Kitchen Tile Backsplash – Taking It Up to the Ceiling

If you have kitchen cabinets that go to the ceiling, I’m going to show you why I think your kitchen backsplash tile should go to the ceiling as well.

kitchen tile backsplash


This is a kitchen in a new home on which I consulted during the building process. My client wanted a neutral greige color scheme with natural elements and a simple, yet high-end look.

pewter gray kitchen cabinets

It all started with this gorgeous countertop that she had already chosen to use in the new kitchen. Lest you think this is high-maintenance marble, it is actually low-maintenance quartz. When it was completed and the family moved in, I came back to style the space and make a few more recommendations for the home.


designer gray kitchen cabinets

While you often see backsplash tile only reaching up to the upper cabinets, it looks all kinds of fabulous to take it up to the ceiling. The classic subway tile frames out the window just beautifully.


oven range backsplash accent tile


You can see there was no need for accent tile behind the range. In fact, a busy accent tile would have simply distracted from the simple beauty of the kitchen design. I just ordered curtain panels in this fabric for the adjoining breakfast room, and I can’t wait to get back over to do some more styling.



One more tip: if it all possible, take your cabinets to the ceiling. Even if the uppermost panels are faux (like they are in my kitchen), it makes the ceiling appear higher and the room to appear larger. Tiling up to the ceiling does the same – but you can’t do it when your cabinets don’t go all the way up, of course.

gray kitchen cabinets marble countertops


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22 thoughts on “Kitchen Tile Backsplash – Taking It Up to the Ceiling

  1. Jenny B. says:

    Beautiful! I agree about the cabinets and the backsplash going to the ceiling where possible. Also love the countertops and love that they are quartz! Can you share the brand / pattern?

  2. Juanita says:

    You make magic happen! The true test is when something seems so elegant and simple… like here with this kitchen.
    Keep making the world a more beautiful place, chica!

  3. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    That is a classic, beautiful kitchen, Kristie! I find this concept to be true all over the house–keeping the whole “plane”,
    horizontal or vertical, one color or one thing. Breaking a kitchen up into multiple “Stars of the Show” is so busy and gets worse when you add food, appliances, noise and people to the mix.
    This is THE most important room to exercise restraint in, I think.

  4. Bethany says:

    Painted kitchen cabinets are all the thing now but I often wonder how they look in a couple of years. Are they chipped? Burnished finish where cleaned? What has been your experience with client’s feedback, Kristie? If positive, did they use a special type of paint (well, special other than a quality paint like Benjamin Moore, etc) I know real expensive cabinets use some sort of catalyzed baked-on finish but I don’t have an extra $75,000 for cabinets! LOL

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      If they are painted properly and, ideally, professionally – they hold up quite well. Mine have been painted for close to 20 years. They do need a fresh coat now, but I’d say that’s pretty good! YES, you must use the right kind of paint but the prep/priming work is what is most important. Benjamin Moore Advance paint is particularly good for painting over unpainted wood. But I personally prefer an oil-based paint on cabinets. All that being said, the cabinets in this post are factory-finished and a prefinished color. So they’re going to hold up amazingly.

  5. Betsy OShea says:

    Actually you can tile up to the ceiling in certain cases. I just did a diy kitchen makeover. I ran tile to ceiling on window wall w a chimney hood…no Upper cabinets on that wall. I painted my orange oak circa 1989 cabinets w BM Advanced paint in Chantilly Lace. Cabinets are unfortunately not ceiling height. I may just try faux panels. Good idea! Other walls are Soft Chinchilla….ceiling is the paler Crystal blue. It looks SO MUCH BETTER.

  6. felicity says:

    why can’t a subway backsplash go “over top” of cabinets if they don’t reach to ceiling? im thinking white subway, white grout and my cabinets are white. im in the middle of tiling now! lol thx!!!!

    • Sherry says:

      After I did my post I saw your question and I’m wondering what you ended up doing because that’s exactly the situation I’m in and I don’t understand why I can’t do it

  7. Sherry says:

    I have a wall in the kitchen with a good size cut out. I want to put the backsplash on the wall, around this opening and to the ceiling, AND put it over top the upper cabinets which do NOT go the ceiling. I can’t find any examples of this so makes me wonder whether not this is a decorating faux pas?

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