The Best Kitchen Backsplash and My Favorite Options

 

Hi Everyone,

Before we get into my favorite kitchen backsplash, several of you have asked what’s happening with my renovation plans.

Well, I’m happy to report there’s been positive movement on this front. I did submit dozens of drawings, photos, and a detailed description of my design to the contractor I want to hire early this month. And, this Tuesday, I’m meeting with him and his subs to go over the plans for quotes.

But, wait, Laurel. If you don’t have any quotes, how do you know this is the contractor you’d like to hire?

 

Gosh, you guys are so smart. That is a terrific question and could be a separate blog post. So, here are my reasons.

1. When I first began looking for a contractor around June, I did interview one other. Three or Four others were contacted but didn’t get back to me. They were automatically disqualified. The other contractor did come over and seemed to be in a hurry, plus I felt he was not experienced enough.

2. Rick, on the other hand, returned my query immediately and came over a few days later. He spent a good two hours here. Oh, and this one’s super important. He didn’t look at me, not even once, like I had six heads. Nor, did he so much as flinch when I said, “unkitchen.”

3. My super nice neighbors upstairs used Rick for various projects, including a bathroom reno in their apartment, and gave a glowing review.

4. Our nearby neighbors used Rick last year and loved working with him.

5. In addition, Rick gave references for numerous other homes in the area, he’s worked on who are all happy with the work.

6. I’ve seen numerous examples of his work and can tell that he’s meticulous in his detailing.

 

And finally.

 

6. Rick came back a second time and spent another two hours with me going over the plans. He is confident, has terrific ideas, and I can tell he’s going to be terrific to work with.

Is he the cheapest?

No. He is not. But, he’s not the most expensive either and by a substantial amount based on both of my neighbor’s quotes.

 

So, when is all of this going to commence?

 

Ahhh, another great question. At this point, I have no idea. There is a LOT that will need to happen before we can begin. Plus, I’m going to have to move out for several months. Of course, I will keep y’all informed as we go along.

But, breaking news!!! I got an email from the amazing Paul Montgomery, who makes the most beautiful hand-painted wall murals. And, from there, started The Mural Source (formerly Mural Sources) where they’ve taken his original murals and make prints of them. However, and I can’t stress this enough.

 

The quality of the print is so amazing, and the colors.

 

The photos on the website don’t capture the beauty of the printed murals in any way. You can see a close-up in this post from 2018, And, also in this post after the paper was installed. There are also some good images of the wallpaper in this post.

Again, my photos don’t capture how amazing they are.

So, why am I bringing this up, today? Well, I told Paul I’d love to partner with them again and he said, he’d love to!  Yipppeeee!!!

 

kitchen mock-up January 31, 2022 - mirrored end cabinet
I sent Paul a tweaked image of the kitchen. Please notice that the end cabinets will have antiqued mirrors, and only the two center doors will be clear glass. There are two reasons for this.

I definitely need some non-pretty stuff storage in the kitchen.

The mirrors, especially the one you can see here, are going to grab a lot of light into the kitchen, and create a bit of sparkle.

 

And, so all of this ties into my favorite kitchen backsplash. Or, I should say backsplashes.

 

What’s funny is that I’ve never lived in a home that had a kitchen backsplash. But, it’s true. You can live without one. Some people will argue that one, and I won’t disagree when it comes to the sink and range area, a backsplash is a very good idea.

These days, however, it is not uncommon to see the kitchen backsplash run all the way from the counter to the ceiling.

 

Bronxville, NY Unkitchen renovation

Mary did that in her Bronxville kitchen that I helped her with. For more of her wonderful kitchen, please go here.

 

deVOL-WilmingtonSquare- I ADORE this smexy kitchen which is both modern and old at the same time. Kitchen Backsplash is only over the range. Only a small 3" lip of the same material that's on the counter.

DeVOL Kitchens

 

However, the other extreme we can see in many of the DeVOL kitchens with only a lip in place of the traditional 18″ undercabinet backsplash. By the way, that lip measures 70 millimeters, or roughly 2.75 inches.

 

deVOL-kitchen backsplash-Wilmington Square - I ADORE this smexy kitchen which is both modern and old at the same time.

However, as you can see, they did do a full backsplash over the beautiful range.

I am so in love with this kitchen and it is exactly what I’m talking about when I speak of today’s Unkitchen. This kitchen could go ANYWHERE!

And there is plenty of storage, as well.

 

Devol kitchens white kitchen no backsplash - wood counters with a 3" lip of wood and white walls

Another lip and they are making it out of wood? I wonder how that works in the sink area. Presumably it’s a wood that doesn’t mind getting wet like Cedar, perhaps.

 

kitchen trim over the counter when there is no backsplash or lip

Above and below from Nancy Keyes gorgeous “unkitchen,” a beautiful “unbacksplash” over the counter. However, an unusual but super-stylish material behind the range.

 

nancy-keyes-kitchen-range-accessories - timeless kitchens

Nancy has such incredible style. I never tire of looking at her kitchen vignettes!

 

plain english kitchen recessed cupboard in a pale celadon kitchen

 

And one more lovely kitchen from Plain English kitchen. There’s no traditional backsplash, as you can see.

 

So, what is my favorite kitchen backsplash tile, if there is going to be one?

 

Gosh, that’s a difficult question to answer because I have to say, “it depends.”


