Define your kitchen style with a creative backsplash

T o create a signature kitchen style, look above the stove. A unique kitchen backsplash can define the look and feel of the room, says New York Kitchen & Bath designer Barbara Fiume. “I call that your Hermès scarf,” she says. “If we are going to be in budget with everything, at least have fun with the backsplash.” Plus, taking a risk with a bold color or texture won’t necessarily reduce your resale value. Since the backsplash is usually installed last, it’s the easiest piece to remove, Fiume says. Below, a few ways to add zing to kitchen design.


The Traditional Kitchen

For a traditional look with a trendy twist, try a glass tile mosaic with natural stone and warm–colored wood cabinets, says designer Joyce Stewart of Tunis Kitchen and Bath, Washington, D.C. Subway tile is also popular. Neutral–colored tiles can provide unique textures and shapes. Fireclay Tile has seen an increased demand of neutral tiles used in custom-designed patterns, says Fireclay design specialist Amie Johnson, San Jose, Calif. “Shape is just a huge thing,” Johnson says. “It’s more dramatic.”


The Modernist Kitchen

Vertically set glass mosaics can modernize a traditional kitchen, says Jared Becker, executive creative director at tile manufacturer Walker Zanger, Los Angeles, Calif. “It gives the kitchen a little more eclectic feel,” he says. Adding metal to the mosaics brings a reflective quality to the backsplash, also contemporizing the kitchen.


The Daring Colorist Kitchen

For those seeking a bold statement, tiles in bright monochromatic colors and complementary color blends have gained popularity, such as blue and orange blends. Color puts purpose in a small kitchen, Fiume says, citing a purple backsplash for a bachelor in Manhattan. “It’s just sexy,” she says.


The Small Kitchen

Small tiles work well in smaller kitchens. It increases pattern options, says Gary White of Kitchen & Bath Design, Newport Beach, Calif. Use one-by-one glass tile mosaics and a thin, variant tile to create a mural on the backsplash, he says.


The Seamless and Simple Kitchen

Some tile companies offer tile–colored grout, which creates a clean look, Fiume says. But if you want to ditch tile, back–painted glass backsplashes offer a simple alternative. Just choose a house paint color. “It’s an opportunity for fun,” Fiume says.