Backsplash help for modern walnut kitchen

sochiMarch 27, 2010

Hi there - I've been hi-jacking too many threads re: my backsplash, so here goes, my official call for help.

My kitchen is about 80% done. Still need to choose a paint colour for the whole ground floor, including the kitchen and a backsplash for my cooking and clean-up run. We plan on doing a round or wedge-shaped island later, probably in the summer.

I love the Heath Ceramics Oval (but too expensive), the Walker Zanger Studio Moderne collection, etc., but I think I might also like to inject some colour and whimsy into the space, perhaps circular or oval shapes.

My influences for the kitchen generally start with the characteristics of the house - while quite old, the interior Victorian character was long gone before we bought the house 18 months ago. But it did have 8 gorgeous Deco / Frank Lloyd Wright style stained glass windows, plus a sunken living (think '60s or '70s mid-century modern). We went from there, drawing upon our own generally modern style preferences. Most of the accessories we have in the pics below (green ikea vases, danish 'tea pot', radio etc.) we've had for years, so all that pointed us in the direction we wanted to go.

Now I'm not sure about colours and backsplash. All advice, suggestions and comments welcome!

Oh, more specifically, I don't even really know where I want the backsplash to end. I don't want a whole wall of it, it would interfere with the pictures on the wall along the long run. Should I just tile behind the cooktop, with a narrow strip along the counter (see the link for my inspiration for this idea done with the Heath Ceramics oval tile)? All the way to the bottom of the shelves? On the clean up run, should I go to the base of the windows?

First pic is the railing our cabinet maker did between our sunken LR and dining room. Note the circle - this motif repeats in the kitchen and is visible from the kitchen:

The only thing we have done so far with our walls on the ground floor - wallpaper in the as yet unfinished powder room, more green:

Main cooking run with peninsula (walnut counter for seating area on peninsula hasn't been installed yet, waiting for fabrication errors to be corrected:

Clean up area / run with my two white uppers:

Third 'wall' of kitchen, the pantry and fridge. Note that the door to the right of the fridge is to our crawl-space basement, very seldom used. Happily there is a big landing which functions well as a broom closet, etc. The door will eventually be painted with blackboard paint:

Close-up of quartzite bianca counter with Kohler Karbon and Ticor prep sink:

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sochi I can't see your pics! :(

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 5:22PM
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oh dear, I'll look into it. Another poster just had a similar problem, I wonder if its me or the site? Thanks for letting me know!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 5:31PM
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I can see them now! Beautiful beautiful cabinetry.

I love the Heath tile- maybe you could use it as a focal and do it just behind the cooktop? Or, maybe you could repeat your circle motif behind the cooktop as well. I like the chartreuse as a small but bold accent in the tile design. Do you want something generally horizontally oriented to nod to the rest of the wall, or do you want to break the horizontal lines up a bit?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 5:40PM
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I am a dud with backsplash advice...But oh. my. gosh. What a cool space! I really love the repeated circles, and the jog in the design of the fridge wall. Wonderful. And I am drooling over your integrated apron front sink and counter.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 5:47PM
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What about glass plate?

Here is a link that might be useful: imho the perfect backsplash for you

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 6:27PM
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This is kinda cool. I just choose one of the colors: From .

It's the round bubble glass collection

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 6:30PM
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remodelfla, that's a great one for sochi's kitchen! Love it!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 6:33PM
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collins design

I second plate glass... that is what I was going to suggest. Either that or a slab of your quartzite. I'm not sure I'd want to add anything too busy or colorful, because the elements you already have there are So.... Freaking.... Gorgeous....

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 6:34PM
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I can't find the link for your inspiration for the heath ceramic tile.

I'm not sure if I would continue the "circle" motif. I like the way you have it repeating in the window and the railing, but maybe in the backsplash it would be too much?

I think on the sink run I'd do the backsplash all the way up to the bottom of the cabinets. If you only do it to the window, would it look like you ran out? There's not that much wall space left.

On the range wall I think I'd do it to the bottom of the shelves.

Love the wallpaper in your powder room!!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 6:59PM
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I'm telling ya, Studio Moderne is what you need.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 7:21PM
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oooh yeah, marcolo!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 7:34PM
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Love, love, love that studio modern!!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone! Keep 'em coming.

sabjimata - glass plate is definitely an option. We did it in our last kitchen six years ago and we loved it (see picture below). We may go this route again, but I'm think I might want something a little 'warmer' this time, if that makes any sense.

Remodelfla - love that, especially the range of colours they offer. The smaller circles might get a bit busy, but I came across a similar tile (see picture below) I also like very much - a little warmer, a little less busy, but still the same vibe I think:

Malhgold - I think I'm with you on the tile placement, up to shelf on cooking run, below cabs on sink run. I hoped I could get away with less, thus allowing me to spend more on the Heath Ceramic tile! Here is the inspiration picture with the Heath Ceramic tile, showing more tile behind the cook top and a single row of tile along the rest of the counter:

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:20PM
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This is my opinion only... but most people make the mistake of putting too many things in the house when they are pulling it together. The less is really more stunning in many instances.

