The backsplash seems to be a place where everyone is willing to be somewhat more adventurous. For instance, Sonoma Cast Stone has introduced concrete-and-stainless steel tiles. Silestone offers pre-cut mesh tiles which enable one to create a custom look on the backsplash, adds Covell. For an adventurous but easy-to-clean and integral backsplash, Corian Bas Relief collection provides 3D patterns for a striking, unusual look. For a metallic look, Formica's Authentix line can work on a backsplash – but, unlike many metallic laminates, can also be used on horizontal surfaces.
Overall, the backsplash is the one spot where lower-cost laminates are being used in upscale builds because of their innovative looks.
"We're seeing more and more laminate being used in vertical applications and cabinetry, wainscotting," says O'Dell. While such imaginative use is still largely in the commercial end, she believes that savvy residential designers and homeowners often take design cues from commercial design, so she predicts these looks will find their way into homes in the not-too-distant future.
"We see so many exciting things being done in hospitality design," she concludes. "Consumers are out there looking at those materials, and they're going to be adapting some of those things in their environment – the eye needs to be delighted." KBDN