Thoughts on pairing different stones in backspash and countertop?

browneyes776April 25, 2014

Does white macauba + calacatta gold = disaster?

I've seen some marble + marble combinations that = gorgeousness but I could still use some advice.

Any pictures you could share of your counter (esp with some movement) and a different stone TILE backsplash would be appreciated. Or any other web examples would be great.

I'll add a picture of what I'm thinking about. The calacatta gold seems a bit atypical in how mellow it is.

As a side note - does anyone have advice for searching houzz a little more easily? It'd be so nice if you could search the posters materials rather than the comments. I look there but get a ton more than what I'm looking for...

Edited to add TILE!

This post was edited by browneyes776 on Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 9:16

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Here's one example I've been able to find: BUT I'm thinking of just a plain calacatta gold

Contemporary Kitchen by Cherry Hill Tile, Stone & Countertops Stoneshop

Contemporary Kitchen by Cherry Hill Tile, Stone & Countertops Stoneshop

This post was edited by browneyes776 on Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 9:56

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:27AM
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Do you mean two different "slabs", or would you use the stone in smaller tiles on the backsplash? (I don't think two different slabs would work at all)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:32AM
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sjhockey fan - gooooooood point! Tiles! Thanks for the question that's a big difference!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:34AM
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What did you search for on Houzz? I came up with 678 pictures when I typed in +white macaubas + calacatta gold, but when I added +kitchen, I came up with ZERO.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:36AM
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I probably wouldn't do that. I prefer having one stone as the star.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:50AM
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*hangs head* I think I was searching everything with either kitchen or backsplash. Guess I have to get more general - thank you!

I was thinking of something like one of these:


I've got a 5/8 example from Walker Zanger that I really like (doesn't look too good on the website)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:51AM
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feisty68 - I'm concerned about that. I've got a really small space to fill - just over 5 inches on one wall. The rest of the kitchen has shiplap. My crazy size wanted to do some sort of mosaic but it's basically too small to even show. My practical side says get something plain but everything I put there that's plain just looks toooo plain to me. Ah, decisions.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:56AM
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sjhockey - I just did your suggested search and came up with the same issue as usual. The vast majority of the pictures don't have both in them. One or the other or something random. Since it seems like most people use that almost as a shopping site it'd sure be nice if those who post there listed all the materials used and that those materials would be searchable. Boo.

I *did* however find a few examples that have a white macauba kind of stone countertop with a tile with some form of color or movement.

Sorry for the general houzz rant and thanks for your help and ideas!!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:09PM
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It's not the 2 stones you mentioned, but this is one of our inspiration pics. Kashmir White Granite with marble tile. Can't remember the name of the marble at the moment

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:37PM
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edb2n - that's really pretty, thanks so much for posting a pic and offering your help.

I think your inspiration has the qualities that I like really, really well:
backsplash is not too overpowering

it picks up other colors in the room, softly

the finish isn't too glossy, shiny

it's not so strongly colored or contrastingly colored as to be reflected as strong colors or strong patterns in the countertop

I think these are all characteristics that I'm looking for in my backsplash. I really like some of the crackle tiles with glazes that look like painted on watercolor - but - with my small space and desire to have something with a white background this seems to be hard to find. It seems like these stone backspashes have some of the same appeal of those crackle tiles like encore (to me anyway). The super glossy finish of many of the tiles just seems to be too much with my backsplash and somehow the stone tile seems softer than ceramic - which seems counter intuitive!

Didn't pipdog have a much loved backsplash that was simiar to your inspiration?

Thank you again :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Have you looked at Fireclay Tile - they have many crackle glazes with white background.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:56PM
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SO beautiful! Unfortunately, the sizes don't work for me. Boo.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:21PM
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Found the tile if you're interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dolomite White Marble Tile

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:35PM
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edb2n - thank you so much for sending that along! I'll be sure to look for more pictures of it. I'm thankful to see another option! I had also seen thassos but I thought that would be too white. In some photos onyx looks like it could be beautiful but it's too hard to tell from pictures. I need to find a tile shop with a huge stone collection now!

Thanks again!

