Eye-Catching Backsplash Designs HGTV Stars Can't Get Enough Of

Going bold with your backsplash can elevate a kitchen from basic to beautiful and give it a designer feel. But being too daring with your backsplash tiles can also be a risky business. If you want to experiment with color and pattern, the best place to do this is usually on items that are less expensive and easier to switch out. And, backslash tiles don't fit this bill, given that they're cemented to the wall, can be costly to install, and are difficult to replace.

So how do you safely choose a look guaranteed to command attention in all the right ways? You stalk what the interior experts are doing. HGTV's lineup of stars is the perfect place to start. Here, we've rounded up a master list of all the eye-catching backsplash looks that the likes of Erin Napier, Emily Henderson, and Joana Gaines are loving. Some of their favorites you might be able to predict, but there are also a few hot new layouts and styles that you don't want to miss. 

Emily Henderson: Combining square and rectangular tiles

Rectangular tiles have been all the rage, and there's a new configuration on the block — combining square and rectangular tiles for a subtly dynamic look. On her blog, Emily Henderson, the designer shares that she's a fan of this format, saying, "I love this look and will be doing my own version of it. We ordered samples in a lot of different sizes, and I've played with them for hours."

If you're torn between the cute mood of a palm-sized, 4-by-4-inch tile and some subway, combining them could be the perfect solution. But be prepared to spend some time getting the layout right. According to Henderson, "The key to this is the perfect amount of 'randomness' (but not random at all). Your tile installer will likely hate you, but the look is simple and pretty." If interspersing the tiles feels too complicated, you can also combine them in swathes, such as square tiles with a band of rectangular tiles, or vice versa. 

As far as grout colors go, the designer advises against too much contrast, saying, "I'd also not do a dark grout so that you almost don't even notice the variation, your eye just moves around easily and doesn't register what is happening but tells your brain that it's so pretty." 

Galey Alix: Ceiling-height backsplashes

Another designer-approved way to command attention with your backsplash is to take tiles from your countertop to the ceiling. Ceiling height backsplashes look high-end and can create the illusion of extra visual height. Galey Alix from "Home in a Heartbeat" is a particular fan of this trend. In post on Threads, the HGTV host said, "If you can get away with having no upper cabinets, do it. In my new kitchen, I ditched the uppers so that I could run stone all the way up to the ceiling and make the kitchen feel massive and also taller!"

A lofty backsplash will cost more to install, as you'll be tiling a larger area. If you're worried about the extra expense, consider using cheaper tiles over more high-end options. Creating a bigger backsplash is one of the simplest tricks to make cheap tiles look expensive. This can create a more impactful look than doing a skimpy strip with a pricier tile.

Not convinced you should remove your uppers? You might be able to implement this idea without sacrificing valuable storage space. If there is a strip of empty wall beside your upper cabinets, in the space above your sink for example, continuing tile up this area can give the look of a generous, ceiling-height backsplash for less.

Erin Napier: Square zellige tile

Erin Napier is a master at making new finishes feel right at home in historic houses, and she's nailed this technique once again in her own kitchen reno. Tile can be one of the trickiest things to get right when updating an old home. How do you pick a style that looks fresh, but still feels in keeping with the history and architecture? In a blog post on Laurel Mercantile where she discusses her renovation, the HGTV star explained, "In looking at historic kitchens from the era our house was built, I kept finding square tile stacked on a grid pattern with micro-thin grout lines." 

Instead of using just any 4-inch tiles, Napier went a step further, saying "To keep it from feeling too perfect and mathematical, I used glazed weathered Clé zellige tiles that have imperfect, irregular edges that throw the sunlight around." The result is a beautifully textured look that's both old-world and updated.

The clé zellige tiles do come with a price tag of just under $20 per square foot. If you want to save on costs, tilebar sells a similar style for $9.95 a square foot. Just keep in mind that harsh cleaning products like bleach and certain surface cleaners shouldn't be used on handmade tiles. Also, thanks to their uneven profile, zellige tiles can be harder to clean and trap more dirt, so be prepared to spend a little extra time wiping down your backsplash.

Christina Hall: Rustic stone

Christina Hall and Galey Alix must be swapping notes, because they both have a soft spot for rustic stone. Galey Alix did her ceiling-height backsplash in it, and Christina Hall used it to add warmth to an almost all-white kitchen on her show "Christina on the Coast." During the Season 5 episode, "Friendship for the Ages", the HGTV host decked out the couple's backsplash in rugged stone with a creamy grout and said (via realtor.com), "Everyone's going to want it. That stone is seriously my favorite new backsplash; it adds the rustic hacienda vibe. And I feel like the stone brings the outside in."