I need to know what:

  • is the style of the kitchen?
  • Are the other finishes, such as countertops, fixtures, etc.?
  • Color is the cabinetry?

 

But wait. Is that a meat cleaver in your hands?

 

Geez, you’re really putting the squeeze on me. ;]

 

Laurel, you need to tell us, but please don’t let it be white subway tile. It’s sooooo boring. So unimaginative. Gosh, it’s going to go out of style one day…

 

I’m not going to say anything until you put the meat cleaver down.

Thank you.

However, look. Yes, I am always going to recommend white kitchen cabinets and white subway tile as an enduring classic.

 

Allan_Ramsay_-_The_Artist's_Wife-_Margaret_Lindsay_of_Evelick,_c_1726_-_1782_-_Google_Art_Project

Allan Ramsey “The Artist’s Wife”

Please lighten up.

And, please don’t roll your eyes.

There are other options; you DON’T have to do white cabinets and white subway tile for you kitchen backsplash!

I mean, I’m not.

 

You’re not?

 

No, I’m not. I mean, I’m not doing plain white subway tile.

 

Okay, let’s bring that mockup back down.

 

kitchen mock-up January 31, 2022 - mirrored end cabinet
In my mind, I always wanted a honed or leathered white marble counter. So, I took the time, to make that change which you can see below.

 

kitchen mock-up January 31, 2022 white marble counterI have to admit that I think the black, or really soapstone, so not quite black is better. That is, from this image and the constraints of the mockup. But, WHY is it better?

I feel that the black accent provides more continuity with the floor, which is also not quite black and not quite white. And, provides a better balance with the entrance. And, it also feels more balanced with the tall dramatic doors in the back.

However, this is super important. No one is just going to stand in this one spot and think any of this. If we put ourselves IN the kitchen, or closer to the entrance, what if we did a black range?

Well, food for thought. (no pun intended). Let’s move on with our kitchen backsplashes!

 

I will go over my favorite materials for a kitchen backsplash and their variations.

 

The first is ceramic or porcelain tiles, usually in a brick shape, but sometimes in a square, octagon, or other shapes.

 

These rectangles can be small or larger for a kitchen backsplash. I do love the classic brick pattern in a 3×6 tile. However, I also like a herringbone pattern. I’m not super keen on lining up the tiles in non-overlapping rows. However, if you’re going for a contemporary look, that’s fine. It’s just not my style.

 

deVOL_Classic_Pimlico_DSC_7446 Beautiful pale blue kitchen with Shaker cabinet doors and a farmhouse sink and wood counters. Kitchen Backsplash is white subway tile.

 

Another DeVOL kitchen. This is more like our kitchens, and there is a simple white subway tile backsplash. Those are fabulous shaker-style cabinets. So pretty.

 

walker-zanger-handmade-white-subway-tile over the range in a white kitchen

Walker Zanger handmade white subway tile.

Handmade ceramic tiles are far more expensive than the others. But if you can swing it, they are the most beautiful because of the slight variations. There are machine-made tiles that mimic handmade. Not sure about that. I think they usually look fake.

 

DeVOL kitchens - green kitchen - white backsplash tile

Another lovely from DeVOL. The dark grout gives this a vintage look.

 

Blue Celeste subway tile by Walker Zanger

Ann Sacks

 

This is a pretty gray-blue stone called Blue Celeste available at Ann Sacks. We’ll be looking at marble in a bit. Of course, ceramic and porcelain tiles can be done in colors, as well as white.

 

There is also the beautiful Zellige tile which we talked about extensively in this post about the subway tile alternative everyone knows about except for me.

Zellige is most commonly seen in a 3″ square. However, I have also seen it in rectangles. It’s a lovely, more rustic look that works beautifully whether your kitchen is trad or contemporary.

 

What about patterned tiles, Laurel?

 

Oh yes. I do love the cement tiles that look so terrific in more rustic kitchens.

 

A+Row+House+Reinvented-lonny-kitchen backsplash-tile-idea - with painted exposed brick, open shelves and rustic beams

via Lonny

I think this is wonderful as an accent over the range.

 

Jean Stoffer Guest house - no fail kitchen cabinet colorsJean Stoffer’s small charming kitchen.

country kitchen backsplash accent DeVOL Kitchens

Another cool DeVOL kitchen with a small patterned backsplash over the range. I think this one detail adds a lot to this kitchen.

 

Artichoke - exceptional interior design - unkitchen - hidden fridge

This is a gorgeous look by Artichoke. Remember we talked about this fabulous company in this post.

 

The next material for kitchen backsplash is marble and other types of stone.

 

Marble is always an elegant and beautiful kitchen backsplash. And, no matter if I do soapstone or a marble kitchen counter, I still want marble for my backsplash. Definitely marble… Definitely.

Marble can be done in the same shapes as ceramic or porcelain tiles.

Or, marble can be done in a solid slab.

Below are beautiful examples of marble used for a kitchen backsplash in various forms.

 

devol kitchens forest green cabinets marble and a shelf with art

Another exquisite and popular beauty from the DeVOL website.

 

dream kitchen nickel hood white cabinets - wolf range with calacatta gold slab kitchen backsplash. Design and photo by Laurel Bern - Faucet by Perrin and Rowe. Hardware available at myknobs.com - custom cabinetry by Jem Woodworking

The kitchen we did in 2014 with a Calacatta Gold Marble slab backsplash over the Wolf Range.

