Choosing a backsplash tile can be stressful and choosing the wrong backsplash tile can break an otherwise great kitchen. I'm going to make the decision easy for you.
When dealing with hard surfaces, pattern on pattern does not work well together. A granite countertop has enough pattern going on all by itself. Trying to find a patterned tile that will match the undertones in your stone and not look distracting is a hard task. Take the two kitchens below for example. The dark brown kitchen on the left is just too busy. Our eyes have no where to rest. The kitchen on the right is also too busy but notice the pink tones in the backsplash clashing with the granite.
If you have granite then you have a busy pattern on your countertop. Do yourself a favor and install a solid color backsplash tile. You won't have to worry about matching the undertones in the counter to all the undertones in the tile pattern. The kitchen below looks clean and calm. Our eyes aren't darting all over looking for an end to the chaos.
If you are installing a solid color countertop this is the only time you should use patterned backsplash tile, but proceed with caution. Patterned tile needs to be selected carefully. What you see on display at your local home store and what is popular on Pinterest is usually what is trending at the moment and it will make your kitchen feel dated much sooner than you will like. 1”x1” square mosaic tile was a trend, then linear mosaic tile was a trend. Currently, encaustic tile is having a moment. It's ok to install design elements that are trending but be sure you are installing them because you will like how it looks for many years. Not just until the next trend rolls in.
Subway tile has been trending for a while but it is still a timeless choice thanks to it's clean lines. It works with so many design styles it's hard to go wrong with subway tile.
Pattern on a vertical surface will be much more intense than pattern on a flat surface. Even with a solid color countertop a busy backsplash may still just be too busy.
The color of your tile and grout will look different when you see it in the store or showroom than it will in your finished space with your undercabinet lighting. Gather samples of your counter, tile, grout and cabinetry and view it in different lighting to weed out any undertones that don’t go together.
If a solid color tile is not your thing and you really like pattern, install a matching granite full height backsplash. I personally feel this works better on stones that have a fluid movement to them vs. blotchy, speckled patterns.
If you have a busy countertop (I'm looking at you, granite), choose a solid color backsplash tile. Don't stress yourself out trying to find patterned tile with the correct undertone to go with your stone. Most likely, you wont find the right one.
If you like pattern on your backsplash, choose a solid color countertop.
If solid anything makes you miserable, you're wild and love pattern, install a full height stone backsplash in the same stone as your countertop. Avoid speckled, splotchy patterns and choose something with movement.
Most of our countertops have items we use everyday sitting out on them. A coffee pot, toaster, stand mixer and canisters. The hard finishes in our kitchen should be a clean backdrop for everything else that lives in the room. So don't worry if you think a solid tile will be boring or blah. By the time everything is put away there will be so much going on you won't feel that way for long.
What kind of backsplash do you have now? Do you see something you would change?