Kate and I have been working together for a few years now. She has a beautiful baby girl, who is just a few weeks older than Margot, so Kate mostly works from home now, but she still does a ton for me and my design business. She is just the best there is – she makes any project more beautiful and infinitely more FUN! Kate and her husband recently were ready to take on some kitchen projects and they were kind enough to document some of the process for our viewing pleasure. I love the cheerful results! Enjoy!
Hi! Kate here. We moved into our house 18 months ago and have been systematically tackling the renovations, room by room. Floors, popcorn ceilings, new fixtures, and a few walls knocked down. The kitchen was in pretty rough shape as you can tell, but a full-blown renovation wasn’t in the budget or timeframe.
We raised the ceiling, painted walls and cupboards, ripped out one set of cupboards, painted our countertops (a post in itself!), laid a super inexpensive gray floor tile and there you have it- livable and neutral until we checked a few more pressing things off our to-do list. This is where we landed:
Since then, we finally got to a good spot with the rest of the house and yard and we set our sights on the kitchen! We brainstormed, Pinterest-ed, and talked through a hundred ideas with the main goal being that our kitchen needed character. Our next natural step was a backsplash. The space between our upper cabinets and counters is small (11 inches) not to mention our kitchen itself is pretty tiny so we knew we needed to find the right scale and layout with a tile. I love subway tile and I am drawn to simplicity and clean lines. But I knew I wanted something different in this house. Something fresh that I hadn’t seen a hundred times! **Pinterest, that’s your cue**
About five seconds after realizing my husband and I were both drawn to any tile in a grid pattern, we were on our way to Floor and Decor. We looked through all different sizes and shapes but ultimately decided to go with this 2″ square tile – we figured the scale would look best in our small space. The huge bonus is that square and subway tile are so well-priced! We spent under $200 for all of our materials at Floor & Decor!
We also had a perfect empty space by our sink for some open shelving and I saw it as a chance to use more backsplash! Thanks to this very professional design drawing you see above (thank you, snapchat) we decided to just go for it and take the tile almost all the way up the wall.
The folks at Floor & Decor were knowledgeable and helpful as we attempted to DIY this backsplash. We went with a pre-mixed thinset to save time and the mess of mixing. We also went with a premixed grout for a number of reasons. Pre-mixed grout has sealer, epoxy, and a water repeller mixed right in. It literally consolidates four steps with one easy mixture! The biggest reason for us though was color consistency. We wanted a true black grout and if we were worried there might be some color variation if we were mixing the batches ourselves.
We used this 1/8” trowel to apply the thinset to the walls, using the smooth edge to apply and the notched edge to even out and hanging only one sheet of tile at a time. We figured out pretty quickly that we needed a pretty liberal spread of thinset and if it was evenly distributed, the tile held and didn’t budge. The working time with this was about 5-10 minutes, so we had some leeway to nudge a tile or two if they looked uneven.
After applying the thinset on the wall, we lined the tile up and pressed firmly and evenly to adhere the tile to the thinset. Because our kitchen is old and very uneven, we eyeballed the spacing so we could adjust as needed. If you live in a newer house I would recommend using spacers– if nothing, to save yourself some time on this step!
Because we had quite a few cuts, we rented a table saw from Floor & Decor. Don’t worry – it’s about a million times easier to use than it looks! :) The friendly workers at the store can talk you through any questions you might have. They’re seriously so great to work with.
We waited a couple of hours to let the thinset dry completely before we came in with the grout. We applied the grout with a small trowel moving in small sections. It’s a good idea to wait a few minutes before you come in with a sponge and scrub the excess grout off the tile. Pro tip: change the water for your sponge often! It might feel like a bit of a hassle but will save you so much time as the excess grout comes off much easier with clean water. This step took the longest because we did the grout in small sections. But it was worth it for consistency and we never had to scrub the grout off the tile- it came right off.
The finished product!!!! We couldn’t be happier with the backsplash! The shape, the dark grout, the simple, retro vibe- we love it all.
I’m glad that we were able to utilize more of the backsplash behind the shelves. Adding more tile was kind of an 11th hour decision and I’m so happy we went for it!
We found a steal of a deal on this new stove via Craigslist (the previous owner switched to gas and just wanted it gone!) and instead of buying a new vent hood when ours was working just fine- we spray painted our old one pistachio! I absolutely love this little pop of color!
We are so happy with our kitchen update! It makes the space feel so special and more of a reflection of our style. It was boring and neutral before and it felt like a flip house (which, to be honest, it was!), but now it is such a happy space! It makes me smile every time I walk in.
A big thanks to Kate and Landon for sharing their kitchen backsplash project with us! Floor & Decor is a beloved, long-term partner with LGN. We use their tile all the time and LOVE their price points! If you’re looking for some fun backsplash or bathroom tile check out these favorites we’ve used before and can’t wait to use again!
12×12″ honed carrara // square on square // 1″ hex // herringbone // 2″ grid // limestone chevron // basketweave // 12×24″ carrara // 4×12″ carrara // penny rounds // black and white // mosaic // 4×4″ honed squares