Benjamin+Moore+Chelsea+Gray+Cabinets+and+Marble+Herringbone+Kitchen Backsplash+||+Studio+McGee Photo by Lindsay Salazar

Studio McGee

More Carrera, this time in a herringbone pattern.

Kitchen by Melissa Lee with Carrera marble backsplash ty-cole-photography

Melissa Lee via Design Sponge – photo: Ty Cole

This is also a herringbone, but they call it a straight herringbone. Not sure which I prefer.

 

French Bistro Shelving - galley kitchen - marble backsplash

Oh, how I love this kitchen. It is the exact feeling I want for mine. And looky here, this is either oiled soapstone or black marble. I love the white veining. And, I also love the Carrara brick pattern marble.

 

Above is another kitchen I’ve long admired with Carrara marble tiles in a smaller brick pattern from Ann Sacks.

jean stoffer design instagram

Jean Stoffer’s gorgeous vignette from her showroom.

 

A new trend that I’ve seen with marble and soapstone is a curved kitchen backsplash.

 

Jessica Helgerson curved-calacatta-marble-backsplashJessica Helgerson curved-calacatta-marble-backsplash

Cantley and Company curved backsplash

Cantley and Company

 

The final material is glass and mirrors.

 

Solid glass can be polished or frosted; I guess it’s commonly called. Of course, it goes through a process that takes the smooth polish off. This is much like the beach glass my sister Holly is into collecting. The only difference is the beach glass is done organically.

gray glass kitchen backsplash with carrera marble counters in a pretty traditional white kitchen. Nickel faucet and wolf range

Mirrored glass has become increasingly popular in the last several years.

 

Is it a trend?

 

Chateau de Versailles - Galerie des GlacesChateau de Versailles – Galerie des Glaces (hall of mirrors)

 

Let’s go back in time and ask King Louis XIV, who, of course, lived in Versailles in the late 17th and 18th century

 

Louis_XIV_of_FranceThere he is, and all decked out, too!

Hey, Lou, I hope you’ve been resting in peace and sorry to disturb you, but my readers and I want to know what you think about the use of mirrors for a kitchen backsplash? Is it an enduring trend?


“Oh, les Américains et leurs folles tendances ! S’il te plaît, tais-toi déjà et fais des choses plus importantes comme admirer les jambes de ma belle danseuse.”

 

Translation in English:

 

Oh, the Americans and their freaking trends! Please just shut up already and do more important things like admire my beautiful dancer’s legs.

Well, you don’t need to be rude about it. However, I’ll forgive you because of your incredible contribution to classical ballet. And by the way, your legs are indeed Magnifique!

I guess we can conclude that the use of mirrors is A-Okay!

 

Like other backsplash materials, mirrored glass can come in many shapes and sizes. In addition, it can be antiqued or not .

Architecture-Spitzmiller-Norris-Suzanne-Kasler-kitchen-via-Block-Chisel-Emily-Followill-photo

Gorgeous kitchen by Suzanne Kasler

 

one_kings_lane_la_duree_kitchen_counter_and_shelves - Designed by Shalini - green cabinets - mirror behind glass shelves

Designed by Shalini – green cabinets – mirror behind glass shelves

 

Munger Interiors curved marble backsplash - mirrored backsplashMunger Interiors

curved marble backsplash – mirrored backsplash

 

© Matthew Quinn and Mali Azima - mirrored backsplash wet bar

© Matthew Quinn and Mali Azima

Please notice how similar this kitchen is.

 

rosette detail - rough old glass on Instagram

I love the rosette detail. This is from a company I found a while back in the UK, Rough Old Glass. They do backsplashes and gorgeous custom mirrors.  But, this is what I’m thinking of for my mirrored doors in my new kitchen.

 

rough old glass antiqued mirrorRough Old Glass has a wonderful Instagram account too.

 

rough old glass - gorgeous antiqued glass

Of course, this isn’t a kitchen backsplash, but I love what they’ve done here!

 

humphrey munson farrow and ball classic kitchen - railings

Gorgeous from Humphrey Munson Kitchens.

 

Okay, I’m pretty much choking on a kitchen backsplash now. lol, There are so many beautiful options.

Do you have a favorite?

 

xo,

Laurel-e1443573876689

 

PS: Please check out the beautiful President’s Day Weekend Super HOT SALES!

 

PPS:  Folks, this is my once every two-month reminder.

 

Although most of you are incredibly fantastic, there’ve also been some super-snarky (defamatory) comments recently, mostly directed at me. Please don’t. I don’t allow inflammatory comments, and I also hate playing policeman.  If you find your comment missing, then you’ll know that you crossed a line. (If you post a link in your comment, it may take a bit before you see it because all links have to be approved before publishing, is all.)

If you don’t like how I express myself, that is absolutely fine. However, instead of flaming me, please go and take a bubble bath, take a stress pill, and then don’t think it over. May I recommend putting your focus back on yourself and fuhget about what a silly goose I am? Life will be more pleasant for both of us that way.

Thank you. And endless thanks to the vast majority of y’all who are incredibly kind, supportive, and help make writing this blog an absolute joy for me!

Much Love, always!

 

72 Responses

  1. I believe what you saw was a cobbler’s/ shoemaker’s last. They are made of wood and used mostly for custom shoes today. guessing this one was an antique.

