Today I’m sharing an example where accent tile can help SAVE a white kitchen. Yes, you read that right… Sometimes accent tile is an emergency solution. Here’s where accent tile works.
Recommending accent tile is a rare unicorn for me
It’s as rare as a unicorn I know, that you’ll hear me talk about accent tile in a positive light.
But that’s because most of the time, what we see day-to-day is just bad, trendy tile that often dates in approximately 10 minutes. However, this SOS from a reader definitely needed it to warm up her stark white kitchen – one that did not relate to the new floor or the old brick wall.
What’s wrong with accent tile?
I hesitate to write too many posts that make accent tile an option because it’s soooooo rare that it really does work. In most cases, if you have a totally white kitchen – and feel that it needs SOMETHING in order to bring it to life – I’d still choose a solid COLOUR accent tile like blue or green (below) BEFORE I would install accent tile with a pattern, but this kitchen is definitely the exception.
Frankly, I think backsplash tile is something that doesn’t have to have a long shelf life. It’s not that hard to replace or update. But if you’re not handy or don’t hire professionals, then it seems like this permanent thing that can never change.
However, even hiring someone to do it, costs the same as a new piece of furniture. Or if all else fails, paint the offending backsplash until you can change it out.
Thank you for your blog. I have learned so much from it.
I have a question for you. During the pandemic we finally replaced our 1972 crumbling kitchen with a new floor, cabinets and countertop. The floor is blue, the countertop is white, the shaker cabinets are white, our appliances are white, and the paint is white (Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace). We do have a brick wall on one side of the room.
Everything is fine when the room is in full sunshine (Western exposure plus skylight), but at other times it can feel freakishly cold in there. I had assumed that I would put up white subway tiles as a backsplash.
But with the white space being so overwhelming and the blue being disconnected, I am now wondering whether I should install blue subway tiles instead (below).
My new kitchen is easy to clean, feels very bright, and I love having drawers instead of cupboards because they are so easy to reach into. But I’m very uncomfortable in the kitchen at certain times of the day when the colors become unfriendly and I can’t quite figure out what to do about it since even picking a paint chip is difficult for me.
Where Accent Tile Works
When I saw this kitchen, Spanish, encaustic tiles immediately came to my brain. Clearly the orange brick wall is staying AND it’s pretty. There’s nothing wrong with it. But we need to pull both colours together in this kitchen – both the dark blue floor and the brick wall – with a pattern to warm it up and make it feel like it belongs in this house.
This is what pattern is good for. It’s not simply for creating random “interest” in a plain room. Instead, the perfect pattern can pull together disparate colours almost MAGICALLY.
Because if you have two different colours going on in a room that are not connecting at all, the only thing to do is to bring in a pattern that has BOTH COLOURS in it.
In this case, we need a pattern for her backsplash that has not only the orange tones of the brick and the muted deep blue of the floor, but ALSO white. THIS is where a patterned tile is perfect. And Spanish style encaustic or painted tile often features a mix of these colours.
Colour placement is a big deal
The other thing to notice in this kitchen is not only the blue, orange and white colours, which is a perfectly pretty combination, but also the placement and balance of the colours. The unbroken white is all on one side, the rich orange brick on the other, and the blue floor is doing nothing to bridge them.
A patterned floor with blue and orange would be lovely in this kitchen too, maybe with a solid blue backsplash.
However, we can fix this with just the right pattern on the backsplash. And the charm it adds would make much more sense with the warm rustic brick. This also brings the feel of the brand new white kitchen in line with it.
If you make a colour mistake, just start decorating.
Don’t forget that even if this kitchen already had a solid white backsplash, there would still be a decent fix. Decorating with colour!
Here are a few ways to solve this white kitchen colour dilemma with decor:
Add pattern with textiles and art that pick up the two colours
Add some wood bowls and cutting boards to warm it up
Bring in lamps! (Lots of mood lighting that can stay on all day will warm it up a kitchen more than you might think)
Hang a large scale blue and white piece of art on the brick wall and bring in a collection of glazed terracotta pots above the cabinets
A good room needs a personality and that can come from more than the surfaces and finishes.
But I digress a bit here.
Because the big news is, this is the kitchen that is the exception to my constant cautions about accent tile.
Maria Killam is an acclaimed decorator, stylist, and a leading authority on colour. Known for her revolutionary Killam Colour System™ and her innovative Understanding Undertones® Neutral Colour Wheel, she's also an educator, sharing her expertise and insights on all things colour along with her timeless design aesthetic.
Colour Made Easy™