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The rise of backsplashes

The home is an extension of who we are, and what better room to express ourselves than in the kitchen. Backsplashes are very popular right now. There is a wide variety of tiles, designs and materials that can give your kitchen the feel you want.

Rita Stump from Interior Specialists, Inc. (ISI) has been working in home design for 11 years and says the process of choosing a backsplash is the “fun part” for people when choosing interior finishes for their homes. Interior Specialists has been in Albuquerque for 12 years. “ISI is the nation’s leading provider of interior design, design center management and installation services. ISI is distinguished as the nation’s largest new construction, interior-finishing contractor, providing a wide array of products and installation services for single-family, multifamily and commercial builders.”

The design center in Albuquerque works with six local builders including Pulte Homes, DR Horton and Abrazo Homes. “Backsplashes were originally installed to protect the walls and have evolved into a reflection of personal aesthetic preference while maintaining their sole purpose,” said Rita. Now backsplashes come in different materials, sizes and designs.

Popular materials

Natural stone offers differing shades and a natural, organic look. Natural stone can have pits, veins, cracks and fissures that add to the natural beauty. It typically comes in a honed, tumbled or polished finish. Natural stone needs to be sealed before installing.

Glass can be frosted or clear and comes in many different sizes and colors now. There are mesh products that have both glass and stone mixed for another type of look for your kitchen.

Glass, stone and metal can add a modern look to your backsplash. Location of metal accents is important as they can rust depending on placement. Not all metal will rust, check with the manufacturer.

Popular tile designs

Field tile design is considered a typical piece of tile and is usually 4 by 4, 6 by 6, 12 by 12, or 13 by 13. Field tile can be used in backsplash designs to save costs but also tone down a very intricate or busy accent piece.

Bull nose design is an edge piece that is usually 3 by 12 or 3 by 13 that is rounded on one side. This gives the backsplash a clean finish on the ends. Metal trim pieces are also popular to finish backsplash edges.

Deco design is typically a square piece of mesh, usually 2 by 2, 4 by 4 or 6 by 6 and can be placed between field tiles for a subtle look. Listelle or Listello are usually rectangular pieces that have designs on them, typical sizes include 2 by 12, 3 by 12 or 4 by 12. This can be cut from a mesh product.

Picture frame insert is the term for a rectangular or square design that would be installed behind your cooktop or stove. It is typically a mosaic tile surrounded with a pencil or chair rail. Picture frame inserts can be used in both traditional and contemporary layouts, it really depends on the materials chosen that determines the look of your design.

Chair rail is typically used as a finishing trim piece and has a design with indents and ridges that make it look like it would guard a wall from a chair –‒hence the name chair rail. Pencil is a smaller trim piece that resembles an arch. Used as separation pieces between tiles and borders.

Style for your kitchen

Traditional style features natural stones, horizontal lines and square pieces. Ceramic and porcelain stone looks can be used as well to save on costs and maintenance. Popular colors for a more traditional look are browns, beiges and creams.

Contemporary style features glasses, metals and mesh products. Tiles are more rectangular and can be placed vertically instead of horizontally. Popular colors are whites, greys, metals and solid colors.

You can even blend the two styles by choosing a traditional product with a modern layout such as a 3 by 6 travertine on a herringbone layout with metal inserts. No matter your personality, a backsplash will enhance your kitchen. Layout designs with local professionals and express your creativity in the kitchen.

Damian Abieta, Communications and Outreach Specialist at the Home Builders Association of Central NM contributed to this story.

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