Designer Frank Roop alluded to the setting of a Nantucket kitchen with a backsplash reminiscent of the ocean. The variegated handmade glass tiles, Erin Adams through Ann Sacks, steal the show.
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Although countertops garner much of the attention when it comes to kitchen design (given their prominent placement in the room), the backsplash is not to be overlooked. Go for tile — in a classic glass or ceramic finish — for a look that is at once simple and timeless, or opt for pattern tiles in a bold hue if you’re looking to make a statement. Either way, you can’t go wrong with the ideas we’ve rounded up here.
The bright white walls in this open New Jersey kitchen are covered in subway tiles by American Olean. The vintage pendants were found at a Paris flea market. The bistro chairs are by Maison Gatti, the refrigerator is by Sub-Zero and the range is by Wolf.
Handpainted Talavera tiles from Mission Tile West brighten the kitchen in a 1920s Santa Monica home.
The Manhattan version of a farmhouse kitchen features white-tiled walls with gray grout. White cabinetry and a milk-glass chandelier add to the sun-drenched feeling.
A posh take on subway tiles, Pratt & Larson crackled ceramic tiles are glazed a pale blue in this streamlined cooking space. A nearby wall in Benjamin Moore’s Nelson Blue echoes the shade.
Designer Michael Maher, who worked on this bright red butler’s pantry, introduced visual interest with Elizabeth Dow’s Chanel Indigo wallpaper. Coated with Teflon, the geometric-print linen wipes clean.
“In a room this big, with east and west exposures, all this gray is grounding,” says designer Joe Lucas of this Southern California bachelor pad. The wall is covered with acid-washed Seagrass limestone from Classic Tile.
A modish New York kitchen integrates custom-made cabinetry and vintage hardware alongside large white tiles. The 1950s scones are by Gunnar Asplund, the light fixtures are from the 1970s. The sink fittings are by Dornbracht.
The homeowners kept the original tile backsplash and flooring in the kitchen of this Loire Valley home. English mahogany chairs and a stylish chandelier, which was found at a flea market, give the space a lived-in feel.
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A warm gray palette is perfectly executed in this New York City kitchen clad in Calacatta gold marble and Walker Zanger tiles. The sink fittings are by Waterworks and the cabinetry is painted in Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore.
Holiday decor lends a cheerful ambience to this guest lodge kitchen in the Montana mountains. The olive green backsplash tiles are by Pewabic Pottery, the kitchen range and hood are by Thermador and the pendant lights are by Niche.
“I wanted it to feel as if you had taken an old kitchen and brought it up to speed,” designer Christopher Peacock says of the 2013 Kitchen of the Year. Beadboard, painted in Calcium Wall Emulsion Paint from Christopher Peacock Paint, compliments the open shelving.
The kitchen in this New York Hudson Valley home has a vent hood and wine refrigerator by GE Monogram, the mahogany dining chairs are from the 1940’s and the copper cookware includes antique and vintage items.
Inspired by the blue-gray veining on the countertops, designer Matthew Quinn chose matching subway tile for the 2014 Kips Bay Decorator Show House. The dark color of Pratt & Larson’s Rustic tile sets off the hood, and its large scale — 6 by 10 inches — suits the large space. Instead of merely doing a backsplash, Quinn ran the tile up to the ceiling. “It feels more like a French bistro this way,” he says.
A coordinating mosaic (handmade Idris tile from Ann Sacks) picks up the soft blues of the island in an inviting Dallas kitchen.
Loom glass tiles in Silver Silk from AKDO brighten our 2016 kitchen of the year. The subtle sheen only adds to Matthew Quinn’s dazzling decor.
In a Hudson Valley home, white cabinetry sets off a kitchen backsplash in Mosaic House’s Batha Moroccan tile. The brass cabinet hardware harmonizes with details on the La Cornue range.
White tiled walls balance out vibrant kitchen cabinets, which are painted in Bright Lime by Benjamin Moore in this Manhattan kitchen. The countertops are stainless steel and the sink is by Franke.
In our 2016 kitchen of the year, designer Matthew Quinn covered the wet bar’s wall in gold-striped Calacatta marble tiles by AKDO. For extra oomph, he arranged them in a sunburst pattern around the window.
The custom redwood cabinetry in this Los Angeles kitchen compliments the backsplash of penny tiles by Mission Tiles. The oven and dishwasher are by Miele and the sink fittings are by Vola.
Beautifully patterned tiles by Neisha Crosland covers the walls in this London townhouse kitchen and allow the cabinetry, painted in Pure Grey 6 by Papers and Paints, to pop. The pendant lights are by Serge Mouille and the floor is made of three types of limestone.
