Backsplashes don't have to protect against splatters, for long horizontal lines, or even be tile. But like these examples, they do have to elevate a kitchen's design.
It seems wrong to even call results like this a backsplash.
Notice how the less-common rectangular tiles pick up the shapes of drawers below. The design subtly unifies the cabinets with the world below the counter.
Design is as much about exclamation points as it is about ellipses. Twelve small, red tiles help spread the nostalgic feel powerfully created by the vintage stove.
OK, we admit to looking at this photo and thinking about splatters. But after a cleansing breath, we realize this is a radical idea for a backsplash. Not just wood, but horizontal wood.
Who needs lithographs? Use your backsplash to frame mood-setting ceramic images.
Add backsplash to the list of roles wainscoting can ably handle. Here, it moves the eye up the same way a stand of self-effacing fir prefers you see the sky.