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Beautiful Kitchens

"Ideas for an Eye-Catching Backsplash"
Beautiful Kitchens, Summer 2007

Tile designer Sara Baldwin offers tips for adding drama and one-of-a-kind beauty to your backsplash.

Sara Baldwin began her career as a painter but has made kitchen backsplashes her canvas of choice for the past 15 years. A designer for New Ravenna Mosaics, she specializes in using pattern to create a bold focal point. “There’s a difference between isolated and allover backsplash treatments,” she says. “You have to make a choice where you want to draw attention, and what areas should be simple by contrast.” Her own designs and patterns are brilliant examples.

Start with a Room’s Strengths. Baldwin likes to be careful that a backsplash doesn’t compete with cabinets. In this kitchen, plain white tiles sit in the shadows under hung cabinets, while the arched window cries out for the drama of mosaic floral vines.

Use Scale for Impact. If you’re after big impact, there’s nothing quite as dynamic as the surprise of large-scale pattern in a small space. If a small area of backsplash is not your chosen focal point, however, consider patterns that echo the hues, textures, and proportions of your cabinets.

Playing with Pattern

Choosing which patterns to use where ultimately depends on the size and shape of the area to be covered and the dimensions of surrounding cabinets. “Patterns should reflect structure,” Baldwin says, “and be scaled accordingly.” More of her tips:

Random bursts of decoration are lovely, but I like these best on textured or geometric grounds for a sense of visual order.”

Horizontal designs are dramatic used on long stretches of wall space, or as counterpoint alongside soaring cabinets.”

Overall patterns are more impressionistic and can begin and end abruptly, avoiding the cost of customizing proportions.” End of Article

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