The backsplash behind the stove is a conveniently compact area that invites a little inventive decor. As long as the materials you use are wipe-down and fireproof, you can splurge on something a bit pricy, adapt material in unexpected ways, and use the backsplash to help with meal prep, not just sit there like a window display.
You're mad about fish -- catching them and cooking them. So tile the area behind the stove with hand-painted tiles depicting fish. Hunt for simple graphic outlines and mix and match surrounding tile colors. Or create a mini-mural, like an exotic aquarium safely overlooking the soup. Add a focal point with a European flavor to a wider backsplash using two-color designs and varied tile shapes. Large white tiles with delicate delft-style blue designs form a rectangle over the stove, framed by narrow tiles featuring elaborate Chinese patterns or Dutch scenes with river barges and windmills. Plain white square tiles fan out from the backsplash to the area between the upper cabinets and kitchen counters.
Paint the wall behind the cooktop with traditional dark gray chalkboard paint and scrawl your recipe right over the stove as you're cooking. The charcoal paint looks industrial in a restaurant-style kitchen but blends with contemporary and cottage-style decor. Use white chalk to list ingredients, tick off recipe steps, post the daily menu or keep a grocery list -- just like the notes in a Paris bistro. Or mix your own color chalkboard paint and find contrasting colored chalk to complement your rustic or Mid-Century Modern kitchen. The backsplash wipes down with a damp sponge when you no longer need the notes or when the tomato soup spritzes exuberantly out of the pot.
Set slate pavers in mortar for a rustic or modern stone backsplash that works well with a brushed stainless stove. Stone is impervious to heat and wipes off fairly easily, but you should seal it against grease if you do a lot of stovetop frying. Large marble tiles look elegant and match marble counters. You can buy brick facade for a faux-brick wall -- also more practical if sealed, because brick is extremely porous. Secure an iron hook in the brick wall over the stove, and hang a butcher block or fine hardwood cutting board where it's handy. Center a salvaged decorative iron hearth fireback over the stove and surround it with stuccoed river rocks or quartz stones -- choose flat ones for a less bumpy finish. Old firebacks were typically molded with figures of the hearth goddess Hestia, or other traditional designs, are are particularly appropriate as a backing for the "hearth" of your modern home.
A backdrop of pressed tin tiles, the kind usually found on the ceiling, is an easy upgrade for the stove backsplash. Pressed tin comes in a wealth of interesting patterns and some figurative designs, and it can be sealed, painted or left to distress naturally. Large tiles or panels of brushed stainless or aluminum repeat the finish of a modern metal stove and are sleek and spare on the wall behind it or along the length of the counters. Metallic finish subway tiles may be arranged vertically or horizontally for different effects. A copper backsplash adds gleam and warmth to a high-end kitchen; it can be sealed to protect its gleam or encouraged to develop the bluish-green patina called verdigris that covers copper after exposure to air and moisture over time.