A Backsplash Bash

Tiling.  Party of sixty-one.

Yup. That’s how many square feet of tile went into our new backsplash.  And just to get the awkward blind date feeling outta the way…here’s the before when our girl was plain Jane…

And here she is now after a little fairy dust…

Of course, that is groutless…and Frog Taped (every princess story has a frog in it, right?!)…oh and still lacking finishing…but the point is, the tile is up!  insert awkward homeschool dancing here.

So the tile before was a travertine….remember this?

With the help of 0ur little construction worker (or should I call him our ‘destruction’ worker?), the old tile came down and Jeremy installed some drywall.   

Then we did what we do best….fondled things we like in public…namely some very pretty pretties at The Tile Shop.  They surprised us with an amazing gift of free tile.  Yeah.  We still can’t believe it either.  And after a long time of star gazing…just so we could find that lucky one to thank…we picked out a beautiful marble hex shaped tile in polished finish.   

Then came the hard part….do we install it with the flat side up?

or the pointy side up? 

Decisions…decisions.  This is a prime example of a first world problem.  In the end and after a lot of photo analyzing, we decided that with the pointy side up, it looked very bee-hive-ish.  Not that I have anything against the bees.  I actually have a great fondness for the idea of bees in general (my mom’s name means “bee”, my mother-in-law goes by GrandBee, and my best friend is so into them, she even had them on her wedding invite…and then there is honey of course…which can make anything better)…but as much as I like the design associated with bees, I didn’t really want my kitchen to be a hive.  No offense to any apiarists out there.

Oh and I made it a point that I absolutely needed to start centered over the middle of the range top.  There is no excuse for an off center backsplash.     

The hardest part about the process was the fact that the tile was glued to mesh sheets…so each tile could slump down into the next and the spacing was really difficult.  I ended up using a TON of spacers.

Behind our range hood, we had left just a sliver of a space for the tile to slide up and behind.  That made it easy for a seamless look and a few less cuts.

I would slide it up and then push. 

See how annoying the spacing is?  Each tile had uneven spaces.

I spent probably two thirds of the first tile day just learning how to space the best way and to do it quickly. 

I did all the thinsetting and tiling and spacing while Jeremy cut tile.  And yes, this is the famous “I cut tile with a wet saw” look.  Not to be confused with “I was so distracted with my fantasy football team that I failed myself” look.   There is a difference.

So five hours in…this is how far we got…

And then another three hours the next day…

and then we started working on the big wall…we knew this one would take at least four hours. 

The hardest part was getting all the cuts just right and making sure everything was flush and spaced correctly.  I had to work under the cabinets…bending over was just so ridiculous being full term.  I’m kinda surprised Weston didn’t come out with a countertop dent in his head. 

Will was at Cole’s house for a few hours so it helped tremendously to not worry about him while we worked.  I got under the windows done pretty fast… 

And then Jer got back home (had to pick up Will) and I was down to the biggest area…I like to call it the great wall of tile.

Basically I just started at the bottom and worked up and then over.

It’s pretty self explanatory…smear, spacers, tile, level, more spacers, repeat.

Tomorrow I can share the how-I-tile post…this is more like here-is-the-progress post.

Nice undercarriage Katie.

This is my ‘look happy Katie’ face.  I look slightly crazy. 

And then here we have the finished product….

See my wall of tile?  Beautiful.  Makes me wanna break out in a Whitney Houston song.

Oh and yes, eventually we will have a few shelves there…here are some slightly doctored photos to show ya what we are thinking.

That’s with corbels and here’s just floating shelves.  I’m still undecided.  Jeremy votes corbels because he thinks they will be sturdier.  He’s all about the sturdy.  He wants to be able to sleep on those shelves.   I’m not kidding.

So that’s how it looks with the tile up…next up – how I do it.  and then grouting.  seriously…this kitchen is gonna last me till next year.  You think I’m kidding.  It’s still not done…just so you know. 

disclaimer – The Tile Shop provided me with some GORG tile for my kitchen.  All opinions are my own.  I highly recommend using The Tile Shop and I am a huge fan.  I have not been bribed, coerced or paid to say anything positive…this love is unadulterated.



  1. Felicity says

    Looks great!

    I’ll admit, I thought you had gone a little crazy with the wall-o-tile, but then I saw that you were going to put up shelving and it made perfect sense.

  2. says

    Your kitchen looks AMAZING!! I’m actually having my house built right now and kicking myself for not going with a white kitchen, but thank you for all the incredible ideas! :) I simply adore your blog and your sweet family xoxo

  3. Michelle says

    Comparing the before & after, your pendant lights have become a whole new focus point against that white. They look great!

  4. says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE errr sexy tile i want to rub my face on you!!

    so jealous that you have the perfect breaking spots for your tile- we dont have very obvious nice places to stop so we are still undecided.

    what do i have to do to get some free tile? im not above any of it. not at all.

  5. Aimee says

    Question about your counters: do they get lots of water spots? Are they hard to keep clean looking? I have black granite in my bathroom, and it is a pain to keep looking spotless. So I LOVE black granite, but I am really hesitant to put it in the kitchen. What are your thoughts?

    I really love your kitchen makeover! It looks amazing.

    • says

      We didn’t have as much a problem with our granite in our old house (it was called Black Galaxy) and we loved it. This granite is a little more dark with less speckles…so it shows more. I don’t know if this helps but I hope so.
      xo – kb

    • says

      We already installed the hardware before painting the cabinets (we wanted to know what it would look like) so we took it off and then popped it back on after :)
      xo – kb

  6. says

    Hi, I’m in the process of buying the same tiles but I can’t decide between 1 inch and 2 inch. What size are yours?
    P.S. Your kitchen looks great!

  7. john o'neil says

    looks wonderful. How did Jeremy manage to cut the tiles for the bottom and other places. I am using a wet saw table but the tiles split, cut unevenly etc. We have just started but can’t get going because of cutting issues.

    • says

      We placed the tiles upside down and used a piece of fleece under them so that the surface wouldn’t get scratched. It also is very helpful to make sure your wet tile saw blade is sharp.
      xo – kb

  8. Stacy says

    Would you recommend this as a doable project for a first time tiler? As a follow up question…we just bought out first house in Atlanta. Want to come over and show us how to do this? :)

    • says

      A backsplash of this size…probably not. I would start with a floor and larger tiles…like a laundry room or a small bathroom. I think in the beginning a smaller tile job that doesn’t require as many elaborate cuts would be the best and one that doesn’t have many grout lines because that is really what can make or break a tile job. Also – CONGRATS!
      xo – kb

  9. Michelle Fitzgerald says

    I know I am late to this party but I am loving the kitchen. I went to the tile shop’s web site to find your backsplash. There are a lot of 1″ polished hex tiles. Can you provide the specific name of yours? Love your blog and your growing family. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

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