Whatever you do, I would be extremely careful that you are not doing too much. Right now, the kitchen and the house look great because each element is not competing with other things. Because the stained windows are so dramatic, any type of busy back splash on the cooktop wall will compete with the window. I would do something very simple, like SS, since you already use quite a bit of SS in the kitchen. Another options is to do the same quartzite as a sheet behind the cooktop only. I would not use tile because you will compete with the shapes in the windows. I would not add another dramatic color to the kitchen. You already have blue, chartruese and walnut. There is enough. The chartreuse between the blue stained glass window won't look that good, IMHO. So one option is to match/augment the blue in the window. I think this will be hard since the windows will look very different throughout the day depending on the time.

If you are painting the walls another color, you can get very simple horizontally oritented tiles that have absolute color match with the wall paint. The scale of the tiles should repeat the scale of the drawers. I love this type of look. That would be stunning but very difficult to get the color right since you have to pull all the colors in the kitchen together.

Another option... I like the look of white walls that matches the whites of cabinets. I think if you paint the walls another color, you will loose the drama of walnut contrasting the whites of the cabinets. Not only that the white cabinets may look a bit stark. The walnut is contrasting all the whites in the room; the ceiling, walls, cabinets etc. Obviously, you have taken great care in picking the items. The door knobs are just right for that house. If you keep the white walls, I would get the white countertop stone match behind the cooptop and simple horizontal tiles that repeats the scale of the drawers on the sink side that complements the blue of the stained glass window.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:22PM
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Marcolo - you had me at the first mention of Studio Moderne! I LOVE that large green tile, love it. I'd love to have a whole wall of it.

The look immediately takes me to Dean Martin, a glamourous mid-century modern pad and 1962. And that isn't a bad thing - I was completely in love with Dean Martin as a young child in the late '70s. My mother still has a letter I wrote to him (I guess he never got it) begging him to marry me. My mother kept telling me that he was about 60 years to old for me, but that didn't matter to me. Anyway, here I am, not married to Dean Martin, but willing to marry that tile.

But, back to the present - how could it work? That tile is too big for a backsplash isn't it? Or are you thinking of one of the other Studio Moderne tiles?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:28PM
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Kaismom - thank you for the thoughtful suggestion. I agree with you completely and I really don't want to overdo the backsplash. One point though - the stained glass actually doesn't have any blue in it at all. It is entirely clear glass with different movement in different pieces, only the circle has some colour and it is a creamy white. Some of those pictures were taken at night, I guess that is why the windows came off looking so blue?? The only permanent colour in the kitchen right now is the walnut and the white cabs, plus the grey/white counter. The 'lime zest' green in the railing is in an adjoining room and is actually quite subtle in person, less so in the picture I posted. That said, it certainly influences the kitchen.

Your points, however, illustrate perfectly why I'm so nervous picking a backsplash. Everything has turned out so well so far, I'm terrified of messing things up with a backsplash that isn't exactly right. While I love the Studio Moderne tile and the circles, I am fearful that they would overpower everything.

You suggest that the scale of the tiles should repeat the scale of the drawers - do you mean exactly? Are you aware of any examples of this look on the internet?

I don't think I can do a stone match backsplash - that quartzite has variable colours from slab to slab and within one slab, I'd be afraid that the colour wouldn't match. That said, I'll go down and think about it. As it happens, due to a fabrication error I'm going to end up with an extra piece of the quartzite. I was going to save it for a future bathroom reno, but it may just fit the area behind the cooktop.

Thanks again for the advice.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:42PM
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Resist the temptation. Go without a backsplash. Waterproof the hell out of the junction at the wall and invest in very good paint that is very scrubbable.

Don't dilute the wonderful authority of that wood.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:52PM
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I agree with holding off for a while on the backsplash. I really love the simplicity of the whole kitchen the way it is now. By the way, what is the paint color and manufacturer used on the kitchen walls? It is soft and beautiful.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 10:29PM
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I think I'm with kaismom and florantha -- go without. The kitchen is so cohesive as it is, with a lot of interest on the walls in the floating shelves, windows and art. The backsplash is by necesity a "vertical" entry into the landscape. Since your kitchen is very much horizontal, it will be difficult to find a backsplash that maintains the direction.

Of course, feel free to disregard me. We just put 35 square feet of mosaic tile in our modern kitchen. But our layout really demanded it, and yours does not.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 11:26PM
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I have a sample of the below glass tile. I think the browns and the stainless might work for your kitchen.

Love your faucet, I have the same faucet in a box somewhere waiting to be installed.

