Should cabinet & backsplash tile match?

kgolbyFebruary 14, 2013

The attached photo shows the cabinets I've chosen for my kitchen remodel. The floor tile is not changing. I went to a tile store to start looking for backsplash ideas & these are the samples I took home. My idea is subway tile w/ decorative border at bottom. The honeycomb tile is for a niche above the range. Question - should I try and match the subway tile as closely to the cabinets or do the "cream colors" have to match? I'm not sold on the subway tiles so I have no problem w/ another choice. I really do like the small honeycomb tile. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!

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do u have your counters picked out??

first thought: if your subways match your cabs, to me it equals boring.
you need some sort of contrast
even with the decorative border, i don't think its "right"

there are better choices than "decorative border"

not feeling hex tile with your floor....or cabs...

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:41PM
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If you look at the finished kitchens here are GW, matching the backsplash to the cabinet color is very popular. This is particularly the case if you have a busy counter.
That said, some pick up a color in the counter and use that.
Rarely do you see a very dark color or the backsplash.
First though, you need to tell us what your counter will be.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Also, attaching a picture of the niche above range. New range will be SS & will not have back panel. I hope the quality of the photos is not too poor - using iPhone.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:25PM
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Here's a close up of the granite we've chosen for countertops - Bordeaux River. I'll post a pic of the one of the full slabs too.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:32PM
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Here's a pic of the full slab.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:35PM
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Holding the cabinet sample door.

Don't apologize for your opinions. That's why I'm posting here because I value your opinions. :)

This post was edited by kgolby on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 19:00

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:36PM
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I don't know what the answer is, but I've got to agree that I don't like the subway tile with your cabs. I do however, LOVE your granite with the cabs! You are on the right track, but I would keep looking for the backsplash.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:05PM
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I love your counters. Not really sure about your backsplash (or mine). Why don't you install cabinets and counters and decide on backsplash later. 9 months later and I'm still without a backsplash though...

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 8:08PM
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Ok, thanks for the honest responses. Truly appreciate the feedback. Back splashes are really hard to design - way too many options. I'm going to another tile store tomorrow that sells Encore Ceramics. There are a few styles on their website that I keep going back to.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 8:57PM
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Love your granite, and it's going to be gorgeous with those cabinets. Are the stained wood cabinets shown on the bottom staying, or are ALL your cabinets going to be the painted creamy ones?

Have to say, I'm not crazy about any of your BS choices. I looked and looked, and then gave it a rest when we did our kitchen. I'm glad I waited, as the one I choose just wasn't available when we finished kitchen. I would go on Houzz and just go through tons of backsplash pics, and create a folder of all the ones you love. (regardless of whether they would suit your granite or not), After a day or two of searching, you may see a trend in what you seem to like, whether it is colour, shape, texture, etc. that may help you narrow choices down when you actually go tile-shopping.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 10:51PM
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Yes, all the maple cabinets are going. They're builders grade so to me it's no big loss - some may end up in our garage.

I love and already have an idea book w/ all my favorite back splash images. I have to agree that I no longer like the samples I came home with today.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 11:19PM
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I LOVE your granite, and it's going to be the centerpiece so I would try to match the backsplash to the cabinets, with no accent tiles, and keep it simple so it doesn't compete with that gorgeous granite. However I think in your pic the subway looks too white compared to your cabinet color. Can you get a closer match?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 11:31PM
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Tinan, that's exactly what my husband said. Who knew he actually had some good design tips....ha!ha! ðÂÂÂ

I didn't have my cabinet sample w/ me when I went to the tile shop so I should be able to find a much better match. I will be sure to take cabinet w/ me. It's not a true ivory color which is what it's called. I think it has grey undertones - almost like a mushroom color.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:17AM
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granite is awesome....!!!!

i would pull out your favorite color in the granite and use that for the b/s.. you have a few to choose from and i think alll would go with the floor and cabs...keep it clean and simple, no deco pieces.....

you could always use the granite for b/s, depending on how much u need or use a piece behind cooktop or even use it for the niche above stove....just some thoughts....

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:34AM
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Ditto the others.....I think you could find a tumbled marble that would work well with your cabs and counter.

