Are we moving away from tiled backsplashes?

beekeeperswifeSeptember 11, 2012

I was in Barnes & Noble last night, perusing the magazine section. I picked up a European magazine, I think it was Beautiful Kitchens (not the US Version) and I was thumbing through it. I'm still not settled on my back splash yet, so I find myself looking for ideas anywhere I can.

I noticed that only about 2 of the kitchens in the magazine had tiled back splashes. And no, these weren't French Country kitchens with plaster, etc....but rather contemporay kitchens. (I don't mean super sleek modern, either) They were using painted glass either just behind the cooking area, or all over the kitchen between the counters and the upper cabinets.

It really struck me to see lack of tile. Although they did show some with clear glass or painted white glass slabs, but. some were hot pink, I saw purple too.

What do you think? Do you think we are getting away from all the tile? When did the tile craze for all over the kitchen start? Growing up we didn't have anything back there. The very first kitchen I ever did (1991) had formica on the counters that continued up the backsplash (btw, I had pot drawers in THAT kitchen) and we never even thought about tile back there.

I'm just curious what you think. I'm wondering if a smokey gray back painted glass panel is what I should be thinking about in my kitchen...


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Bee, I think that we might be.
It's like stainless, granite, an island, or other items we've been conditioned to think we must have.

It's not that there won't be beautiful tiled kitchens, but there are some of us [pointing wildly down at myself] that just don't want to deal with grout or visual distractions that some tiling can create.

I'm not sure when tile because THE thing.
I can say the gorgeous, smooth expanse of some of those glass walls is attractive. I'm wondering if OTKs will be coming up with expanses of white milk glass for their kitchens...?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:09AM
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It would be easier to clean, but not as beautiful. Even though the glass is reflective, it still reads a bit flat to me. Tiles like your famous Arabsque, add dimension, variation and endless possibilities.

Could you post pictures of kitchens that are not super modern with this type of Back Splash?

A bit OT, I saw on your "saran wrap" thread that your beautiful Super White has gotten etched. I thought quartzites were supposed to be stronger than granites. What's up with the etching? It made me sad because I LOVED your thread about it being installed and was excited for you .

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Particularly in European magazines I don't know that tile ever had the same presence that it had in the US in mainstream magazines. (Also less presence in high-design/high budget US magazines, which featured tile, slabs, sheet glass and SS pretty equally). But you see really slick modern (Italian or German) kitchens rarely in the US magazines (except in ads), too.

I have seen the short backsplash of 2-6 inches done by very respected designers, particularly in non-US magazines, all along, with or without something other than wall treatment above it.

So, I think we may be moving away from it in the magazines, just like we are moving away from white kitchens in magazines. This doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them, just that we've seen a lot of it and the editors are ready to show us something different.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:56AM
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I think countertop materials have become more expressive. With granites becoming more affordable and the wide variety that is now available, as well as the other beautiful stone and quartz choices, the top is becoming the star.

I have two wet saws and my joke was always, "have wet saw will travel". I started doing backsplashes for my friends and family in the late 1990's. Back then I was always adding tile to dress up above the 4" formica back splash. The formica counter top (sometimes Corian) was usually very plain, usually a solid or white. Then I went through the period where I put something different up to provide a little movement or color against Uba Tuba granite (again above the 4" backsplash). I think it was about 4-5 years ago or so when I did my first tiling against granite with no 4" splash and that has been the way it has been ever since. That tiling has been mostly solid color tiling in a color that pulls one of the colors of the granite as other colors and busier granite became more popular.

I am moving shortly and decided not to tile the backsplash in the new kitchen I am putting in. I have been attracted for a couple years to the plain simple lines of a nice stone material against the wall paint color and the cabinets and have never done one. My young electrician, who has done a lot of work for me, was discussing the switch/outlet layout in the backsplash area in the new kitchen and looked at me incredulously and said, "YOU are not tiling a backsplash!" I laughed and told him I had two bathrooms to tile so plenty of work for my wet saw!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:06PM
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I've noticed a lot of marble backsplash/counters recently, in kitchen magazines. Very pretty, too :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:46PM
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I just got rid of my depressing yellowy cream formica-up-the-wall kitchen, so I didn't even think of not doing tile. It just seemed to fit with my house and new kitchen. That said, I've seen lovely kitchens with stainless steel or marble 'one piece' backsplash, as well as just paint as the backsplash. Do you what you love and feel looks best, Bee. You've got great taste, trust yourself! I think kitchens seem to be going toward a multi-style unique space - whatever fits you. Kind of like fashion today, right? There are so many options and ways to go. Here's a tile-less kitchen that just popped up on Houzz. It's supposed to be modern, but doesn't read very modern to me - more transitional.

Here is a link that might be useful: Houzz tile-less kitchen

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:12PM
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When did the tile craze for all over the kitchen start?

Dunno, really. Maybe during the early Hygienic Period?

