Tile for Small Kitchens

Boost your small kitchen with statement-making and easy-to-clean tile, and find out how small tile can make a major design impact on the backsplash, countertops and floors.
Modern Kitchen Sink With Red Cabinets

Modern Kitchen Sink With Red Cabinets

The simplicity of this kitchen sink combines with the clean look of the frosted glass cabinet doors and granite countertop for a truly modern design. Tile is used as a background wall and plenty of space is available surrounding the sink area.

By: Alison Miller

Tile for small kitchens can help even a cramped space to feel like it's "living large." Covering your kitchen countertops, floors and backsplash in tile will help catch not only spills but also visual attention.

11 Twists on the Subway Tile Backsplash

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Mirrored Metallic

Dazzling metallic subway tiles are a versatile alternative to traditional white tiles, as they can lend a glamorous or industrial style depending on the design of the kitchen. This stainless steel design from Brother vs. Brother is a stylish, easy-to-clean option that cost roughly $600 to install. 

Photo By: Ann Summa/Getty Images

Creative Layout

One of the easiest ways to mix up your kitchen’s backsplash design is by laying tile in a fun, unexpected pattern, such as this herringbone design featured in HGTV Magazine. By pairing the design with simple shelves and black-and-white art, the charming tilework remains the star of the space.  

Photo By: Stacey Brandford

All About Color

An obvious way to add a personal touch to a subway tile backsplash is by ditching basic white and opting for a favorite color instead. In this Craftsman kitchen, the vibrant green backsplash contributes a cheery accent to the Shaker-style cabinets and stainless steel appliances. 

Back to Blues

But why stick to just one color when you can give your kitchen a totally unexpected look simply by mixing variant hues of the same color? In this transitional kitchen, blue tiles with different levels of saturation are tied together by white upper cabinets and solid blue lower cabinets.

Modern Accents

A single, metallic stripe sets this kitchen backsplash apart while creating a streamlined look. Horizontal drawer pulls and a sleek range hood complete the modern design in this kitchen designed by HGTV’s Property Brothers.

Sweet Stripes

Multiple stripes in a complementary color give this sweet kitchen backsplash a one-of-a-kind look with charming appeal. By keeping the floor and upper cabinets light, the lightly colored backsplash makes a bold statement in the space. 

Sleek and Stainless Steel

Stainless steel inserts combine with white glass subway tiles for an almost futuristic vibe in this ultra-modern kitchen. Smart lighting and sleek appliances further the room’s high-tech design. 

Extended Design

Upon first glance, this subway tile backsplash may not seem extraordinary, but by continuing the tile all the way to the ceiling, the room feels larger, the walls are easy to clean, and the kitchen boasts more texture and interest.  

Bevel May Care

To liven up a basic backsplash, consider a beveled tile. "Having the tile done this way added a lot of dimension to the walls,” explains designer Tobi Farley. “It adds texture to the neutral kitchen, and the varying shades of bisque and sand complement the Roman shade perfectly. I love working with tile in new and different ways – it can really add to a design!"

The Dark Side

A dark brown backsplash keeps this kitchen from looking too stuffy or boring. It not only blends beautifully with the countertops and flooring, but the contrast with the stark white cabinetry adds a gorgeous balance that keeps the space interesting and warm. 

About Grout

In keeping with the classic white subway tile backsplash, one way to add a bit of interest is by adding contrast with a dark grout, such as the deep gray featured here. Another bonus? A darker grout is excellent for hiding dirt!

In a small kitchen, many of the extras are eliminated, allowing for decorative, yet hardworking tile to take center stage. Instead of being a one-size-fits-all addition, tile comes in a host of materials, shapes and sizes; choose one that complements the dimensions and style of your kitchen. Popular materials, from ceramic and terra cotta to porcelain, are typically found in square and rectangular shapes. These vary in size from small mosaic-ready tiles to large slabs. Because of this variety, tile is a great vehicle for introducing texture, pattern and color into your kitchen.

For starters, you can make a major design statement with a tile backsplash. Though created out of necessity — and generally installed above the stove and from the base of the countertop to the base of the cabinetry — the kitchen backsplash has risen to the role of focal point in many kitchens, depending on the elaborate nature of the designs. Because the backsplash in a small kitchen is a petite canvas, go ahead and bring in some pattern or color drama through tile. Ideas include uniform classics, like subway tile or a geometric herringbone pattern, as well as bold, colorful mosaics or custom-painted murals on tile. If lots of expensive tiles aren't realistic for your budget, then look at integrating a few of them into your design as accent tiles.

Next, create a connection between the tile backsplash and the rest of the kitchen by installing tile countertops. Given the small square footage of your kitchen, costs for this addition should remain lower than for an average-sized kitchen. In fact, tiling countertops is a budget-friendly alternative to solid granite or a marble slab. If you choose to add tile to your small kitchen counters, then be mindful of selecting a tile size that balances the scale of your small space. Ironically, when large format tiles are used on a horizontal line, they can make your countertops appear longer.

Another place to lay tile is the floor. Not only are stone, ceramic and glazed porcelain tile easy surfaces to clean — they're also extremely durable for a high-traffic kitchen. Consider too the amount of pesky grout lines there are to clean on your tile floors or other surfaces. To this end, the larger the tile, the fewer grout lines there are to contend with.

Kitchen Backsplash Beauties
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