The one my MIL has would work well and I think she got hers at Lowe's or Home Depot.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:01AM
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When y'all are suggesting no deco tiles, keep it simple, are you suggesting the same in the niche? I've looked at back splashes w/ niches on & I really like the images that show the niches w/ a different color tile. For example, white subway tile along main wall & the niche has a small harlequin tile in blue & niche is framed w/ decorative border. If I did something similar y'all think that would be overkill?

Here is a link that might be useful: Image on

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:15AM
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I like your example. It works because they have blue on the accent tiles and also blue walls. Nice way to highlight the color element.
I would not like it as much if they just had a color in the niche without the other elements in blue.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:29AM
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Yes, I agree, ellendi. I plan on repainting my walls in my kitchen. Not sure of color yet but that's what I was thinking of using the niche tile to accent the color I choose for the walls.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Yes I think a different color in the niche would be nice, a slightly contrasting color perhaps a few shades darker. I meant no decorative tiles along the backsplash, it would create too many horizontal lines, with all the curves lines in the granite I think it would not go well. But I'd no expert decorator, that's just my opinion!

I tend to like rooms with one focal point, where everything else quietly complements it. So in this case I would certainly want that granite to be the focal point.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:32AM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions & opinions. Greatly appreciated. I'm off to another tile shop today so I hope to have better choices to ask for more opinions. :)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:42AM
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"My idea is subway tile w/ decorative border at bottom."

I'm not a huge fan of the "decorative border" style of bs so if this is what you want, I may not be the best resource for you. Full disclosure: as much as I love your granite, I would not have chosen it with your floor tile. But in case it is helpful to you to get a contrasting point of view let me try to explain why your approach may not give you the look you want.

Busy stones look better with quiet bs tiles, and quiet stones look great with more complex, busy bs tiles. It's all about balance.

In your inspiration image the (busy) deco tile sits on top of a (quiet) black stone in a room with a quiet floor, and they create "interest" (to the extent they do) by using several contrasting tiles (border, field, niche) to highlight individual bs areas. This is not your situation.

You have a busy floor that is staying put, and a really beautiful stone that has a lot of color and movement in it - super busy. For the sake of visual harmony, resist the temptation to choose a busy bs.

Unless of course that is what you want. If you like every inch of your space to pulse with decoration, go for it, but I'd wait, as others have recommended, till the stone is installed and you can better visualize what you've got.

If you love the border look you could always choose a quieter granite. With your current choices I would keep the bs monochromatic and pull the color from the stone. This is Casamood Vetro glass mosaic tile. Good luck!

Vetro Metalli in Platino

Vetro Neutra available in several sizes, mosaic, sfalsato, dritto..
Silver Lux mosaic

Silver Lux Dritto Tortora Sfalsato

Here is a link that might be useful: Casadolce

This post was edited by EAM44 on Sat, Feb 16, 13 at 18:12

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 5:22PM
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You make some valid points about floor & granite being very busy & I should stick w/ a calming bs. I love the images you attached. My favorite is the silver lux mosaic - OMG! It's gorgeous. I'm also attaching an image of the subway tile I was envisioning (minus deco border at top). Is this too much? And if this tile is appropriate should I go matte or glossy? I've found some tile at Ann Sacks that has a couple of colors that may match cabinets.

This post was edited by kgolby on Sun, Feb 17, 13 at 19:21

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 6:35PM
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The beveled subway tile is very pretty and not busy at all. It would be a fine choice. As for matte or glossy, whichever finish you pick for your stone would be great with your tile - they don't have to match, but they may harmonize better if they do. By the way, you could use the hex (honeycomb) tile that you love for the entire bs.

This post was edited by EAM44 on Mon, Feb 18, 13 at 8:38

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 12:06AM
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Ok, I went back to the Tile Shop & the gentleman helping me said because of the of high end finish & high end color of my cabinets it will be difficult to find a ceramic or porcelain tile to match exactly. He said I'd probably have to go w/ custom tiles. This was his suggestion - a glass tile that compliments the cabinets, granite & floor tile. What do y'all think about this? He also said to stay consistent w/ same tile in the niche area and outline niche w/ travertine pencil border. The same pencil border would be used to finish off the ends of glass tile. Thoughts would be greatly appreciated. :)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Here's another image. Thanks, guys!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:34PM
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If your floor isn't changing I take it your layout will remain the same?

