Choosing the right backsplash color for a white kitchen can be a daunting task. With so many colors and materials to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. But fear not! This complete guide will walk you through everything you need to know to choose the perfect backsplash color for your white kitchen.
An Introduction to Backsplashes
Before we dive into backsplash colors, let’s start with a quick overview of what a backsplash is and why it’s an important design element in any kitchen.
A backsplash is a vertical surface, typically made of tile, stone, metal, or other materials, that is installed on the wall behind a countertop, stove, or sink. Not only is a backsplash decorative, adding visual interest and personality to your kitchen, but it also serves some very practical purposes:
- Protects walls from splashes and spills: Installing a backsplash behind appliances and the sink helps protect your wall from water damage, stains, and grime. The surface is much easier to clean than drywall.
- Ties the space together: A backsplash brings harmony and cohesion to your kitchen by seamlessly tying the countertops, cabinets, and other elements together.
- Adds texture and color: Backsplash materials like tile or glass mosaic add beautiful color, texture, and pattern to your kitchen decor.
- Makes a design statement: From sleek stainless steel to handmade art tile, a backsplash is a way to add your unique personal style to the kitchen.
For many homeowners, the backsplash is a focal point of kitchen design, so you want to choose something you’ll love looking at each day. When designing your white kitchen, the backsplash color you select can take the space from bland to brilliant.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Backsplash Color
With a blank backsplash canvas awaiting your creative touch, how do you choose that perfect shade or color scheme? Here are some key factors to keep in mind:
Coordinating with Cabinets and Countertops
Your backsplash color doesn’t necessarily have to “match” your cabinets or counters exactly, but you want it to coordinate. For white kitchen cabinets, both cool-toned backsplashes (grays, blues) and warm-toned backsplashes (browns, terra cottas) can work beautifully.
Look at undertones of your existing elements to guide you. For example, if your white cabinets or countertops have creamy, warm undertones, that could point you toward a warmer backsplash color. Cool white cabinets might pair better with a cooler blue-gray tile.
Think about whether you want your backsplash to blend in subtly or make a bold statement. Contrasting colors can make the backsplash pop, while similar hues create a more seamless look.
The Room’s Architectural Style
What is the existing style of your kitchen and home? Is it modern and contemporary, farmhouse, traditional, craftsman, etc? Let the overall style guide your backsplash selection.
For instance, bold geometric cement tiles suit a modern kitchen, while Italian marble mosaic backsplashes match a more classical style. Don’t fight the existing architecture with something that clashes.
Natural Lighting in the Space
The amount and type of natural lighting in your kitchen should impact your color choice. Lighter backsplash colors like white, off-white, light grays, and soft pastels will maximize limited natural light, preventing the space from feeling dark and gloomy.
South-facing rooms awash in sun can handle deeper, bolder backsplash hues, from cobalt blue to eggplant purple. North-facing rooms may rely more on your backsplash to provide color and vibrancy.
At the end of the day, choose a backsplash color you genuinely love. Don’t select a trendy color that doesn’t speak to you. While you want your backsplash to coordinate with other elements, it should ultimately reflect your personal taste and style.
Think about which backsplash colors and materials make you happy each time you see them. There are no universally perfect or flawed options. Follow your joy.
Top Backsplash Color Ideas for White Kitchen Cabinets
Now let’s explore some of the best, most popular, and on-trend backsplash color schemes to pair with white kitchen cabinets:
1. White on White
Going with a white backsplash is a simple, clean choice that allows your cabinets to take center stage. An all-white kitchen exudes a bright, airy elegance.
Whether you select a stark bright white, an off-white like almond, or a material like marble that has natural white veining, several approaches create this timeless, classic look.
A few tips for executing the white on white look seamlessly:
- Choose whites with matching undertones and tones. For instance, pair a true white backsplash with a true white cabinet rather than clashing cool and warm shades.
- Use backsplash materials with natural texture and variation. Solid white tile can seem flat and boring. Opt for marble subway tile, stone mosaic sheets, or white Moroccan fish scale tile to add visual interest.
- Break up large expanses of white with contrasting grout lines or small accents of color, metallics, or wood.
Gray backsplashes are a versatile choice that complements any style of white cabinetry. The many shades of gray, from light silver to charcoal, provide countless options to match your specific cabinets and decor.
Light grays have an airy, tranquil vibe, while darker grays feel sophisticated and modern. With white cabinets, grays with purple, blue, or green undertones tend to look best, tying into the cool undertones nicely.
Consider glossy or polished gray subway tiles, matte gray/white marble mosaic, gray slate tile, or gray travertine. Gray stained wood plank backsplashes are also a stylish choice.
3. Navy Blue
For a bold, dramatic accent, navy blue backsplashes pair strikingly with bright white cabinetry. The contrast between the two colors grabs attention while also feeling classic.
Deep blue glass or ceramic subway tiles, blue Moroccan tiles, and blue granite, marble, or pebbles can all provide that vibrant pop of color. For a lighter effect, try soft pastel blue tiles.
Keep the rest of the kitchen design fairly simple to let the navy backsplash shine. This works especially well in modern or contemporary kitchens.