Here is a link that might be useful: brown and stainless tile

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 11:28PM
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Absolutely LOVE your cabinetry! Carrera marble would look beautiful behind your cooking range/hood wall all the way to the ceiling, as long as it would go with your countertop, which appears to be white/grey.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 12:07AM
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large format tile (eg - Porcelanosa crystal acido) could be used to simulate glass plate.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 1:19AM
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THinking a little of Plllog's tile, and loving those tiles Remodelfla posted, but understanding they'd be too much...I would love to see a very simple backsplash...maybe large format plain rectangular tiles with just a few circles scattered in. It'd probably be a tall order (or impossible), but in my mind it looks cool!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 2:07AM
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This may be too much but I had to post because it
is pretty.
And Your kitchen is pretty.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 9:39AM
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OH Boxer... what is that second one?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 9:42AM
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Shame on me for not listing the sources.
The one you love is from the below link.
Trikeenan. It is the same tile with different
lighting and direction.
I love it too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Trikeenan

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:01AM
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Boxerpups-will you PLEASE stop posting so many beautiful backsplashes?!?!? I will NEVER decide.

BTW....what is the source for the 4th and 5th photos?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:04AM
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Same question as malhgold boxerpups - I LOVE every single tile you posted, especially the second, but the last one might work beautifully on my cooking run.

Hmm, I know that second one is busy, but what about a single row of it along my clean up / sink run?

Love these ideas everyone, thank you.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:39AM
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I do not have any suggestions but I love everything you have done so far, including your last kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 12:15PM
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Repeating the scale of drawers:
Everything in your kitchen emphasizes the horizontal.
The rectangle of the drawers are about 2:1 to 4:1 (width to height).
The rectangle of the entire cabinet run is about the same scale. The rectangle of the white uppers outlines by the walnut is about the same.
For example, there are no square shapes in that kitchen. If you use square shaped tiles, there is no relationship to that to anything else in the kitchen.

If you chose to use circles again, then I suggest you mute the colors and let only the shape come through. If you do that on the cooktop wall, the circles will compete with the stained glass, which will distract from the window, not augment the shapes (IMHO). But hard to know what the final outcome will be without trying first.

The last tile picture (the whitish ones with ovalish shapes) that Boxerpup posted works in that kitchen because the shapes are repeated in the backs of the chairs and in the light fixtures. Also they did not introduce another color to that kitchen. The tile color is matched to the cabinet color. Even so, it is a relatively "ornate" or "rococo" kitchen, IMHO... You have already introduced that type of design in the bathroom wallpaper, and furnitures pieces that I see in the picture, and the variation of wood color in the flooring, so you can take it to that direction as well.

Good luck whatever the choice. I think either will look great.

Just for curiosity sake... Why did you chose natural wood window trim in the living room and white trim in the kitchen? Did you do that so you can bring in walnut into the kitchen?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 1:56PM
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You can find these on the web.
I wish I knew how to do a direct link.

Hartmeier 0115

Stone Impressions

Archiexpo Contemporary solid wood kitchen

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 3:02PM
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Thanks again Boxerpup. I think I have to find a place somewhere for that Trikeenan tile. I just love it. I bet my dh will find it too retro though. Fingers crossed.

Padola - thanks, I love the colours in that glass mosaic. Which faucet do you have? The Karbon? It rocks. I love the other main sink faucet too, it is the Kalia Elito Diver.

Florantha - I'm leaning towards going without, at least for a while. Sound advice. Do you think I should leave the clean up / main sink run without backsplash as well?

Kaismom - thanks for the explanation, I see what you mean. And yes, the two stained glass windows in the kitchen look a little funny don't they? The simple answer is it was a mistake - the one that has the wood trim wasn't supposed to have wood trim. We just haven't gotten around to dealing with that yet - our place is still a work in progress. The window in the kitchen doesn't have any trim at wall, it is a drywall return. I'd like to have the same done with that far window. At a minimum when we get to painting we will paint the far kitchen window trim white to fade into the wall and appear more like the other kitchen window.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 4:52PM
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Love your MCM sochi and gorgeous mix of materials in your kitchen. All the modern tiles folks have posted here are great and I also like terrazzo.

Here is a link that might be useful: terrazzo

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 6:28PM
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I vote for nothing, back painted Starfire glass panels, or more of the countertop material. Don't dilute the overall imppact with too many materials.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 6:41PM
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Your kitchen is beautiful. I agree with plimpsest.

BTW, Where are those big circle tiles from.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 10:13PM
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I agree with those who say that you need to simplify the backsplash to make sure you don't compete with the quartzite and the walnut. Either more quartzite or a simple off-white tile that disappears a bit (the large-format porcelain does that, I think, especially the matte choices.) i think even back-painted glass would be too hard and glittery and distract from the texture you have there already.

Just so frigging gorgeous. Stunning.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 10:52PM
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I also love all the beautiful choices you've made. The clean lines, but there are also such warm touches here - love the photos you've incorporated.

I wanted to ask you about the quartzite. Does quartzite more or less absorbent than granite? What do you use to seal and how often? I am considering it for a bathroom remodel. Thank you for sharing.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:28PM
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I really love it!
And i would love to be able to pick any of the gorgeous tiles that people have posted.