Can you please post a few pictures of your kitchen so we can get a rough idea of how much of the area is backsplash, countertop and cabinets?

Also it's hard to picture the range niche when the photo is so close....and upsidedown :>)


    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Sorry the pics are upside down. On my iPad that I use to upload pics to GW my pictures are right side up. If someone can give me pointers why they're appearing upside down it would be greatly appreciated.

Here's an image of my current kitchen - no change to layout. Appliances are being replaced w/ SS, new cabinets, & countertops. Floor is staying the same.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Counter right of the range & next to refrigerator.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:58PM
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The left side of range.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:59PM
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I'm pretty much at the same stage as you, perhaps slightly behind, in my choices.

FWIW, I think the glass tile goes well with the cabinets. You need to ensure, however, that it does not look too busy with your granite.

If you do go the custom route, Sonoma Tilemakers has a wonderful selection of shapes (including subways), textures and sizes in a variety of neutral hues in both ceramic and glass. I've seen people successfully use larger field tile and then more decorative shapes in their niches, as long as the hue remains the same overall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sonoma Tilemakers

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 6:08PM
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I saw this picture on houzz and I think something like this would be very pretty with your granite. Sorry that the photo is distorted!

Traditional Kitchen design by Portland Kitchen And Bath Robin Rigby Fisher CMKBD/CAPS

Sonoma makes a subway color toast and it looks very much like the one in the photo.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 6:51PM
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Sonoma has some very pretty tile. There's one showroom where I live that carries Sonoma brand so I'll have to check it out tomorrow. I'm finding the bs to be the most overwhelming decision.

The sales rep at store I went to today said I'd be looking at around $50/sq ft for custom tile. That's WAY out of my price range but hopefully Sonoma will have some good choices. I couldn't find the color you were referencing, jerzeegirl. Thank you though for the attached pic.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 7:08PM
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Here is a picture of mine. We decided we wanted it to match the cabinets and then put some bling by using crushed black glass slivers. I am posting the unfinished backsplash because it's a closeup and you can see the detail better.

Here is a link to the Sonoma tiles web site. The toast color is one of the crackle colors. It was between toast and butter and we decided to go with butter (getting hungry? lol).

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 7:25PM
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Thanks for the link! Color is really pretty - can't wait to see if it's a good match tomorrow.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Beautiful cabinets and they will look great with your granite!
Sorry though I don't think the floor matches anything. The color or undertone looks completely wrong, and it adds another pattern that isn't complementary, but it sounds like it's here to stay so I wouldn't add another strong pattern or color in the backsplash. Actually I wouldn't add another anyway. Let the granite shine!

I think a simple backsplash without decorative pieces would be best. I like your idea of a subway tile if you can find a light tone that coordinates with your cabs. Looks great in your inspiration pic and the one jerzee girl posted. Nothing boring about those and a bevel would add a little dimension. You mentioned Ann Sacks and it looks like they have several colors. I wouldn't think you'd have to go custom.

I like the penny round in your first photo and the glass tiles in the others, but I think both are too sleek or modern for your cabinet style and granite pattern.

In general I'm not a huge fan of decorative pieces behind the range, but I like the simple contrasting color one in your inspiration pic, however for your kitchen I think it would look better without one. Even without the backpiece on the range, the range in a corner and the micro overhead makes the space look small and I think it would look cluttered if you added any more pattern. JMO.

Hard for me to tell from the pics, but do your cabs go to the ceiling or into a soffett?
Just curious, if you're not changing the layout at all, did you consider refacing or are your current cabs shot? That would save a least it does on the remodeling shows! :>)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:37PM
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Well, I guess once everything is installed & if the floors look horrible we might be changing them. Ugh!!!! Not what I want to do because we have a ton of tile in our house that would have to be removed. That would just absolutely suck.

New cabinets will not go to ceiling & we don't have soffits. My ceilings are 10' high. New cabinets will have a wider crown molding on top & upper cabinets will have some that are staggered higher to make the area not feel so large & tall.

The quality of our current cabinets are builders grade so I wouldn't want to invest anymore money into them but I did inquire about refacing a few years ago. It costs almost the same to replace w/ new cabinets as it does to reface (the biggest expense are the cab doors).

