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Help with kitchen backsplash ideas that don't clash with new floor

Quentin Parker
2 years ago
last modified: 2 years ago

Our kitchen is a very low budget remodel in our first home. It's not a place we plan to stay forever, but we're trying to make it look as good as we're able. The area to be tiled is appx. 40 sq. ft. along only one wall which includes the backsplash area and the area behind the stove. Here are pictures of that wall, as well as the rest of the kitchen to get an idea of the overall style.







At first we thought we wanted a brick look, something more rustic/country looking. We've never really been drawn to the subway tile, but a brick look is at least sort of similar. After living with the kitchen for a year we're not so sure that's the right thing.



We thought about a patterned tile like this:


But now that we have the floor down we're kind of back to square one. The floor is very busy and it's hard to know what would coordinate without adding to the busyness or clashing with the pattern of the floor.

Any help would really be appreciated. I'm not good at visualizing the big picture and my wife is in the throes of indecision. A few more things:

- I don't want to do a mosaic or anything oddly shaped or requiring a more complex install (herringbone, etc). I'm planning to do this myself and I'm not a professional and not particularly good at this sort of thing.
- I know white subway is easy, cheap, and people like it but to me it just looks like a flip.
- We're looking for inexpensive tiles that won't look out of place with the vinyl floor and Ikea countertop so nothing really fancy.
- Our walls are Behr Swiss Coffee but the countertop is a marble look. Not really sure what we can do that won't clash with one of them and would tie it together better. Maybe a color other than white/cream?

A few more things so I don't get comments about what all else is wrong. I realize there are a lot of other things wrong with the kitchen that I don't know whether to address or just work with. The kitchen at present is much better than it was, but there are a lot of quirks still, the sort of things you deal with when you try to work with what's there instead of gutting it. We have that decorative cut to remove from the bottom of the upper cabinets around the sink. We have a window on the right that's several inches past and lower than the countertop, and a weird piece of window trim. We also have a gap between countertops and wall on the right side of the sink. It'll probably need trim. I can't figure out a better solution, but if anyone has any definitely let me know. Ikea countertops don't cut well and building up the wall could only be done a little before you have issues. I am also seriously considering removing the one section of countertop, possibly cutting the corner, possibly installing a new sink (apron front, thus eliminating that problematic front seam), and trying to get it all straightened out better. I really don't know whether angling the corner would look more awkward than the way it is; I suspect it would draw attention to the corner, which is why I left it.

We're making this kitchen better -- cleaner, newer, more convenient, liveable (it absolutely was not before) -- but not perfect.

We haven't replaced the stove yet, but will eventually. From what I've read here on Houzz stove hoods are a big deal to people here. We don't have one. We decided against it originally (honestly not thinking it was a big deal) because of the way the stove is not centered. I think a hood would look really awkward and draw attention to that. If we had centered the stove we would have had a gap on the other side not large enough for a cabinet and more filler to the right. We have enough filler as it is and wanted to make the best use of space for cabinets. If anyone has other suggestions I'd be glad to hear them. Because we decided to keep the old upper cabinets we were kind of stymied about what to do with the space above the stove. My wife wanted shelves which wouldn't be a good idea over the stove. It's just a blank space and I can't figure out any use for it, since the window is the focal point and things are centered around it.

If I need to start a different post for each question let me know.

I'll post more pictures in the comments; I'm having trouble putting a lot of them in one post.

Comments (240)

  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thoughts on this tile? It's not quite subway and not quite brick, and not very dramatic like some of the patterns we'd considered. Maybe it would tie in the grey on the counters and floor?







  • Therese N
    2 years ago

    Yes, use a dark grey grout about the tone of your cabs, so it looks more like mortar than tile grout.

    Quentin Parker thanked Therese N
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  • Holly- Kay
    2 years ago

    I love that backsplash choice. It will look so nice for you and be something that will be an asset when you sell.

    Quentin Parker thanked Holly- Kay
  • tartanmeup
    2 years ago

    On my screen, this option doesn't sing, sorry. To my eye, its texture (?) competes with the pattern on the counter.

    Quentin Parker thanked tartanmeup
  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @tartanmeup It's smooth to the touch, but do you mean the sort of mottled, brick look? Were you thinking a solid color? We tried a few solid white samples (both square and subway) but we ended up thinking it looked weird and too bright with the Swiss Coffee walls and grey in the counters and floor. Maybe a solid grey? This one just appealed to our original desire to do a brick look.

