Good Questions: What's Your Backsplash Pick?

Good Questions: What's Your Backsplash Pick?

Maxwell Ryan
Mar 21, 2007

Hello AT,

Overdue for a new look, my parents are nearing the end of their six
month-long kitchen renovation. (My dad's done a lot of the work and he is an uber-perfectionist, hence the timeline ; ) In short, they stripped the 25 year-old solid oak cabinets and replaced the hardware, replaced old Formica countertops with Silestone, replaced a cast iron (chocolate brown!) sink with an under-mounted stainless one and added a built-in water purifier...

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They also replaced the old linoleum flooring and put down a 'brick look' laminate. The only thing outstanding is the backsplash--oh, the saga of the backsplash! The previous incarnation was simply a continuation of the Formica countertop, but this time out they want to fancy it up a bit with tile and go for a different look.

As their daughter and a graphic designer, I have inadvertently become their interior design consultant--only, I'm drawing a blank on this one!

Their aesthetic...can I call it 'rustic modern'? A cleaner, vintage country? It's certainly not a perfect fit with the (generally) more modern 'AT look' but it still has a thing or two in common with historic brownstone detailing and the California Craftsman style with which many of us are familiar. So I'm putting it out there and hoping you fine, resourceful folks might be able to share your suggestions.

FWIW, I originally thought subway tile; I thought it would provide a nice clean contrast to the lightly mottled look of the Silestone. (And who doesn't love subway tile?) But now, with the 'brick' floor think the whole thing might get too linear...? I should probably also mention that they're retired, and as such working within a pretty modest budget, $25-30/sq. Ft. Up to the challenge, AT-land? Help a girl help her parents out!

Thanks! Sandra

Dear Sandra,

This is a great question and we're sure a lot of folks will jump in. This is what we'd recommend looking at:

1. Terra Cotta squares - this would be a bit more rustic and bring out the warm browns of the cabinets and the floors. With the right tiles, this would be beautiful and add a more handmade, organic quality to the room.
2. Off white subway tile - this would be the plainest, but classy and still keep the kitchen light and bright.

For ideas, go to and look at Classic Terra Cotta and Capriccio Subway tile.

Anyone else??

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