Is that what you're choosing are you already done with your kitchen?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 4:24PM
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All depends. Post the combinations you are considering, along with your other kitchen materials and layout showing where you plan to use it. Not sure what the 5" is about. Also post what you like, with the not plain layering of pattern & materials. People will be able to advise better when you can supply more information.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Hi Snookums2,

I'm thinking of white macauba which is my countertop with a calacatta gold backsplash so that's why I posted one of the only examples I could find - this one is much busier that I'm thinking of. I'm thinking of either 1x4 or 5/8" offset squares. I have posted links to the products that I'm considering.

My backsplash is only 5 3/8 in high because I only need to tile below where my breakfast bar is. This area is 76 in long. The small size of this areal really limits what my options are. The rest of the kitchen including the rest of the backsplash is all shiplap (actually tongue and groove). I feel this pattern throughout the kitchen also kind of limits what other pattern I might like to introduce. So far all the elements of the kitchen are fairly traditional possibly veering toward transitional with elongated 6" polished nickle cup pulls. The kitchen also feels very horizontal to me which I've decided to go with. I think that's why I like the offset patterns.

So, my materials are rift and quarter sawn red oak floor with a natural unstained finish. White cabinets (slighly warm but still whiter than simply white - custom color), white shiplap walls also the same white but eggshell finish, white macauba countertop with a 2in mitered edge, schaub traditional cup pulls and knobs. My appliances are SS and this area is above my 36in blue star range and beneath my zephyr anzio island hood. This part of the kitchen opens up to the rest of the house and is directly next to the dining room.

I'm a little confused about what you wrote: "Also post what you like, with the not plain layering of pattern & materials." I'd be happy to answer I'm just not entirely sure what you're asking.

Thank you for taking the time to answer and help!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 5:40PM
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"Also post what you like, with the not [so] plain layering of pattern & materials."

Since you said plain materials were too plain for you, it sounds like you like a mix of patterns and materials vs. a more serene zen like atmosphere. Photos of what appeals to you would be helpful to see how much layering you like.

Two thoughts from me.

Is the macabus a striped pattern? With the shiplap, I would be inclined to steer away from more horizontal lines on the counter. Add in the galley kitchen shape and you could get a shotgun or bowling alley effect.

With a white and gray marble counter, why switch to a warmer toned marble on the backsplash? Why not be consistent and just do CG there as well? I don't see the point of changing materials. Have a design goal for the selections.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:58PM
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Snookums2, thank you for your thoughts. I'd like to think I've got design goals! However, this is my first house, and first remodel so I'm learning a bit as I go. My first choice was MOP but when it came in the sheets in the order had much more color than sample. I also didn't like the amount of shine that I saw reflected in the counter. I like some soft variation in color so that is the design goal at the moment.
This is something like my first attempt but mine had much more color variation:

Kitchen by Minneapolis Architects & Designers Andrea Swan - Swan Architecture

I've tried the Grazia tiles but the undertones don't work with my counter. My counter is a warm gray with black veins accompanied by some gold/beige veins as well. I think some places call this Calacatta Macauba. The veining is diagonal. I'll include a picture of a slab that was next to mine.

Kitchen Countertops by Los Angeles Tile, Stone & Countertops Royal Stone & Tile
The samples of calacatta gold that I have don't look terribly veiny, in fact they look like one tile is beige, another gray and most softly tinted whites. It's more like the melange Grazia tiles.

I'm also including some pictures of my favorite kitchens. If the space could accommodate it, I wouldn't even add tile. Like this very amazing kitchen:

Beach Style Kitchen by Charleston Cabinets & Cabinetry K & K Custom Cabinets LLC
And this one:

Contemporary Kitchen

I liked this tile but it's too blue next to my stone:

Traditional Kitchen by Greenwich Architects & Designers Orrick & Company

I like the nautical and also the mix of curvilinear with the wood planks. The moroccan style tiles seem too trendy for me though a bit outside my comfort zone. This kitchen has a similar color palette to mine with the warm flooring:

Transitional Kitchen by Charleston Photographers William Quarles Design/Photography

I like these for their soft backspashes:

Traditional Kitchen by Minneapolis Interior Designers & Decorators Martin Patrick 3

Traditional Kitchen by Bridgehampton Kitchen & Bath Designers Hampton Design

Traditional Kitchen by San Francisco Architects & Designers Andre Rothblatt Architecture

Most daring - love the ocean theme but also slight color variations of the tile

Contemporary Kitchen by Sherman Oaks Design-Build Firms OTM Designs & Remodeling Inc.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:32PM
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I'm sorry, but I don't think a busy back splash with your proposed counter will be easy to pull off. I would think again about a plain subway tile (without a pattern) to go with your lovely counter. The last inspiration photo you posted above would be an example of what not to do imho. I really don't like the back splash with that counter in the last inspiration picture above (ocean theme one).

