material with striking design options that stands up to stains and scratches, there’s one right under your nose already. Dries Otten applied the same pink-veined marble from his Midi du Midi project’s kitchen worktop to a bespoke planter and electrical connections atop the home’s kitchen island, for example, protecting the integrated sockets from roaming spills. Fuzzy’s Woodart kitchen in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, meanwhile, shows how by using the same marble-effect material from Egger for both the worktop and backsplash, the countertop is extended in a depth-defying optical illusion.

Reflective backsplash

An alternative way to optically extend worktop depth is with the use of mirrored surfaces as splashbacks. The reflective material takes a little more elbow grease to keep streak-free, but can seemingly double the size of the counter. The Above the Roofs apartment in Munich by holzrausch Planung & Werkstätten, for example, positions its 50-sqm kitchen sink against an interior wall, and yet still gives its users a high-rise view, through floor-to-ceiling terrace windows.

Waterproof panels

If you see the realm of the kitchen backsplash as an opportunity to add character to an otherwise monotonous kitchen space, however, large-format wall panels like decorative laminated glass panels from TECNOGRAFICA can present a variety of colors, patterns, or even bespoke imagery to whet the appetite. The seamless panels provide a smooth, uninterrupted surface that’s easier to clean than tiles.

Ceramic tiles

One of the most popular backsplash options, ceramic tiles offer the perfect blend of waterproof and hygienic functionality, along with creative freedom. The vivid colors, patterns, and graphical shapes to choose from can provide an edge of glamour – like the gold splashback in this apartment in Prague, Czech Republic, or a colorful contrast – like The Paragon maisonette in Bristol, UK, which mixes bright yellow cabinetry with sea blue tiles and matching handles, but this only tells part of the story, as even once the tiles themselves have been chosen, there’s still the decision of how to apply them.

Possible application patterns include linear, diamond, brickwork, stepladder, herringbone, chevron, or weave techniques – and those are just the rectilinear tiles. Meanwhile, there’s the additional option of mixing up the tile colors or contrast grouting, like the white linear tiles with blue grouting at this Hølte kitchen in Hackney, United Kingdom.

Facing a brick wall

While the creative possibilities of ceramics are many, there’s a certain pleasure in being confined to the material restrictions of the pre-existing space. Bosqueazul House by ALH Taller de Arquitectura in Medellín, Colombia, for example, utilizes its existing brick wall to create a kitchen backsplash with a textured, naturally disorganized combination of colors that’s both warm and sustainable and complies with the rest of the home’s industrial look, relying on natural wood and raw concrete surfaces as well.

Period wood paneling

Given the importance of hardwearing waterproof materiality to kitchen backsplashes, it may seem strange to bring in wood as a surface option, but while continuing a single backsplash from worktop to ceiling heightens and opens up a room, by instead drawing a line between the two materials, designers can add more contrasts, with a larger palette of materials. This Victorian home’s new kitchen in London, for example, applies dark-painted wood paneling above the split, enhancing the period features found elsewhere in the residence.

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