4. Black and White
The classic black and white pairing always hits the right sophisticated note. For white kitchens, use black backsplashes sparingly to create carefully planned accents and contrasts.
Some effective ways to implement black and white:
- Black subway tile or penny tile backsplash with thin white grout lines
- Black and white geometric Moroccan tile patterns
- Sections of black tile framed with white tile borders
- High contrast slab material like black marble and white quartzite
Avoid going overboard with the black, as you don’t want an overpowering or harsh look. Use it judiciously to add striking punctuation.
5. Wood Tones
Natural wood backsplashes complement white cabinetry beautifully, adding warmth and texture. The richest colors like medium to dark walnut, mahogany, and cherry work best to contrast with bright white.
Unfinished wood planks create a rustic, country charm. Distressed wood with visible knots and varied stains makes for an Old World style. Modern kitchens can opt for sleek and smooth wood backsplash panels.
Wood grains that range from espresso to honey connect the cabinets and counters in harmony. Plus, wood never goes out of style.
Verdant green backsplashes breathe life into an all-white kitchen. Green offers a wider spectrum of shades and tones than many other colors, providing you diverse options.
Soft minty greens and sage tones keep things calm and subdued. Emerald greens and forest hues make more of a statement. Sky blue-greens, like aqua or turquoise, add a tropical punch. Green glass or ceramic subway tiles are a classic choice.
Green granite, like Ubatuba, combines vibrance with natural texture. Faux malachite tiles or laminate sheets evoke natural patterns in a fresh colorway.
7. Reds and Burgundies
Just like navy blue, red makes a bold, dramatic pairing with white cabinetry. The high contrast creates visual drama and excitement. Deep Bordeaux reds and burgundies work especially well.
Red tiles featuring Moroccan patterns, like chevrons, add movement and geometric elegance. Red quartzite countertops can be extended into the backsplash for a seamless look.
For a lighter effect, pastel reds and pinks can infuse your white kitchen with energy and warmth. Terracotta tiles also bring in rich reddish-orange earthiness.
8. Metallic Accents
While most backsplashes use colored materials like tile or stone, metallics introduce eye-catching shine and reflective light. Metallic backsplashes and accents suit contemporary kitchen styles.
Polished metal sheets in stainless steel, copper, and brass pair nicely with crisp white cabinetry. You can also find individual metallic mosaic tiles or borders.
Just use metallics sparingly, like a mini subway tile backsplash pattern. Keep the rest of the decor simple to avoid an overly busy feel. The reflective quality acts like a neutral highlight against white.
9. Mixed Tones Patterns
Why choose just one backsplash color when you can have a vibrant combination? Mixing and matching tile materials, shapes, and tones/shades is a big trend.
Create custom patterns like a morphed checkerboard with varying colors and textures. Frame neutral white tiles with eye-catching accent tiles in multiple colors.
Pair colors with complementary tones, like navy with pale blue-gray, sage green with cream, or brick red with burnt orange. The options are endless for making white cabinets pop.
10. Modern Minimalism
Prefer a super simple, minimalist look? Monochromatic backsplashes are the way to go. Use a single tile material in one color, like glossy white subway tile, for a seamless contemporary aesthetic.
Or opt for solid backsplash materials like quartz, acrylic, or tile that mimic natural stone. This maintains a minimalist vibe while adding organic variation.
Keep the grout matching or neutral in tone. Skip busy patterns or competing colors. Let your gorgeous white cabinetry shine.
The Best Backsplash Materials for White Kitchens
In addition to color, the texture and material of your backsplash impacts its look and feel. What options pair exquisitely with white cabinets? Here are our top picks:
- Subway tile – glossy or matte glazed ceramic; endless color options
- Marble tile or slab – white, gray, or colorful veining in a natural stone
- Metal tile or sheet – stainless steel, copper, etc.
- Glass tile or mosaic – shiny and reflective for metallics or solid colors
- Stone slab or tile – travertine, onyx, quartzite; earthy and durable
- Porcelain, ceramic, or terra cotta tile – artisan patterns and tones
- Cement tile – handmade, bold patterns and vibrant glazed color
- Wood planks – warm, organic contrast to white cabinetry
- Mirror tiles – reflective and bright for modern kitchens
- Mosaic sheets – uniform mini tiles creating patterns
Mix and match materials for even more visual interest. Accent classic white subway tiles with metal mosaics. Combine marble, glass, and porcelain art tiles.
Consider the practicality of cleaning and sealing for materials like natural stone. Select durable, water-resistant materials behind sinks and stoves.
What to Avoid with a White Kitchen Backsplash
While the possibilities for white kitchen backsplashes are nearly endless, a few approaches are best avoided:
- All neutral, no color – An entirely white, beige, or gray backsplash can end up looking washed out and bland. Infuse it with subtle pops of color.
- Too chaotic and busy – Limit yourself to 2-3 complementary colors and materials. Overcomplicated backsplashes compete with the cabinets.
- Dark or bright colors overwhelming the space – Keep bold backsplash colors like black or red to compact areas, not floor to ceiling.
