Desperately seeking backsplash help for light granite counter!

fun2learnFebruary 26, 2011

I'd appreciate any advice, photos, suggestions, etc. you can give me to help me design a fantastic backsplash--I'm having a hard time! We recently did some minor remodeling that gave me an excuse to get a new countertop! I had a "harvest cream" granite countertop installed a few weeks ago, but so far, it doesn't look quite as fantastic as I'd hoped, and it is proving VERY difficult to find a backsplash tile (either natural or man-made)that looks good with my the granite AND my 10 year-old honey-spice maple cabinets (I will post photos below.)I am really hoping that just the right backsplash will "tie it all together" and make it all look gorgeous. I know there are lots of you great,helpful folks out there with good ideas. And I've been looking at this for too long--I need some fresh eyes--yours!

Part of the problem is that the granite appears to be different colors from different angles, lighting, or distances! From a distance, and with daylight shining in, the overall color of the granite appears to be mainly grayish white with grey veins. It even appears to have more of a cool-blueish cast to it with daylight shining in. Up close, or at night, the whole thing looks more creamy or ivory overall, and you see the soft golden veins running through it, as well as the grey. Also, I'm discovering that if I pick a tile close to the color of those golden veins, it is too close to the color of my cabinets, and it just seems to blend into the cabinet color too much. The granite is a bit busy, so, I don't think I should pick any tile or stone that has a strong pattern of its own that would "fight" with the granite! Yet, I don't want the backsplash to be boring! HELP!!! My style preference is traditional/country/eclectic. I love lots of different styles- so I'm open to almost anything except overly fussy and ornate or ultra modern. I love subway tiles (especially the expensive (sigh) handmade ones with the crackle finish and overglaze) and glass mosaics and tumbled travertine! I'd love any suggestions you might have to help me make the kitchen look like the expense of that granite and the backsplash was worth it! Thanks so much in advance.

Here is an overview of my kitchen showing how grayish (or blueish) white the granite appears from a distance. (The floors need refinishing and are going to be redone in a gunstock color (a medium reddish- brown.))

In the photo below, you can see how the counter can also look more ivory. I was looking at that sample of "white gold slate", but think it might be too busy. What do you all think? I do like the colors in it, but I think the gray in it might be a bit too blue. I am open to a slate-if it is just the right one. (Also- that bisque dishwasher is going to be replaced with stainless (what else these days?) to match the range, soon. I taped construction paper on the backsplash to hide the distracting green paint! )

Here is a close-up with a sample board of tumbled white travertine. I covered up the bronze inserts with paper so as not to distract me too much. Do you think it is too pinkish-beige for my granite? Too boring?

Here is the same tile, from further back

Here is some "chiffon" crackle ceramic tile. Does it look too bright for the granite? Does it make the granite appear dirty by comparison?

I also looked at some Rixi crema tiles that seemed to be a better color match than the chiffon (a slightly darker and warmer ivory), but it just didn't seem to be that "special" like some of the other rixi colors--you could hardly see the crackle - but maybe you would with a whole wall full. (Sorry- I didn't take any pics of that one.)

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From your photos I think the first pic with the multi-colored squares would be very nice!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 1:45AM
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Hello ! have you thought about black himalayan slate tiles? they are beautiful in person and would add a nice contrast. you could also update your cabinet hardware to black! just a thought..........

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:06AM
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You know, I had a very similar problem when picking a backsplash. Everything I looked at seemed to compete with the granite, in all honesty. I'm a pretty simple person, so I ended up with a very inexpensive and plain ceramic backsplash (you can see my pics here. Keep in mind that I'm not thrilled with how the overall aesthetic of my kitchen came together (LOVE the functionality, just didn't plan the colors/design out that well.) But I think it would've been a mistake for me to go with a busier backsplash.

