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The backsplash is one of the most neglected design elements in a kitchen, especially if the room is part of a larger open floorplan because eyes are naturally drawn to the sink and space above the oven. So, a clever backsplash can completely change the personality of your space, and the most important decision you have to make is its color.

But First…

Even though the color is most important, you have to make many decisions before you even get to color. Take a step back and think about what you want your kitchen to say. Is it fun, happy, and bright? Or is it sleek, modern, and serious? Is it a warm and cozy retreat or a serious culinary space? This reflection is one step closer to your finished backsplash.

Then you need to consider what material best fits that personality. Trendy subway tile is a good way to make a kitchen feel hip, stainless steel gives a modern vibe, or mosaic tile or glass can give a rustic feel. If your kitchen is already busy, consider a material with a simple design, like plain tile. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to generate some visual interest, consider a patterned tile or a hand-painted backsplash.

Size Up Your Space

After these big-picture design choices, it’s time to think about how big your backsplash should be. An intricate design is best housed in a smaller space—it’s better to be understated than oppressive. However, a plain natural stone or simple tile pattern can be extended beyond the natural limits of the cabinetry up to the ceiling or around the kitchen. Try to balance the visual interest of your backsplash with the rest of the kitchen so it is a highlight of the room, but it doesn’t steal the show.

Add Some Color

Finally, we’re ready to pick the color! Of course, your choices are limited by the material you have already chosen but don’t be scared to mix that up. Your first consideration is whether to pick a classic neutral tone or a vibrant accent color. If you have a carefully curated modern, earthy, or cozy character in your kitchen, you’ll probably want to stick with neutral or earth tones. A vibrant or upbeat space may demand a bolder choice. 

When deciding on the color, be sure to pay attention to the permanent features of your kitchen. First, strive to complement without being too matchy. Color within the palette of your kitchen is better than repeating a color already present. Second, balance the impact of space with the rest of the room. If your kitchen lacks accent, create some in your color choice. An already busy kitchen probably needs a subdued color.

Color can have the biggest impact on the backsplash’s effect. Choose a color that fits the personality you have created, and make sure it does not draw undue attention to itself. Most importantly, be careful to keep the backsplash in its place if it needs to be by using a neutral tone, or let it shine with a bold color.