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Our kitchens have be­come so much more than the cen­tral work­sta­tions of our homes. Open-plan de­sign has placed the busiest room front and cen­tre of the liv­ing space, pro­vid­ing a gath­er­ing spot for fam­ily and friends from ca­sual even­ing meals to for­mal gath­er­ings, so it needs to look its best at all times.

Cen­tral to a kitchen’s look is the choice of splash­back, tra­di­tion­ally a pro­tec­tive sur­face be­hind the cook­top, sink and bench­tops and de­signed to pro­tect the wall from wa­ter, greasy marks and splat­ters.

These days, how­ever, it has evolved into an even big­ger style state­ment about the kitchen — and po­ten­tially the whole house.

“The splash­back is such a key part of the kitchen, both in terms of how it func­tions and how it looks, so it’s im­por­tant to put some con­sid­er­a­tion into what sort will work best in your space,” says James Nash, kitchen de­signer at Kitchen Con­nec­tion.

“There are gen­er­ally three fac­tors to con­sider when se­lect­ing your splash­back — bud­get, de­sign and prac­ti­cal­ity.”

Ma­te­rial mat­ters

With sev­eral style choices now avail­able — from tiles to glass to stain­less steel — it’s im­por­tant to choose the right splash­back ma­te­rial for your space.

“The more clas­sic kitchen ren­o­va­tions tend to suit a tiled splash­back, ei­ther a sub­way or pat­terned tile,” says de­signer Sarah Comer­ford, di­rec­tor of ren­o­va­tion man­age­ment com­pany Home By Belle.

“Mod­ern kitchen ren­o­va­tions can in­clude the use of smoked mir­ror, glass, or if you like tiles, a mo­saic with the in­clu­sion of a metal­lic fea­ture.”

Win­dow splashbacks have gained pop­u­lar­ity in re­cent years, es­pe­cially with dis­play home builders.

James says there are pros and cons to this strik­ing style.

“Win­dow splashbacks are a great way to in­tro­duce the gar­den and nat­u­ral light into your kitchen,” he says.

“But they will show smears and splashes so do re­quire reg­u­lar clean­ing. They can also re­duce your pri­vacy so they’re best used

where there is a pri­vate gar­den space or sim­i­lar that frames the win­dow.”

Out­stand­ing de­ci­sions

An­drew Dee from Won­der­ful Kitchens says coloured glass is still a pop­u­lar op­tion while tra­di­tional tiles are mak­ing a come­back in some con­tem­po­rary kitchen spa­ces.

It re­ally gets down to per­sonal style, main­te­nance needs and cost.

“A glass splash­back is seam­less and easy to clean,” An­drew says. “There are lots of colours and fin­ishes avail­able so it can be made to fit any space. Plus, be­ing a re­flec­tive sur­face it adds an­other di­men­sion to your kitchen.

“Tiles are also be­com­ing pop­u­lar again in new homes be­cause new sealants have hit the mar­ket which can pre­vent grout from dis­colour­ing, mak­ing them more at­trac­tive.”

If you want to make your splash­back the fo­cal point of your kitchen de­sign, James sug­gests choos­ing a lux­ury fin­ish such as mar­ble or you could sim­ply opt for a pat­terned tile or choose a her­ring­bone or chevron lay­out in dif­fer­ent colours.

“We’ve also seen some re­ally in­ter­est­ing splashbacks cre­ated us­ing Laminex and Cae­sar­stone,” he says.

“Both ma­te­ri­als of­fer great de­signs from con­crete in­spired looks to mar­ble veins al­low­ing you to in­stantly achieve var­ied de­sign ef­fects.” More Home by Belle, home­by­; Kitchen Con­nec­tion, kitchen­con­nec­; Won­der­ful Kitchens, won­der­fulk­

Dark splashbacks, such as this one in the Ore­lia by Raw­son Homes, add el­e­gance to a con­tem­po­rary kitchen; raw­son­

Sub­way tiles are a mod­ern take on a clas­sic look. Go for con­trast­ing grout, as used in this de­sign from Kitchen Con­nec­tion; kitchen­con­nec­

A win­dow splash­back, such as this one in Claren­don’s Madi­son 38 de­sign, will flood your kitchen with nat­u­ral light; claren­

Metal­lic colours of gold and bronze lift the kitchen to new style heights in this space by Yvette Philips In­te­rior De­sign; yvet­ Pic­ture: Spencer Dungey

Cae­sar­stone bench­tops (above) have been car­ried through to the splash­back in this de­sign from Kitchen Con­nec­tion; kitchen­con­nec­tion.

You can’t beat the clas­sics, es­pe­cially this colour combo. Liver­pool sub­way glazed ce­ramic tiles (be­low) in off-white, green tea and black from Tile Mega Mart; tile­mega­

Gio To­tora tiles from Di Lorenzo (left) use the same pat­tern for the walls and floors in shades of grey;

Al­loy Metal Tiles cre­ated this metal­lic splash­back for in­te­rior de­signer Bren­dan Wong us­ing the state­ment ubiq­uity tile from Karim Rashid; al­loy­de­ Pic­ture: Ma­ree Homer

A her­ring­bone pat­tern in navy and white tiles is a win­ner from Tile Mega Mart.

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