As the year comes to a close, it’s high time to think beyond white subway tile and look toward the future of backsplashes.

Whether it’s the desperate need for vibrant colors to escape the doom and gloom or a wanderlust-driven desire to install textured surfaces that transport us to a European villa, the reverberations of a dismal 2020 are bound to be reflected through design in the upcoming year. 

According to the five interior designers we polled, homeowners will look to transform the tired spaces that remind them of tough times into joyful, positive places that inspire hope and eventual gatherings. Of course, the preservation of the environment is top-of-mind as well, so a focus on sustainable sourcing is all but guaranteed. The ultimate goal of the following backsplash trends is to achieve a feel-good kitchen that will usher in a brighter tomorrow.

 

Textured Materials

Light gray zellige backsplash

Photography: Erin Feinblatt; Design: Hearth Homes Interiors

Dee Murphy, founder of Murphy Deesign forecasts a spike in muddy plaster and textured stone backsplashes that remind us of dreamy getaways. “They mimic old-world European and South American vacation homes and we all need to feel swept away right now,” she insists. Such organic, earthy finishes are not only worthy for their ability to fulfill our broken travel dreams—they also offer longevity that’s invaluable in a kitchen renovation. “Stone and plaster have been around for centuries,” Murphy says. “They’re functional and yet so beautiful at the same time.”

 

Bold Hues in Playful Patterns

Blue fish scale backplash

Photography: Sara Tramp; Design: Dee Murphy

According to designer and director Claire Thomas, homeowners are going to be drawn to colorful, patterned backsplashes. “2020 has been such a misery parade, so I think people are craving some fun,” she explains. “They get bored with tasteful, cookie-cutter aesthetics, but playfulness can transform your mood.”

Nick Spain of design studio Arthur’s sees vibrancy in the future as well. He anticipates multicolored backsplashes as a result of the recent resurgence of the craft movement. “People are really gravitating towards handmade items with a sense of tactility and thoughtfulness,” he says. “It’s unexpected and adds a human touch.”

 

Colorful Grout

 

 

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Instead of bright, striking tones in a large format method, designer Gina Gutierrez envisions a subtler, more understated use of color. The Gina Rachelle Design founder is crushing on the LucidiPevere Cava collection, which mixes sleek cement tiles with colorful grout to fabricate distinctive, graphic backsplashes with pops of energy. “It creates depth, texture, and pattern with durability,” she considers. “While we all love neutral classics, I am seeing more people play with color.”

 

Sustainable Choices

Vertical subway tile backsplash

Design: Sarah Sherman Samuel

Gutierrez also foresees an increased interest in working with eco-friendly, sustainable materials because of the heightened awareness of the ongoing climate crisis. She frequently sources from brands like Fireclay Tile, Heath Ceramics, and Concrete Collaborative because they put the planet first and she believes everyone will follow suit. “Not only will your space look phenomenal, but you will also have had a hand in reducing waste and have played a role in environmental responsibility,” she reflects.

 

The “Anti-Backsplash”

Light yellow kitchen with ladder

Design: Oak Design Project

On the other hand, Soko Interior Design founder Amber Sokolowski thinks that full backsplashes might wane in favor altogether. “An interesting emerging trend is what I would call the ‘anti-backsplash,’ where you would use just a plaster or durable paint for a more minimalist look,” she describes. “I’m also seeing the shorter stone backsplashes often used in bathrooms more commonly in kitchens.” This simple approach allows other elements like cabinetry and hardware to shine.

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