Improve your kitchen's outlook by installing a mosaic tile backsplash that showcases motifs, murals, and patterns.

By Ann Wilson
June 08, 2015

Want to give your kitchen a stylish lift? There may be no better way to make a drab kitchen fabulous than by dressing blank walls with mosaic tile backsplashes and/or murals. These fetching displays, be they monochromatic, pictorial, or prettily patterned, appealingly upholster spaces between countertops and upper cabinets and on range walls.

Mosaic tiles are smallish shapely tiles measuring 2 inches or smaller and are usually massed on a 12x12-inch mesh backing that makes handling and installing the tiles easier. The stone, glass, ceramic, porcelain, metal, and mixed-material tiles are available as squares, subway, octagons, circles, and ovals that are laid out in straight rows or prestacked in patterns, such as herringbone, checkerboard, brick, and staggered brick. Mosaic tiles can be installed as stand-alone backsplashes, as backsplash accents, or as components in larger murals.

Happily, your mosaic tile backsplash options are limited only by your budget, your imagination, and your (or your tile guy's) tile-laying skills. Here are a few ideas for using mosaic tiles to their best advantage.

Overall Interesting


Easily installed mosaic tile sheets bring plenty of bling for your buck. Consider using white polished marble subway tile mosaics in a staggered brick pattern to introduce subtle dimension and classic shine to perimeter walls. Take it up a notch by installing sheets of oval glass tiles executed in shifting shades of gray or by using sea green glass squares, laid in a single or double row, to embellish white matte-finish ceramic or honed-stone subway tile backsplashes. Want a backsplash that really pops? Opt for mesh sheets that feature vibrantly hued or high-contrast tile combinations; think shimmering green and blue glass rectangles or black and white porcelain hexagons arranged in a floral pattern.

Picture Perfect


Pictorial murals not only tell a story, but they go a long way to establishing a specific design style. Usually installed behind the range or on a large stretch of wall, these dimensional illustrations are most often sold as kits that can be embellished with complementary tiles. For old-world appeal, render still-life murals using neutral and hand-painted stone tiles; treat the image like the work of art it is and frame it in darker mosaic tiles and trims. If you prefer an unfussy style, look for botanical-series ceramic tile sets featuring simple motifs that can be grouped as punctuation points on a neutrally tiled wall. Go lighter and airier by choosing mural designs that showcase willowy silhouettes or a spare arrangement of shapes inset within a white mosaic-tiled ground

More than Its Parts


Puzzle together various color-coordinated tiles and trims to fashion backsplashes that boast mural-like proportions and impact. Shop for collections of stock or handmade tiles that can be configured to create larger motifs, such as starbursts or flowers, which join together to fashion an overall design on a range wall. Or, layer small, medium, and large tiles to create the illusion of a framed fresco that is more about fusing textures than presenting a realistic representation. This layering technique also allows you to fashion attractive backsplashes that carry the eye around the room. Fabricate a design that employs a base of rustic stone mosaic tiles that supports a shinier decorative tile band topped by a duo-tone row of diamond-shaped tiles.

More for You

Learn how to tile a backsplash with our free step-by-step guide.

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Get inspiration for your backsplash with ideas from some of our favorite designs.

Browse photos of kitchen in our Decorating Gallery and get ideas for your own kitchen.

How to Tile a Backsplash


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