Kitchen splashbacks are a perfect example of how kitchen planning and interior design have become intertwined. Lifted from a purely practical role – it is, after all, about protecting the walls from hob and sink splashes – these days, the kitchen splashback is also more of a statement piece, sporting a new choice of luxe materials along with the revival of some old favourites.
In addition to worktops, it’s quite often the first element that’s noticed when walking into a kitchen, so designers are keen to make it count. Kitchen splashbacks are a key decision in a project,’ explains Alex Beaugeard, design director at McCarron &Co. ‘As vertical surfaces, they carry significant design weight and there is a real appetite to experiment at the moment. I’m seeing artwork installed behind glass and resin bronze as well as wallpapers. Some materials such as marble, are prone to discolouring but they’re so beautiful we are prepared to forgive them.’
So, what’s on trend for kitchen splashbacks? Pairing metallics, such as copper or gold, with crisp marble work surfaces is proving popular, as is expanses of antiqued or smoked mirror to make even the most compact design seem lighter and more welcoming. Similarly, black and grey stone splashbacks, which are widespread on the continent, are becoming more prevalent in the UK, as they’re the perfect partner for furniture in pale grey or chalky white tones, and tiles are very definitely back in fashion. Brightly toned toughened glass is very popular in contemporary kitchens as they can inject definition and character to minimal schemes without over-powering the room. What’s more almost any bold colour looks stunning from bright and vibrant red to smart and sophisticated navy blue, or why not freshen your kitchen up with quirky, patterned tiles, or even wallpaper?
Whatever you choose, play to the material’s strength, adding a protective cover for less lardy finishes and backlighting or down lighting to make the most of texture and fine stone patterns.
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Introduce layers of texture, colour and pattern with unusually shaped tiles - they are especially effective in preventing runs of cabinetry creating an overly uniform look. Mix shades within the same palette for a subtle finish. Use a Moroccan-inspired collection to bring an exotic touch to deep-blue painted furniture, or channel the coastal elements of New England for a splash of seaside chic.
Opt for a graphic print or photo imaging on a splashback to make an impact. Use it to create a feature wall in a neutral kitchen scheme and it will instantly make your sink area stand out from the rest of your kitchen. Once installed and sealed, clean with regular household products. Make sure to regularly buff your polished stone after cleaning to maintain the shine.
Similar wall tiles
Use your splashback to make a statement that will sing out against a white backdrop. Choose a smooth glossy surface if you have a modern kitchen. Consider acrylic, a material that is consistent throughout, UV resistant and available in a good choice of colours. Think carefully about colour. A splashback that looks great in a showroom many not appear the same under the lights you have at home, so ask for a sample to compare.
If money is no object, consider bespoke designs, hi-spec composites or richly veined marble. Use book-matched marble to allow for diverse design possibilities alongside the inherent beauty of a natural material. Opt for matching worktops for a seamless look. Marble will need extra attention as it also reacts to acids, such as lemon juice, so be sure to neutralise them with water as soon as possible then wipe away.
Similar pendant light
Not On The High Street
Give your splashback an extra dimension by using low-iron toughened glass. For glass with a smart twist, add illumination. Ask your glass supplier to add a slim prefabricated frame for LEDs. Opt for lighting that will change from cool white light when you’re cooking to ambient warm tones when you’re dining or relaxing afterwards.
Embrace the trend for wallpaper, pattern and the ubiquitous feature wall in your kitchen. And why stop with just one material? Choose simple square or metro tiles to place behind the sink or hob area and striking wallpaper for the rest of the room. Alternatively, opt for a glass panel over your wallpaper to protect it from any stains, splashes or spillages.
Add personality and character to a functional space by hanging wallpaper instead of tiles. Fabrics and wallpaper are an important part of any decorating scheme, yet they're often an afterthought in the kitchen. Prevent your kitchen from looking too clinical with a statement design that draws the eye and turns the cooking zone into a focal point. Make sure you seal it with glass, acrylic or a specially lacquered coating.
Portobello from Sanderson at Fashion Wallpapers
Give your kitchen an industrial element with stainless steel. Hot from the professional kitchen, it’s hygienic, easy to maintain and any scratches or wear and tear will simply add to its character. Opt for an almost seamless combination of worktop, sink and splashback for a sleek look, or choose a brushed finish for a more glamorous version. If you fancy something warmer, consider hammered copper from a specialist.
Combine patterned tiles to create an eye-catching splashback. As well as looking for tiles in the same size, look for a theme that will hold the look together. Opt for designs that will add depth and character to a scheme and vintage charm to painted units. Have a look at companies that supply pre-mixed tiles - there’s a great choice of patterns around at the moment, many inspired by vintage Moroccan and Mediterranean designs and with suitably weathered finishes.
Keep it simple with classic square tiles for a timeless way to shield your kitchen walls from water and food splashes. Incorporate a hanging rail for a bistro-feel that wouldn’t look out of place in a chef’s kitchen. If you’re looking for an affordable option, ceramic tiles offer the best value for money and suit any style of kitchen thanks to the myriad colours, patterns and designs on offer.
Who said a kitchen should be neutral? A lime green sleek glass splashback adds a touch of fresh colour to this grey and white kitchen while sticking to the ultramodern style of the units and worktop.
Stone tiles allow for diverse design possibilities the inherent beauty of natural material in a herringbone pattern is a great way to showcase variation and veining creating not only a practical splashback but also a feature wall. As all stone is porous to some degree, it will require sealing when it's installed to prevent staining, and to be resealed at intervals. Marble will need extra attention as it also reacts to acids, such as lemon juice, so be sure to neutralise them with water as soon as possible then wipe away.