  2. What color do you think the paint is in that Jean Stoffer showroom kitchen? Some kind of pale treacly peach. It’s intriguing that it’s so warm next to the cooler tone of the marble counter. I love it so if you have any dupes off the top of your head that would be splendid.

  3. Laurel, Do you know what companies sell the types of shelf supports used in the Shalini kitchen with the green cabinets?

  4. You are going to have one lovely kitchen when it’s all said and done. Black, white, marble, mirrors … what’s not to like?

    My personal favorites are a classic white kitchen with inset shaker cabinets, Carrara marble counters, and white subway tile. I love to use stained walnut countertops on an island (if present) for warmth, with the Carrara on the perimeter counters. Walnut is more forgiving for meal prep. We’ve done this at three former houses, and I love the look. I also have painted the ceiling a haint blue for just a peek of color.

    We moved to a new-to-us 1913 bungalow last month, and the kitchen cabinets are a smokey blue with gray-veined countertops. Not my preference, but with brass hardware and lighting, it’s certainly nice looking.

  5. I love Calacatta marble slabs for countertops and backsplash. In my current house, I have a white subway tile backsplash with honed Calacatta marble countertops and honed Virgina Mist granite for the island. If I had to do it over again, I’d choose Calacatta marble for all the surfaces. I never get tired of looking at it. It’s just so beautiful and easy care with a good stone sealer.

  6. CAN NOT WAIT to follow this renovation!! Love the sneak peek into what your thinking about. Sorry for the hateful comments from SOME people. I think there is a lot of nastiness with people in general these days.
    Anyway….excited for you!

  7. So happy to see the black and white diamond-patterned floor in your concept kitchen! I’m renovating our 1925 English style home & planning on painting the heart pine floors to look like “worn” diamond pattern (floors have been abused, but have some life left in them). I love DeVol (check out Helen’s kitchen…the ultimate unkitchen!) https://www.devolkitchens.com/blog/for-the-love-of-kitchens-a-kitchen-designers-kitchen

    Also, this custom kitchen company in TN:
    http://www.tkcabinetry.com/

  8. The Unkitchen needs to keep stuff the counters. I saw a stove side drawer pull out to hold cooking utensils in cups and oils on the shelf below. You can see a large example on Instagramer heyfeatherstone on May 18, 2021. I’ve seen narrower too.

    Side note – Instagramer cinque took the top off a china cabinet and used it for an upper cabinet – in red. It looks lovely.

    I love your unkitchen plans and am excited to see it be born.

  9. Laurel, I can’t wait to see the progression of your kitchen. Your plans make my heart go pitter patter! RE: countertop. In 2006, we put honed, Black Absolut granite on the perimeter cabinets in our kitchen. I wanted the soapstone look but, understood that soapstone needs more care. I still love it and, 16 years later, would make the same choice.

  10. Laurel have you seen the new French movie Delicious? All the still lifes reminded me of something you’d approve of! I thought it was a beautiful glimpse into the French country style.

  11. I would choose the marble tiles in a herringbone pattern or my favorite, the larger size brick pattern Carrera tiles. I also love the antique mirror glass but would be hesitant to have that as a backsplash where I would have to look at myself first thing in the morning. Too scary!

  12. Hi Laurel
    I’m so grateful for everything your blog had taught me and for the years of laughs and pretty things. People are strange. I used to be a cruise ship singer. I did a lounge act, light jazz and easy listening. There were lots of other lounges on the ship with different styles of music. A little something for everyone. Just like the Internet. Most of the time, if people didn’t like what they heard, they’d just pop their heads in and leave. Occasionally, people would come in and heckle. I remember thinking, “wow, you spent all this money, the cruise is only a week long, and you’re gonna spend your evening listening to music that you don’t enjoy and griping about it!” Such bizarre behaviour. If you don’t like it go elsewhere and have a good time. I’m having a good time right here. Take care and happy kitchen designing.

  13. Laurel, your kitchen just keeps getting better and better. I don’t know how you have the patience to wait for the finished product, but I know it’s all about the details and everything is easier to fix in a mock up than once it’s in stone! It will be gorgeous and worth the wait and the agonizing over every little thing. I agree that the black counter is sooo much better with the floor. There’s no delineation with white, everything all blends together and all detail is lost.
    I wonder if you know a source for those adjustable glass and brass shelves in the photo designed by Shalini? I’ve had a a crush on those for a long time. Love your blog!

  14. Kristi – I love the look of soapstone and I chose a granite called Black Mist, that reminds me of soapstone.
    It might be called by a different name somewhere else, but it’s black with white wisps throughout.

  15. Dearest Laurel,
    I love your quirky sense of humor and totally get it!
    This is a most awesome post!
    My vote is for the kitchen that had the “feel” that you wanted! It is drop dead gorgeous!
    Please go with the old mirrored glass with medallions on those end cabinets!
    Twill be tres chic!
    You go, girl!
    Can’t wait to see the results!!

  16. You are inspiring, provocative, entertaining, intelligent, straightforward and possess a wealth of experience you so willingly share. Thank you. Please don’t stop.

  17. I have a house built in 1947, a simple one story 1500 sq ft that had almost no updates. I designed a kitchen to look like what should have been there to start with! I used machine-made subway tiles in white that have the hand-made effect and they don’t look fake at all. I used a very pale grey grout that matches the paint on the walls. White cabs, black granite countertops, and a black and white tiled floor run on the diagonal as you show in the first photo. I love my new kitchen.

