When you think “backsplash” do you immediately think of white subway tile? The ubiquitous look is easy to install, easy to maintain, and easy to merge with multiple decor styles — there’s a reason it’s a tried-and-true standard! But if you’re looking for something a little more outside of the box, you still have options. Look past the ceramic tiles in subway, square, and mosaic shapes, and instead reach for one of these nine creative alternatives. All will give your kitchen a custom twist, with styles ranging from cottage classic to modern whimsy — and all are DIY-able with the right tools and a little research.
Terrazzo has had a recent resurgence in popularity, but the truth is terrazzo has been around for hundreds of years. Its durability and versatility for builds have made it an enduring classic. In her own kitchen, blogger Cassie Bustamante went for an earth-toned mix of large aggregate for her backsplash from Terrazzco. If you’re interested in trying to DIY the look, Keely Rust of A Beautiful Mess figured out a way to achieve a similar effect over your existing countertop and backsplash.
This kitchen design by Charlie Kingham Cabinetmakers cleverly uses a framed-out strip of brass in the high-splatter zone behind the range instead of a panel that runs along the entire back wall. This is a great way to incorporate more expensive materials without blowing your whole budget — and the feature also does double-duty for highlighting favorite pieces, like this show-stopping range.
Yes, technically these are still called tiles, but these stamped metal pieces are traditionally used on ceilings and not walls — making them a unique choice for backsplashes. Here, the tin tile in Kerry Maloney’s New Orleans home gives the space extra dimension and a little old-world charm. Tin sheets are thin enough to cut with snips, making cutting it to size and installing around outlets a breeze.
Mandi Johnson of A Beautiful Mess admits that the original vision for her cook space was subway tile, but that the walls in her kitchen would have required significant smoothing to make it happen. So she pivoted and ended up with a much more unique planked backsplash that only cost around $60 for her whole kitchen.
Mirrors are a textbook trick to making a space feel larger by bouncing light around the room. A way to leverage that trick but prevent your kitchen from feeling like a bathroom is to use an antiqued or mercury glass like designer Allison Crawford did in her own kitchen. You can go with pre-antiqued “slabs” or “tiles,” or you can try this smart technique for antiquing your own mirror glass.
Disco Ball Mosaic Mirrors
The color and pattern variability in wallpaper far exceeds tile options. Really make your backsplash a statement piece with a bold print. Removable panels — like the ones used here — are a renter-friendly option, but if you’re looking for something longer term, you can install large sheets of acrylic over the wallpaper to make it splatter-proof.
You’ve seen murals in bedrooms, bathrooms, and entryways, but you might not have thought to paint one in your kitchen. Renter Laura Horstmann brought her colorful sensibilities into her kitchen with a painted mural that echoes design elements from around the rest of her home. Make your painted mural a little more durable by using high-quality paint in a semi-gloss finish, which is easier to wipe down.
Your backsplash doesn’t have to be serious. Creating a chalkboard backdrop invites you and guests to interact with your home in a new way. Paint it once, then scrawl recipes, shopping lists, or even tile designs infinitely.
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