I have requested some sample tiles from AS so I hope to have them soon. Good thing I still have a few weeks before demo starts so I'm not feeling too rushed. Ha!ha!

This post was edited by kgolby on Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 21:55

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:50PM
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I'd love to have those high ceilings! Thanks for answering my other Qs. I'm sure the floor wil be fine when all is said and done and for all I know my monitor may be misrepresenting the colors. Look forward to seeing your other tile samples and your finished kitchen.
BTW who makes your cabinets and what's the color? Love the color!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:26PM
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Ok, I went to a tile store that carries Sonoma Tilemakers & OMG, I love it! I THINK I've found my backsplash tile. The image below shows the cabinet door, existing tile floor, & 2 tile samples ( L side - Butter & R side - Twine) against the granite. I think I like Butter the best. Jerzeegirl recommended Sonoma (huge thanks!!) in Toast but it was too pink against cabinet sample. I'd like to get it in the beveled subway shape which is beautiful. The sales rep @ tile store said I could do the rhomboid (harlequin) tile in same color in the niche. Haven't made up my mind about that yet. Let me know your thoughts, please.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Here's a close up of the 2 samples. Left side - Butter (crackled) & right side - Twine (crackled). Grout samples are on top too.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Here's what the beveled tile looks like. I love this style.

Island, the collection is called Victoria Ivory & shockingly the cabinets are from Cabinets To Go. I know CTG doesn't get much love here. To be honest, I was very nervous about ordering these cabinets just because of the reputation of Chinese cabinets but they really are a nice quality cabinet & finish. We didn't order through CTG but our kitchen contractor uses the products in his business. I've been very surprised & relieved when I've been taking the door sample into the tile showrooms the compliments I've received about the quality of the door. We have been able to customize some of our order by working w/ our kitchen contractor. I will post pics after kitchen is complete.

This post was edited by kgolby on Wed, Feb 20, 13 at 15:54

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:41PM
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my vote:


    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Thanks for the cabinet scoop. I've never heard of that company, but I've only started to look at options. What is the color called?
That looks like a great choice for backsplash in either color. I also prefer butter. It's hard to tell from the small sample, but it looks closer to your cabinet color and doesn't add another shade or undertone to compete with the countertop or floor.

I've read it's best to compare samples by aligning them in the same plane they'll be installed. Vertical for the cabs and backsplash, horizontal for counter and floors, but hard to do with a slab of granite!

Will you be able to get a few subway samples in the colors you like, hopefully more than one of each? if so please post again.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:42PM
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I hate to be a naysayer here, but I think the flooring and granite are competing and don't work well together. Since both are such permanent installs, I would want them to play nicely together.
Could you place a dozen floor tiles next to your granite choice (which is BEAUTIFUL btw) to get a better visual?
Love your latest choices, just not with the current floor tile. Sorry, but I think you will be happier in the long run if you plan the major surfaces to coordinate from the get go.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:32AM
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I like the butter color, and also love the bevel subway! I am not sure how the granite and floor tile will go - is the floor already installed?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:50AM
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I really love the beveled tile too, tinan. Only concern is how will it be installed around the niche? When the sales rep @ tile store tried to explain it to me I didn't understand. That's why I think the flat subway may be a better choice.

Yes, floor tile was installed when we bought our house 13 yrs ago. If the tile just absolutely clashes w/ granite then the floors will have to be changed but in the future. Not anything that we could do right away.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:56AM
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kgolby... I wanted to revive this thread to ask you about the pricing on Encore Ceramics. Did you see them and if so, could you please share the sq. ft price on the field tile?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 3:04PM
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I never got around to seeing Encore Ceramics in person. But by looking at their website again & w/ the tile you are considering I'd guess to pay around $18-$19/sq ft. I say that because it looks very similar to the flat Sonoma Tilemakers tile I liked & that's the pricing the tile store gave me. I ended up going with 3x6 beveled tile. The original quote was around $29/sq ft but negotiated & got it down to $24/sq ft. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Love your counter and cabinets - I think you need some contrast or it will look like you were trying to match and failed.
Of the ones shown, I like the twine the best.

Pull one of the gorgeous colors out of your counter and you will have a winner!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 4:01PM
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