10 Top Backsplashes to Pair With Soapstone Countertops
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Simplify your decision-making process by checking out how these styles work with soapstone
So you’ve decided you want soapstone counters in your Kitchen Design, but you have no idea what kind of backsplash to pair with them. Well, you’ve made a great choice — people have been using soapstone for thousands of years, but its most ringing endorsement came from Julia Child. Because of its heat resistance, you can stick a hot pot right on it. And you don’t have to worry about those red wine rings that stain other materials. Soapstone often has a greenish-gray cast, or goes into darker grays to practically black, with beautiful whitish veins.
Because soapstone started to gain popularity in the United States in the 1800s as a durable and economical material, it’s well suited to many historical renovations. It feels right at home in farmhouses and Victorian-era, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman and Prairie-style homes. It also works well in modern and contemporary spaces. Here’s a look at some of the best ways to pair a backsplash with this popular material.
No backsplash. Because soapstone is a traditional material often seen in farmhouses, this simple, stripped-down look is popular. Another popular move seen here is the integrated soapstone sink.
Matching soapstone. This is one of the most popular options. Soapstone’s beautiful vein patterns look artful when extended up a wall, as seen over this cooktop.
Remember that soapstone colors vary. Whereas the material in the previous photos was more green-gray, here it is more charcoal-graphite. Soapstone will darken over time, so keep that in mind when designing around it.
Butt boards. Technically, this counter also has a coordinating low soapstone backsplash, but the butt boards occupy most of the usual real estate. The horizontal planks provide a simple look befitting a farmhouse or cottage style. You can play around with the gap width or opt for crisper tongue-and-groove paneling to make the look more modern.
Paneling. The paneling appears throughout this small Laguna Beach cottage, for a vintage look that creates continuity in the home. As in the previous photo, the kitchen has a low coordinating soapstone backsplash but the paneling dominates most of the area. One exception is the range backsplash, which extends a large piece of soapstone up the wall.
Also worth noting is the integrated dish-drain grooves next to the sink. This is a practical, old-fashioned detail we often see in traditional kitchens with soapstone counters.
Beadboard. This classic detail is popular in traditional and eclectic homes, especially if you’re going for a farmhouse or cottage look. In this kitchen, the sink and bin drawer pulls also contribute to the farmhouse look.
Reclaimed wood. The rustic look of reclaimed wood has never been more popular. Its rough-hewn, aged appearance is a wonderful match for soapstone. Another thing that makes this kitchen so pleasing is the limited palette and all of the white. This allows the textures of both the soapstone and the reclaimed wood to get the attention they deserve.
Subway tile. This classic choice is especially appropriate in homes built in the first few decades of the 1900s, as that was subway tile’s first heyday. In particular, subway is a great match for soapstone in Victorian-era, Arts and Crafts and Craftsman homes, but it’s certainly not limited to those.
For this 1910 farmhouse kitchen in Portland, Oregon, designer Wade Freitag opted for historic authenticity. He chose subway tiles from Subway Ceramics because they’re handmade and very flat, just as prewar subway tiles were.
You can switch up the subway tile look in many ways to suit your home’s style. Handmade tiles and those with crackled glazes lend an aged look, while crisp white porcelain can give a more modern one. Beveled tiles add extra dimension and shadows. Size and proportion (such as mini or elongated) are other ways to give subway tile a twist. Finally, you can play with grout color and match it up to a gray tone found in your soapstone if you wish.
In this kitchen, handmade subway tiles have a biscuit tone and a beautiful glaze that give them an aged look. Putty gray grout complements the tiles and countertops.
In this kitchen, glossy white subway tiles and white grout complement the more industrial elements in the kitchen. They also provide a sharp contrast to the dark soapstone.
Arts and Crafts tile. Tiles from and inspired by this movement can be a good match for soapstone. This kitchen is in a 100-year-old Arts and Crafts home in Minneapolis, and even though it’s completely new, its details and materials are very much in keeping with the home’s vintage. These kinds of tiles were also popular in Prairie and Mission-style homes.
Carrara marble. There’s something about the gray vein patterns in this white marble that make it the yin to soapstone’s yang. Different looks to try include marble slabs and a range of marble tile sizes.
This backsplash is also Carrara marble tile, but it’s in a much smaller stacked-mosaic pattern. This lends a very different look than a marble slab or larger marble tiles (as seen in the previous photo) because the veins are broken up and therefore not prominent.
A mix of tile finishes. This designer used a carefully mixed combination of tile colors, sizes and materials, including glass and opalescent tile. Walker Zanger’s Spa Glass adds dashes of gray that pick up on the tones in the countertop. The shine is a pearly contrast to the wood cabinets and soapstone counters and really ups the elegance of the room.
Note: When matching tile color to your countertop, keep in mind that soapstone tends to darken over time. If you’re seeking a perfect match, you may be disappointed down the road. Tile with some variety in color and reflection is more versatile.
This mix includes stone tile with metal tile accents. The kitchen has a more transitional look with industrial elements thrown in. Let your Rhode Island Kitchen Designer help you choose the right backsplash for your home!