Have you read Maria Killam's blog (a Canadian colour expert)? Try looking at some of the topics in her blog where she talks having one pattern star in hard finishes as colour undertones in two patterns rarely if ever match. She has some good advice on counters and back splashes.

Good luck with your kitchen.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:56PM
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Have you considered using your counter material for your small area of splash? Sometimes less is more.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:05PM
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I didn't mean you didn't have design goals, just it wasn't clear what they were or if refined enough.

That's a good idea to just do a solid splash in your counter material.

Pick one of the marbles, not both.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:42PM
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We have not completed the kitchen yet, but we just purchased our backsplash tile this evening. We decided on thassos. As you said, it is very white, but there is some very slight variation in the color from tile to tile. From white to the slightest touch of gray to a warmer creamy white. No veining at all, which is good because it won't fight with our counters. The neatest part is the crystalline flecks. Looks kind of like a bowl of sugar.

I don't know how wide the shiplap is. Would it be possible to just do one row of it? Or to just paint the backsplash the same white as the shiplap and not use tile?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 12:37AM
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I have a little experience with Calacatta gold as i installed it in my kitchen. You are right that there are a lot of color variations in the marble. However, I don't think you will be able to buy off the shelf what you want. But that doesn't mean you can't have it custom made. If you buy large format tiles, you can cut them down to small size and "cherry pick" the colors you want. That way you can eliminate veins you don't like or mixed colors. Large 12x12 tiles are much! cheaper than pre made mosaics, so cost might be similar. Below is my kitchen backsplash - it is busy and needs the solid white counters to coexist. But if you throw out 75% of the tile, I know you could get pretty uniform color and pattern.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 12:50AM
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Carol, thanks, I've read Maria's blog before! She sure does like white subway! I should have clarified that I like the variations in the tile on the last one (and it does make my heart sing with the coral and beach elements - not brave enough to do that myself) but I don't care for the countertop in that pic nor do I care for the combination. The stone (?) tiles that vary in color are appealing to me from that picture. They probably have a bit more contrast than I'd pick for myself.

Norcalsworst2, that is GORGEOUS! Really, really beautiful. The tile that I'm considering is 5/8x5/8 so very small - rational or not I love it because it looks very Roman. Along with all things beachy I also love most things from antiquity! Back to my sample - it's literally showing no movement. It actually looks like a low quality CG. I guess they don't cut up the best stuff for mosaics!

I'm going to post a pic of my countertop with the proposed tile sample sitting on it.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:14AM
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Oaktown, I totally agree that less is more. Somehow, my brain is in a bit more of a more is more mode. I think that's due to the fact that while plain like subway seems to be like less is more in my kitchen with the shiplap it almost feels like more is more because in my head it adds more lines/stripes. If I could find a tile of white macauba I'd probably add it in a heartbeat. I can't find any though. So, if anyone knows of any please let me know! We even looked into having what's left of our slab made into tile! It's not a big enough piece to use in this spot and the breakfast bar above it has a 2'' mitered edge so it could be a bit much as a slab.

edb2n - that's SO exciting that you got your tile! Based on your description is sounds amazing!! What size are your tiles? Do you mind if I ask where you sourced them? Hopefully you'll post pictures later. What are you doing for your countertop?

I'd be able to fit one piece of wood from the shiplap but the bevel would be at the top... I'm also concerned with putting something fireproof above the range. I know others such as mamadadapaige have used it above their ranges though.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Here is a picture of my travertine backsplash and mascarello granite counters. This isn't the granite you were wanting, but it is a busy granite with a different stone backsplash. I think it turned out really good. Sorry about the quality of the picture. I could try to get a better one if needed.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:10PM
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rhp123, thanks for posting! I like the variation in your backsplash - I think it's very soft looking. I guess I mean that in contrast to the look of tile. If you don't mind I'm going to recommend your backsplash to another poster - she's looking at a combination just like yours!

