Vanessa Hudgens' new kitchen uses the best tricks designers know to bring light to a dark space

This kitchen is the perfect balance of light and shade. Designers weigh in to tell us why we should all be taking design inspiration from Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens
(Image credit: Alamy)

If you've ever watched Vanessa Hudgens' home tours before, you'll associate her stlye with light, bright, Californian living.

But the actress and awards host recently sold her house (that had previously been owned by Gary Oldman) and has now gone for a different vibe. Her new modern kitchen is a darker, moodier departure for her, and uses some clever tricks we can all take design notes from, as designers explain to us why - and how - it works.

The actress best known for her leading roles in High School Musical and The Princess Switch, has taken to Instagram to wish her fiancé, baseball player Cole Tucker, a 'happy birthday' in a kitchen with a marble backsplash which has not only caught our eye, but received the seal of approval from the professionals.

Vanessa’s Instagram post shows off a kitchen with dark floor to ceiling wood cabinets in relatively dim lighting which is offset by a modern backsplash made of marble, with matching worktops. The marble adds life and lightness to the space and it's a choice Becky Sheaof Becky Shea Design (BS/D), is a fan of. 

‘The natural movement of the stone and contrast with the darker cabinets create a visually attractive, fun backdrop for when you're cooking,’ Becky says. ‘Had she gone with a darker or less interesting stone from a movement standpoint, the backsplash would have likely just been lost in the void of the dark kitchen or too boring with a basic stone or tile.’

A navy kitchen cabinet with gold wire mesh panels

This kitchen uses a similar technique to Vanessa's, allowing the subtle veining of the backsplash to catch the light

(Image credit: Nicole Dianne Photography. Design: Collected Interiors)

Becky also tells us that you can capitalise on a backsplash in terms of infusing personality into a space with minimal input. ‘Since backsplashes are in your and your guests' line of sight whenever you're in the kitchen, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce a fun material,’ she says. ‘While I always go for longevity in design choices, backsplashes are also not the hardest item to change, so it's a spot where you won't break the bank if you end up wanting to change it up down the line.’ 

a kitchen with a bold marble backsplash

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Le Whit)

Elizabeth Vergara of Vergara Homes in New York City echoes Becky's praise. She tells us that the secret to the success of a backsplash like Vanessa’s is not just in its colors, but its texture. ‘If you are looking for an interesting way to design your backsplash, you'll want to look at slabs that have heavy veining,’ the designer explains. ‘This becomes its own work of art on the counter and walls!  I recommend visiting your local slab stone yard for a fun visit to look at all the options.' 

Elizabeth also points out the effect of the lighting that bookends the marble features in this kitchen in drawing attention to the room-enlarging power of the backsplash. She says: ‘This is a great way to make a dark kitchen light up! The LED lighting on top of the upper cabinets brings your eye up to the lit ceiling. The lighting under the toe kick really makes the floor feel like you're floating! And, of course, the under cabinet lighting makes that backsplash pop!’. 

When picking the right backsplash to break up the monotony of monochrome kitchen cabinets, you can take inspiration from Vanessa’s post and Becky Shea’s handy tips. Shea explains that ‘number one is definitely durability. Backsplashes are exposed to plenty of harsh elements and high heat, so I tend to go with something like a natural stone, ceramic or porcelain tiles.’

Brass kitchen by Maddux Creative

(Image credit: Maddux Creative. Photo credit: Michael Sinclair)

She goes on to remind us to ‘keep in mind some natural materials may require sealing' and that 'larger tiles can make small kitchens feel a bit bigger.  Make sure to take samples and see them in the actual kitchen (or with your other samples if you're building from scratch) to see how light interacts and how the samples work with other materials you're using.  I also love to design backsplashes that incorporate texture (think a more rough stone), which adds depth and dimension.’ 

Recreating a kitchen backsplash like the design debuted on Vanessa’s Instagram couldn’t be easier. Artem Kropovinsky, Founder of New York-based studio Arsight’s advice when it comes to mimicking this design is to ‘aim for a balance between functionality and aesthetics’, a tip clearly remembered by the designer of the kitchen that is not only admired by us, but liked by nearly a million of the actress’ loyal followers. 

Katie is a freelance lifestyle writer who has recently finished an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London. Before writing for Livingetc, Katie has gained bylines with The Caterer and The Telegraph and has interned at several lifestyle magazines including Grazia and Red. When not scrolling through Pinterest for interior design inspiration, Katie can be found writing about women's issues, trying out new beauty trends for her blog or seeing a West End show.