Gone are the days when your artwork was showcased on the refrigerator. Today, the kitchen backsplash is the new art gallery for home and condo owners in Washington DC and Northern Virginia. Guests will do more than mingle in the kitchen before and after the meal; they’ll admire your creativity as you put today’s latest design elements on display.
- Color. Bright pops of color have hit the fashion runway, but artistic souls carry color into the kitchen. Try the most vibrant hues of yellow, green, pink or blue in colored tempered glass. A less expensive option is to paint a backsplash with brilliant color and cover it with clear tempered glass or a ceramic glass that’s been designed to withstand high temperatures. Creative cooks with colored cabinetry might choose to add even more color by mixing a number of different colored tiles between the counter and the upper cabinets.
- Pattern. Mosaic tiles become artwork with custom patterns in a focal point above the cook top. Or, create an actual rectangle “picture” frame in the space below a well-designed vent hood, with a band of mosaics tiles in a pattern of contrasting mosaic tiles to fill it. A variation on this idea can include a disco mosaic with glass mirror mosaic tiles. Beyond focal point backsplashes, use other materials including a mix of materials to create patterns. Combining different varieties of wood or intermingling wood slats with different types of stain in a multi-layered effect creates visually appealing patterns along the backs of counters.
- Texture. Technology has improved the versatility of tile. They are no longer just basic and smooth, although no-frills subway tiles will always have a place. Today, texture abounds. Tiles are now available that mimic the texture of stepping stones or river rock. River rock backsplashes appear as if you collected and set every rock yourself while inviting the tranquil calm of a water setting. Other tile textures include etched glass, slate or marble, and a more traditional Washington D.C. homeowner might appreciate tiles with a beveled relief within them or tiles that imitate old tin ceilings.
- Line. A new kitchen backsplash idea is to set tiles in a different direction—either vertically or at an angle. This look instantly updates your kitchen and looks especially nice with the trendy narrow tiles that are one-inch wide by three or four inches long. Another unique backsplash can be created with large elongated rectangle floor tiles of 8 x 16 or 12 x 24 installed in a staggered pattern with accent tiles. Or, use repetition as a design element by creating a visual line with one inset tile or stone repeated at intervals along a long counter space.
- Shape. A very modern backsplash application for a Washington DC loft or contemporary house is to use corrugated roofing installed vertically as a kitchen backsplash. This material comes in prefinished colors or galvanized for the restaurant look. While that finish may not be for everyone, most people like some shape to their backsplash beyond a flat wall. Be creative. What do you want to store right at hand in your work zone? Add three-dimensional shape to a backsplash with a built-in step in a different material than your counter top such as stainless steel or even wood. Another choice is to build in a narrow shelf in the middle of the backsplash wall to hold utensils, spices, or ingredients.
- Light. Finally, don’t forget to play with light. Using light as a design element doesn’t just mean everything is white or bright. It is the ability to creatively think about the impact of where you use light so that the eye focuses on a particular place or recedes from it. For example, using a black counter and black backsplash with white and glass-fronted cabinetry is a stark contrast, but the light recedes from the counter and backsplash to highlight the display cabinets. Natural light is an element you can use, even in your kitchen backsplash. Have you considered windows in your backsplash? They can be sandwiched between counter and cabinetry; some homeowners in the area have even used them behind a range hood. In the right place windows bring an abundance of natural light into your kitchen. Finally, don’t forget the numerous options with under cabinet lighting to enhance your backsplash. From round pucks to light sticks, light technology minimizes the fixture and maximizes the light. Remember, every kitchen backsplash looks better with under cabinet lighting.
Creativity is marked by originality. Original ideas are solutions that spring from the design process itself. Use the elements of design—color, pattern, texture, line, shape, light—to guide your expressions and allow your personality and style to beautify your kitchen. In that way the backsplash will become the art in your new kitchen.