A Backsplash Guide
The good news: It’s time to choose a backsplash. The bad news: It’s time to go backsplash shopping.
There is such a wealth of styles, colors, and materials to choose from the decision can be daunting! Here are some guidelines and tips that will help make the task easier.
Choose a kitchen color palette
Before you start choosing specific colors and finishes, it is essential to have the big picture in mind. I recommend that my clients put together an idea book on Houzz, begin a board on Pinterest, or start saving magazine pictures. These “inspiration pictures” are a great tool!
It is important to identify a style and color direction. I often start with the floor and work up: What material and color will your floor be? Now the cabinetry: light or dark, wood or laminate, gloss or matte? Are your cabinets sleek and contemporary, or traditional and detailed? There are so many options. Next up is the countertop. Here again the choices can be daunting, with all the available colors and patterns. Moving up we are now at the walls – backsplash and paint color. Often as you nail down your other materials a cohesive picture will emerge, reflecting your style, your colors, and your textures. This will greatly help in narrowing down your backsplash options.
Here is a great article to help with putting together your own palette:
Pick a Focal Point
As you are pulling together all these pieces, it’s time to stop and think “What is the Star of my kitchen?” Where do you want the eye to be drawn? Once you have a ‘star’ in mind, the other materials will become the supporting cast, to compliment your focal point and let it shine. If your countertop is a highly patterned granite that should get all the attention, then keep your cabinetry and backsplash more monochromatic and neutral. Maybe you want your rich cherry cabinets to draw the eye, or the blue glass tile backsplash that you saw on in a magazine. Whatever element you choose as your focal point will help in determining all your other materials, and their prominence.
Having trouble deciding? Here is a great article on kitchen focal points:
Form vs. Function
Backsplashes are often viewed for only their decorative aspect, but backsplashes also have a job to do: protect the kitchen walls. So you will need to consider the daily cleaning requirements of your backsplash material, and how it fits your lifestyle. Though I love this stacked stone look, part of me cringes at the thought of keeping it clean!
Of course cost will play a part in the decision process too. The square foot cost of materials will vary widely; it will help to know how many square feet you need. If you don’t want to ever choose a backsplash again, keep the look classic and neutral, so it will never go out of style. Or choose a budget-friendly background material and add just a touch of a more expensive accent. You can also keep the majority of the kitchen simple, and invest in one area for your centerpiece, like above the range.
Now for Shopping
After deciding the role that your backsplash will play in your design: the ‘Understated Unifier’ or the “Star in the Spotlight’, now it’s time to shop. Take a sample cabinet door for a color reference, as well as flooring sample, paint chips, fabric swatches – any materials that have already been chosen. If you have narrowed it down, but are having trouble deciding which is perfect, buy a piece of each of your finalists. Take the samples home and live with them in your kitchen for a couple of days. See how they look at different times of the day, in different lights.
Speaking of which, it’s time to talk about how dramatically lighting can affect how your colors “read”. The picture below is a great example of this!
Ready? Now have some fun! Whether classic and subtle or a statement piece, your backsplash is an opportunity for your style and taste to shine!