Kitchen & Bath Design News

MAR 2015

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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36 | Kitchen & Bath Design News | March 2015 By Andrea Girolamo Backsplash Artistry O pen up a design magazine from anytime pre-1990 and you'll see the infant stages of the backsplash: tile or laminate coun- tertops, creeping vertically up the wall a few inches to protect it from water or heat from cooking appliances. It was a fedgling area without much identity, solely meant to serve. But kitchen de- signers today have long since broken out of that thinking, adding vibrant colors, textures and patterns to a space once seen as purely functional. And, where countertops once dictated the material choice of the backsplash, now the wall itself has come to be seen as the canvas for an eye-catching backsplash, independent of the countertops used. This gives weight to the choices made by the de- signer to form a visual relationship and balance between the two spaces. This month, Kitchen & Bath Design News asked a group of designers to describe their material process in cre- ating backsplashes that not only bring the room together and dazzle the eye, but maintain a harmonious interplay with the countertops they touch. EVOLVING ART According to Sandra Tierney, CMKBD, CID of Escondido, CA-based Cabinets by Design, the backsplash is an area of the kitchen that's constantly evolving. "When I started my career 20 years ago, the backsplash formula was basic 6"x6" ceramic tiles laid on a diagonal with a few intermittent ac- cents and always a focal point behind the range or cooktop. No one could imagine what was to come," she says, noting today there's an almost over- whelming variety of materials from which to choose. "The hunt for the perfect back- splash is always the fun part," says Heather Pond, CMKBD, of Orleans, MA-based Mid-Cape Home Centers. "When I started designing kitchens in the mid-'80s, the backsplash was often an afterthought." While a classic white subway tile will always be in fashion, forward- thinking designers are putting new spins on the classics: sticking to perennially favorite colors, but in- troducing unusual materials to get a stand-out look. "I absolutely love using porcelain wood plank foor tiles," says Tierney. "It's unexpected and fun. Depending on the variety of granite, I'll often use the same granite from the countertop for the backsplash as well." Karen Kassen, CMKBD, of Kitch- ens Unlimited in Memphis, TN says: "I started in the kitchen design business in 1992. At this time, our company was not doing much with natural stone countertops. Many of the countertops that we did were lami- nate tops or tile. So, in many cases, the backsplashes would be a standard 4" laminate backsplash, or if ceramic tile was used, it would continue up from the countertop up the wall. In some bars and kitchens that we did, mirrored glass would be used. For the most part, if we did a backsplash it would be a very neutral ceramic 4"x4" square tile. It seemed like back- splashes were something that you had to address, but in most cases, were not an integral part of the design." Creative applications of tile, wood, metal, glass and more have made kitchen backsplashes – and their juxtaposition against other decorative features such as countertops – increasingly the artistic centerpieces in kitchen designs. Mixing natural stones with competing textures adds visual interest in this kitchen designed by Kimberly Larzelere of KL Interiors. Granite is featured on the countertops, with a laser-cut marble on the backsplash. Robin R. Fisher, CMKBD, CAPS of Robin Rigby Fisher created a focal point of Sonoma Tile nested within a traditional subway tile backsplash. Photo: Nick Garribbo

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