  • happyleg
    2 years ago

    I like it do you like it it would bring in the Gray butt it don't appear to be shiny maybe maybe shiny isn't what you want it is between a brick and and a tile

    Quentin Parker thanked happyleg
  • HU-187528210
    2 years ago

    I agree. It’s a drop too heavy for the kitchen. Your space is very light bright clean. I think you need a white tile. Which sounds very typical. But the right white will probably take some time to find. Keep sampling.

    Quentin Parker thanked HU-187528210
  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thanks! Yeah, we were having a little trouble with whites. Brick is what we had initially envisioned, so after that white seems a little uninteresting.

  • Therese N
    2 years ago

    Quentin, you still seem so reluctant to go ahead. Don't get me wrong - I am THE most indecisive person on the planet! You seemed interested in some kind of delft-type painted tiles, and also the brick as you've mentioned. Are you leaning more toward brick? What's got you hung up? What's your price point? I can help you shop.

    Quentin Parker thanked Therese N
  • dmpsd
    2 years ago

    I don't come to this forum often, but just read through your whole post. So impressed with the work you have done and can't wait to see the finished project.


    Quentin Parker thanked dmpsd
  • tartanmeup
    2 years ago

    @tartanmeup It's smooth to the touch, but do you mean the sort of mottled, brick look? Were you thinking a solid color?


    Yes, the mottled, brick pattern look. I don't think this tile pairs well with your marble-look counters. Firstly, on my screen, your counter looks like a cool white while the tile looks like a warm white. Secondly, the "mottling" competes with the veining. If going with a light tile, a solid one would be my preference. I'd look for a white tile that harmonizes well with the counter (more grey than cream?). Surely such a tile must exist? You mention the Swiss Coffee walls. Now, I know that painting can be a right pita but make sure your wall colour isn't limiting your hard finish options. Paint can be matched to anything which is why it should be the last element chosen. Harmonize the backsplash to the counter, cabinets and floor then reassess the walls, if need be. I think I'd also favour a matte over an overly glossy tile finish but it's hard to know for sure from pics. A bit of gleam can add just the right amount of interest in a room. I think I was initially picturing touches of copper in your kitchen. And again, please don't think of a plain white backsplash as "uninteresting". Not every element in a kitchen needs to be "interesting". Your kitchen already has a lot of interesting elements. A quiet backsplash can help visually balance those interesting elements. Apologies, but I forget what happened to your original idea of brick. Why doesn't it work? I found this site about red brick in kitchens. Granted, the company might be biased (and doesn't find it a difficult to clean backsplash material) but they have no qualms about it pairing well with marble.






    Rustic red brick paired with white and touches of green looks utterly charming to me:



    I'll repeat a picture I shared upthread. Low gleaming square white tile backsplash, marble counters, red brick accent wall and b&w checkerboard floor:




    Thinking of another kitchen I saw in a blog recently...I'll return with a link.

    Quentin Parker thanked tartanmeup
  • Me AGirl
    2 years ago

    I LOvE the kitchen!!! i would go with a light grey backsplash, brick style or so? ill post pixtures soon

    Quentin Parker thanked Me AGirl
  • Me AGirl
    2 years ago

    I just saw a post l, is that your oost with the light grey??? omg! i was going to suggest something very familiar. excellent choice!

    Quentin Parker thanked Me AGirl
  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I thought the squares were too much like a bathroom but we can revisit that idea. The white subway was is kind of boring and a lot of white to be on a whole wall when the rest is off white or grey/white. My wife vetoed the pattern/delft immediately as competing with the floor. So far we haven't been able to find any decent brick look tile that's cleanly and affordable. The grey seemed to bring it together, wasn't shiny or bold, and was the only thing we both agreed was okay. It's $4/sq. ft. because it's being discontinued, so it appealed to us for that reason also. Yes, we do drag our feet, but since these things are hard to change once done and a lot of work and expense it's better than making a quick decision and hating it. :)

    @tartanmeup I like that last picture you posted. I'm curious why you think a brick look would work, but not the more subdued grey, mottled brick look?

    @Therese N I guess we did really like the brick originally, but haven't been able to make that work so it's hard to make up our minds on something different. Especially since ideally we'd find something under $5/sq ft. Anyway, no real rush. There are plenty of other projects to keep busy with around here. :)

  • Me AGirl
    2 years ago







    Quentin Parker thanked Me AGirl
  • Therese N
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Where are you located? Try this site. You might just score something this way. https://www.diggerslist.com


    especially this https://www.diggerslist.com/items/144703/7-unopened-boxes-of-light-blue-rectangular-tile

    Quentin Parker thanked Therese N
  • happyleg
    2 years ago

    Those tiles go well with the kitchen towel. :)

    Quentin Parker thanked happyleg
  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @Therese N That looks like a great site. We're on the east coast. I didn't turn up anything in our area, but I'll keep that site in mind.


