Backsplashes are great—but these unexpected backsplash interpretations are even greater.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated January 22, 2019
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It’s been made more than clear that kitchen backsplash ideas or a solid bathroom backsplash can totally change the look of any kitchen or bathroom—but for anyone looking for a bathroom or kitchen design that goes above and beyond the standard, it’s time to look beyond tile. Tile is a tried-and-true backsplash material, but other materials (or tile applied in unexpected ways) can create a backsplash no one else will have; it just takes a little creativity and willingness to take a design risk.

Unique backsplash ideas promise to be eye-grabbing. They can set a kitchen apart, even if the rest of the details scream farmhouse kitchen. They can make a bathroom pop, even if the bulk of the design choices are rather humble. And they can make sure no one else will have a kitchen quite like yours.

As with any décor idea, it is possible to go overboard. A bold, unique backsplash should not be paired with a stand-out countertop or an elaborate custom soaking tub. In order to really function as a focal point of the space, it should be balanced out by understated cabinetry and complementary hardware. It should be surrounded by either neutral paint colors or tones pulled straight from the colors already in the backsplash. And it should feel risky and convention-pushing—otherwise it’s just a standard backsplash.

The point of having a unique backsplash is not copying exactly what someone else has done, so take any inspiration backsplash shots as prompts, not the final project. Brainstorm different material options, shape selections, color schemes, and more to really make the look custom to your home. Think about different ways to define a backsplash, whether it covers only a small space behind the sink or it stretches all the way up to the ceiling. And consider picking up sample tiles or material swatches to make sure the look fits in with the rest of the space before making any serious renovation plans.

Start with these unique backsplash ideas, and take note of any details that particularly attract you—they could be part of the inspiration for your own unexpected backsplash creation.

Wallpaper backsplash

Tiles—or a peel and stick backsplash—in a scalloped shape are a departure from the go-to square or rectangular shape. In a neutral color, they’re pretty enough to fit into any preexisting bathroom or kitchen design.

Small tile backsplash

Most backsplashes cover a wide swath of wall, either all the way up to upper cabinets or to a mirror. Put a twist on that convention by shrinking a backsplash down to just the bare minimum, covering only the space immediately behind a sink. (Bonus: Installation will cost much less.)

Marble backsplash

Spread a luxe material everywhere by using countertop material as a backsplash. Try marble or granite for an elegant look, or concrete, quartz, or wood for a more casual one.

Mirrored backsplash

Turn a backsplash into a mirror, of sorts, with reflective materials. (This one is better for kitchens.) Using smaller tiles, rather than a large sheet of mirror, helps keep the space from feeling too much like a department store.

Colorful backsplash

Add a little extra contrast to a backsplash with two-toned tiles, or material with two colors. Bonus points if it’s an unexpected shape, too.

Window backsplash

It’s difficult to make a windowed backsplash inherently unique—leave that one to the scenery outside. Instead, just sit back and enjoy a little extra natural light.

Vertical backsplash

Turn horizontal tiles on their sides—literally—with a vertical backsplash arrangement.

Ombre backsplash

Ombre is everywhere, including kitchens and bathrooms. Try it with either uneven edges—a backsplash that stops suddenly—or color fades.