However.......I need one of those windows!!!! Where did you get them?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:37PM
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I don't have any backsplash suggestions, just wanted to say your kitchen is awesome! I love the walnut cabinets. Looking forward to pictures when you are finished.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:50PM
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Thanks everyone. This forum is fantastic - there is no substitute for lots of different eyes and tastes offering suggestions. It is incredibly valuable.

At the moment I'm thinking of doing nothing - scrubbable paint and leave it for a few months. At least that option can be easily changed if I'm not happy with it! That would allow us the time to think about it, plus finish off all the other elements waiting for our attention in the house.

I will certainly try to find a way to incorporate at least one of those awesome modern tiles somewhere in the house! Perhaps the fireplace??

tarnator - the windows were done about 20 years ago, so I'm not sure, but any local stained/leaded glass artist should be able to do one for you. We added a transom in our new powder room and asked a local glass artisan to do a replica of our big windows for the transom - they did a great job. The same local company will be removing all our glass panels (there are eight of them throughout the house) and doing some repairs while we replace the exterior window.

onelady - I think that the quartzite is similarly absorbent as granite, but I'm not sure. It is sealed, as you would seal a marble or light coloured granite I think. Certainly this particular quartzite seems to hold up well, no staining or etching at any rate. There are several stone experts on the forum who should know about absorbency.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 8:39AM
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I am so glad you are going to wait. I actually prefer no backsplash.

But I have had so much fun searching.
Can we still make suggesstions?

If I find some cool backsplash. Can I still post it?
I love looking for kitchen stuff and I have had a good
time drooling over some of these amazing tiles. I get to
live vicariously through your kitchen reno.
Thanks Sochi


    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:10AM
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what kind of cabinets were in your old kitchen? It all looks great!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:17AM
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WOW - your kitchen is amazing. Love the railing. Lots of great choices posted above. Very hard to choose I would say. I really like the one remodelfla posted.

Can you tell me about your bathroom wallpaper and fixtures. Love them.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:19AM
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I don't have any back splash suggestions, although I'd be really tempted to either paint it or go with the large format glass tile that davidtay suggested. I'd hate to see anything compete with the gorgeous cabinets!! Your cabinet guy did a remarkable job handling the grain that runs down the entire length of the cabinets. What amazing quality!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Boxerpups - "If I find some cool backsplash. Can I still post it?" Do you have to even ask the question??? OF COURSE! Please, please keep posting the fabulous tiles, I love them. I'm sure I speak for everyone - we all love them. Don't stop!

lzydog - my old cabinets are Cherry stained quite dark, expresso perhaps.

ccboombs1 - thanks very much, I'll pass your comments along to my cabinet maker! He'll be thrilled.

prill - I'm blanking right now on the name of the wallpaper in the powderoom, I will post details tonight. I got advice on that selection from the decorating forum, the thread might still be there.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 3:24PM
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Prill - the wallpaper is Hula Green by Graham and Browne. I'm not sure about the sink, I remember that it was made in Brazil - we got it on sale at a local store. It certainly wasn't a recognizable brand name. The toilet is a Toto Aquia dual flush.

Here is a link to the wallpaper:

Here is a link that might be useful: Hula Green

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 8:53PM
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Because this kitchen is so different from most, I've looked at it a lot.

The reason I was so taken with your stove wall is that it is also a gallery of art pieces. Without them, the space would have a very different "feel." The sink area has that other feel--it lacks that same spare elegance and seems to need another element.

I'm with Sabjamata--glass plate! It would give the above-sink space some strong personality if you echoed one of the blues or the green from the room divider in a rectangle under the window. (see the page listed below, suggested by sabiata). A backsplash of glass would provide that same reflective and smooth texture as some of the tiles others suggested above, but there would be no grout or lines. Essentially you would have paint with a glass coating.

Am also wondering if the sink window needs a walnut frame around it.

OR would that wall's need be addressed if it gets a strong dose of color all the way to the ceiling, perhaps in a sink-wide stripe of shiny paint without the glass? And with a portion of a hollow circle overlaid in a second paint color along the perimeter? This would counteract the rectangular regularity of many of the other lines in the kitchen and echo your roundish pots and the cutouts in the room divider and the clock and the stained glass. You could even echo a motif from the stained glass, but pare it down.

My inlaws had lots of undecorated walnut in their 1960s-modern architect-designed house in the "University Grove" area of St. Paul and I always felt it needed colors to complement the dark stark wood in the living room and hall. But the place was a fabulous space, as is yours. Colors--turquoise and your other blues and raspberry and your greens?

Here is a link that might be useful: glass backsplash

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 12:33AM
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If there is a Porcelainosa dealer in you aerea, pay them a visit. Because you have a pretty modern kitchen with horizontal strip pattern, you can try "Silk" collection. It's a big tile, pretty & subtle that makes your cabinetry focus point. They have Blanco (white), Beige & Verde (green) with small brown strip that match your walnut. I saw in their a new catalog a bathroom with walnut vanity & Silk Blanco wall. It's so beautiful & classy. But if you want your backsplash a focus point, go with something else

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:39PM
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I just love your kitchen sochi! I think it looks perfect right now and I love the idea of going without a backsplash. Let your beautiful walnut cabinetry and stunning quartzite countertops be the star of the show.

