Kitchen backsplash tile should complement, not overwhelm, the kitchen design. If the kitchen is calling out for simplicity, give these tile designs a try.

A tile backsplash is more than just a practical part of the kitchen; it’s part of the kitchen design. When the kitchen needs a resting place for the eye or busy tiles will overwhelm the rest of the kitchen, a simple backsplash design is required.

Subway Tiles with Subtle Detail

Subway tiles are always a fantastic choice for kitchen backsplashes. Longer than they are wide, a subway tile will draw the eye along the counter’s length for a clean and classic look. If plain subway tile is too simple for the kitchen, consider using handmade subway tiles instead.

Handmade tiles will have subtle variation from tile to tile in size, texture, and color. The result is a simple backsplash that is anything but boring. If a little more detail is desired, consider using a ceramic tile embossed with an abstract design and glazed a single color. Tile manufacturers like Pratt and Larson of Portland, Oregon, have created subway and other tile shapes with imprints rather than relief. The result is delicate detail that will fit into any kitchen, from traditional to contemporary.

Stone Tiles with Rustic Charm

Tumbled marble backsplashes have long been a popular choice for kitchens, but sometimes their soft texture doesn’t add enough to the kitchen by itself. Consider stepping up the design slightly by using a tumbled travertine tile instead.

Travertine has a rustic appearance, filled with naturally occurring pits and holes. Select a stone with a great deal of natural variation from piece to piece, and sort the tiles before installing for the most pleasing blend of color. The deep pits and fissures, combined with the shifting color, will add depth and natural beauty to the backsplash.

Mosaic Tiles with a Matte Finish

Mosaic tiles have universal appeal with their ability to combine multiple tiles in one design. Since polished mosaics can catch and scatter light for a dramatic effect, why not tone the look down with matte mosaics for a simple backsplash? Look for combinations of honed stone in various colors or honed rock mixed with beach glass for extra depth. Honing dulls the color of the materials, so the design won’t be flashy but will still draw the eye with the natural variation of the materials used. Make sure to choose a color palette of colors that adjoin one another on the color wheel to avoid a jarring contrast.

To keep the design simple, use mosaics over the entirety of the backsplash. While this may sound busy, the softly shifting colors absorbing, rather than reflecting, the light will offer a rich focal point in the kitchen without taking center stage.

No matter what backsplash tiles are selected, make sure they are harmonious in color and texture with the rest of the kitchen design to avoid competing interests. A simple backsplash should add to the rest of the method by adding depth and subtle interest, not by drawing the eye for its own sake.


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