5 Kitchen Backsplashes That Will Never Go Out of Style - 'These Are Timeless Picks,' Say Designers

A backsplash should once-in-a-kitchen's-lifetime investment, so pick wisely. Here are 5 styles that we think will stand the test of time

A kitchen with marble splashback that goes up the wall
(Image credit:  Julie Soefer. Design: Marie Flanigan)

Updating your kitchen backsplash is possible, but it's a time-consuming process and a big investment. Ideally, it's something you only have to do once when you first remodel a kitchen. 'Kitchens are an investment that not many people can afford to redo every few years,’ says interior designer, Kristina Phillips. 'Creating a timeless look will ensure that the space will not look dated or too trendy.’

The problem is that it's hard not to get influenced by interior design trends when researching your dream kitchen backsplash. And if this is something you're planning to do once, it's necessary to look beyond what's in fashion, instead considering factors like durability, heat resistance, and of course how it blends with the wider aesthetic of the room. With that in mind, here are 5 kitchen backsplash ideas that the designers think will withstand the test of time.

1. Tile

A kitchen tile

(Image credit: Laure Joliet. Design: Striegel Agacki Studio)

There is something timeless and reliable about the standard tile. When in doubt, it's a great option for your kitchen splashback. You can paint around the tiling to update the wider kitchen color schemes, but a kitchen tile feels like a constant.

When it comes to shape, as cliché as it seems, subway tiling always works. 'It's never offensive, it comes in a million different colors and finishes, and there are so many pattern options that it can be used in virtually every kitchen,'says Deborah Buelow of Cedar Architecture/

Seth Ballard, principal of Ballard + Mensua Architecture in Washington is also a fan of the classic subway tile. 'The classic 3x6 white subway tile with a few optional variables has gone into kitchens we did in the 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s, and the 20s,' he says. 'It goes with Arts and Crafts, cottage as well as transitional homes and can even jump to modern homes as well.'

If you want a little modern update to your subway tile, go for slightly longer in size or consider changing the tile and grout color combination for a bolder grid look in the kitchen.

2. Countersplashes

A kitchen with splashback running up the wall

(Image credit:  Julie Soefer. Design: Marie Flanigan)

Another enduring style is blurring the boundary between the countertop and the kitchen backsplash. We're calling it the countersplash - where both are made of the same material to create a seamless look that brings a minimalist kitchen vibe and feels harmonious.

‘Running the same countertop material up the walls is another technique that will stand the test of time,’ says interior designer, Kristina Phillips. ‘I advise my clients to pay attention to the different types of finishes and materials being used, as congruency is always paramount in good design.'

It's a look we don't see going anywhere soon. If you want to bring a bit more of a trend feel to your kitchen, add a chef's shelf where your backsplash ends. This can be a great place to display your more aesthetic kitchen essentials like copper pots and pans, chopping boards, or even a few pots for a mini herb garden.

3. The high-end sheen of Zellige

A shaker kitchen with white tiling

(Image credit: Michael Clifford. Design: Lisa Staton)

Zellige is a bit of a new phenomenon in the modern kitchen, typically reserved for rooms like bathrooms or powder rooms. But we think it's here to stay. Originally hailing from Morocco, zellige tiles are one of North Africa's biggest interior design exports. Made from clay and with a signature glaze, the uneven texture has a high-end feel and bounces light around the room.

Think about the color tile you opt for. Zellige looks beautiful in more pearly, lighter shades in the kitchen. I love Seattle home with a Shaker kitchen alternative by Lisa Staton. (I wrote about it in the early months of January this year, but it's still the kitchen I come back to time and time again for personal inspiration) White is also a reliable color for zellige, and will get your kitchen interior shimmering like the inside of an oyster shell.

'Depending on your cabinet color and countertop material, a simple white zellige tile would always look timeless,' says Kristina. 'The hand-chiseled patina gives an artisanal look with just enough luster to keep it fresh.'

4. Wow-factor with natural stone

A kitchen splashback made of veined marble

(Image credit: Julie Soefer. Design: Marie Flanigan)

Undoubtedly, natural stone is one of the most popular backsplash styles in the kitchen, and its popularity doesn't seem to be waning. Granite, marble and quartz (an engineered stone made out of stone chips, resins and pigment) are enduringly stylish, easy to clean, and incredibly durable, they also have a luxurious look that creates a high-end kitchen.

'White or neutral-toned natural stone is the way to go for a timeless look,' says Deborah Buelow of Cedar Architecture. 'Also choosing simple geometries like rectangles and squares allows the backsplash to be a beautiful backdrop to other kitchen elements that are easier to change out.'

'Incorporating the timeless allure of natural materials, such as marble and quartzite, elevates backsplash to ensure gorgeous aesthetics and material longevity,' says interior designer Marie Flanigan. 'The delicate veining of marble kitchens is always elegant and can seamlessly blend with various design palettes should the style of the kitchen change. Meanwhile, granite is reliably strong and can be worked into various styles or colors,' says Marie.

Quartzite is another material that is made from sandstone and the perfect choice for a kitchen made to last. 'Quartzite, with its robust durability and distinctive textures is a testament to enduring style as it also outlasts fleeting trends,' says Marie. 'Natural stone options are a stunning nod to nature, and as we know, nature never goes out of style.'

One downside with natural stone is that they might be a little on the expensive side. Consider what your budget is when it comes to your backsplash. Something natural will be more expensive, but there are other look-a-like options out there that might be a bit more budget-friendly.

5. Stainless steel

A kitchen with stainless steel splashback

(Image credit: Alison Henry / Officine Gullo)

We've noticed a real upward spike in stainless steel kitchens since we first reported on the trend last year. It seems that it's here to stay and with good reason. With the look and feel of a professional chef's kitchen, the look feels luxe and high-end and can help a kitchen feel modern and classic all at once.

Practically, stainless steel is durable and hygienic, both fantastic qualities for a lasting kitchen. It is hard-wearing and durable, withstanding the rigors of daily usage. It can also withstand high temperatures, so you don't need to worry about a hot pan damaging or marking your backsplash. Finally, stainless steel is a budget-friendly option. It brings the sheen of chrome but without the hefty price tag.

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Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.