Beyond the Basic Backsplash

Totally tiled walls, island façades and niches heat up kitchen design

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Classic subway tile still reigns supreme when it comes to homeowners’ top kitchen backsplash pick. “But they’re experimenting more with size,” says Donna Peterson, design manager at San Diego Marble and Tile. “Everyone used to ask for the original, the 3-by-6-inch tiles, modeled after the New York subway tiles. Now, subway tiles in 3-by-8, 4-by-12 and 6-by-12 are gaining popularity.”

Also different is how homeowners are using tile—whether it’s subway tile or something more decorative, graphic or colorful. Today’s most stylish tile installations go beyond eating up space between countertops and cabinets or protecting walls from errant food splatters. Now, tile makes a statement on the front of kitchen islands, in niches and on entire walls, injecting that splash of personality your kitchen craves.

Here are three applications you might want to consider.


“Other than backsplashes, more homeowners are tiling the island where people sit and kick the wall,” Donna says. Who knew the cabinetry in front of the bar stools would take such a beating? Tiling that space offers more durability—plus, if you’re dying to go graphic but not committed to putting pattern everywhere, the island façade wears a burst of color or pattern well.


Painting one wall a bold color or adding a vibrant wallpaper instantly turns it into a feature wall. Well, tile can do the same thing if you install it from countertop to ceiling or floor to ceiling. Try this bold move if you’re up for something sophisticated and simple in look but bold in choice and execution.


The niche provides the perfect recipe for functionality and storage and just the right amount of standout architectural style. It’s a great space to incorporate surprising color or pattern, especially in a kitchen that’s mostly white. Or keep your nook monochromatic but add dimension by altering the shape and/or size of the tile you use. A third option is to carry the kitchen tile into the niche for a streamlined, sleek look.

backsplash subway tile

san diego marble and tileLearn more: Contact San Diego Marble & Tile.


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