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How to Choose a Kitchen Splashback

When remodelling – or even just updating – your kitchen, choosing the right splashback can cause even the most confident interior enthusiast to falter. The permanence (and expense) of the decision, coupled with the thought of all that scouring can provoke some serious procrastination. Our guide to good-looking solutions should help you navigate the (let’s face it, frankly unsexy) topic …

Words | Nell Card

White Marble Kitchen and Windows

Photography Ola O Smit

Marble

As every food and prop stylist with an Instagram account knows, marble has the uncanny ability to make food look incredible. Nothing murmurs luxury quite like a Carrara countertop with a continuous splashback. Sadly, it comes at a price but you can minimise spend by keeping the lip low, rather than extending it right up to the ceiling. Alternatively, run the marble to the bottom of your first unit or open shelf. A word of caution though: marble is a calcium carbonate, which means it will react with acids such as vinegar and lemon juice, leaving subtle, dull spots, known as etches. This article should help you decide if you’re willing to take that risk. (Perfectionists look away now.)

Tiles

Kitchen Shelving with Patterned Tiles

Photography Chris Snook

Reclaimed or patterned tiles will create a point of focus. The contrast between this and a minimalist run of units, or stainless steel surface can be striking. If you’re drawn to bold, busy patterns, think about how much wall space you intend to cover: your splashback can of course extend from your kitchen surface to the ceiling, but you may wish to limit your tiles to certain zones: behind the sink, for example, or from the back of the hob to the extractor fan. If you’re investing in reclaimed clay and concrete tiles, remember to seal them against stains and water ingress.

Hexagonal tiles have the same effect, breaking up the straight lines of your kitchen and creating texture, especially if the top edge is left deliberately haphazard.

The metro or subway tile is the white Converse trainer of the splashback world: a ubiquitous design classic. If you want something a little different, then try hanging them vertically. Or, if you trust your tiler, opt for a herringbone pattern. You can take this right up to the ceiling or leave small peaks along the top edge of the splashback for interest.

If your eyes have tired of metro tiles, look for bejmat instead. These handmade tiles originate from Morocco and have a rough-hewn, almost brick-like quality that will create texture and interest to an otherwise flat, anodyne space.

Wooden Kitchen Wall & Bejmat Tile Kitchen

Photography (left) Rory Gardiner | (right) DS Dixon Architect

Wood

Wood panelling continues to be a huge trend for interiors in 2017 – and we love a plywood kitchen as much as any Carrara-clad model – but, as any owners of wooden worksurfaces will know, wood and water do not necessarily get on. A wooden splashback – however muted, natural and Scandi-chic it looks initially – will soon acquire burns, blemishes and dark water stains. If you are determined to go with the grain, reclaimed wood panelling is a good option, as the natural patina will go some way to disguising any stains. Alternatively, team pale wood with a narrow lip of marble or granite, and go easy when stirring that vat of tomato sauce …

Metallic

It seems there are two diametrically-opposed trends underway in the world of kitchens right now. On the one hand, we are tempted by the DIY-sheet-of-ply aesthetic, on the other, shameless super-luxe-metallics are catching our eye. A metallic splashback – in bronze or brushed brass – can withstand all manner of kitchen mess. (Stainless steel fits into this trend too, though is decidedly more functional than its fiery-hued counterparts.) The beauty of a metallic splashback is that it will pair with just about any other material, so whether you’re countertops are made of wood, granite, marble or concrete, a wide strip of burnished metal will give your kitchen a magnetic and glamorous glow.

Bronze Splashback wall & Contemporary Kitchen

Photography (left) Lovely Life | (right) Naked Kitchens / Designer Louisa Grey

Polished plaster

Slow to catch on in the UK, Italian and north African craftsmen have made use of polished plaster for centuries. You can cast your entire kitchen from it, or use it solely on interior walls. It has all the rugged, romantic appeal of set plaster, whilst being completely water resistant. Technology has now caught up with this ancient technique (known as tadelakt), which means you can specify your choice of finish – from weathered to high sheen – and spend as many hours as you wish agonising over colour. Maintenance is minimal as it is entirely seamless. Just think: you’ll never have to clean your grouting again.

• For more kitchen splashback ideas and inspiration, browse our Pinterest board

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