For the same reason, I think I like your third option the best. Although it is a tad bright... do they make it in more of an off-white tone? You could also go with something similar to mine, I think - something that complements and doesn't compete with your granite, which is the main star of the show, you know?


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:16AM
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Hi Fun2learn,

Your kitchen is adorable. I love that you are using
ORB. And your honey maple look to be in great condition.
I wonder if the yellow paint color is creating an issue.
The yellow walls are trying warm up the space and go great
with the honey oak but the granite it trying to cool it

All the options would be fine, the first is going to add
some contrast the others are going to be more subtle.
But there are a host of idea that come to mind. Budget,
style and what sings to your heart are factors.

Ideas to add to your folder.

This backsplash shows a mix of your cab, counter, floor
colors and a few more blended together to create art

Okay this only shows cool colors but you could do this
too. Some tiles would be the cool grey and a few others
could be the warm cream, ivory and even honey gentle
mixed in but using your the colors in your granite.

Here is a kitchen with similar counters, floor and cabinetry.

You could also have a backsplash that matches the counter
with a contrasting accent tile that would match the
honey oak.

A very simple subway with light cabinetry, light counters
and wood floors, And even yellow painted walls

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 7:18AM
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I do appreciate your help and for taking the time to respond! katie- I love your kitchen redo- I think your dark cabinets are gorgeous enough and contrast enough that your simple backsplash works well. May I ask the name of the tile? I like the subtle variation in color-I'd love to see it in person.
Larryghecht-I've never seen black himalayan slate tiles- do you have any links to photos? I will ask at the tile shop. It sounds intriguing.
Boxerpups- you are so awesomely helpful with your photos! I have just recently joined this forum and have noticed how often you help people with your photos-how kind of you to take the time to help. What a great resource your photos are. They give me encouragement that I can make this work. I am going to print out the photos and take them to a few tile shops and see if they can find some of them. I especially like photos 1, 2 and 4 (are 1 & 2 from the same kitchen?). Do you have any info (links, or whatever)that might help me find out what tile they used? I'd love to see a close up of number 4. Even number 3 looks intiguing--though would it look too busy with a busy granite, do you think? Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:21PM
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Hi Fun2Learn,

1,2,3 are NOT the same. Ironically 1 an 2 were recently
on a tile blog together but I collected these images
separately. One from Modwalls, the other Kitchen in a bag.
I wish I had more info for you on the 3#.

You might find some information or ideas from the links


Mosaic Tile Co.

Mosaics Source



    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:39PM
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Thanks for the quick response, boxerpups. I am heading out to the tile stores, so I appreciate it! I forgot to ask you--what is ORB that you mentioned in your first reply?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:46PM
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Hi fun!! I think Boxer might be right about the paint color. To me the yellow reads very light and pastel-y. I think a rust color or other darker warm tone will bring the room in and down and make it seem cozier (which the color of your cabinets already do, and they seem to be competing with the wall color.)If the other colors in the room complement the golden and cream tones in the countertop I think it'll read more like the cream you love in it, and less like the gray.
That being said, I like the first backsplash choice because of the deeper warm tones in it, but agree that the gray is a bit too cool and blue-ish. Can you find a slate that has more of the auburn-y brown color of those same ones you posted, without any of the funky gray?? Or even better, a more solid tile that is just the auburn/golden color?? That is the part of the slate that really makes your countertops pop, and that would let the busy pattern of the granite shine. Just don't get "matchy" witht the cabinets.
Boxer posted some great kitchens, and it shows very well how a counter like yours can be made to look more gray or cream just by changing the backsplash. So if warm and creamy is what you want for the countertops, thats the direction I'd go in the backspalsh and paint color.
But I would say DON'T try to match the cream, rather try for the golden color, or one shade darker, otherwise it's going to read kinda bland and washed out. If it were my kitchen I'd do a deep red or auburn brown slate. It would be bold for sure, but with a new paint color the cabinets and countertop would look really great, and cozy.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 1:15PM
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Oh wow! You are lucky to be only doing the backsplash and granite-your kitchen is adorable!

