Kitchen renovations can be daunting, but with careful planning and design, they can result in a beautiful and functional new space. This week we take a look at a stunning kitchen remodel in a San Francisco home, featuring a creative use of tile that became a true “aha” moment. Join us as we explore the details behind this inspiring kitchen of the week!

Overview of the Kitchen Renovation Project

This kitchen renovation was performed on a home built in the 1920s in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. The original kitchen was very dated, with old cabinetry, poor lighting, and an inefficient layout.

The homeowners desired a full renovation to create a kitchen that felt fresh, modern and open, while retaining some of the charm of the older home. Key goals included:

  • Opening up the space by removing walls and doorways
  • Adding an island to increase work space
  • Installing new cabinetry, countertops, appliances and lighting
  • Upgrading the floors with new tile
  • Incorporating some architectural salvage materials to preserve character

The finished kitchen is gorgeous, with white cabinetry contrasting beautifully against the salvaged brick floors and backsplash. But the true star of this kitchen is the origami-inspired tile pattern installed as the backsplash behind the stove. Let’s take a closer look at how this creative use of tile delivers visual impact and becomes the heart of the design.

The “Aha” Tile Moment

The homeowners wanted a backsplash that was eye-catching yet classic. They looked at various tile shapes and patterns, from mosaics to herringbone bricks. Nothing felt quite right.

Then the designers suggested creating an origami-inspired tile pattern using rectangular floor tiles. This became the “aha” moment that utterly transformed the space!

The backsplash design utilizes white 3×12″ floor tiles, installed in an alternating pattern of horizontal and vertical tiles. This creates a series of stacked squares which deliver high visual interest and dimension. The white tile provides a crisp, clean look which pops against the moody grey wall color.

The installation required carefully planning to map out the placement of vertical and horizontal tiles. Meticulous execution was critical to achieve clean lines and crisp edges. The result is a stunning focal point that looks like an origami sculpture made from tile. It packs a graphic punch without overwhelming the space.

This ingenious use of rectangular floor tile in an unconventional way livens up the backsplash and adds an artistic flair to this kitchen remodel. The crisp white tile against the grey walls makes this element truly sing. It exemplifies how thoughtful tile design can transform a space.

Benefits of a Tile Backsplash

Beyond looking fantastic, there are many practical benefits to incorporating a tile backsplash in a kitchen remodel:

Visual Appeal – Tile backsplashes introduce color, texture, and pattern into the kitchen. This creates visual interest while also tying together cabinetry, countertops and flooring.

Durability – Tile is very durable, resisting stains, heat, and moisture. This makes it ideal for the heavy use of a kitchen backsplash area. It will maintain its beauty for many years.

Ease of Cleaning – Tiles have an impervious surface that does not absorb spills and splatters like paint does. This makes tile backsplashes very easy to keep clean.

Affordability – Tile is a relatively affordable material, especially when used in a small backsplash area. There are tiles available to fit every budget.

Customization – With the vast array of tile shapes, colors, sizes and patterns available, a backsplash can be customized to match any design aesthetic.

This San Francisco kitchen is a perfect example of how a creative tile backsplash transforms the space, providing visual pop while also being highly functional and durable. The “aha” moment of using floor tile in a novel way demonstrates the possibilities of tile!

Design Elements That Elevate this Kitchen

While the origami tile backsplash may be the star, there are many other thoughtful elements incorporated throughout this kitchen remodel that elevate the whole space:

Salvaged Materials

The owners wanted to preserve some of the 1920s charm of the original home. To do this, they salvaged brick floors and wood ceiling beams from a local architectural salvage warehouse.

The salvaged brick floor tiles add texture and a sense of history to balance the crisp white cabinetry. The exposed beam ceiling imparts a rustic, craftsman style. Using reclaimed materials in this way provides character while also being eco-friendly and sustainable.

Pendant Lighting

The kitchen was opened up by removing walls between the existing kitchen and dining room. To define the kitchen space, three large pendant lights were installed over the island.

The black iron fixtures with Edison bulbs impart an industrial vibe. They provide excellent task lighting while also creating a focal point over the island. The pendants help delineate the kitchen zone in this open concept design.

Mixed Metals

Polished chrome, brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, satin brass – this kitchen incorporates a mix of metals throughout the space.

The cabinet hardware, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures and accessories showcase an array of metal finishes that work together beautifully. Mixing metals adds subtle sophistication.

Contrasting Countertops

The perimeter countertops are white quartz, which matches the crisp cabinetry. The large island countertop is done in a contrasting black quartz.

This creates visual interest and draws the eye towards the island as a focal point. The countertops also tie in the mixed metals, with a satin brass apron sink on the island.