Using a swatch of luxury wallpaper, fabric or a painted pattern is an easy way to inject colour and life into a kitchen design. Covered with toughened glass, making sure it's low iron to avoid a greenish tinge, Perspex, or protective lacquer, it's a choice that can be just as practical and wipe clean as more traditional splashbacks. Alternatively, keep wallpaper completely moisture-free, and prevent it from coming away from the wall, by sandwiching between two sheets of glass.
Mosaic wallpaper by Bien Fait Parisin from Maison M
Camille Hermand Architectures
An elegant way to reflect light without using mirror or metallics, a polished plaster splashback has to be planned and installed in advance of the kitchen being fitted.The plaster can be almost any colour you want and will be mixed on site before being applied to the wall and allowed to dry. Once polished, it's usually sealed with wax and can withstand light splashes, just wipe clean with damp cloth. While fairly hardwearing, chips can't be repaired, so it's worth protecting it with clear glass in busy areas.
Polished plaster splashback
New York NA S3 from Roundhouse
Glass tiles are a great choice for most spaces as they won't mark, are easy to install and keep clean and available in a wide variety of colours and finishes.These large format tiles are made from copper foil encased in glass to ensure they stay gleaming and won't require sealing - just score and snap or shape with a tile cutter, fix into place and grout to create a heat and water-resistant splashback. Wash with water, a normal spirit or alcohol-based glass or window cleaner and a soft cloth to avoid scratching.
GW-CLF6030 Copper Leaf, the Glassworks range, Original Style
Timber comes in many varieties, from durable oak, to those that have natural oils that make them more water-resistant, such as iroko. Wood splashbacks will need regular oiling or waxing to keep them protected against stains and it's best to avoid installing wood around hob areas as it can scorch. As timber can be cut on site, there's no need to wait for templating. Hardwoods are especially resilient, water resistant and hard-wearing but they'll need to be conditioned and acclimatised before fitting to prevent shrinkage and splitting.
Hand-sanded salvaged teak strip wood from Retrouvius
Too many elements can crowd a small kitchen and one of the neatest solutions is to choose the same material for splashbacks and worktops. Stone, laminates such as Formica, stainless steel, and composite materials including Corian, Silestone and Caesarstone, are all suitable materials, and some of these can be specified with inset sinks in the same material for a totally seam-free finish.
Macassar Kitchen in ebony from Smallbone of Devizes
These snazzy green and blue metro tiles are a bold example of how to make a splashback the main focal point of your kitchen. The bright and modern kaleidoscope of tiles laid brick-bond style stand out beautifully against the mix of white and grey contemporary units. Using accessories in matching shades will draw the eye to the splashback, making it work even harder as a star feature of your room.
The subtle pastel tones of this tiled splashback blend perfectly into a pretty and petite kitchen. The gentle rippled sheen of the design reflects a tactile patterned light into the room, punctuating the white walls, units and accessories and keeping the small space light and bright. From the full height of the extractor fan, the tiling continues behind the sink for an easy wipe-clean surface across the entire wall.
For something completely different, this kitchen‘s splashback and units have been upcycled from treated, old wooden fruit boxes. This quirky wooden splashback essentially runs from the worktop full height to the ceiling. Teamed with reclaimed wire school lockers, reinvented as open shelving, this look is vintage meets industrial. The unique theme is finished with a zinc-top dining table and a variety of antique chairs.
Similar reclaimed wood fruit boxes
Here, a contemporary plain white kitchen-diner is given character with deep teal metro tiles and a black worktop. A quirky wall-to-ceiling blackboard is a fun addition and extends the striking scheme into the open-plan room. In an all-white open-plan scheme like this one, the blue splashbacks function as a point of difference, separating the cooking area from the dining space.
Splashbacks don't have to make a splash in the kitchen. If you prefer to keep things understated, use a piece of Perspex behind your cooker or worktops. This modern kitchen is brought to life with blocks of bold, hand-painted colour on the cupboads and the focus remains there by keeping all other surfaces white. The Perspex is easy to care for and keep clean so still functions as a practical addition to the kitchen - but without drawing too much attention to itself.
The Plastic People
Here, reclaimed bricks are used over the whole wall to create a dynamic combination of industrial and retro style. The bricks function as a backdrop for a stainless steel extractor fan, worktops and large chef-style oven. Classic cream Shaker style units soften the whole look.
Similar shelving unit
Used more commonly as kitchen worktop material, granite works just as well as a durable splashback. Positioned between minimal white units and dark wood worktops, the overall result is a mix of traditional meets modern with an urban twist. Using marble in a single place like this also emphasises it and bring it to the fore. The warm grey is also a nice match to the stainless steel of the range cooker.
For sleek and modern style, glass is an attractive splashback choice. Here, pebble grey units are complemented by the soft blue half surround. A cream Corian worktop with moulded sink completes the streamlined look. Glass is a lovely, easy-to-clean surface unhampered by the grout of a tiled splashback. Its subtle sheen also makes it an attractive choice.
This printed vinyl allows you to turn any photograph into a splashback. Designed to stick on to the back of toughened glass, you can opt for the personal touch, such as a favourite view.
Wood Stacks design from Purldeco
Less is more in this contemporary Shaker-style kitchen. A splashback of glossy white metro tiles behind the slainless-steel range is a practical, budget-friendly solution, whilst also adding a touch of modern café style. The joy of bevelled tiles like these ones is that there tends to be less grout exposed so the splashback is easier to keep clean. Bamboo worktops inject warmth and colour.
Walls and Floors
Incidentally, changing your splashback is also an easy way to breathe new life into a kitchen without breaking the bank. So what are you waiting for?