    @Me AGirl Thanks for the pictures! A lot of those tiles are similar to the sample I posted earlier and I do like them.


    Sorry to keep popping back up on here and still undecided. I appreciate all the help!

  • suezbell
    2 years ago

    The area behind the stove needs to be heat and fire resistant so stainless steel works well there -- the soother the better as that is easier to clean.

    https://www.frigodesign.com/product/stainless-steel-backsplash/

    The rest of the wall could be "old school" -- a single row of tile, perhaps with a top finishing strip, entirely beneath the electrical wall outlet -- and the wall painted above that.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0EegiwgA6s


    Doing that can enable you to more easily hang items such as a spice rack and/or colorful cast iron trivets -- both usable and decorative.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=large+colorful+cast+iron+trivet&client=firefox-b-1-d&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjV6IWxhPjxAhXFop4KHVzOB4QQ_AUoAnoECAEQBA&biw=1366&bih=615

    My personal preference would be to use a row of tiles that is a solid gray from within your countertop.


    Quentin Parker thanked suezbell
  • tartanmeup
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I'm curious why you think a brick look would work, but not the more subdued grey, mottled brick look?

    The subdued mottled brick looks like a near miss match colour-wise with the counter, imo. One white leans warm while the other cool. (To be clear, designers mix warm and cool whites all the time but it's rarely a good idea for most of us to do with hard finishes that abut in a kitchen.) The patterns of each tile don't sing together either, imo. Red brick is a different colour, much higher contrast, so looks like a more deliberate choice. The actual shape of the tile isn't a consideration at this point. But I agree with @suezbell above: you don't need a huge amount of tile here. I think that idea was expressed initially by a Pro as well.

    Make sure you're bringing home several tile samples at the same time so you can compare them. That's often the best way to at least get a solid direction. (My local tile shop doesn't charge me for tile samples if I'm willing to return them.)

    Quentin Parker thanked tartanmeup
  • Me AGirl
    2 years ago

    Go woth your gut! the damples your had loght grey were good.

    once you start overthinking, it wont be easier. trust your gut.

    Quentin Parker thanked Me AGirl
  • Looki Lu
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I agree with the previous posts about the backsplash not matching. It feels like a default tile. i get the look youre going for and so far youre accomplishing it…..but at this point its too many shades of grey and white. The backsplash looks dingy.

    i also agree with the poster who said go with a patterned tile. You need to distract and go bold to overcame all the colors going on. I would do a stylish tile over the stove, a pretty roman shade or reed rinsn shade and leave the backsplash under the cabinets white. the secind option is a white subway tile (which youre not fond of) in a pattern with a gray grout.


    ps- what about painting the fridge black?

    Quentin Parker thanked Looki Lu
  • torchreader
    2 years ago

    Do you need a full splashback? There's been a recent trend in the UK just to use an upstand or single line of tiles along the countertops, and a full splashback just for behind the cooktop. The wall is painted with an easy clean kitchen paint. Another idea is a clear glass splashback... you can put wallpaper of your choice behind it and change it later if you want to.


    Quentin Parker thanked torchreader
  • J D
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I really don't think you should remove any of the beautiful trim. This is a 1920s house right? You did a beautiful job choosing the checkered flooring. Appropriate for time period. The curvy trim is also so charming and perfect for the house. Probably original. Would be a shame to remove. Easily draw a template and I have a wood guy you could send it to if you want a replica for other side. I would consider creating doors for the upper cabinets. Regarding backsplash, I would personally do a 4x4 glossy white tile that has a little variation (not a ton like zellige though). Simple, yet appropriate for the home. Grey will look dirty IMO...need contrast with flooring. Also, I LOVE option I attached if it's white, not grey


    Quentin Parker thanked J D
  • J D
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Just looked through all the comments and many had the same thoughts as I did lol. One thing to keep in mind when doing historical renovations is what do the other rooms look like? What colors does the original bath have in it? What style of tile? Also btw yes you def need a hood...there are tons of toxins from stoves already, but not having a hood to vent it all is even worse!

    Quentin Parker thanked J D
  • Debra York
    2 years ago

    Brick tile that you either paint over a solid color or do the German schmear technique to, Stainless steel piece to protect the wall behind the stove.