Installing real stone is typically trickier than regular tile, so this might be a job you want to call in a contractor for. Because genuine, raw stone is pretty heavy, you may have to remove your existing drywall, and replace it with concrete board. If you're renting, you can also fake the look of real, rustic stone by installing faux panels (such as these 3D ones from Amazon) with Command Strips. Then, apply a generous layer of grout to the grooves, and spread a very thin layer of it over the "stones" to give them a more natural look.

Jenn Todryk: Tessellated patterns

If you want to add some interest to your backsplash, patterned tile can inject instant pizzazz. Not sure what pattern to choose? In an episode of "No Demo Reno," Jenn Todryk transformed a tired kitchen with tessellated tiles, turning the backsplash into an arresting focal point. After the episode aired, the HGTV host took to Instagram, saying, "What's your favorite feature of this house in last week's episode?! I have to go with tile. The kitchen backsplash and the bathroom floors will always have a piece of my heart. So. Dang. Pretty. It shocked me how much I loved it, and I picked it."

Certain types of tessellated tiles are ideal for historic homes, but they can also work in contemporary spaces, especially if you choose a simple, more modern design. You can run the same pattern from your counter to your cabinets, or opt to lay a border to create a more traditional feel. If you're worried that the pattern will be overwhelming, you can also opt for mostly plain tiles and install a square of patterned ones to create a focal point above your range.

Jasmin Roth: Handcrafted tiles

Jasmin Roth's first show on HGTV, "Hidden Potential," focused on giving cookie-cutter homes a custom touch. Therefore, it's not surprising that her favorite type of tile is anything handcrafted. In an interview published on her blog, Jasmine Roth, when asked what the best backsplash looks are, the designer listed "handcrafted tile" as one of her top three, along with subway tile and ceiling-height backsplashes.

Handmade tiles have recently come into focus, thanks to the zellige tile trend. But they are also an ideal choice if you're looking to install something timeless. Because they aren't mass-produced, handmade tiles are less likely to time stamp a home compared to designs that get manufactured by the millions. Handmade tiles can also add warmth and character to your kitchen. Tired of Zellige tile? You can also get handmade subway tile, fluted designs, hexagonal, scalloped, and more.

Handmade tiles have natural variations in color and thickness, so don't expect every tile to be the same. Because of the labor involved, handcrafted tiles tend to cost more. But, if you want to save a few dollars, consider handmade-look tiles (such as these square ones from tileclub) that are machine-made but feature irregularities to give them an artisanal look. If you go this route, select ones with a high V rating that have more variations. And if you have your heart set on handmade, it can pay to shop around. For example, tilebar sells handcrafted subway tiles for under $10 per square foot.

David Bromstad: Neutral hues

David Bromstad is known for his bold, daring designs, but it turns out that the king of color prefers to keep things neutral on the backsplash. During an interview with Apartment Therapy, Bromstad said, "Personally, I love to add color to my kitchen by painting the cabinets. I prefer to keep my backsplash neutral and classic with some interesting shapes."

This approach makes sound sense, given that repainting kitchen cabinets is usually cheaper to do than replacing tile. Painting typically costs between $3 and $10 per square foot, including labor. However, installing a new backsplash will run you anywhere from $15 to $40 a square foot.

And don't forget, a neutral backsplash doesn't have to be boring. As Bromstad said, you can use unusual tile shapes and layouts to create interest. For instance, a simple white hexagon-shaped tile can still add texture and richness. And, a plain penny tile can add a subtly hypnotic pattern. Using a contrasting grout will make the shapes of your tiles pop and emphasize the pattern they create. But, if you're still hankering for a bright-hued backsplash, try one of Bromstad's best kitchen design tips. Cut out cardboard to fit the area, paint it the color of your choice, and then leave it up for a day or two to see if you truly love the color.

Hilary Farr: Blue tiles

During an episode of her HGTV show "Tough Love," Hilary Farr revealed that she is a fan of blue kitchens. Farr feels that blue is a timeless choice, saying (via realtor.com) "I adore blue in a kitchen. It's very chic, it's very French. It is very calming. I just think it's forever and ever and ever. It's classic." In the episode, she persuaded the owners to go with a beautiful dusty blue-green backsplash that gave their kitchen the perfect pop of classy color.

Blue tile pairs seamlessly with white kitchen designs. The right tone can also fit well with coastal décor themes, but blue isn't just for beach houses. As Farr pointed out, soft, powdery shades are a great match for French-inspired design. However, dark navy tile can feel both contemporary and chic, and help add contrast to pale cabinets.

If you want to create a modern vibe, give some thought to your tile layout. Farr chose to stack her blue tiles horizontally, which makes the design feel updated and emphasizes the length of the room. If you want to draw attention to height, such as in a ceiling-high backsplash, you can also stack the tiles vertically.

