One interesting place to show your creativity in a kitchen remodel is with the backsplash. Portlanders have come up with some pretty wild, and some pretty beautiful, solutions to the backsplash problem. In this post, I’ll take a look at a few approaches to the backsplash. These should give you some good ideas to get you started. I’ll discuss:

-Metal Backsplashes

-Taking it to the Ceiling

-What’s Behind the Wall


-Glass Tiles


Metal Backsplashes

Metal backsplashes give the kitchen a real modern, industrial look. If you like stainless steel appliances, you might want to have a metal backsplash to complete the look. I’ve seen some where the metal was cut into tile-like pieces and arranged in an artistic way. You can use a variety of metals for a contrast in color, tone, and texture. Some use stamped metal which looks like an ornate tin ceiling. If you use bronze, it will age nicely, giving you a new look over time.

Take it to the Ceiling

You don’t have to stop with just a traditional backsplash height. You can take your tiles clear from the counter to the ceiling. When the backsplash highlights your cabinets and appliances, this approach is very handsome and adds something new to the kitchen beyond a simple painted wall.

What’s Behind the Wall

Take advantage of the attributes of your home. I saw one home where the kitchen shared a wall with a room with a fireplace. We discovered that we could leave the wall open in the kitchen and expose those old bricks. The homeowner decided to paint the brick to match the rest of their kitchen and now they have one of the more unique kitchens I’ve ever seen.


Paneling can look great as a backsplash. There are any variety of woods available and then you can paint the panels to suit the look you’re going for. If you choose, you might even go with knotty pine, a rather retro look which I bet you could work with in Portland. If the panels are arranged in a horizontal arrangement, they will contrast with the general verticality of kitchen cabinets to add visual appeal to the room.

Glass Tiles

Glass tiles are an interesting solution. You can use clear glass which adds texture to the painted wall behind. Or you could use tinted glass. When you add in stone tiles to break up the patterns, the varied look and texture of the backsplash will really come alive. Some use long, thin glass and stone tiles to create a very modern look. You could even use a few large stone or ceramic tiles to add a bold design aspect to the small, slender tiles.


Since I’m an outdoorsman, I was particularly taken by a backsplash which used stacked river stones behind the sink and stove. Since we’re such a river town, you might consider that, too.

Don’t forget the kitchen windows! Brighten up the room and bring more natural light in to your breakfast nook by adding some new windows. Check out our window design guide below.