Erin Napier's Stunning Kitchen Backsplash Idea Will Make Your Space Stand Out

Kitchen backsplashes do much more than shield walls from stains and splatters. Backsplashes have become a focal point of kitchen designs, enhancing a kitchen's appearance, showing off the homeowner's personality, or tying together an overall aesthetic. Recent years have seen the rise of white subway tiles, olive green tiles, or natural stone slabs as popular backsplash selections. But, Erin Napier's latest backsplash design is a breakaway from what's trending in favor of a far more trend-setting approach.

On Season 8 Episode 16 of HGTV's "Home Town," Erin Napier's kitchen showed off her skill for bringing modern and vintage elements together to create spaces characterized by elegant warmth, coziness, and updated historic charm. Far from being relegated to the background, the backsplash was a centerpiece of her design. Napier started with a horizontal wood panel backsplash and added a few inches of white stone that seamlessly extended upward from the white stone counters. A large curved slab extended from the range to the hood and connected to the rest of the white stone backsplash for a show-stopping finish.

"That pretty white stone makes you think of a pearl necklace," said Napier. "That's the feminine element, the curvyness, the ivory and the brass, but then, there's the unexpected wood backsplash." With an eye for design and a partner specializing in woodwork, the HGTV star's finished kitchen look won praise from fans and the homeowner. But, there are a few things to note before you attempt to pull this look off at home. 

How Napier pulls off this unique look

Napier's showstopping kitchen backsplash selection is unique for several reasons. First, wood isn't typically a popular selection for kitchen backsplashes. Although the natural material adds a neutral, rustic, warmth to a kitchen, wood is prone to absorb liquids because of its porous nature and it's inherently flammable. Since the functional purpose of a backsplash is to protect kitchen walls, non-porous tile backsplash is far more popular with homeowners putting practicality first. Secondly, it's unusual to find combinations of stone and wood when it comes to backsplashes, let alone incorporating specialized curved stone cuts. Nevertheless, Napier flawlessly executes this design and ensures its practicality. 

The designer does it by focusing on contrasting masculine and feminine elements. Instead of a more natural and neutral tone for the wood, Napier stains it in a dark deep red-brown hue so that it contrasts with the curvy white lines of the overlaid stone. "These dark colors, wood trim — we're constantly pairing it with distinctively feminine elements and that balance is what makes the kitchen so interesting," Napier said, describing the look. Further, she ensures the wall is protected by ensuring a few inches of stone backsplash overlays the wood and runs the length of the entire countertop. This allows the wood panels to exist as a more decorative rather than functional element. The practicality and aesthetics of the stone pair perfectly with the stained wood for a modern take on a rustic look. 

Consider this before you select your backsplash

Napier's Instagram post of the images of the finished backsplash and fans were impressed with the designer's choices. "The curve of white stone backsplash against the dark wood is stunning," said one commenter. But, is a mixed-material wood and curved stone kitchen backsplash the best choice for a rustic kitchen? It's important to note that a wood backsplash requires a high level of maintenance including sealing, staining, and sealing to protect against moisture and bacterial growth. A spray-on varnish will help protect the wood and ensure a longer lifespan, but without proper care, warping, mold and discoloration may occur. To get Napier's look without the risks of using real wood, a great alternative is opting for wood-look ceramic tiles. 

Also, achieving Napier's curved backsplash look requires a specialized cut of stone that's measured to fit with puzzle-piece precision between your cabinetry and range. This will cost more than the average backsplash, and won't be a simple DIY. Luckily, mixing stone and wood isn't the only way to achieve a creative backsplash for your kitchen. It's worthwhile to check out other ways to perfect an elevated rustic look that are more cost-effective and functional, such as using a delft tile backsplash, zellige tiles, natural stone, or brick. If Erin Napier has taught us anything with her "Home Town" designs—it's that there's always a way to infuse a home with updated historic charm while prioritizing budget and functionality too.