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Tumbled Stone Ideas for a Kitchen Backsplash

Updated on March 4, 2012

A Tumbled Stone Backsplash

A tumbled stone backsplash adds character and dimension to a kitchen's design.
A tumbled stone backsplash adds character and dimension to a kitchen's design. | Source


Tumbled stone tiles are designed to replicate the natural look of exposed stone. Using this tile for a kitchen backsplash incorporates natural stone elements that are reminiscent of a charming, Old World home design. In an updated or remodeled kitchen, the tumbled stone backsplash becomes one of the most outspoken features of the kitchen's design.


The orientation, or the way that the tumbled tiles are positioned, can be in a simple square pattern that repeats in perfectly aligned rows. Other variations can be a staggered layout that places each row offset from the others in a brick-like pattern, or a diagonal orientation that positions the tiles in a diamond layout that puts the square corners in a north-east-south-west orientation. Rectangular tumbled-stone tiles will also look appealing in the aligned and staggered orientations, but interest can be further added when they are arranged in the diagonal orientation that yields the classic herring-bone style.

Mixing Tones

Instead of staying with one tone of tumbled stone, consider mixing in one to three more colors into the backsplash's design. A two-toned tile designs can pull in the tones selected for the countertop and the cabinetry, while three or more tones incorporate a multicolored medley of tiles that can coordinate with accent colors pulled into the design from decor pieces used to dress up the kitchen space.

Mixing different shades and colors of tumbled stone tiles can be in a single-alternating pattern that repeats a first-second-first-second tile pattern, or a double-alternating pattern, such as a first-first-second-second pattern or a first-first-second-first-first tile layout. Another way to mix the tiles is to arrange them in rows, by color on the wall. One color per row gives the backsplash a striped appearance.

Arrange a mix of the color tiles into mosaic sections along the backsplash wall. Design ideas include one colored tile in the center surrounded on all four sides by tiles of another color, or a diamond, geometric pattern formed with colorful tiles as seen in Native American art.

Contrasting Textures

A mixture of contrasting textures makes the backsplash more of an artistic, sculptural mosaic that draws the attention to the backsplash. Incorporate medallions made of the same or different tile materials. Medallions are ornate accent tiles that have a decorative, three-dimensional, relief surface. They are used in tile design to break up the monotony of the tiles with interesting, periodic detail along the wall.

Contrast can also be added to the backsplash with a mix of tiles and elements that are not composed of tumble stone. Glass, ceramic, porcelain, slate or soapstone tiles, as well as nontraditional elements such as river rock and stainless steel tiles can be used to create an interesting and elegant backsplash.

Form a row or two of the chosen contrasting material in between the rows of the tumbled stone, or interject them as vertical columns, or a staggered diagonal in between groupings of the tumbled stone. Small groupings of the contrasting accent tiles or materials sparingly spaced along the backsplash provides just enough attraction without dominating the tumbled stone display. Even a sporadic splash of a different tile along the backsplash is enough to add dimension and character to the backsplash.


Instead of completing the entire backsplash in tumbled-stone tiles, consider tiling sections and spacing them with a non-tile material that is also suitable as a backsplash. The backsplash layout could be alternating vertical sections, such as 2 feet of the tile design, then two feet the non-tile material, or a central focal-point section of tile with the non-material on both sides of the tile section. For more than one wall with a backsplash, use one wall for the tile backsplash and the other wall for a non-tile backsplash.

Add shimmer with tin or faux tin panels, stainless steel or copper. Enhance the warmth of the tumbled-stone backsplash with wooden boards, such as cedar, oak or bamboo, stained to a tone that complements the kitchen cabinets. If using wood as spacers between the sections, seal them with three to five coats of polyurethane to give it a waterproof barrier against water, steam and messes for an easy cleanup.


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