“Often, we’ll carry the countertop stone up onto the wall, but I felt like this hand-glazed terra-cotta tile from Mosaic House added a great organic quality,” says designer Robert Stilin. To combat the inevitable “oil-splatter scrub down” behind a TriBeCa loft’s range, he chose a stainless steel backsplash from Wolf like those used in restaurant kitchens.
This glossy white kitchen in a Manhattan apartment is balanced by the cork flooring and 1940s French, red garden chairs. The range is by Viking and the dishwasher is by Asko.
Mirrored tiles maximize light in this Manhattan loft,which jazzes up the painted bamboo bar for glitzy entertaining.
Archive beveled tile by Waterworks laid in a stacked bond provides a clean backdrop for a 1905 kitchen’s custom range.
A liberal dose of spicy orange is what makes this California kitchen really special. Designer Melanie Coddington says it all started with the backsplash: Contessa Pagoda tile from Walker Zanger.
A little shine — and a few twists on tradition — inject simplistic style in a New York kitchen by Louise Brooks. The backsplash is made with Ann Sacks’ Inca tiles in Brushed Aluminum.
A small galley-style kitchen in Monaco, France features square white tiles that play off of the other geometric elements in the room. The small table and chairs are by Jeanneret, the oven, cooktop and and hood are by Aster Cucine.
Designer Angie Hranowsky likes to cover as much wall as the budget allows. The splurge led to a gray Indianapolis kitchen that’s serene but not subdued. “It’s longer and more narrow than subway tile,” says Hranowsky of Waterworks’ Grove Brickworks field tile. “And I love the pitted, handmade texture.”
Don’t forget about your outdoor spaces. Chelsea Blues tiles from Mosaic House grace Lulu Powers’s backyard bar, creating contrast with the lacquer-treated copper countertops.
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“Guess what? It’s not brick,” says designer Ken Fulk of the accent wall in a New Orleans kitchen. “It’s this wonderful rough-hewn terracotta tile, and we used it all across the wall and up to the ceiling, so it has more impact than the typical backsplash.”
Sandwiched between glass, a piece of Lee Jofa’s Lauretta fabric becomes a delightful accent in an English country-style kitchen.
In a Birmingham apartment, an entire wall is clad in Calacatta Gold marble tiles from Kenny & Company and laid in a chevron pattern for extra drama.
This charming kitchen in St. Moritz, Switzerland is filled with history: 18th-century Portuguese tiles cover the ceiling and walls; the 19th-century French table is surrounded by English chairs from the same era and a 19th-century French light fixture hangs above.
Frank Roop updated a coastal cottage with shipshape windows set in Ann Sacks’s Jute glass tile. “These portholes are the real thing — authentic, not gimmicky,” he says. “We bought them from a marine supplier, and they actually open.”
Caitlin Wilson wanted to lighten this New Jersey kitchen, but the predominantly white palette needed a little extra texture. The movement in Calacatta Gold marble subway tile creates a dynamic backdrop, while herringbone floors literally ground the space.
Nick Olsen broke all the rules when decorating this tiny studio apartment. The kitchen corner gets a helping of charm with a painted plaid backsplash and matching grosgrain ribbon trim.
Warm colors reign supreme in this cozy, old-world kitchen. Designer Sandra Bird laid Ann Sacks’ Gothic tiles in a harlequin pattern above the bar for a playful touch. With five different shades (Sorrell, Otter, Champagne, Cream, and Willow), the same colors never touch.
Dark countertops set off the cheery red and white tiles from Craftsman Court Ceramics in an Arizona kitchen.
Gray tiles blend in with the stainless steel appliances in this modern New York City kitchen decorated with touches of silver and white. The floors are lined with Corten steel tiles, the oven is by Wolf and the stools are from the 1940s.
This open kitchen in Melbourne, Australia features handmade Spanish tiles on its backsplash. The table is made of pepper granite, the pendant lights are by Produzione Privata, the stools are by Bassam Fellows and the oven is by Lacanche.
Whether your dream kitchen is rustic and cozy or modern and sleek, these tile design ideas have you covered.
When the kitchen’s visible from the living room, the backsplash can’t be ho-hum. Sara Gilbane chose Ann Sacks’s Moroccan tiles to fill the space between the cerused-oak cabinetry in a Florida home.
Megan Rice Yager warmed up this cabin-style kitchen with walls in reclaimed wood. Of course the pewter outdoor lanterns don’t hurt, either.
This bright and airy kitchen in a cottage in Connecticut keeps it classic with wall tiles from Waterworks, a stainless steel stove by Viking, stools by York Street Studio and 1920s English pendants by BK Antiques.
Upcycled bricks from Fireclay Tile get a new life as a glazed backsplash in our 10th annual House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year. San Francisco designer Jon de la Cruz went with the dark hue as an homage to one of cooking’s central ingredients: black pepper.
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