If you do decide to go with a backsplash, what about something like these? They echo the circles of your railing, but shouldn't compete with your quartzite.

Round Bubbles Glass Tile Mosaic

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:42PM
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I'm liking the suggestion of prickley pear. Something that doesn't compete with countertop would be great in white or gray.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:50PM
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florantha - thank you for taking the time to really consider this. I agree that the sink area needs something more, whereas the cooktop run may be just fine as it is. I am tempted to go with glass and paint. I love the strong colours in the link you included. I am a little intimidated by the 'lime zest' colour from the dining room railing on a large wall, but the actual amount of wall in that area is limited. I considered not having uppers on that wall at all, which would have allowed for more interest perhaps, but practicality won out. It is very handy having that one upper cabinet above the dishwasher and to the right of the sink.

It is difficult to tell from the pictures I posted, but that sink area almost disappears in the kitchen. I intended this to happen and am pleased with it - the consequence is that I could probably do something quite strong on that wall and get away with it. Essentially I tried to have my cake and eat it too with the sink run (open concept yet hide the mess). I left a partial wall on the left hand side of the run - this ensures that the sink area is invisible from the dr and lr. Also, when one enters the kitchen from the front of the house, you are facing the main cooking run. It is draws you in, dazzles you, and you don't see anything else. I suppose there are two arguments re: backsplash in the sink area - use bold colour or pattern as it isn't that visible, or go plain and let the area serve its less showy but very practical and important purpose.

I agree, the walnut needs some colour. In part that is why I've asked my dh to print up some pictures in colour, as apposed to the black and white there now. I need more colour. I've introduced it so far with accessories, which may or may not stay. I'm particularly taken with turquoise, and I love your suggestion of raspberry too. The room is lacking in red IMO.

If I'm honest, I wish I had done the white cabinets in colour. I love some of the blue and green cabinets in your quirky kitchen thread. That said, having the pantry wall in white helps that large, tall wall recede a little. But a cool blue or green would have been awesome. According to my cabinet maker taking those doors off and spraying them another colour would not be a big or expensive undertaking. Perhaps in a few years. It would almost create a whole new kitchen.

Anny-2009 - I really like the silk tile - it does look a lot like wallpaper. I will definitely consider that option.

Prickleypear - those are very cool tiles. I think I've been persuaded not to do too much on the cooking run, but those might work on the clean-up run. Definitely fun tile! Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:09PM
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I also feel that plate glass, backpainted white would feel the cleanest and most practical with that gorgeous walnut kitchen. I must admit, I've done this myself and really adore it. I used Glasskote and was delighted with the product and their support in supplying it.

I don't think that a no backsplash is very practical having tried it myself. I had planned and executed a wall-mounted glass splash behind the cooktop alone but found that the sink splashing was bothering the paint and also that drywall or paint or both don't really like getting splashed and wiped up too often. My wall was getting quite dirty after a few months of the no backsplash look. The glass splash is fantastic solution, very easy to maintain and I think that the minimalist feel of it is fantastic.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:40PM
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I love the tiles everyone is posting, especially Boxerpups' choices...martini tile stole my heart. But I do think that big run where your cooktop is looks so perfect right now that glass plate would do the trick...maybe in a very pal, washed out teal?

The sink area is smaller and if you wanted to have some fun there, I would make that the main application of bold tile.

Whatever you do, it's going to be lush. Obviously you have awesome taste and (please forgive me...don't mean to sound gauche) some leeway with your budget.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 6:38AM
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Some years after the building of their house, my inlaws in their walnut kitchen received a fabulous rough-woven wallhanging made by my sister-in-law, the fiber artist. It was blues--heavily turquoise--with the raspberry. It got mounted on the walnut paneled wall right by the dining table, just outside the kitchen and set the tone for the room. No one remembers that room without the piece now. Facing it in the living room was a painting by an artist friend, of a swamp done in browns with lots of turquoise and other blues. That picture and that wallhanging facing one another were the making of this long room.

When my father in law died, we "staged" the place for sale and I hauled in more of those colors--placemats, etc. I found an area rug at Home Depot with spirals of the colors for under the dining table and the new buyer wrote it into the purchase agreement!


The thinking that you have put into the angles of approach to the kitchen is a mini-lesson for readers in this forum. That aspect is often forgotten when we plan for a quick correction to meet an immediate need. Remodel in haste, repent at leisure.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:48AM
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    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 5:17AM
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Don't listen to me, my taste is all in my mouth :-). I think if you put any pattern on the wall it will create too many competing focal points. I'd put in turquoise back painted glass or more of the quartzite. I love that Studio Moderne but it would require a very plain counter. If you really want to pick a tile that Heath ceramic would look nice or maybe a very plain, matte, stacked rectangle about the same size as the Heath ceramic or maybe more narrow (2x8). I would love to go for that modern European look however I have to be more conservative to protect my resale potential.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 9:24PM
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Hi, I'm new to this forum--been lurking for a month or so trying to get some ideas for an upcoming kitchen re-do. If you want something subtle, how about an etched glass? You could design a simple motif with circles etched into frosted or clear glass. I googled and there seem to be quite a few sites and they all seem to be willing to tailor their work to their customers' desires. Just another idea . . .