  18. You’re so entertaining and funny!!!!
    I’d love to meet you. You would love my 1876 home near you!
    Blessings, Pamela

  19. Laurel, thanks for making your home a classroom for us. This is such a fun post, especially with your sense of humor!

    You asked for our thoughts, so here’s my two cents. Your kitchen design is SO GORGEOUS! That black lantern! And mirrored cabinets! And checkerboard floor! All adjacent to your Paul Montgomery wall mural’d entryway! Seriously, my mouth is just gaping open. With all that WOW, I’d go with a black soapstone counter and a simple white backsplash with a matching, not contrasting grout, to provide a place for the eye to rest, a kind of negative space.

    What do your Boston friends recommend? Standing in a space is so much different than judging from far away.

  20. I was really hot on a mirrored backsplash behind all of my countertop until my husband said “do you really want to see the backs of the things you keep on the counter” that might be something for you to think about also.
    I know that whatever you do will look fabulous.

  21. Hi, Laurel!

    I can’t imagine what anyone could say about your fun, informative kitchen post, except that it’s very helpful and useful and fun. Thank you!

    I’m not artistically gifted, and often don’t know what I’m seeing exactly, but I see things about scale and proportions that I feel, but can’t explain.

    Here’s what’s stumping me. When Iook at your kitchen mockups, I see that the black countertops look better than the white, IMO. But I feel like looking at the opening from the living room space makes me see three houses. Could that be because of the blue in the kitchen, the blue below the mural, the black and white, and then the wood floor? I thought about printing your image of the kitchen and cutting it out so I only see that, and not the wood floor. I’m just seeing all your examples of white spaces in my head, and the many colors and textures are overwhelming in that one picture. How do you, as a designer, figure out what the canvas is? I ask this bc I remember a post about looking in from one room to another, and there’s a special name for that. Do you start with that inner view,, and work outward? Anyway, I’m excited to see how all the elements of your design come together, and I’m always learning a lot. I also have learned that I may not prefer everything you prefer, but usually ( thanks to your tutelage!) I am learning to I know what I do like, and how to fit it into the space in a pleasing way. Must be that Golden Ratio ! Looking forward to further posts as your dreams turn into reality!! Have a lovely day…daffodils are blooming here in Alabama!

  22. Your kitchen will be tres chic! I would never offer any advice to you, feeling perfectly inadequate to do so, but I can tell you that I love my soapstone countertops which we had installed ten years ago. I also bought a Wolf range, which has a black enamel top-allowing a beautiful flow with the counters, so important in my small kitchen. I elected not to do a tile backsplash of any kind, because there was no logical way to end the tiling and I didn’t want all the walls tiled, so we painted the walls in Cotton Balls( because you loved it so much) and it IS a beautiful white.
    I cook for dinner every night, and I entertain lots of family and friends, and after ten years, the painted walls, including behind the range, have held up beautifully.

  23. Dear Laurel ,
    As usual, I get so much good advice from reading your blog. I too am trying to decide what to do as a backsplash in a small Patio home kitchen that is our second home. I have some wonderful 4 x 4 Spanish style tiles that might look really good, as the home is in Scottsdale, but then think about doing a solid slab or using the large 4 x 4 tiles as backsplash with a shelf. I also saw this idea where you use a mural and cover it with a plexi glass , as done in the southern living idea house. I’ll enclose a picture. I love all your ideas and always go to your blog first- when I have questions!!

    Southern Living Showhouse

  24. I added on almost 20 years ago, and it was a serious un- kitchen for quite awhile. I wish I knew about un-kitchens back then, I would have run with it!
    I was a long time settling on the counter, and didn’t want to pick cabinets until I had the counter figured out, so everything was on a couple of those white plastic folding tables for a long time , not a good look. (My dad had a stroke just after we broke ground and I couldn’t spend time thinking about things for awhile, just trying to cope with everything took all of energy. I recall how when I couldn’t sleep, I would sit in the porch swing that we put in that area before we had windows or doors and sort of rock myself to sleep).
    I still don’t have a “real” backsplash, but I eventually painted the area between the stove and fan with black chalkboard paint and chalked on a black and white check border and am still pretty happy with it. I originally thought of Mexican tiles, but 20 years on I really get how great white subway tile is!

  25. Thank you for the eye-candy! I’m finishing up a kitchen where my client hates grout and didn’t want to do a matching countertop backsplash so I had to get creative. We’re doing a 3-Form backsplash that will be softly backlit. I hope it turns out! I had to rinse and squeeze my brain out fifteen times to make it all “work.” Lol.

  26. Hi, Laurel –

    Thanks so much for your blog — I have learned so much, been so grateful for source info, and really appreciate the laughs! I am going to be re-doing my kitchen in my last “forever” home (the one from which I’ll be leaving either because I’m in a body bag or I am so far gone I won’t know I’m in a facility). In light of “aging-in-place” and cooking explosions/messes, I’ve chosen to go with Lapitec counter/backsplashes because it looks to be indestructible. Have you encountered this product? Just curious. I have my heart set on the “Bianca Vittoria” marble-like pattern for counter and backsplash. Here’s a link: https://www.lapitec.com/en/collections/musa
    Best – Deb 🙂

  27. hiring people to do work. i totally agree with you. i needed to find a new carpenter. i called 3 people, one was weird on the phone and never showed up. the second seemed off to me and the third was the one. he is a prize and i’ve worked with him for over a year. i never get other quotes because i know he will do great work, show up, and not cheat me; i trust him. good work to me is worth it. maybe i’m paying more but it’s worth it. fyi i budget 30-40% more for a job in case something comes up. gives me peace of mind. i also do business this way with my plumber, electrician, and handyman. i have to say, i used to use angie’s list and since she sold out it is impossible. yelp seems to be filling the gap these days.