Jeremiah Brent: Vivid marble

After buying back their old apartment, the Brents decided to rip out their previous kitchen renovation and update the space. Instead of installing new tile on the backsplash, they opted to continue the Calacatta Turquoise Antico marble from the counters up on the wall. The surprising part was that Nate Berkus wasn't on board with the marble to begin with. During an interview with Domino, Jeremiah Berkus shared that "the particular marble that we went with [in the kitchen], my husband did not want — it was one of the only few things we've ever really disagreed on. I finally said to him, 'Please let me do this. I'm in this room. I cook. I really believe in this marble.' Why was Jeremiah so set on the slab? He shares that "I wanted the stone to contrast against the simplicity [of the space]."

If you're opting for marble counters, carrying the stone up on your backsplash can feel super contemporary and designer-grade. Besides looking luxe, it will also spare you the hassle of having to choose a backsplash tile to go with your countertops. If you already have a lot of finishes going on, this could be ideal. Keep in mind that natural stone backsplashes require sealing, just like countertops. Worried about the cost? Consider going with a faux alternative like quartz. Or, opt to keep your backsplash low, like the Brents did. Not only will this save on costs, but it also gives off a traditional feel.

Leane Ford: Vintage tile

Leanne Ford is famous for making white interiors sing through organic touches, texture, and vintage elements. On her website, Leane Ford, the designer proclaims, "Texture + vintage + nature + books + art = soul. That's my formula and I'm sticking to it." True to this mantra, when asked what her favorite backsplash material was, Ford succinctly told Native Trails, "Vintage tile."

Although not always easy to execute, vintage tiles have a lot going for them. If you're preserving existing tilework in your home, this can help pay homage to its past and keep your design period perfect. Original tiles can also lend some highly unique character and ensure your renovations don't feel cookie-cutter. With the right restoration methods, you can freshen up old tiles and make them feel well-preserved rather than grimy and dated. And, if the mortar is in bad shape, re-grouting tiles can give them a major facelift. When you're dealing with unglazed tiles, applying a coat of acrylic stone sealer can help to freshen things up.

Looking to install true vintage tile? Be prepared for a hunt. If you know of someone who is renovating and planning to rip out old tile, see if you can salvage some of it. If you're after a particular style, look for a company that still makes them while also selling antique options like Delfttiles. Clay Squared also makes tiles in historic colors. Finally, places like tilebar sell vintage-look tiles, complete with realistic crackled faces.

Joanna Gaines: Subway tile

Given that Joanna Gaines is the official queen of the modern farmhouse style, it's no shocker that she loves subway tile. In an Instagram post, the HGTV star shared, "...subway tile is my favorite. It's timeless, classic, and...it stands the test of time." In its hundred-year history, subway tile has never truly fallen out of favor. Its popularity has waxed and waned, but the simple design has always been a staple. In the last decade, however, subway tile has become the go-to choice.

If you want to put a 2024 twist on subway, there are three things to consider: size, grout color, and layout. You can go with the classic subway size, but opting for more unusual dimensions, such as super skinny variations, can net you a fresh feel. Grout color can also play a huge role in how your tile looks once it's up on the wall. Nowadays, there are loads of different (and fun) grout shades available, so don't be boxed in by the classic triad of white, gray, and black. Speaking of black, if you're using a white tile, you may want to avoid very dark grout. High-contrast grout with white subway tile had a huge moment about a decade ago, and going this route could date your space. Finally, look at different layouts. Besides the basic brick pattern, there is vertical stacking, herringbone, basket weave, and more.

Jonathan Scott: Spanish tile

After buying a beautiful historic home, Zooey Deschanel and Jonathan Scott worked hard to renovate it into their dream space. The whole home is rich in color and detail, but one area that sticks out is the backsplash in the outdoor kitchen. Spanish tiles in a powdery blue pattern, reminiscent of Mudejar art, make the whole space pop. Not only does it catch the eye, but this backsplash design is in perfect keeping with the property's past. During a filmed tour posted on YouTube, Jonathan Scott shared, "It's such a tricky balance to renovate a home...but still keep that classic feel and we wanted to use materials that would feel timeless because we felt that would tie in better to what Gerard Colcor, the original architect of this house, was looking for in 1938."

Want to copy the exact look? These same tiles are available from the tilebar for just over $10 per square foot. If you decide to go with a patterned tile like this, balance the busyness by keeping the rest of your design and finishes relatively simple. And, if you have other tilework in the space, make sure it has some of the same tones. Some design collections, such as the one Scott and Deschanel chose, even include solid-hued tiles in matching colors.