Think outside the white, rectangular box.

Laurey W. Glenn

The backsplash is a small but impactful finishing touch in a kitchen that can totally change the overall aesthetic of your space. Compared with making changes to the cabinets, countertops, or appliances, it’s also a relatively easy and affordable update to make—even more so if you’re adding a backsplash to your kitchen for the first time. Southerners love a traditional kitchen (especially those with lots of white), and one of the most popular backsplashes is white subway tile. It’s inexpensive, goes with everything, and allows for some variety through the grout color and pattern the tiles are installed in. However, its ubiquity also means you run the risk of your kitchen looking exactly like your neighbor’s. Let us introduce you to 10 still-classic alternative backsplash ideas that will give your kitchen a distinct personality while maintaining its traditional style.



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Alabama white marble, through Barstools: Henriksdal;

Laurey W. Glenn

Change the Pattern or Shape

If you like the neutral tone of subway tile and want to stick with a white backsplash, we love the use of a unique shape or pattern of tile. Any white tile will similarly contribute to your kitchen’s design and color scheme, but at a closer look, is not the same expected subway tile. Skinny rectangular or square tiles are just as versatile as subway tile, but have a slightly different visual appearance, which can be emphasized with darker grout. Diamond, hexagonal, and even scalloped tiles are a bit further outside the norm, but again, when used in white, are still a classic choice that works with traditional stylings while adding a bit of extra personality.

David A. Land/Otto

Try a New Material

In the same way you have lots of white tile options in a variety of shapes, there are also tons of tile materials—and colors associated with those materials—to choose from, including many that come in the classic rectangular subway shape. Glass tile is a beautiful way to add some color—whether subtle or bright and bold—to your space while maintaining a sleek, glossy texture.

Laurey W. Glenn

Another material option we love for backsplashes is marble. You can of course extend your marble or granite countertops onto your backsplash in a single slab, but as a more cost-effective option, you can install individual tiles made of marble.

Laurey W. Glenn

Skip Tile Altogether

There’s certainly no rule that says a kitchen backsplash has to be made of tile. Brick and stone are two alternative materials that’ll certainly set your kitchen apart, giving it an old-world, rustic feel. For a more casual look that lends itself to both coastal- and farmhouse-style homes, beadboard or tongue-and-groove wood paneling are also great backsplash options. And can make a lot of sense if the walls in the kitchen are already covered with wood paneling.