By Christina Kauffman
This isn’t your dirty metro station decor. The modern interpretation of the tiles that line subway tunnels in-cludes everything from shimmering glass to natural stone that can be installed in herringbone and other patterns, giving an otherwise neutral kitchen a pop of pizzazz.
“You can’t go wrong with a subway tile,” said Melanie Sammons, a project manager with O’Hanlon Kitchens, which serves Pennsylvania and Maryland. “It looks great with just about anything, modern or traditional.”
Sammons said the kitchen remodeler sees a big trend toward longer tiles, such as the 3 x 6 subway tiles, particularly in glass.
About three-quarters of O’Hanlon’s recent projects have included colored glass backsplashes, selected for their shine and ability to play well with most countertop surfaces in a variety of decors, she said.
Savvy consumers are avoiding the 4-inch square tiles popular in previous years and choosing more rectangular or linear tiles for a modern appeal, she said.
Backsplashes serve a practical function, protecting walls with a du-rable surface that’s easy to clean when cooking gets messy or dish-water splashes, but they can also bring together all the elements of a kitchen and give people a chance to make a design decision that might be too daring for whole walls, she said.
For example, a gray backsplash will complement a room where the gray creates a striking accent, she said.
A lot of times I tell people to bring in their color with that backsplash,” Sammons said. “By adding glass or mosaic, it takes a kitchen up to a contemporary or transitional look.”In another current trend, homeowners incorporate metal to tie together appliances, plumbing fixtures and cabinet hardware.
Stainless steel or copper subway tiles are mixed with glass and natural stone to avoid overwhelming a space with too much metal, she said.
O’Hanlon typically starts with a blank slate for complete kitchen remodels, using flooring, cabinetry, and countertop samples to select colors and textures that complement other kitchen design choices.
But for backsplashes added to finished kitchens, she recommends bringing home samples to see how the selected material works within the space.
She also advises her clients avoid too much contrast, particularly with white cabinets and a black backsplash, or vice versa. “Don’t make it striped,” she said. “That just doesn’t work.”