In The Design Studio: Four Ways to Pair Countertops and Backsplashes, or Not

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This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Earlier this week, AKG was honored with a first-place award for Best Kitchen Design Firm in Virginia Living’s Best of Virginia 2017 edition. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on HouzzPinterestFacebook and Twitter.

Like fine wine and cheese, pairing countertops and tile is an art of mix and match!

But which comes first? The chicken or the egg — I mean, the countertop or the backsplash?

While most homeowners are set on their cabinets style and colors, things get a little dicey when it comes to selecting countertops and backsplash. It seems the possibilities are endless and there are insane amount of combinations and materials.

First things first, let’s have a quick look at the counters and backsplash options (really fast!)

Countertop: If you think counter, the first thing that comes to mind is granite. Yes, granite is fantastic but there are some many other options out there — wood (butcher blocks), stainless steel, concrete, recycled glass, marble, quartz, manmade quartz, Formica, Corian, and did I say recycled-paper countertops? Yes, it’s a thing!

No matter what your life style, design taste or budget, there is a counter top for you.

Backsplash: The word “tile” became so broad in recent years that we no longer just talk about ceramic. Tiles for backsplash are made from porcelain, glass, recycled glass, stainless steel, salvage wood, wallpaper (yes, it’s making a big comeback!), mirror, concrete and much more. I think you get the point! If there is a material out there, it can be made into backsplash.

So how do you pair the two? Here are four ways to choose:

Pick the countertop first: Since you can’t function without a countertop (backsplash can always wait), focus on the counters first. Consider the durability of the stone compared to your lifestyle — how often do you cook, and what other activities are taking place on the counters? After deciding on function, figure out form. Do you like big veins or clean lines? Which pattern will work with your overall design style? No matter what, after collecting a lot (we know you did!) of small samples, make sure to visit the fabricators to see the full slab, so you can see all the variations of the piece.

Pick the tile first: After running around looking for cabinets and pinning ideas galore, you know that this tile is your must-have! This is the pop of color that you need in your life, or the statement piece for your kitchen. In the case of the customer in the photo below, they fell in love with this recycled skateboard backsplash, which made the selections for the countertops revolve around the fantastic colors of the skateboard. They narrowed it down to quartz, to have a muted countertop that let the backsplash shine.

Pick the same materials: Tile countertop is an option most people avoid it, preferring not to have grout lines on the counter. However, you can run your solid surface up to the cabinets. You will no longer need to match another material and it works for a large or a smaller space alike. You can run it all the way to the cabinets, or save some cost and just go with 4 inches high and paint the rest.

Phone a friend: Still not sure what will work best for you project? Here is your last option: Hire a pro! If you just can’t make a decision to save your life, are having hard time seeing the full picture, or are just lost between slabs of countertops, it is best to hire a designer to help you chop down the selections, offer pairings that work and give you your weekends back!

Tell us: Love your countertop and backsplash combination? Please post a photo in the comments section below and share the details.

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