Here is a link that might be useful: 1929 Kitchen

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:27PM
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I used a sheet of glass behind my range in my pretty traditional kitchen in New Orleans. It's just regular tempered glass. The only thing that was a problem is there was the top gap in the clear silicone so that steam from the range could escape if it got behind the glass and durn it if a darn termite didn't get back there instead. So there were drawbacks. But it cleaned up like a breeze.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:39PM
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I thought Europeans picked their kitchens up and took them along when they moved. Seriously, the cabinets are pieces of furniture that go along. There fore it would make no sense to have tile installed because the next person's cabs might be different. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 3:49PM
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That is a good point, dedtired....

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 4:09PM
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Great point, very en pointe. :)

Perhaps it's slightly in part economic conditions influencing upwards? Making a little austerity feel good even among those not feeling a pinch?

Lack of actual need for tile? I know I didn't tile the drywall over the counters of my new kitchen in part because I was tired of spending money, in part because I needed more money for anything I loved; but it was the attractive simplicity of the counter meeting the plain painted wall that wraps the room that make me want to blow off a more elaborate surface. That was almost 4 years ago. The paint scrubs up well. It has a couple small dots of stain behind the stove and otherwise still looks good.

A 50-year run, twice even stainless steel's 25-year run, just means time for a change?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 4:59PM
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I really wanted back painted glass but never could pull it off!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 8:13PM
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Great, our kitchen is not even done and it is out of style-- stainless appliances and tile back splash. Thank goodness I am only doing what I want and not what fashion dictates. It helps, though, that we do not plan to move or sell anytime in the next several decades!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:20PM
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If by "we" you're including me, then no. I think tile is lovely, but I am interested in large format ceramic tile like the Claymonde ceramic sheets at Fireclay tile that measure 5 3/4" or 11 11/16" x 35 1/4"

and these large format totally customizable glass tiles (I call them tile, you can think of them as sheets...whatever) from Dreamwalls. In case you're interested, I recommended these to TNGardener19 a few weeks ago. I don't know if she has any more info for you on the cost or the company.

It's definitely a sleek, contemporary look, and as grlwprls mentioned, very easy to clean because there's no grout. That having been said, which do you think will show grease splatters more - a solid large format glass tile, or subway, or mosaic format glass tiles? It will be easier to clean, but you'll be cleaning it daily. Be sure to also invest in Johnson&Johnson stock (they make Windex).

Here is a link that might be useful: TNGardener19

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:06AM
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MeMcG, oh, no....I am so not questioning if kitchens with tile are "in" or not. I'm just wondering if it is becoming "acceptable" to the mainstream to not have tile, or anything on the kitchen walls, except behind the stove.

EAM, funny about the J&J comment...sort of do have stock, but only in a human way ;)

rosie--I'm thinking if I paint it a color, I can change it!

dedtired, yes I understand that they usually take their kitchens. The ones I was looking at didn't exactly look like they were going anywhere. I wish I could get some of the photos electronically to share.

grlwprls, that is one of the looks, just the glass behind the stove.

Angie, I can always count on you for some great pics. I know tile has been around forever. (When I was in Ephesus looking at the Cliff Houses that they are working on, the entire wall of the kitchen area was done in a mosaic tile, probably made of marble based on the marble roads and sidewalks). I guess I meant when did it become "expected" to do tile all over the kitchen, and not just behind the range?

Pal, I think the editors are still loving the white cabinets in the kitchen, but it's the backsplash where they want to see more color used. ....from what I'm told.

Well, I'm back to waiting for my samples of tiles to arrive in the mail....

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:15AM
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bee..exactly. I wanted something that was scrubbable and changeable and also simple and clean lined. I love my painted walls and have never regretted them. I used BM Matte and it is very easy to clean and looks exactly like it did over 6 yrs ago when it was first painted. It gets hard use behind this cooktop and deep fat fryer. I hope others will opt out of the tile/glass and go for the paint only look. c

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:33AM
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Europeans have always embraced clean modern design much more than Americans. Americans are now more familiar with modern design and the trend is toward modern for many. However, still the majority of American, modern is not something that they love. I see traditional look of tile enduring in America because Americans in general like ornamentation and decoration.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:59PM
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>I'm just wondering if it is becoming "acceptable" to the mainstream to not have tile, or anything on the kitchen walls, except behind the stove.

I think that in the mainstream, as opposed to the TKO, it's always been acceptable and even normal. The world at large never got the memo that the 4" backsplash was infra dig and goes on very happily using it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:47PM
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I meant to add that in my area, even plain ol' tumbled travertine over the whole backsplash area is still regarded as a very luxe upgrade item for any house not in the million dollar plus bracket.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:59PM
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GW kitchen forum operates within a relatively narrow paradigm within the big picture. The House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year by Mick DeGuilio is a white kitchen with tiled backsplash (and a blue sink)--so I don't thing these elements are on their way out, just because people are interested in Seeing something different.

A kitchen isn't an odd heel on a shoe or a faddish accessory that is completely ephemeral. A shift in what we see now means that in about ten years, fifteen year old kitchens will start to look a bit old, in general. Or at least that's what the timeline should be. I would hope that the lifecycle is 20 years or so, at least.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 3:01PM
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