On a practical level, a backsplash is made to protect the wall behind a stove or counterpart. Essentially, it’s the material that covers, or fills in, the area from the top of the countertop to the bottom of the kitchen cabinets. And while it’s a standard element in every kitchen, backsplashes are having a serious moment of their own right now.
Why? Homeowners are seeking warmth and character in their stones and bringing their personality out in their kitchens like never before. Adding backsplash tiles to your kitchen gives you an opportunity to have a focal point that’s both functional and beautiful. The backsplash can blend into the background, letting other design elements shine, or it can make a strong design statement. We’re seeing a lot less heavy, wall-to-wall cabinetry, so the backsplash is no longer confined to 18 inches between the cabinets and countertop—it can be the whole wall.
In our Southern Living home tours, we are seeing couples make their backsplashes do double duty—with practicality and style— by hanging art at the center of the backsplash or making the whole wall a statement piece (no art or decor needed). And no material is a given here, as it may have been in the past. You can easily get creative with finishes and play with mixed materials, styles, colors, and textures. Today, homeowners can find a material that fits their style, home, and price point. Most popularly, we are seeing couples buying beautiful (and expensive) slabs of marble, choosing colorful tiles, and even adding patterns with painted tiles.
Bold design is making a comeback and the backsplash is an easy way to completely update the feel of your kitchen. If you need inspiration for a kitchen renovation or even a quick upgrade, you’ll find the best kitchen backsplash ideas for 2023 below.
In her North Carolina home, designer Liz Carroll kept the walls open and airy by installing floating natural wood shelves and glass sconces (from Visual Comfort) atop painted white shiplap. In this room, the lower cabinets, painted Benjamin Moore’s Iron Mountain (2134-30), act as the space’s focal point thanks to an otherwise neutral palette, which is solidified with quartz countertop that extends above the stove as a subtle backsplash.
Some argue that traditional tile is officially out. While we have a few still-on-trend options below, there’s a certain truth to this statement. Many are forgoing an abundance of tiles and are instead opting for a single slab as a backsplash, as demonstrated in this minimalistic kitchen. Treating the backsplash as an extension of the countertops creates a high-end, polished feel.
When renovating this 1960s ranch-style home in Nashville, the owners left some of the property’s original charm—but added a little paint. More specifically, they painted the original wood-paneled walls bright white (PPG’s Delicate White, PPG1001-1). While there is no official backsplash, a glass-framed painting is hung intentionally above the stove. “You can use art to make a kitchen feel a bit more lived-in,” says designer Meg Kelly, who oversaw this project.
See! We told you tiles can be done right. This recently renovated 1940 cottage in Birmingham, Alabama, is a great example. The couple had a vision for bright and vibrant decor in the rest of the house, but decided to keep things neutral in the kitchen to allow the green cabinets to pop. They used marble 3 x 6 tiles in a subtle grey tone—and, as shown, the material is successful in letting the rest of the room to shine.
We also weren’t kidding when we said that some homeowners are making a major statement with a unique backsplash choice. Designer KV Harper did just that while designing her New Orleans home. “My carpenter built the reclaimed-wood countertop which breaks up the green backsplash and dark blue cabinets (painted in Sherwin-Williams’ Anchors Aweigh, SW 9179),” she adds. White will always have its place, but shades of green, moody blues, and even black are having a moment.
The kitchen is a great place to mix materials like wood flooring, brass hardware, and stainless steel appliances, and other various finishes from countertops to cabinetry. In the 2022 Idea House, designer Charlotte Lucas also chose to use a blend of materials when it came to the backsplash. Here, she used alilac marble countertop that extended up the wall to meet a glossy, terracotta tile completewith a shallow shelf.
White Cloe Tile
Driven by bloggers such as Emily Henderson and Studio McGee, Bedrosian’s Cloe tile is having a moment in residential interiors, according to Campbell Minister, an interior designer and founder of Decorated Interiors. “From shower stalls to kitchen backsplashes, the white Cloe tile has an organic look and a fresh modern presence all at once,” she says. “They come in a 5 x 5 square or a more standard 2.5 x 8 rectangle—similar tiles like this are available on Wayfair for a lower price, too.” The key is to choose something with a subtle texture and color variation that still acts as a neutral.
Another trend that homeowners are catching onto are continuous slabs of marble, granite, and quartzite as a backsplash. It creates a timeless look whether shinny and polished or in a matte finish. “Choosing a continuous slab that matches your counters creates a cohesive feel that blends in with the kitchen’s overall scheme,” explains Minister. “You can go wild with a bold pattern or choose a more muted and quiet material as a backdrop for a bold cabinet color.” Be sure to check with your fabricator on the suitability for any slab material you choose as a kitchen backsplash, as some quartz materials are not as resistant to heat.
Search any kitchen design by Jake Arnold and swoon. This designer is showing a ton of warm and textured material in his designs. One trend we see on the rise is again a continuous piece of stone slab that sits approximately 10″ to 15″ above the counter, and dead ends into a shelf. The beauty of this aesthetic is you then can use this perch for art, bowls, utensils, you name it. The shelf itself can be wood for some more visual interest, or the same material as the counter.
Natural ceramic or porcelain tiles are an intriguing way to change up your backsplash as well. “Adding a bit of texture to an otherwise basic shape provides dimension and interest in a backsplash,” explains Minister. “You don’t have to spend a million bucks for this to make a statement.” Look for vintage or imperfectly cut tiles for added character.
“Geometric shapes and patterns hold a special place in my heart on kitchen backsplashes,” says Minister. “Hexagons and herringbone’s patterns don’t seem to ever go out of style. A herringbone pattern with a Calacatta marble finish makes for a little subtle interest in an all-white kitchen.” Angling your tiles is a great way to add interest without breaking the bank for special patterns or adding colored tile. Below, designer Meredith Beregovski created a unique look using handmade terracotta tile on the angled backsplash of a recently renovated A-frame home.
There is more than one way to make a statement in your kitchen. While you might think of appliances or paint colors as typical statement-makers, your backsplash can create a wow-moment too. If you’re looking to take a ho-hum kitchen up a notch, try a bold colored tile, mixed materials, mosaic tiles, or create your own pattern.
An Extended Backsplash
In lieu of a traditional backsplash, designer Nicola McLaughlin covered the walls of this kitchen from floor to ceiling in a simple, grid-like tile. “It’s cost-effective and clean,” she notes. “And, depending on how it’s done, it can also be timeless.” To add dimension, she used tiles that have uneven surfaces and look handmade. “It’s not just a monotonous wall of white. The tiles each shine in a different way,” says McLaughlin.
This is one trend that’s never going out of style. Subway tile might commonly be found in other areas of the house, but you can never go wrong with using as your backsplash too. You can go for the traditional 3 x 6 inch white tile or get creative and opt for larger tiles in 2 x 4 inches, 4 x 8 inches, 6 x 12 inches or try bold colors.
Colorful Tile in Cool, Calming Hues
Gone are the days of the standard 3 x 6 white tile—choosing a tile that is longer creates a calming visual effect, according to Minister. “Go for a 3 x 10, or a 2 x 8 to create a sleek look,” she says. “Wood finishes, moody blues, and greens are having a moment with regards to kitchens and The Tile Shop has a line of subway tiles in light greens and blues that can complement this trend.”
Matte is out. From tile to slab backsplashes and even cabinetry paint—gloss is in. When using polished or high-gloss finishes, be sure to pair them with natural materials for balance.