Texture and Color

Elements like the brick floor, reclaimed wood beams, pendant lights and tile backsplash infuse the space with visual texture to contrast the sleek cabinetry and countertops. Varying colors like black, white, gray, bronze and brass add further interest.

This kitchen brings together a diverse mix of materials, colors and textures unified by consistent mid-century modern style. The result is a space with depth, soul and personality.

Tips for Incorporating an Eye-Catching Tile Backsplash

The origami tile backsplash seen in this San Francisco kitchen make a stunning statement. For homeowners and designers looking to add showstopping tile design to a kitchen renovation, here are some useful tips:

Pick a focal point – An entire kitchen covered in ornate tile might feel overwhelming, but a statement backsplash behind the stove draws the eye to one specific area.

Consider scale – Larger tile or unique patterns are best positioned in a concentrated area so the design does not get lost. Modify scale to fit your space.

Include an accent color – Contrasting or bold tile color helps a backsplash pop against cabinets and walls. Tie accent colors to other kitchen elements.

Use texture and dimension – Tile thickness, finish and 3D shapes like hexagons or subway tiles add shadows and visual depth.

Follow kitchen style – Keep backsplash tile cohesive with the kitchen design. Contemporary and modern spaces can handle more daring tiles.

Work with pros – Consult designers to map out backsplash tile layout. Hire experienced tilers for proper installation.

With thoughtful design that considers scale, placement, color and style, a unique tile backsplash can take your kitchen renovation from expected to extraordinary.


What are some popular kitchen backsplash tile materials?

Some top choices for kitchen backsplash tiles include ceramic, porcelain, glass, marble or stone, metal, and natural stone like travertine. Ceramic and porcelain tiles offer the widest range of colors, textures, shapes and patterns.

How do I clean and maintain a tile backsplash?

Tile backsplashes are very easy to clean. Just use a mild detergent or tile/stone cleaner with a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid abrasive scrubbers. For grout, use a specialized grout brush or whitening product to keep grout lines clean.

Should I seal a tile backsplash?

Porous tiles like natural stone should be sealed to prevent staining and increase water resistance. Apply sealant before and after grouting. Low porosity tiles like glazed ceramic and porcelain do not require sealing.

How long does a tile backsplash typically last?

A properly installed quality tile backsplash will easily last 20-30 years with proper care and maintenance. More delicate materials like marble may show wear sooner.

What’s the best way to remove existing backsplash tile?

Carefully break up existing tile using a hammer and chisel, taking care not to damage the wall behind. Scrape off old mortar and make sure the wall surface is smooth before retiling.

What height should kitchen backsplash tile be installed?

Standard backsplash height is 4” above the countertop. Full height backsplashes extending to the underside of the upper cabinets are also popular. Adjust to your style preferences.

Design Inspiration for Kitchen Backsplashes

Here are some eye-catching kitchen backsplash designs and layouts to inspire your next renovation:

Herringbone – This classic zigzag tile pattern adds great visual interest. Playing with differing colors and tile sizes creates dynamic effects.

Geometric – Retro-inspired geometry like hexagons, triangular mosaics, diamond shapes and octagons make a bold style statement.

Moroccan Fish Scale – Overlapping rounded tiles in this centuries-old pattern reflect light beautifully for a shimmery effect.

Metro Tiles – Subway tiles in offset, herringbone, basketweave or stacked patterns provide vintage or modern appeal.

Marble & Stone – Elegant marble, travertine or slate backsplashes elevate the aesthetic. These natural stones make a luxurious statement.

Eclectic Mix – Mixing complimentary tile sizes, colors and textures creates an artsy, bespoke look. Expand self-adhesive options.

Mural – Make the backsplash a focal point with a hand-painted tile mural depicting a scenic landscape, flowers or abstract art.

Display Shelves – Open glass-front display shelves to show off glassware, dishes or decorative items. Enhance functionality.

The backsplash is a prime spot to infuse personality into your kitchen renovation. With limitless tile possibilities, this area can be customized to match your unique style.


This brilliant San Francisco kitchen remodel demonstrates how the strategic use of creative tile design dramatically improves a space. The bold origami tile backsplash injects artistry and becomes the heart of the kitchen. When thoughtfully planned and executed, your backsplash tile can similarly provide the “wow” factor to any kitchen revamp.

Beyond its standout visual appeal, tile offers many practical advantages. With proper installation and care, a tile backsplash is a long-lasting, low maintenance way to add beauty and function. Whether you favor traditional patterns or modern abstract designs, tile gives you limitless options to put your unique stamp on your ideal kitchen.