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 10:53PM
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I was away for a week for Easter Break and missed the whole Sochi's Backsplash thread! LOVE all the new choices by Boxerpups, especially the last one.

You know I love your kitchen...anything you pick will look great since you already have such great taste--it's evident in all your other choices and what you have already created. If you have a "gut" feeling", go with it....your inner design compass is spot on--it is fabulous and has served you well!!! And we all can only hope to have such an amazing inner design sense too :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:00PM
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Thanks sandca, great advice! I think I will leave the cooking run without a backsplash for the time being, eventually I will probably put in a glass backsplash. I'm not sure about colour on that run, BUT, I'm considering using colour (or maybe pattern) on the sink/clean up run with the SS counter. Perhaps turquoise, or florantha brought up raspberry and I'm leaning that way. There isn't as much going on with the clean up run, perhaps I can get away with a strong colour or tile there?

florantha - thanks for the stories about your in-laws house, I have a complete visual of it in my mind's eye, I feel like I know it! I've been considering the raspberry suggestion seriously and re-reading your 'red' thread as well. I've ordered at marimekko unikko fabric in red (and other colours) for my dr table. Do you think I should limit it to accents, so should I try it for the wall colour on the clean-up run?

My cabinet-maker is currently making some cabinets for our family room as well, which is just off the kitchen. The cabinets will be 'wrapped' in walnut, but I want multi-coloured cabinet doors - I'm leaning towards green, blue and raspberry and/or white. Something like the look of the blu dot cabs in the link. Anyway, I'm really considering colour this weekend and am appreciating all the links and leads in your threads, thanks again.

sabjimata - thanks again and I hear you, that is the direction I'm moving in (I think!). Re: budget - this wasn't a low budget reno, but we're not rich and frankly we're just about out of flexibility right now, which is why a lower-cost backsplash would be ideal! We were able to get a few floor model appliances which kept some cost down, and I must admit that the fact that my awesome cabinet maker is also my brother-in-law saved us thousands (no mark-up for the wood, hardware, quartzite counter, etc).

Here is a link that might be useful: colourful blu dot storage

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:04PM
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firsthouse -that is a really lovely thing to say, thank you! I still doubt my "inner design compass" and the only reason I think I've done as well as I have is due to help from people like you on this site and thanks to the hundreds of magazines I've poured over for the last two years! And I've seen pictures of your kitchen - your inner compass is obviously bang on! By the way - does your drywall really say HI? Was that intentional? I love it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:14PM
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Andy Blick Discus in matte white? It's a bit graphic and probably expensive but another cool idea.From Misc photos

Angela Adams Manfred Deco From Misc photos

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:30PM
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I think I've said all I can. As far as color goes, you're on your own. Everyone thinks I have always had a heavily red kitchen, but except for the previous red vinyl floor (gone for almost two decades now) and the famous red sink, all the rest of the color was portable stuff--an enamel teapot that burned up years ago, three consecutive sets of large print roman shades, flower pots or vases in season, a red dishrack, ruby red glass dishes and bowls which get put away after drying, rag rugs, and most recently, a Sears red microwave. My point is that you can do a lot with decorative stuff and unlike permanent pieces (expensive stoves, cupboards, floors, and permanent backsplashes), you're not married to these loose items and don't have to wait until you renovate again to add or subtract them. Paint may be your friend in this economy and I suspect you are clever enough and gutsy enough to find a good way to use it. As you heard above, they say that using paint and glass skillfully you can make a wonderful mod backsplash. Other posters have made very intriguing suggestions as well--what amazing choices are out there for us! and like me they're enjoying the trip through the spare yet rich landscape you have created.

Your kitchen has a lot of thin rectangular lines and many artistic touches already, from the lighting to those leaded glass windows and the view beyond the sink. The countertop adds texture and movement. The dark brown and white have a tension. The rooms and halls beyond add depth and complexity. Add some dirty dishes, utensils, kid stuff, a couple weeks' worth of magazines and newspapers, library books, and unmatched potholders and handtowels to your kitchen. Even the writing you anticipate on the blackboard door will introduce another element. You may want to have some large stretches of gentle color to counteract the particulate flotsam of our everyday lives and rest your eyes.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:21AM
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Sochi --- WOW! Your kitchen is coming together so beautifully - you must be thrilled to bits to be this close.

I have to be honest - I haven't carefully read every post (so I may be repetitive or redundant), but think I have the gist and I would second (or third or fourth or fifth) the notion of waiting to put in a backsplash. So many of the choices that have been posted could be absolutely spectacular - or could take away from the wonderful vibe you alreday have going on.