  28. I try not to spend too much time on the internet, but when it comes to your blogs, I just cannot help myself. I too wanted a non kitchen. I wish I had known about your blog when we were building. I swore I would not do subway tile. However I found Carrara marble in a subway format that was classic,timeless, and interesting. It looks a lot like the smaller brick backsplash.Your blogs always put into words some of the same feelings I have and sometimes I need that validation.( such as planning a non kitchen.) Thank uyou again!

  29. Hi Laurel,
    What a beautiful post! I was just thinking this morning about what I would do if I could change the kitchen. You answered my question in so many ways. I thought I had seen it all, and this post has so many new ideas. Thank you so much for putting it together. I think that this will be a great foundation resource for the future.
    Have a wonderful day!

  30. Your mock ups help me SO much to visualize your plans. Thanks for taking the time to do that for us! So anxious to hear your final selections!!
    I’ve got soapstone now and love it and paired it with an Italian Ilve range in black with antique bronze hardware. Our cabinets are soft white and the backsplash is both beaded board (same color as cabinets)as well as Zellige tiles behind the range and a row behind the sink area. Oh, and I threw in some William Morris wallpaper above the beaded board. I figured this might be my last kitchen remodel so decided to do just what I wanted, and not worry about fads and trends. Couldn’t be happier. Next, I’d love to see about the murals you posted and incorporate them in some magical place of our home. I’m grateful to you for your inspirations, wonderful photos, and above all your humor along the way.

  31. oh yeah, as far as using the tin ceiling material for backsplash, I’m going with one that has a “matte” finish and it will be an off-white color.

  32. All your ideas on the kitchen and entry hall makeover are wonderful. Love the mirrored cabinet doors. Transforming a sad, drab kitchen and entry into beautiful spaces with so much character and to be in sync with the details of the rest of the apartment is brilliant. And Rick sounds like the perfect contractor to make all this happen. I always laugh at your quick wit!

  33. Thanks for another gorgeous post with great information and inspiration! You asked if we have favorites – I’m not sure I do but I’m going to put a link (marble quarried in Alabama) with a marble tile pattern I think is interesting called the Basketweave with grey dot. I love the offset brick pattern tiles and herringbone patterns too.
    https://am3stone.com/collections/mosaics/

    I’m getting ready to do some kitchen updates too and I would love to use tile backsplash, but I am a bit leery of it because I despise cleaning grout. I wax the grout in my showers to make cleaning less difficult, but still I just don’t know if I want to clean food and oil splatters from grout. I’m doing some deep thinking….
    Oh by the way, I think a black commercial style range would be a fine look. I know whatever you choose will be smashing! 🙂

  34. Great post Laurel! I think the white countertops don’t break up the space between the two rooms (from the angle you provided in the photo) as much as the black. There’s a lot to take in from that angle and the black seems to createa more visual clutter (not the right word but you know what I’m trying to say).

  35. My favorite is your favorite! I love your taste in backsplashes—there were only two that were too busy for me.

    I went with plain subway tile ordered from the original subway tile company. The tiles are nice and thick and come in different shades of white, so I was able to get exactly the right shade for the Carrara marble countertops. My house is very ordinary architecturally, so some of the really beautiful kitchens and materials you highlight would look bizarrely out of place. But I do love looking at them!

  36. Wonderful information once again! I, too, love the classic look of the Carrara marble tiles and mirrors with the medallions. The mirrors at the end of the cabinets is a great idea, Laurel.Small kitchens need sparkle 💖. Can’t wait to see it.

  37. Laurel,
    I look forward to each of your blogs. You bring excellent advice and inspiration for creating classic designs and I love your presentation !!!
    It will be fun to watch you create the renovations in your new home. I have been a fan for years and look forward to more great posts.

  38. First, thanks to Kristi for the description of the Brooke Cole Interiors kitchen. I looked on her Instagram and you can see that kitchen in her 12/30/21 post. Also in that post is an example of a curved marble backsplash behind a stove. Laurel, your kitchen is going to be so beautiful! I love the direction you are going. It’s wonderful that you will be partnering with Paul Montgomery and that you found an excellent contractor. I adore the mural in the entry way! I know whatever backsplash you choose will be just the right one. It’s so fun to go on this journey with you as you make changes to your beautiful home. Your blog is my favorite of all time :] I have learned so much from you (and your amazing readers), Laurel. Thank you!

  39. What a lovely post! Please create your kitchen with the black countertop (vs. the white) for all the reasons you mentioned. It looks so much more beautiful than the white countertop. Oh, a black range would be gorgeous! Oh, and that mural in your entry is devine! Oh, and mirrored cabinets to bring light and sparkle are also devine! Go girl!

  40. This is my first comment but I feel so sorry that some of your commenters are not happy people and that they are rude and childish.

    I love receiving your missives. They are full of great information on decorating, stories, and humor. You do a wonderful job of entertaining us!

    Thank you so much for the wealth of information you provide us in your unique style. How dare anyone criticize!

