When you are trying to save space, it means you have to prevent clutter and make the little bit of space you do have more efficient. Saving space also means you have to have fewer items in your kitchen. You can install deeper cabinets to increase more work space. Modern small kitchen designs focus more on function. They cut down on clutter. Modern materials will include those that are man made or natural. Any cabinets that may have a frosted glass with maple wood facing would fit into a modern design theme.
Really change up this space by using two different sized tiles. Install square glass on the majority of the splash then run a border of matching subway tile throughout. Or try putting the subway tile on the splash but squares behind the stove. How about setting the glass tiles on an angle so that the squares look like diamonds instead. Do this on the entire splash or just behind the stove.
Many people are using tumbled materials when making their decision from the endless amount of kitchen tile backsplash ideas. While you may have ruled out glass, steel and ceramic, you still have some big choices to make. The most popular types of tumbled tiles are made from travertine, limestone and marble but ultimately the decision has to be yours. What works for other people may not look the way you want it to in your kitchen.