Article by: Meera Innes

The functional nature of sinks might not always inspire style, but the backsplash can be a bathroom centerpiece. Backsplashes help to protect the wall from water damage, but the myriad materials, colors and finishes also make this a small feature that can transform the feel of a bathroom and add drama, polish or character.

Create a centerpiece. Extending the backsplash over an entire wall — or, as here, a column — creates a feature wall that showcases the sink area. The use of white subway tiles throughout a large bathroom might appear too sterile, so choosing the same tiles in a different color with contrasting grout is a fresh idea that gives a pristine bathroom some much-needed zing.

Go for glamour. If opulence is your style, then it doesn’t get much more gorgeous than this custom inlaid wood backsplash. Polished natural wood inlaid with floral motifs isn’t your everyday sink backdrop and will require maintenance to keep it in perfect condition, but why not choose stunning artwork to gaze at first thing in the morning and last thing at night?

Contrast with polish. Give distressed furniture a twist by combining it with a clean, contemporary backdrop. The backsplash used here is made simply from two large, distinctly modern concrete tiles that quietly showcase the understated sink. 

Leaving the wall behind the sink bare could have rendered this area wanting in the style stakes, but the tiles make it a focal point, tying everything together with their smooth and rough finish that’s midway between the sleek sink and the Shabby Chic–style washstand.

Give it character. The vintage feel of the materials in this bathroom, from the stools to the mirrors, calls for a backsplash in a similarly antique style. The small cut and colorful pattern of the tiles used here make them an appropriate contrast to the stark white subway tiles. 

If you’re feeling bold, choosing slightly mismatched tiles in the same size and shape for each sink could also work in a bathroom aiming for this sort of bohemian charm.

Don’t be scared of brights. A backsplash is an easy way to add punchy color to bathroom decor, which often errs on the neutral side. This backsplash’s smooth, modern finish and long lines are in keeping with the overall style of this contemporary bathroom. Aim for cohesion, not clashing, in a space as streamlined as this.

Define your sink area. Backsplashes aren’t just for the wall — your floor could use the love, too. The way this backsplash rolls down into the floor tiles gives this sink the red-carpet treatment. The Moroccan design is a quirky choice that lends the contemporary feel of this bathroom a pleasing bohemian twist.

Keep it quiet. If your bathroom is a haven where you like to unwind and escape the chaos of life, then a muted palette might just hit the right tone. The gray-blue of this backsplash doesn’t fight with the striking Victorian-style ceramic floor tiles, yet quietly enhances the gray tones of the vanity unit and paneling.

Choose white in a small space. Even the simplest backsplash can make all the difference to a sparsely decorated bathroom. Here, the humble subway tile adds plenty of interest to a run-of-the-mill white suite. All-over white was the best choice for keeping the decor clean and enhancing a sense of space in this mini loft bathroom, while wooden details in the door, window and accessories add a warm edge.

Play with color and texture. It could have been tempting to follow through on the reflective theme here by creating a mirrored backsplash, but these colorful iridescent tiles provide a refreshing contrast with enough shine for consistency. The hint of art deco about the tiles complements the style of the mirror and cabinet while keeping the overall look modern.

Work a neat repeat. If you’ve used tiles elsewhere in the bathroom and you have some left over, it makes perfect sense to use the remainder on the backsplash. It’s a less adventurous choice, but it ensures that your theme is consistent, and you can be certain it’ll match the decor.

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