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Decorative Backsplash: The New Kitchen Focal Point

Kitchens are a major focal point in modern home design, and backsplashes are an obvious and often affordable way for homeowners to show off their personal style therein.

“The trend in kitchen design is exposing more wall with more open shelving and fewer wall cabinets. That allows backsplashes to play a major role in the kitchen,” said Jason Landau, owner and designer of Amazing Spaces of Briarcliff Manor, New York.

Kitchens are increasingly “on display,” and homeowners are putting more thought into their design now, Landau said.

If you’ve got money to spend, a kitchen backsplash can be more than just an artistic accent, with glass and metal tile options that can cost upwards of $100 a foot. The average cost of a kitchen backsplash is about $10 a foot, Landau said.


porcelain tile backsplash kitchen

Versatile and affordable, porcelain has long been an excellent choice in backsplashes. What’s new is designers are now using large porcelain slabs — 4 by 8 feet or larger — as faux natural stone backsplashes. The porcelain is printed to look like more expensive (and heavier) Carrara marble or granite.

“It’s got the look, but it costs less. There’s less weight and it’s more durable,” Landau said.


glass tile backsplash kitchen

For a fresh look in the kitchen, tile is still very strong, but there’s been a little pull back on glass tile, Landau said. For some, though, the easy-to-clean aspect of glass tile is a big draw. Simply spray on a mild cleanser and wipe clean.

While glass provides unlimited color choices and can be sleek and modern, playful or classy, the upscale market is moving away from glass. What drives the market is first the higher end embraces a look, then it hits the middle and when it’s available at the big box hardware stores and everyone can have it, “we start seeing new trends,” Landau said.


pattern backsplash kitchen

Technology is also playing a role in backsplash trends, with manufacturers cutting tile with water jets instead of saws, allowing for more sophisticated, intricate patterns, Landau said.


stone backsplash kitchen

Love it or hate it, simple subway tile is classic and understated — and still very popular.

Printed stone tiles in elegant, repetitive patterns are also trendy, with patterns showing the influences of art deco, art nouveau, or Middle Eastern or Turkish mosaics. Geometric designs are not as hot right now.

Textured ceramics (rather than smooth) with three-dimensional patterns and arabesque shapes add visual interest and depth to a kitchen backsplash, Landau said. The design can be as calm and relaxed, or eye-popping and strong, as desired.


pattern wood backsplash kitchen

For a more custom look, designers are blending random sizes and shapes and mixing elements such as glass, stone and metal. Size matters, and the options range from dramatic oversized tiles to cute-as-a-button tiny ones.

Larger tiles that appear to be a collection of smaller tiles are also gaining popularity because less grouting means it’s easier to clean, Landau said.

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