Special Nonexistent Furniture

by Susan Serra

Susan Serra CKD, CAPS, is president of Susan Serra Associates, Inc., the kitchen design firm she has owned and operated for over 20 years and business entity for her lifestyle brands, Scandinavian Made www.scandinavianmade.com and Bornholm Kitchen (www.bornholmkitchen.com.) An expert on kitchen design, with countless projects published in national media over the years, Susan is a speaker, a go-to source for the media on kitchen design issues, and a consultant to brands in the kitchen industry. She attends as many design shows in the US and abroad as she can during the year with eyes wide open. Susan thinks about kitchens…a lot!

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  • Photo Credit: Susan Serra
  • After all the designing is done, and cabinetry, countertops, and appliances selected and  ordered, the next piece of the kitchen puzzle to put into place is the backsplash.  The backsplash is the wall area between the countertop and start of wall cabinets, and it's one of the best places to show off your personality and creativity.

    Conventional wisdom is that the backsplash needs to be super-duper durable because all sorts of food stuff will constantly be coming in contact with it. Defaulting to easy-care tile is the most typical response to the fear-of-the-stained-backsplash syndrome. Have no (actually, less) fear! Lessening your fear of backsplash durability issues opens up many more product and material opportunities for you to design into your kitchen.
  • Photo Credit:​ Susan Serra
  • Flooring is a very fun, interesting, and different category of product to use on a backsplash. I've used flooring on countertops, why not the backsplash? Flooring products will surely possess the durability factor in most cases. Scale and proportion are #1 issues to consider, so have a keen eye on product dimensions. Mark out the flooring product dimensions to scale on paper or on the wall itself to be sure the backsplash looks good to your eye.

    Some cool flooring options for the backsplash are cork tiles, short height planking, 18"x18" tiles that can clear the entire height of the backsplash, perfectly engineered stone tiles that can be installed without grout (love that look), wood decking tiles and more, just limited by your imagination.
  • Photo Credit:​ Susan Serra
  • Express your inner backsplash artist (yes, you have one!). Prime the wall and start painting…any type of style. Anyone, absolutely anyone, is capable of creating abstract art. Practice on a sheet of 1/8" masonite and discover your hidden creative side. Add a clear ¼" or 3/8" piece of glass on top of your artwork to preserve and protect it. Practicing is fun!
  • Photo Credit:​ Susan Serra
  • A material for the backsplash, typically not considered, are sheets of glass cut to size by a local glass company, also available in many beautiful textures and colors. A retro look from the 80s and part of the 90s is to use the same material on the backsplash as is used on the countertop. Think twice before selecting a busy granite for this purpose, but a quietly textured engineered stone, slate, or soapstone is an updated way to get a visual flow into the kitchen, greatly expanding it.
  • Photo Credit:​ Susan Serra
  • Wallpaper (most durable are vinyl or vinyl-coated) and/or simple paint (high gloss or semi-gloss will be more durable than matte paints) are great solutions for the backsplash, as the kitchen will look more like a room, an interior environment, rather than a strictly utilitarian space. Rare and expensive handmade wallpaper? You may want to install an unobtrusive piece of glass on top
  • Photo Credit:​ Susan Serra
  • Take your time and think about this important design element of the kitchen. It is all potential, open to your creative expression, and builds on the other design elements of the kitchen. Do you have a fantasy kitchen backsplash? I bet you didn't know the backsplash could be a fantasy!

    - Susan
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