I'd love some feedback on my sample too if you have any thoughts :)

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 8:18PM
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You mentioned Encore Crackle tiles. Have you looked at their selection? I attached Bookworm's Encore Crackle in Cameo. There is variation in color but not enough to clash. I'm not sure that this particular color would work but there are many colors.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:31PM
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so hard I know!! ;) As you know I am having the same dillema!! :) did you mention what color your cabinets are? A darker backsplash to pick up the dark tones in the BS could be interesting to the eye. IF you want a more monochrome look I think the BS in edp2n's post would look nice- that way you aren't putting together 2 of the same materials right next to one another - if they don't match up perfectly it could bug you! ;) also, thanks for the info on this thread- i do like the pic above with the trav BS and granite. good luck!!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:28PM
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NorCal, your backsplash is great! I love that marble.

Browneyes, we chose a 1" hex tile, but they have lots of shapes and sizes. Subway, mini brick, hex, square, mixed mosaic. They came from the Tile Shop. It's called San Dona, but best I can tell it's the same stuff as Ann Sacks Thassos. The crystalline flecks don't show up well in the pictures on the website. Our counters are Khasmir White, just like the picture I posted.

If you can't find a tile that works, what about just drywalling and painting white? We've always just had a painted backsplash in the past. It's not a wow factor, but it works fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marble tile

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:27AM
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Hi romy718, that's a really beautiful example - thanks for sharing! Did you go with encore too? Did you happen to see the sample of stone with my countertop? What did you think of that?

melkel - I'm glad you saw rph's backspash - I thought you'd like it! My cabinets are white and the whole room is white. There area I need to tile is really tiny - it's just a 5 in high strip of wall that's between my range wall countertop and the breakfast bar that's right above it.
What did you think of the picture of my countertop with the tile sample sitting on it? If you didn't like it that's fine :) As you know very well it's part of the journey!

edb2n - funny that you mention Ann Sacks because I have a sample of thassos from that line that I've been looking at! I have a sample from waterworks too that's imperial danby. It's funny because it's got the texture of the thassos with those big sugary grains but the exact same colors as my backspash - kind of a warm gray with blackish and rusty veins. Hard to tell from one tiny tile though. Best of luck with your hex tiles - sounds very beautiful! I'll look at your link now!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 9:36AM
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I like what you chose. It looks great.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 4:04PM
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Browneyes, I like what you chose also. It looks like it has all the colors of your stone, which is beautiful. I tried my hardest to find a marble tile to blend with my Imperial Danby Marble tops. I could never get the color right. I didn't realize the 5" height of your BS when I suggested the Encore.
I think your choice in your pic is perfect.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 5:08PM
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Thanks, Isabel98! My first reaction was - is that you, mom? I'm lucky to have someone in my life who thinks all my decisions are great. Or at least she pretends that :) I don't have as much faith in me as she does!

Hi romy718 - somehow I misremembered at thought you had quartzite countertops too. Funnily enough the only other stone that really matches mine albeit in a tiny sample is the imperial danby from waterworks! Thanks for the feedback on the stone - I feel it's not too characteristics of CG but the tiles are small enough they are show more movement than color. I also have a 1x4 sample of the CG and my DH really likes that. It echoes some of the other shapes in the room well, especially the horizontal movement. I'm concerned with that one that there might be too much horizontal movement and that the larger tiles seem to show more patterning. I'm really biased with the small square sample I showed because it reminds me so much of Roman mosaics. I think I really love it based on that rather than how much it's an absolutely perfect match for the style of the room. It makes me really happy to see it and I'm not sure if that's a good enough reason to choose it... I also felt this way about my mother of pearl tile sample but the tiles that I received weren't a good match for the sample (and DH wasn't a huge fan).

Anyway, thanks for the feedback! I'm hoping my kitchen turns out a fraction as nice as all the gorgeous GW kitchens :)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 8:36AM
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edb2n - sorry I missed your question about why not drywall. That's basically what I have now and I think the requirements for by bluestar range state that I have to have something noncombustible back there. I think it'd probably feel more finished off to me too. I've probably got a couple of good options I just have to choose one and move on. I'd kind of like to have a tile option in the subway kind of style but I think two rows of tiles could look weird. Otherwise I'd need 1.5 in tiles but I can't seem to find any. I considered cutting 3 in subway tiles in half but I don't know if that would come out looking ok.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 7:20PM
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