  41. Love your posts and look forward to viewing all your ideas.Home design and decor are among my favorite things.I am looking to see your designs going forward. Thank you, Laurel!!

  42. When we found our Retirement Home 4 years ago it had been well maintained but stuck in the 70’s!! We completely redid the whole house but the budget kept me from doing just everything. The space in our kitchen allowed me to choose an elongated white subway tile that has ‘movement’. I did 3 different patterns: Herringbone, brick stack and straight stack in the Butler’s Pantry Unless you look closely at these spaces you wouldn’t ‘see it’! I Love this detail on a tight budget!!

  43. I love the cara cara small tiles from Ann sacks
    But the via is different from most and would fit properly in your beautiful new home. In my opinion

  44. Hello Laurel, I love either the marble or soapstone counters, and you have already explained your position on the potential upkeep. For the backsplash my favorite is the marble tiles, perhaps set with thin or invisible grout, followed at some distance by the slab approach. As I have explained before, herringbone patterns, either diagonal or rectilinear, do not look bad but they interfere with my sight and make me uncomfortable. At the risk of turning into one of your disagreeable commenters, I do not personally favor those rounded backsplashes. They are to me overly elaborate and (I hope) a short-term fad that will disappear soon; those kitchen sinks remind me instead of headboards or bathroom counters. By the way, your photos and words have inspired me to consider again whether there is anything I can do to spiff up my very tired kitchen, although the stainless counters and white subway walls are probably the only two features I would keep.
    –Jim

  45. This was a great post with so many great ideas. It makes me want to renovate my kitchen again. I do not understand why anyone needs to post ugly things. They need to get in with their life in a healthy way. Excited for your renovations

  46. I just installed a honed marble countertop in my condo kitchen on top of baby-blue cabinets. The backsplash will be marble tile.

    The honed marble is just lovely!

  47. Laurel, what a fabulous post. My kitchen reno (as well as mud room, backstairs and powder room) will be finished next week and your blog helped me along the way! I am doing boring subway tiles for the backsplash – but since I have uppers it isn’t as much wall as yours. Love the soapstone – definitely balances it better and can’t wait to see when it is done. Thank you for all of your suggestions it gave me a lot to think about.

  48. So excited to see your new kitchen! I love your design with the black honed marble or soapstone, black and white floors, and marble backsplash! Love the black and gold lantern! Your kitchen is going to be a classic. I also love the color that the mural will provide. Perfectly balanced. Can’t wait!

  49. What’s the best way to end subway tile at the countertop and cabinet? Would you use Jolly trim, 2″x 6″ bullnose, or schluter? I’m remodeling my kitchen and people never talk about this. Unfortunately, the tile company were going with doesn’t have 3×6″ bullnose for the ends so it will have a nice clean continual run.

  50. Good morning Laurel,
    How exciting that you’re going to be working with Paul Montgomery. This is wonderful! Ever since you stated you wanted to do a mural in your foyer I’ve been thrilled. I just love murals. I’m happy you found a space in your home to incorporate one.
    Now on to backsplashes. In my new kitchen I’m doing a butcher block countertop. It will add to the cottage vibe I’m going for & it’s affordable for me.
    I would love to recreate the look of the countertop material going up the back wall & topped with a ledge/shelf of also the same material. Similar to the picture of Jean Staffer’s kitchen in her showroom.
    But I don’t know how to do that with butcher block. Using another slab of butcher block might be too thick to use as a backsplash.
    If you or any of you fabulous readers have any suggestions on how to achieve the look I’m going for, I’m all ears.

  51. Good morning Laurel,
    I love the direction you are taking with your kitchen. Can’t wait to be with you on
    this journey.

    Pat

  52. I should have my new kitchen countertop installed in a couple of weeks(I chose “Black Tempal because it looks like soapstone). OK, call me crazy but I’m considering tin ceiling material for my backsplash. It comes in many different patterns and “colors.” Also considered Ann Selke tiles, Highland Park tiles, Color Market tiles in case anyone wants to check them out.

  53. Laurel, I am ecstatic this morning because I have white shaker cabinets and ALSO chose a soapstone countertop and rectangular marble tiles for my backsplash- As a devoted reader and customer of yours, I feel like the teacher just have me an A+! I wish I could send you a photo. And I wanted an “unkitchen” 8 years ago but the damn builder DID look at me like I had 6 heads and in the end I was only able to decline one end cabinet- next time, I’ll get my way, lol. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  54. I forgot to ask below – when you do your countertop stone research, would you share about it with us? I have wanted soapstone for 30 years. 🙂 We do cook a lot, however, and I have heard that cooking grease spatters can stain it – maybe sealing prevents. Patina doesn’t bother me, however. I have been trying to see if there are other stone alternatives like honed black marbles or granites with different upkeep requirements for a similar look.

  55. What a great post, Laurel! I love backsplashes, and there are SO many options. When I redid my kitchen 8 years ago, I considered so many different backsplashes that it took almost a year to finally decide on one, a hand-made Walker Zanger with a pencil liner.
    I love the contrasting dark counter top as well. You might consider honed Jet Mist granite if you don’t go with soapstone for whatever reason. It’s got a very similar look–black with subtle white flecks that almost look like powdered sugar. I have it on my wine/coffee bar.
    Loved the “quote” from Louis XIV–I’m amazed that I could understand it after all these years. (I guess my college French teachers did a good job.)
    You are well on your way to a new kitchen–it’s going to be amazing and I’m looking forward to following your progress!