Whatever you decide, I am sure it will be perfect. You have made so many fantastic design decisions already. Your home is simply stunning!


    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 10:53PM
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This is such an amazing forum!! I love your kitchen, sochi- AND everyone's thoughtful suggestions. i feel a kinship to your design (those heath ovals!... maybe for the fireplace instead... less is more- but not too little). we're also doing white uppers and wood below (natural cherry). oh and that green! go with your compass- as firsthouse said- it serves you well ( and i'm biased, since mine is set in the same direction as yours!). i can't wait to send out my questions here and see what we get!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 3:57PM
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    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 10:55PM
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I too have been trying to source some quartzite bianca - and I'd love to know where you found it sochi (I too live in Ottawa). Your pictures are gorgeous - really fabulous.

I've been in contact with Emerald Tile - they don't have any - and have also driven to Ciot in Montreal twice - with no luck. The last "batches" have been pretty awful looking, with huge iron/rust stains and green patching.

Would you mind sharing where you found it??

I've currently got a "beautiful" temporary MDF countertop while we search...

Many thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 3:17PM
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Going with the circles is obvious but I feel it's way too "Pierre Cardin" for me.

As it happens, I found some beautiful glass mosaic backsplashes over the past week that might provoke some ideas. For a pow cmid-c olor the blue or green tiles would be amazing and the vertical configuration of the white Artistic Stilato tile would pick up elements from your window and play it in another way.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 3:32PM
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macfrodge - I used Marble Unlimited for the fabricator here in Ottawa, but sourced my Quartzite from Ciot in Mtl. Ciot Toronto has some as well. Ciot advertised the quartzite heavily (LCBO magazine), they may be out - did they give you any indication of when more might be in? If Toronto has some nice slabs I'm sure they ship back and forth between TOR and Mtl regularly. Vesta marble here in Ottawa also had some quartzite bianca in their showroom, but I know they sourced from Ciot (and their quote was several thousands more expensive than Marble Unlimted). Any "exotic" stone in Ottawa almost certainly comes from Ciot.

My slabs did/do have some small rust spots (as do others I've seen), and I have one greenish-blue patch (which works with my colours so no big deal).

Thanks rcocogurl, great suggestions. That vertical configuration is a GW kitchen, one of my favourites. I think glass tile is my answer, either small as you linked to, or large. I hesitate because I don't want anything too "sleek" or shiny looking. To be honest I'm paralysed on the backsplash choice - I've gone without for four months or so and have decided that I do want something, no heavy patten, but ideally something with texture and a matte finish. My DH keeps pushing for glass and I'm sure that is where we'll end up, but I'm still searching.

I need to put up new pictures, we've finished up a few more things since I posted this message. Better find the camera!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 5:00PM
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sochi, indeed it is a GW kitchen -- it's catmom's. That Opera Glass comes in 2 finishes. Not sure glass is ever completely matte unless sandblasted but a vertical pattern would be a natural on your big wall.

Scale really is the issue -- no idea of measurements but your space almost seems loft-like. Depending on the tile collection, I could see one size around the sink and something bigger on the long wall -- same tile or reversing in some way. There's so much product out there it shouldn't be a problem finding something just right.

Backsplashes are my favorite part of the kitchen to design. Tile junkie.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 5:29PM
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Thanks sochi - very informative reply. It seems as though the last "batch" from the quarry in Brazil has huge occlusions and everyone I'm speaking with (tile/stone distributors) are either very unhappy, or are not accepting delivery.

Natural products with natural flaws - comes with the territory. I can wait.

And I'd love to chime in with a tile recommendation but I opted to put in a long, low backsplash window instead of tile. Sorta 60s looking, and it meant I didn't have to choose a tile (which I tend to hem and haw over quite a bit). But it looks good with my new Karbon faucet (great taste btw!).

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 9:19PM
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Any decision yet on the backsplash??? Your kitchen is still drop dead gorgeous even without any backsplash! :)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 10:34PM
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macfrodge- long, low window backsplash - that sounds amazing! Don't suppose you have any pictures to share? And a Karbon too - I have a feeling I'm going to love your kitchen. Just had a friend over tonight about to buy a Karbon, they were test driving mine. Apparently Preston Hardware carries them now - no one had them in Ottawa last fall when I was buying, I had to rely on the recommendations of the garden web folks. They didn't steer me wrong. Do you love yours? Re: the bianca, you sound very patience, a virtue I'm sadly not known for - but I'm sure your MDF is spectacular in the meantime. Have you considered marble?

rococo - I've always loved catmom's kitchen and been tempted by her backsplash. My fear of a "too sleek" kitchen is probably silly. I'll get some samples. Glad to hear that you're a backsplash junkie - I'll call on your help! I'll probably re-post next week with my updated mostly finished (save backsplash and island) kitchen and see what people think. Thanks again.

firsthouse - still no decision - so embarrassing! I wanted to live with nothing for a few months and see how I felt about the space. I think I need more than nothing, but probably not the fabulous patterned tiles I was originally considering. Summer has me spending more time in the garden than the kitchen, but I really want to figure out the backsplash over the next month or so. Fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 11:34PM
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Okay, I have no idea how I managed to not post on this thread when it first came out (unless I did and missed it when I just scrolled through!).

