When people enter your kitchen, their eyes look straight ahead. They need to look up or down to focus on the cabinets, and the countertop, elegant as it may be, sits on a horizontal plane. You almost have to be on top of it to really appreciate its beauty. Usually, it’s the backsplash that grabs your attention first. It is, so to speak, the first impression of your kitchen.
If your kitchen backsplash could speak, it would say, “welcome to my kitchen, please allow me to introduce you to our beautiful mahogany cabinets and elegant granite countertop.” (Ok … I’m a little tired and my imagination is taking over.) What I would like to discuss in this article is how to deal with open space above a countertop or sink. These are areas that lend themselves to larger, more complex design elements and can provide the opportunity to create a stunning focal point. When it comes to an area like this, here are some options to consider.
One of the most common features is an image that is fired, hand painted, or transferred to your mosaic through a process called sublimation. Most tile stores deal with local artists and businesses that specialize in this. I’ve seen everything from Tuscan landscapes to jumping dolphins. The images are endless. One of the advantages of image transfer is that, in most cases, these images can be placed on any tile of your choice. The only downside, and something to think about, is whether or not you’ll like the image you choose five years from now. You may fall in love with that apple basket tile mural because it matches the tea towels or curtains you have chosen. What happens when it is time to change the curtains and the tea towels have worn out? Those apples will keep staring at your face every time you walk into your kitchen.
Another popular tile design option is to use the field tile you have chosen and simply change the direction it is set. There are many tile and stone manufacturers that offer some type of rail or pencil molding. You can use these pencils or rail pieces to make a picture frame. If you place your mosaic in straight rows outside the frame, change the direction and place your mosaic diagonally within the frame. This subtle change in direction can create a beautiful, understated focal point without enclosing it in an image motif that may be out of date.
Take another step. There are hundreds of companies that manufacture decorative tile inserts. I could probably think of twenty or so at the top of my head. Mediums are equally prolific. Artists are creating decorative tile accents from glass, metal, plastic, cement, resin, ceramic, and porcelain. If you place your mosaic diagonally within a frame, you may want to consider one of these options. You can cut the corners of four tiles in your frame and insert one of these decorative inlays. You may want to choose a metal that ties in with your cabinet hardware, or perhaps a glass mosaic that brings out a color on your granite countertop.
These are just a few ideas to help you put things together. You can find thousands of examples of these ideas in action on the web and in the many kitchen and bathroom publications on the market. Hope this helps make your kitchen remodel project a little easier and more enjoyable.