Deciding whether your backsplash should match your countertop or your cabinets is one of the most important design choices when renovating a kitchen. The decision impacts the overall look, feel and functionality of the space. There are pros and cons to both approaches, so carefully weigh your options before making a final decision.
The Case for Matching the Backsplash to the Countertop
Matching your backsplash to your countertop creates a streamlined, cohesive look. The countertop is often the focal point of the kitchen, so carrying its color and pattern over to the backsplash underscores that design intention. Here are some benefits of matching the backsplash to the countertop:
Creates a Unified Appearance
Choosing the same material, color and pattern for the countertop and backsplash makes them appear as one seamless surface. This gives the countertop visual weight and importance.
Enhances the Countertop Material
Natural stone countertops like granite and marble have inherent beauty. A matching backsplash highlights the veining, patterns and texture of the material.
Makes a Small Kitchen Appear Larger
Using the same tile or slab backsplash and countertop optically expands the space by drawing the eye horizontally to maximize the countertop surface area.
Provides Design Flexibility
The backsplash offers the opportunity to incorporate a bolder color or pattern established by the countertop. This allows more design choices than matching the backsplash to cabinets.
Easier to Clean
A countertop and backsplash made of the same material create fewer seams or gaps where grime can build up. The flat surface is simpler to wipe down.
Reasons to Match the Backsplash to Cabinets Instead
Alternatively, some homeowners opt to match their backsplash tile to their kitchen cabinets rather than the countertop. This also creates a polished, purposeful look. Here’s why you may want to match your backsplash to your cabinets:
Defines the Cabinetry
Matching the backsplash to the cabinet color helps ground the cabinets and highlight their form. Tying the two together makes the cabinetry feel more like built-in architectural elements.
Expands the Cabinet Color
Picking up the cabinet color in the backsplash spreads that shade upwards, allowing you to use more of that tone in the overall kitchen design.
Creates Contrast with Countertop
This approach enables you to use the backsplash as a contrasting accent to the countertop material. The two surfaces complement each other without exactly matching.
Provides More Design Options
Matching the backsplash to the cabinets gives you more freedom to choose a countertop material based on function and budget, without feeling like it has to coordinate with the backsplash.
Visually Separates Surfaces
Different colors or materials help differentiate the countertop and backsplash zones, defining them as distinct areas with separate functions.
Easier to Update
If you remodel and change your countertop, you won’t necessarily have to replace the backsplash if it coordinates with the cabinetry instead.
Best Practices for Matching Backsplash to Countertops or Cabinets
Whichever approach you take, follow these guidelines:
- Consider the size of the kitchen. Contrasting works better in larger kitchens, while a unified look helps small kitchens feel expansive.
- Look at the countertop and cabinet materials on their own and together. Make sure your eye is drawn where you want it to be.
- Visualize the entire space, including flooring. Everything should coordinate, not compete.
- Use neutral cabinetry or countertops if choosing a bold, contrasting backsplash tile.
- Incorporate other accessories that tie the cabinets and countertop together, like hardware.
- Select glass, stone or tile backsplashes that work with your countertop if you have natural stone.
- Install the backsplash so the bottom lines up or overlaps the countertop slightly to tie them together.
- Consider ease of cleaning based on material absorbency and number of seams.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you always match backsplash to countertop?
It’s not mandatory, but it is one popular design approach that creates a streamlined look. Evaluate your overall kitchen design goals and style preferences before deciding.
Should backsplash match cabinet hardware?
Matching the metal finish of cabinet hardware like knobs or pulls to a metal or stone backsplash accent can create a very coordinated look. But it’s not required if hardware plays a more subtle role.
Should backsplash match kitchen faucet?
The kitchen faucet does not necessarily have to match the backsplash, but complementary brushed metals and finishes can tie them together nicely.
What if countertop and cabinets don’t match?
If your countertop and cabinets are different colors or materials, the safest bet is usually to match the backsplash to the countertop since that is visually dominant. But assess your specific kitchen layout.
Can backsplash tie countertop and cabinets together?
Yes, a backsplash containing colors from both the cabinets and countertop is a great way to unify all elements. For example, use a granite-looking tile backsplash with cream cabinets and black granite countertops.
Choosing whether to match your kitchen backsplash with your countertop or your cabinets significantly impacts the style and feeling of the space. Consider how the eye moves around the kitchen, and make sure your choice enhances your design goals. Tying the backsplash to the countertop creates a polished, upscale look that maximizes the counter surface. Matching the backsplash to the cabinetry can help ground the cabinets and expand that color upward. Carefully evaluate the pros and cons for your particular kitchen layout and style. With strategic planning, your backsplash can tie the whole room together into a cohesive, striking space you’ll love.