Backsplashes take a turn toward the tame

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 3, 2016

 Glass subway tile, accented with smaller mosaic tile, is a mix of two current trends in backsplashes.

Glass subway tile, accented with smaller mosaic tile, is a mix of two current trends in backsplashes.

Photo provided by Borchert Kitchen & Bath


METRO DETROIT — When a customer comes to Borchert Kitchen & Bath in Washington Township, there are lots of things to choose from that could give their kitchen’s style a boost.

But really, there are two factors that make the most impact: the countertop and backsplash.

“That’s where you can really take a kitchen that looks dated and give it a boost, with the countertops and tile,” said Mary Margaret, office manager at Borchert Kitchen & Bath. “It’s not really one or the other — they usually go hand in hand.”

Margaret explained that backsplashes have evolved over the past couple of decades, or rather, taken a step back.

“Years ago, they were more of a focal point. There was a lot more personality with backsplashes. They’re still fun, but customers tend to want tile in softer palettes that are a little more muted, and they have more fun on the countertops,” she said.

Borchert Kitchen & Bath designer Rhonda Ballard agreed and said customers are not only seeking more neutral-looking designs for their backsplashes, they also are looking for something classic — maybe even vintage.

“We’re getting away from the square shapes. The old subway tile, the 3-by-6 (inch) look is popular,” said Ballard. “We’re still seeing a lot of mosaics too, with some glass and some texture coming in.”

Laid the right way, the rectangle-shaped tile can provide movement to combat the solid, linear lines of the cabinets and counter.

Michelle Wurst, of Ceramic Tile and Stone in Southfield, said the subway tile and offset mosaic patterns with glass and stone are her big sellers. Lighter tones are on trend too, since many homeowners will opt to complement a lighter countertop.

“There are a lot of light quartz colors being installed in countertops, so people will go with a light backsplash. Most of the time people don’t want a lot of contrast, but they might go with a darker granite countertop, and that’s really the focal point. Someone in my family did white cabinets with an absolute black granite (countertop) and white subway tile. And I’ll tell you, it looks really sharp,” Wurst said.

A few trips to the hardware store and one might notice a huge selection of tile backsplash sheets aimed at ambitious do-it-yourselfers, where customers can install peel-and-stick tile that comes in sections roughly a square foot in size.

But an easy-install product will look like just that once it’s up, Margaret said.

“If you get tile that’s laser-cut and imported, you really want to leave that to someone who’s an expert,” she said. “If the drywall isn’t smooth, there will be bumps that come through, or if the thin-set (mortar) is on too heavy, it will look kind of gunky. And when you’re talking $20 per square foot, you don’t want to be unhappy (with the result).”