The backsplash area is usually not the first place Kitchen Designers think about when developing a storage plan for their client’s Kitchens, but maybe it should be.

A couple of years ago I visited EuroCucina at the Salone Del Mobile design show in Milan, Italy were I saw multiple examples of backsplash storage ideas.

Reviewing my pics from Milan Design week along with a few other examples, got me thinking about this lost opportunity.

Read on to see how you can start utilizing this space for storage in your Kitchen Designs.

The Kitchen backsplash provides many opportunities for custom storage solutions.

When you look at a typical Kitchen, there is a lot of real estate in the backsplash area.

This space is also one of the easiest areas for people to reach. It does not require bending down or reach up to access it.

A great space for storage when designing under Universal Design principles.

It is interesting that the Kitchen Design industry does not utilize this space more often for storage, especially since a survey done in the 90’s showed that most people “store” kitchen items on their counter up against the backsplash.

Let’s look at some creative ways to utilize this space.

Niches

Niches are a way to utilize the backsplash space for specific storage.

They are most commonly found in the Cooking Zone and are used for spices and/or cooking oils.

Storage like this needs to be planned since it recesses into the wall and needs to be framed in prior to plastering or tiling.

Hanging Bars

Specifying a hanging bar in the backsplash area is a very cost effective way to gain some storage.

These systems utilize hooks that hang from a bar allowing utensils, small shelves and items with handles to be hung from them.

Recessed Hanging Systems

A more custom approach to the hanging bar is a recessed hanging system.

This system consists of a narrow channel inserted into the backsplash material to produce a flush installation.

A variety of shelves and hooks can then hang from the “bar” producing a streamline storage system.

Peg or Rack Systems

There are also systems that cover most of a standard backsplash height that can be installed in the backsplash area.

These systems come with a variety of shelves, hooks and containers for custom storage solutions.

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are very popular in contemporary Kitchens and can be a great addition to the backsplash area.

The key is specifying them about 6″ deep instead of a standard 12″.

This depth keeps them tucked back under the upper cabinetry and allows for storage of single items such as cups or glasses.

Don’t forget to specify lighting under these shelves for additional task light for the counter surface.

Shallow Backsplash Shelves

Installing shallow shelves between the counter and the upper cabinetry is a great way to organize items that are placed in this area anyway.

Specifying these shelves as adjustable will give your client a lot of flexibility for storage.

A good tip here is to pull your base cabinetry forward 3″ to 6″ to accommodate the backsplash shelves and still leave a full 24″ of usable counter depth.

Extended Backsplash Shelves

A design detail I saw a lot at EuroCucina was extending of backsplash shelves beyond the wall cabinets and up beside them.

It was a nice way to finish an end run of cabinetry and showcase some decor items or store taller narrow products.

Backsplash Slots

A unique installation system I also saw at the design show was a quartz backsplash with vertical slots that accommodated special pegs to hold wine bottles and shelves.

The vertical lines echoed the lines in the cabinetry and fit well into the overall design of the space.

Tall Backsplash Shelves

Another look I saw repeated at the show was shelves that began at countertop height and continued up 3 to 4 feet.

In some cases these shelves were shallow and in other cases they were standard wall cabinet depth.

Most were designed with a wall behind them but there a few cases where this application was shown on an island.

Sliding Glass Doors

One look that a quite liked was in a display featuring shallow storage with sliding glass doors installed from the backsplash up about 4 feet.

The shelves were glass with imbedded LED lighting in them producing a glow from this storage.

Above these units which were approximately 9″ deep were 18″ deep upper cabinets with doors.

Hidden Backsplash Storage

Some of the higher end manufactures were incorporating moving panels to hide the storage when not in use.

The trend of the “hidden” kitchen was popular and this approach allowed the Kitchen to disappear when not in use.

I saw a few examples where the sink faucet was hidden behind these panels as well making the Kitchen really disappear.

Apothecary Drawers

Searching through some pics I had of North American Kitchens I came across some examples I would also like to share.

In these examples apothecary drawers were placed in the backsplash area.

What is great about this solution is that the small drawers can be pulled out and set on the counter to easily access their contents.

Cup Hooks & Plate Racks

Cup hooks placed under upper cabinets is a great way to gain some additional storage in a small Kitchen that has a country or farmhouse décor vibe.

To make dinnerware more accessible to everyone you could also consider installing a plate rack down to the counter in the backsplash area.

As you can see there is ample opportunity to squeeze in some additional storage into your Kitchen Designs.

Hopefully these examples will have you incorporating backsplash storage solutions in your next Kitchen Design project.

I’d love to hear what you think about storage in the backsplash. Please leave me a comment below.

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Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

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