Your kitchen is just fab (short for fabulous)! That's the word that popped into my mind when I first saw it, so fab it is!

Thank you for the compliments on my kitchen (shout out to rococogurl--you rock!). I think glass tile or a glass and stone tile combo/mosaic would look right at home in your kitchen (your fab kitchen). Either vertical strips or the circles would look nice.

Besides the Opera Glass Stilato pattern that we used (and still love BTW), we recently saw a number of other all glass and glass/stone mosaics while searching for tile for our bathrooms, and many of those came in either strips/sticks or circles: Artistic Tile, Akdo, Porcelanosa, Glass Tile (?), etc.

You could go with the White Thassos marble tile we just put up in our MB; Porcelanosa's Moon Saturn Blanco (solid and open circles). They have a few other variations of circle mosaics as well, incl all glass, carrara (?) marble (all solid circles), and I think glass and marble combination.

Lots of terrific options out there--good luck choosing!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:25AM
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I wish I could show pictures - first of all I'm a horrible photographer and secondly it's still in construction mode. Kinda looks like this one

with the frosted cabinets above. I did read about gardenweb users' experiences with Environmental Lights down in the States and decided to get dimmable LEDs - was very pleased with that.

Karbon - I spoke with the people at Preston Hardware as well, but unfortunately their pricing was much higher than online. So I went with Takes a bit of getting used to - I've only had it installed for the last week or so. But ultimately happy with it.

I'll try and post some pictures when we're out of construction mode.

And I'm now starting to call around for the quartzite - even out of the country. The slabs I saw last week at Ciot were way too "stained" with rust - even the salesman apologized when he saw them - he said he wouldn't have asked us to come if he'd known it looked like that. This has been quite the roller coaster experience, trying to find this quartzite.

So the hunt is on!

Good luck with the backsplash.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 11:54AM
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Sochi, I ran across some stainless tiles with circles and thought of this thread so thought I would post them in case you might want to consider them. They're by Crossville. Here is a link:
Crossville MT270 Circles
MT 270 Circles Backsplash
Another Pic of Circles


    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 12:27PM
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Incredibly beautiful! I would NOT do a backsplash. I second (or third?) the "just paint" idea. If compelled to protect the walls, I would go with matte glass.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 3:31PM
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Your kitchen is so perfect! I'm not trying to stress you out but, I'd be paralyzed by the pressure to put the finishing touch on a space like that! There's something so balanced about it, I'm afraid to even make a suggestion!!!!!! But I can't resist anyway........
Looks like your instincts serve you VERY well and I agree that you could get away with something busier on the sink run. And the turquoise with that walnut.....makes me totally weak in the knees.
It's all just so fabulous!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 6:46PM
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Random size Hirsch Murano Vena White 1/8 thickness

Hirsch Glass has glass strips, in a frosted white, with some texturing on the surface, and the strips are "random" height and "random" length. Random sizing is a term used loosely; what it really means is less regularity, less grid-ness. That makes it a foil for the quartzite.

The main ideas here are that random = matches veining in quartzite instead of giving the eye a grid to follow, and 2/ frosted = absence of color (although there IS color in everything, even off-white and in grout, but you are not trying to accent any color) so this also allows the quartzite to remain the star attraction when viewed from afar, and 3/ texturing gives the eye something to admire when one gets close, and is practical for cleaning since it requires little or no buffing to look good. It's 1/8" thickness. I got samples at Terra. A few miles from Ciot.

In the image above you can see a part of a sheet of another glass tile, where each piece is the same size, and polished.

Imagine this tile laid horizontally. Parallel to the counter.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 9:39AM
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Your kitchen is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen! I love the clean lines and the contemporary mix of white cabinetry with walnut. I would be tempted to maintain the simplicity of your design by not adding anything too distracting to the backsplash area. Keep it simple, perhaps a back painted solid glass backsplash, or a simple textured white tile of some sort. Can I ask who made your cabinetry and what colour and finishes you chose? I live on Vancouver Island and will soon be constructing a new home. Lastly, what kind of floors do you have? I look forward to your reply. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 7:28PM
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Hi Cherise,

Thank you for your kind words! Nice to see this old thread back. I'm ashamed to say that three years later I still don't have a backsplash. Sigh.

My brother-in-law is a local cabinet maker here in Ottawa, he is very talented. I don't think his website is up yet or I would share it. The cabinets are book matched natural walnut, no stain. The floors are reclaimed birch pulled up fom the Ottawa River. I just love them, they are from Logs End here in Ottawa. I do have a final reveal thread somewhere in the ether if you're interested in more details. Or I can answer here. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 8:17PM
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