    Quentin Parker thanked Debra York
  • Cathy Kiss
    2 years ago

    Sorry for piggybacking on this forum, but I didn't want to lose the photo of the kitchen backsplash posted by Me Agirl. I am also struggling with choosing the right kitchen backsplash. Could I please get details for the kitchen backsplash that Me Agirl posted, Photo 5 with the multicoloured tile. i think it would go well with our counter and flooring tying in white, beige bronze, and grey colouring. I will start a new posting next time. thanks

    Quentin Parker thanked Cathy Kiss
  • briandbec
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    OP, i admit i perused many of the posts, not all. i saw the grey tumbled 3x6 tile sample you posted and saw your last post that you are still undecided:

    I thought the squares were too much like a bathroom but we can revisit that idea. The white subway was is kind of boring and a lot of white to be on a whole wall when the rest is off white or grey/white. My wife vetoed the pattern/delft immediately as competing with the floor. So far we haven't been able to find any decent brick look tile that's cleanly and affordable. The grey seemed to bring it together, wasn't shiny or bold, and was the only thing we both agreed was okay. It's $4/sq. ft. because it's being discontinued, so it appealed to us for that reason also. Yes, we do drag our feet, but since these things are hard to change once done and a lot of work and expense it's better than making a quick decision and hating it. :)

    i relly liked it as soon as i saw it across the counter and the range.. its very attractive, doesn’t fight with the floor, is afforable and is not a ”builder’s spec” look look. i just don’t know why this isn’t done yet.

    historically, checkerboard was an expensive treatment is the Old World, but in America it communicates 1950s diner before Versailles drawing room. My point is NOT that i think the floor is a mistake. i like it in that room, but you already said this is not your final house, so resale needs to be in the back of your mind. Will interested buyers easily understand the subtle historical hint of checkerboard and brick veneer, and then if they do, appreciate it? If its a starter home for you, it may be a starter home for the next buyer, and it would be rather unlikely that many or any of the prospective buyers are art historians. Anyway, it seemes to me (perhaps in error since I missed posts) that you have a great solution but you are hesitating because you want to make it very representative of a specific period style that you assume everyone will understand. Never overestimate the ability of people to understand something bigger than the lowest common denominator. I would hate for you to have a house you want to buy but are locked in a contingency for selling a house that is waiting for that one specific buyer.

    Quentin Parker thanked briandbec
  • lenachristina
    2 years ago

    Quentin, I like what you have done with your kitchen thus far. I am not sure how handy you are. I know someone who is an artist who did the backsplash herself. It was such a mistake because it did not look professional and hurt her when she sold her house. If you are confident you can do a great job, then do it yourself. If not, perhaps a shot of color over the stove with semi-gloss paint or a large decorative item (non-flammable) in that niche above your stove.

    Quentin Parker thanked lenachristina
  • missenigma
    2 years ago

    Following

  • goodyear2009
    2 years ago

    If it was my house, I’d get some face brick in any color and paint it white. Won’t compete with veining. Uses texture instead for interest. And the shade of white can be of your choosing.

    Quentin Parker thanked goodyear2009
  • Dana Veach
    2 years ago

    For what it's worth, I personally like the grey "brick" tile you've selected. It seems to pull the grey from the cabinets and the darker squares of the checkerboard floor up "through" the countertops and "into" the backsplash, making all the greys "flow" and tying everything together. It might be different seeing them in person rather than on my computer monitor, but that's the way things appear to me on the screen anyway. I also like the slightly rough texture...it's more rustic and old fashioned as brick might be.

    Quentin Parker thanked Dana Veach
  • Therese N
    2 years ago

    Random: I saw this photo and thought of you

    Quentin Parker thanked Therese N
  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @Dana Veach Thanks! We liked it too, especially my wife. I can't say whether in person it's better than pictures because pictures are my best way to get a detailed look at the big picture, but we do like that it somewhat resembles the original brick look we wanted, without being bold or striking. At any rate, the tile I posted earlier was being discontinued and was on sale; it's gone now so it's no longer an option for us. It's possible we might find something similar that matches the grey in the counters a little better. Maybe something a little lighter.

  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @goodyear2009 and @Debra York We would love that if we could figure out a way to do it inexpensively.


    @torchreader The backsplash area is small enough that if we were doing behind the stove anyway we might as well do it all. The space between the upper cabinets and counter is less than standard.

  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @Therese N I love that fireplace, and old art with the blue and white. I know they're not a great use of space, but fireplaces always look so good.

  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @lenachristina I'm not particularly handy. Though I have done remodeling before and I do enjoy the work, I'm a mostly blind classical pianist who works a desk job by day, and I'm not especially skilled at this sort of thing. It's our first home and my first attempt at doing any of this on my own. There's a possibility my dad will be able to help me with the tiling at some point. Hiring it out isn't in the budget at the moment; as a last resort we would just stick with painted walls instead.

