Make a Big Splash (in Your Kitchen)

(Kitchen courtesy of MCKB)Janet Ramin - When designing kitchens, plenty of planning and energy go towards choosing the most efficient appliances or the best looking countertops or the most organized cabinets - but what’s often neglected is that wall separating your cabinets and appliances. I started looking into this much more closely since my friend mentioned how bored she was with her kitchen backsplash

Now, mind you, her kitchen is relatively new – it's only a few years old, but since she bought a condo, she really didn’t have much choice in the design plan of her kitchen. She had a choice of two wood finishes for the cabinets and a few more with her granite countertop. But that’s it. Some condo owners don’t even get that much.

I viewed her kitchen again – see photo below – and found that the walls really didn’t have much going there. They extended the granite countertop to create a short backsplash and the rest was just painted plaster walls. Time for a makeover!

(Kitchen, courtesy of Maxwell Place)

I headed over to some of my favorite kitchen showrooms in the city to check out what they had to offer for those kitchen walls. At Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath (MCKB), I found some very colorful unique kitchen wall treatments. To emphasize their circular theme, MCKB designers used round ceramic tiles of varying sizes as the backsplash for their very mod peephole cabinets (see top photo). In another installation, MCKB uses glass tiles that are designed to look like bamboo. Glass is highly functional as it’s easy to wipe off any liquids or food stains - and additionally, it’s recyclable.

For a very elegant and contemporary style, take a look at this kitchen designed by Regina Bilotta of Bilotta Kitchens. She created her backsplash using copper-backed glass tiles, called Treble, in a very sexy, ogee-shaped tile pattern. The varying hues of copper, ochre, and reds project a warm, inviting glow. She also applied a cream color glass tile for those who want a more neutral color scheme – see both photos below. Both tiles are available from Artistic Tile

(Bilotta Kitchen)

(Bilotta Kitchen)

(Inhouse KBH, Artistic Tile)For those with a more traditional kitchen, you can still find unique and exciting solutions for a backsplash. These mosaics from Artistic Tile are made of a Honey Onyx and they were set in varying elevations, giving the backsplash a multi-dimensional depth. In this kitchen from Inhouse KBH, the creamy onyx provides a beautiful contrast to the more rustic antique bronze finish of the faucet and the copper sink. While this tile is an expensive choice, you can use it in just small, discrete areas, as the designer did in this kitchen, positioning it in front of the sink where water will be splashed around or in front of a stove. 

If you have a modern kitchen, with elegant dark brown wood cabinetry, you can punch it up using contrasting mosaics as in this simple solution from MCKB. Designers used varying shades of chocolate brown and cream and applied it in a random pattern – see detail photo. 

(Kitchen by MCKB)Tile manufacturers have really pushed the boundaries in what materials can be used and how they can be cut and applied. Besides the usual ceramic tile, granite and marble, we now have glass tiles that can be embedded with just about any color or image. Faced with all these wonderful, unique choices for backsplashes, my friend decided to mull over the selections some more. There's so many great options to consider! 


This article was reprinted by permission of the Sheffield School. Are you interested in learning more about fabric, wall, and floor treatments? Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design. At Sheffield, you'll learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories.