There is no set area that a backsplash should occupy other than being large enough to contain cooking splatters. Backsplashes range from those just big enough to extend a little past the stove or sink to a sort of running backsplashes that continues around the kitchen. An extended type of backsplash may add a look of cohesiveness to a small kitchen. For a large kitchen, a single backsplash can make a dramatic focal point. Having a focal point such as an interesting pattern or mix of colors can draw the eye to a certain kitchen feature such as a glass sink or stainless steel stove.
Backsplashes should coordinate with the style of the kitchen they're in. For example, a shiny ceramic tile backsplash is perfect for a modern kitchen, but is likely to look out of place in kitchens decorated in a more rustic, old fashioned style. Hand-painted and unglazed tiles may add quaint charm to a backsplash while materials such as stainless steel and stone tend to create a totally different mood.
Tiles that are formed to make a pattern can work in most kitchens if the design, color and textures work with the kitchen's style. A popular look for a backsplash is a border of tiles with other tiles placed in a pattern inside the border. The tiles used may be all solid colored or some could be patterned such as Talavera or other hand-painted tiles. Mirrors can be used as a backsplash, but they tend to show spatters easily and may reflect unflattering images such as odd angles of cupboard doors.
Backsplashes of any material usually look best if they contrast with the kitchen cabinet colors. For example, a white tile backsplash can look striking in a kitchen with black or dark wood cabinets. If the kitchen cabinets are white or a light wood, a stainless steel backsplash may add an interesting look. Although kitchen backsplashes are often associated with the stove area, they can also look great behind the sink area. For example, a glass block backsplash is sometimes used as an alternative to a kitchen window when the view is not that desirable.
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