- Severe contrasts – Don’t pair jarringly opposing shades like orange and purple. Find colors with shared tones.
- Matching countertops exactly – Extending countertops into the backsplash can make the whole area appear too monolithic. Introduce contrast.
- Ignoring the style – A slick modern kitchen needs a different backsplash look than an old-fashioned cottage kitchen. Make sure your choice fits the overall aesthetic.
6 Backsplash Design Tips for White Kitchens
Beyond color and material selection, how you design and install your backsplash impacts its look and function. Follow these backsplash design tips:
1. Decide Between a Full or Partial Backsplash
Full backsplashes cover the entire wall from countertops to ceiling. This provides maximum splatter protection. Partial backsplashes cap off 4-6 inches above the countertop. Lower maintenance and cost.
Full backsplashes work well with tile formats like subway tile that are suited to large uniform areas. Partial backsplashes can be handy for bolder accent tiles or materials.
2. Use Backsplashes to Define Kitchen Zones
Change up your backsplash tiles or colors in different functional kitchen zones. For example:
- Sink area: Metallic or stone tile for durability
- Range/stove: Fireproof tile like ceramic or porcelain
- Primary workspace: Patterns or textures to energize
This breaks up the look while maximizing utility.
3. Consider Installing a Accent Strip or Inlay
Add narrow contrasting strips of tile, metal, or wood along the edges or through the center of your backsplash. This defines boundaries, adds eye-catching details, and creates framed sections for tiles.
4. Combine Tiles in Set Patterns Not Randomly
Follow geometric patterns when combining colored accent tiles rather than randomly scattering them. Keep grout lines consistent. This creates harmony and intentional designs.
5. Include Decorative Inserts or Borders
Elevate a basic tile backsplash with decorative inserts, borders, or trim. For example, use molding at the top, bottom, or between stacked tiles. Frame the whole backsplash with decorative metal pieces.
6. Illuminate with Built-In Lighting
Install sconces, LED strips, or small lights directly on top of the backsplash to illuminate and highlight it. This adds ambiance and creates a focal point. Especially effective with glass, metal, and dimensional tile.
7 Creative Backsplash Ideas for White Kitchens
Need some extra backsplash inspiration? Here are 7 innovative ideas to make your white kitchen backsplash unique:
- Woven penny tile patterns – Weaving two colors of penny round tiles together adds unexpected visual texture and dimension behind your white cabinets.
- Herringbone layouts – Classic herringbone arrangements suit elongated rectangular subway tiles, marble, and wood planks. The zigzag patterns catch the eye.
- Geometric mosaics – Shapes like chevrons, overlapping circles, and stylized sunbursts create captivating geometric designs.
- Mix natural stones – Combining marble, travertine, slate, and onyx tiles creates organic nuance and depth. Pair with white grout.
- Display collected objects – Arrange seashells, colored glass, pottery shards, or other small collectables into a mosaic for artsy charm.
- Vintage advertisement tiles – Adding a few vintage tin advertisement tiles injects retro flair. Scour flea markets and antique shops for these rare finds.
- Unexpected textures – Integrate materials like corrugated metal, galvanized tin, wire mesh, pennies, or clay beads for quirky additions of texture.
Let your imagination run wild! Your white kitchen backsplash is a chance to add unique personality and artistry.
Backsplash Designs to Avoid with White Cabinets
While white kitchen cabinets offer amazing backsplash possibilities, a few design choices are best avoided:
- Solid black, beige, or gray backsplashes. These tend to look dull and drab with white cabinets. Infuse colors with texture and soft contrast instead.
- Intricate patterns covering every inch. Save ultra-busy backsplashes for small sections, not entire walls. Simplify most areas.
- Random eclectic mixes without cohesion.combine backsplash materials and colors purposefully, not haphazardly.Mismatching styles can clash.
- Super shiny, reflective finishes. Glossy and mirrored tiles work best when balanced with matte finishes.
- Delicate natural materials behind hot appliances. Avoid porous surfaces like limestone near ranges where grease may splatter.
- Visible unfinished edges of backsplash tiles. Finish edges for a clean, complete look.
The key is thoughtfully blending colors, patterns, and textures that enhance (not compete with) your lovely white cabinets.
Answering Your FAQs about White Kitchen Backsplashes
Let’s wrap up this guide by answering some frequently asked questions about backsplash designs for white kitchen cabinets:
What color backsplash goes best with white cabinets?
It depends on the look you’re after, but popular options include white, gray, navy, black, wood tone, green, and blue. Make sure your backsplash color has similar cool undertones to bright white cabinets for harmony.
How do you choose a backsplash?
Consider the overall kitchen style, color scheme, natural lighting, cabinet/counter colors, and your personal taste preferences. Also factor in practicalities like durability, maintenance, and moisture resistance.
Do you have to match backsplash to countertop?
It’s not mandatory, but coordinating colors and materials creates a seamless, integrated look. Tying countertop and backsplash together can be done with color, pattern, or repeating the same surface material.
Should a backsplash match or contrast cabinets?
Either approach works beautifully! Contrasting backsplashes make the cabinets