  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I appreciate all the comments. I haven't given this backsplash as much of my attention lately as I've been working on the more pressing need of getting the upstairs bathroom finished before our next baby is born.

    I have a few pictures of samples we've tried that have been suggested here.


    The marble look ends up clashing with the countertop no matter what tile we try. Better to use the same material or not attempt a match at all.


    Plain white subway is too white. The counters and floor are more grey and the whites are not bright whites; my wife vetoed that instantly.


    The same with the black and white hexagon that someone had suggested: it looks like a bathroom floor to me, but also our floors are actually more slate and grey.


    I need to get out to a large tile store that's a distance from us, I just haven't been able to yet. I'm still thinking a grey or brick would be best.

  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @J D Thanks! The house was built in 1895, so close. You're not the first who has said the trim should stay, so that's the plan right now. The cabinets do have doors; they've been in the garage for a while after I stripped the paint. It'll probably be easier to figure out a backsplash once they're back on.

    I can post pictures of the rest of the house. We did the entire downstairs in Behr Swiss Coffee just to get paint on the walls. We'd probably use more colors or wallpaper if we weren't planning to sell eventually. All the trim is dark stained and the floors are refinished oak. The downstairs bathroom is not original and unfortunately has no interesting tile. We plan to continue the checkerboard floor into the bathroom and replace the tile board on the walls with beadboard. Here are a few pictures.


    Through that doorway is a hallway which leads straight to the bathroom. To the left leads to the basement and a small pantry closet next to the bathroom.


    This is the kitchen as seen from the dining room.



  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    This is what it looks like as of now.






  • Quentin Parker
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    It probably doesn't look like much, but it's an improvement on what it looked like a year ago.






  • J D
    2 years ago

    Omg your living room is just gorgeous....so jealous

    Quentin Parker thanked J D
  • Holly- Kay
    2 years ago

    Oh my, how beautiful everything is! I wouldn’t ever want to leave!

    Quentin Parker thanked Holly- Kay
  • J D
    2 years ago

    Yeah there’s not much to go off of in that room in terms of inspiring the kitchen. If there are any unique items/colors elsewhere I’d love to see. Otherwise, I’d say just choose what you love. Amazing home

    Quentin Parker thanked J D
  • Dana Veach
    2 years ago

    I frankly think you've done a lovely job thus far! Don't sell yourself short!!

    Quentin Parker thanked Dana Veach
  • glschisler
    2 years ago

    Personally, I like your walls in the kitchen as just painted. And the rest of your home is lovely! You both have done a really good job with your updates. You should just get on with the cabinet doors! 😉

    Quentin Parker thanked glschisler
  • chinacatpeekin
    2 years ago

    It’s really lovely! I love what you’ve done. Bravo!

    Quentin Parker thanked chinacatpeekin
  • HU-187024607
    2 years ago

    I also have an antique house, not a square corner or level floor. I commend you for the work you have done on your home. It is a wonderful improvement and probably more carefully done than a so called pro would do. We have rentals so I've worked with many so called handymen who's work is not up to your standards. Be proud of what you've accomplished. Take samples of all your materials, and the pictures you've taken for the big picture and make a trip to the city. Visit tile stores, etc. and get a sample of something you love. Then go to the big box store (SHHHH) and get as close to the sample as you can. Good luck, don't give up.

    Quentin Parker thanked HU-187024607
  • cawaps
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    What a charming house! You've done great.

    I had somehow missed this thread up to this point, and I did not read all (or even a significant fraction) of the previous responses.

    I have a 1910 house and also don't like subway tile. But I wanted something that fit the era of the house. I ended up going with a simple (and extremely cheap) 4x4 white field tile capped with a contoured molding tile (that almost but doesn't quite match the field tile because I couldn't find a molding I like from the a manufacturer that did a 4x4 field tile that was 4x4 rather than 4.25 x 4.25. Adds to the charm). I have very few uppers, though.

    I think a 4x4 white (or gray, since you seem to think white is too stark) field tile with black or charcoal pencil liner would be cool. These all show a pencil liner with subway because that's what the popular kids are doing, but it would work as well with a 4x4 or other basic field tile.







    Quentin Parker thanked cawaps
  • Shaz Zee
    2 years ago

    Looks like you have the Ikea Erbacken countertop, so I’m going to suggest their matching laminate backsplash and painting the walls a soft grey. You might also consider a less dark, more greyish sage to the cabinet paint (& chrome handles).

    Quentin Parker thanked Shaz Zee