top of page
  • Writer's pictureTani Nielsen

Move Aside Subway Tile

I promise I do more than just design kitchens! But I'm sticking with the kitchen theme again for this post. When it comes to kitchens, the backsplash is an easy place to get stuck. You want just the right tile because often it sets the tone for the main floor. Should we go for a contemporary with a mosaic of narrow title? What about something more traditional like a square travertine tile? It’s often the backsplash that gets reworked over and over again because it’s such an important choice and there are simply so many to choose from. Because tile shops are overwhelming with their limitless options, I always bring two to three ideas to my design presentations. A trip to the store with rows and rows of title usually puts a homeowner into a state of paralysis by analysis. My goal is to sort through the endless options and bring what I think would fit best with my client’s home, style, aesthetic, and design goals.

When it comes to backsplash trends, ceramic subway tile is having its day in the sun. The look of clean white tile has been in vogue for most of my decade-long career. Particularly as a backsplash tile, the subway is a classic look. I’ve seen it done with simple brick stacking and white grout, or with black or colored grout to add a bit of something different. Sometimes a more unique pattern like herringbone is used, or the tile may have a bevel edge to it. While I do still love a good subway (that’s what’s in my kitchen), I wanted to offer a few other fabulous backsplash options that can take your kitchen to the next level.

Uniquely Shaped Ceramics - The lovely stepsister of subway tiles.

This is a safe option for your backsplash if you want something different than a subway, but are not wanting to jump too outside the box. Ceramics come in many different shapes and sizes. A large white matte hex has a more transitional look while a glossy bright white rhombus is more contemporary. Don’t forget these tiles often come in multiple colors to add a fun punch, if you dare. Ceramics are usually budget-friendly while still adding a lot of character. Be creative in the layout or run them all the way up to the ceiling to add a dramatic effect.

Patterned Tiles - Something more adventurous.

Patterned square tiles are taking the design world by storm. I have used them on both floors and backsplashes and they create a different look depending on the location. Some have more traditional patterns while others are more modern. You can find them in playful colors or in monochromatic tones. Because patterned tiles can be porcelain or cement, their price can run the gamut and the same is true of the complexity of installation. However, there are some fabulous options that won’t break the bank and still pack a punch in their design like Zia Tile. The kitchens below show just a small snapshot of what they have to offer.

Mosaics - A little bit goes a long way

While I’ve typically stayed away from mosaics as a backsplash (the bathroom floor is where I often think they work best) lately I have seen some really nice options for the kitchen. No one designer has the final answer and I never want to close my mind to something that could look fantastic in the right home. A mosaic can come as a natural stone or a ceramic. Natural stone lends itself to a traditional or transitional look while ceramic or porcelain feels more modern. Think a bright blue penny round! Of course, the price will vary depending on the material but it always adds a lot of pattern to have a small mosaic. Check out these great mosaics from Jeffrey Court below and take look at their offerings here.

Faux Bricks - Get your texture on

I love a good faux brick, but don’t picture the traditional rust or red colored type. A matte black or a shiny gold brick will change what you thought a brick could look like. I love this option for a bar area, though it can work just as well in a kitchen. Brick adds tons of texture and style and can make your space feel more casual or earthy.

Solid countertop material - A modern, sleek look.

Though this backsplash is not tile, I do love the look of a countertop that runs all the way up the wall as a backsplash. It’s seamless, sleek, and dramatic, but it does need to be the right stone or solid surface. A beautiful stone with large veining and movement makes a bold statement. But beware, solid colors will not read well nor will speckled countertops. I mean, take a look at this stunning kitchen below of Cambria Hawksmoore being used as both the countertop and splash. Gorgeous!

Don't be afraid to do something different for your backsplash. Subway is always available as a great option but there are so many possibilities to be creative!

78 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Jul 21, 2020

Ohhhhhh, I wish I had the nerve to do a color or pattern in a backsplash but I'm so happy you talked me into a hexagon. That's as crazy as it gets here and I love it!

bottom of page