It’s often treated as an afterthought, but a great backsplash can be one of the most crucial design elements in any kitchen. Sure, it provides practical wall protection against grease splatters, dishwater sprays, and flying cake ingredients, but a good backsplash also plays an equally important role in the aesthetic mix. When rendered in a bold color, pattern, or material, it can bring a commanding dose of eye candy to an otherwise plain Jane space. Or maybe its role is more of an equalizer. If the centerpiece of your culinary zone lies elsewhere, the backsplash can play a key supporting role by helping to achieve visual balance. A smart choice in hue and material will help to smooth out transitions between warms and cools, lights and darks, or shiny vs. matte surfaces.