I love your granite, esp with the wavy penisula. Boxer's ideas are perfect and I'm sure the tile salespeople will help you out.

Our tile shops here help you with design, you just need to call & make an appt (and bring your cab/granite samples!).
Can't wait to see your finished kitchen--have fun! jealous you only need to make a few decisions lol!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 1:26PM
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this is what I was trying to explain....
new paint color:

darker backsplash:

Gotta love cut and paste in the paint program!!
good luck :)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 1:44PM
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One of my friends just build a house with a similar granite to yours, and she used the most delicious chocolate glazed subway tile as her backsplash. It is absolutley stunning. Not sure if it would work with your cabinets, though. Hers are an off-white with a chocolate glaze.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:04PM
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So sorry.

ORB is oiled rubbed bronze.

Forgive me, I use acronyms to avoid having to type to much.
(Boxerpups not British Petroleum)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:05PM
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Funny I was thinking red too. The red is not for you
Fun2Learn but maybe others who are just lurking on GW
might find it fun to see.

Or backsplash

Again this is not what you are looking for Fun2Learn but
it is just some kitchen eye candy for someone with similar
cabs but dark counters looking to be dramatic.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:14PM
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You ALL are totally awesome for helping (sorry if I sound like a teenager!) Great ideas and advice. You all are so right about the paint color--I can see it now. Thanks for taking the time to show me examples! (The existing paint is actually more of a gold- but looks yellow in certain spots and colors). I love those examples of the darker red backsplashes, boxerpups, with cabinets similar in color to mine. Red wouldn't match anything in my house, (I know you weren't suggesting that)but maybe a burgandy or maroon or rust would!

Noobee- I can't get over how that darker backsplash you did (in the cut and paste you did over my kitchen photo) makes the cabinets and granite pop and ties it all together. I love it! I think that seems to be heading in the right direction--though perhaps the exact colors and pattern need tweaking. I love the look! Though there isn't any actual brown in the granite, some of the garnet does appear brown-here and there. Do you think I'd need to have gray in the backsplash to tie in with the granite if I went darker, with mixed colors, like that?
Also, Noobee, how DID you do that cut and paste-is that a paint program that comes with windows or adobe photoshop by any chance? I'd love to try and play with that myself.

I have been visiting a few tile shops, and even the salespeople there have been having a hard time finding the right solution for me. One lady who was working with me is even a trained interior designer. She was thinking darker would work, too, but was having a hard time finding just the right tile. So I really appreciate your suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:47PM
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Hello again Fun... the paint program was already installed on the computer (I've used it on many computers over the years) Its pretty easy to use, try searching on your computer for it (I use windows.)

I don't think you need any gray in your backsplash if you don't want it, and it won't look like your granite isn't tied it. As long as there is either a complementary color (meaning 'not clashing' not necessarily 'matching' if that makes sense to you.) Plenty of people use white subway backsplashes with wood cabinets and black countertops and the white doesn't match or tie into either one!! If you see a garnet color or a brown thats close to it... or at one point you mentioned that there were golden swirls in the granite, so if you see something close to that color, thats what I'd go for. The more gray you add into the backsplash, the grayer the countertop is going to look, no matter what light its in, I think.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 7:02PM
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Thanks Noobee for the info. I did find the paint program on my computer. I'm going to try it now!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 9:20PM
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Fun2Learn---try this have the black himalayan slate for a mere quarter for each 4x4 piece. friend did his walk in shower with this and it is simply stunning!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:07PM
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thanks, Larryghect, for the great link! Wow- that slate was only $2.36 a square foot! It looks like a charcoal gray in the photo- or is it a true black? they had lots of other stones , so I had fun looking and getting ideas.
I figured out how to do cut and paste a photo of a tile onto a photo of my kitchen, so I will have to try some more out!
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 10:19PM
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