  56. Such a beautiful roundup of backsplashes! Another elegant one that is in my top 3 favorites is one from Brooke Cole Interiors that she had in her last home that I have never seen elsewhere. She continued the same marble from her counters up under cabinets, but above her gorgeous stove she had wallpaper (Gracie Studios, I think) with a thick glass over the top. Crowned it with a copper hood. Stunning. I could look the picture of it all day. Also I can’t understand why people must be so nasty. I am sorry that they take it out on you, when all you do is try to share beauty and humor with us.

  57. The Carrara Marble is classy and perhaps timeless. Subway white tile never goes out of style but the mirrored glass tile I am thinking is a fad. It would be a mistake in your lovely design for a kitchen.

    P.S. My mother always said, “if you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” Warmly, Sara Jane
    Charleston, SC

  58. Good morning! The mock up is a great way to compare the countertops and see the black top is better plus less hassle wondering if all the white shades of cabinets, flooring and ctop will coordinate. Lots of choices for your backspash that are beautiful. I have forgotten if the mural is what you have or if you will be getting a new one. At any rate, not so busy tile to compete when looking that direction. Off topic, but I have been wondering about the cabinets below the mural from the beginning of your renovation journey. First, I love pretty much all shades of green but when I look at the picture I wonder how those cabinets would look the same color as the kitchen cabinets or black to work off planned kitchen ctop…

  59. Another great and informative post, Laurel. Beautiful kitchens, all of them. But what I really wanted to say is that I enjoy your humor so much–sometimes your cleverness astounds me and makes me laugh out loud. And if people don’t like it, after they take their bubble bath, they can just hit unsubscribe! I don’t know why people feel the need to police and correct a blogger’s expression–they can just move on and live their lives. Have a nice day–spring is not too far away!

  60. Laurel, I agree – so many great photos of backsplashes – how to decide? When we did our kitchen the wall and backsplash treatment was the hardest to pick. I agree with one of the comments that while mirror is very pretty, the up-keep is a royal pain. I curse the big vanity mirrors in our bathrooms all the time. So I vote for marble. It is beautiful and adds that bit of splash (no pun) and its easier to care for than if on counter tops. I also like the black – and since it will be you in your place most of the time – you will see it and love the way all the colors work together. If you go white, you may always wished you had chosen black – because the white doesn’t give that extra “snap” you are looking for. Regardless, your kitchen will be gorgeous. One final comment – I am so sorry that some people feel they have to be snarky. It seems that the act of just being nice or kind has been forgotten on social media. The anonymity of social media has brought out the worst in too many. So I am sorry. I very much enjoy your posts and look forward to them.

  61. Laurel I can’t believe some folks have nothing better to do than to come to your blog and complain about your writing! We love you! Loved your explanation about your black counter mock-up and why it looks better. Of course you are right: go with what you like when you’re in the kitchen. Happy for you and the mural guy and your excellent contractor RICK!

  62. Backsplash – if you must have one I would go with the solid cararra marble in messy sink/food prep areas and mirror in the non-messy places. The kitchen is small and you will no doubt be doing some aesthetic/functional placement of items on the countertops. Having a plain backdrop for these will reduce eye clutter and give a classic clean look. When I renovated my kitchen I did carrara marble all the way up to cabinets in work areas. It has worked well but I do love the classic mirrors with the medallions in some areas. So dressy and party ready!!!

  63. The mock up of your proposed kitchen looks wonderful Laurel. In my past two homes I had glass splash backs which worked really well. This time the kitchen designer suggested mirror. The mirror looks so good reflecting extra light and the huge tree and it’s flowers which sit in the back garden. The mirror is difficult to look after and whilst after cleaning I take a step back and think how fabulous it looks, two days later I am thinking about ripping it out and replacing. My advice to renovators is that if you cook in your kitchen stay away from mirror splash backs no matter how pretty.

  64. PS that blackish marble with the white lines is Nero Marquena, from Spain, and the hottest thing in the shops right now. I’m doing a checkered floor (diagonal please) and using the matte tile version of that for the black.It looks really hot as a countertop in severe modern settings or waterfall counters. or floors. Cheers!

  65. Great post! Two things — first of all there is ceramic tile that looks exactly like the honed marble — really — esp. in the small rectangles, the herringbone, etc. And — as for the mirror, my rule is to be aware of what will be reflected and also due to keeping it clean and everything I would go for an antiqued, veined possibly even slightly tinted mirror. I love that mirrors are in fashion; even a mirrored tray for champaign flutes or candies . . .anyway, great post I am redoing me kitchen right now so thank you!!

  66. Apart from admiring many of the pics, two things: your mock-up of your kitchen with the black counter does indeed look better, for exactly the reasons you state, of balance. The thing is, of course nobody is going to stand there and think long thoughts about why it works better, they’re just going to feel the rightness of it. So that’s the way to go.
    Second, the oops moment! For the French to match your translation, the end has got to change to “admirer mes belles jambes de danseuse” — since it’s his legs you’re referring to. By the way, a man’s “danseuse” is a way of referring to his expensive mistress, and by extension to any expensive passion (for cars, wine etc).

  67. I have been a fan for years. I look forward to every new posting. I hope you and Rick are still friendly AFTER your kitchen is done (speaking from experience). LOL. Good luck!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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