The Big Splash

Warning!  This post is filled with over enthusiastic commentary and gratuitous tile pictures.

Along with installing most of the trim, we’ve finished another item on our long to do list.  Along with the drawer fronts, I think the marble backsplash has made the biggest difference in the kitchen, making it feel more finished.  I guess it kind of almost is finished.

First, take a look at our old back splash.  A four-inch tall piece of oak topped laminate.  Not. Pretty.  And, it didn’t function well protecting the wall from water.  In fact, the laminate covered a piece of particle board.  Particle board and water are not friends.  When wet, particle board swells more than my feet when I was pregnant.

So, we decided to make our new back splash pretty and functional in a wet area.  And that’s why we chose 3 inch by 6 inch marble subway tiles (from Home Depot), taking the tile up to the ceiling.

Before I get to the big back splash, lets take a look at the smaller one behind the stove.  We had to approach this one a little differently.  You see, our floors aren’t perfectly even, so the space between the counter top and the bar top varies about 1/2 inch from the far left side to the right end.  The wood tops are 3 1/2 inches apart.  If we had used the same 3 by 6 tiles, this difference would have been much more noticeable because the cut slivers would vary.  Luckily, Home Depot also carries four packs of 6 by 6 inch marble tiles.  The perfect solution to our uneven problem back splash.

Now for the install.  We started by measuring and marking the center of each wall space and the first tile.

Back butter the tile, line up the marks, and press firmly into place.

Because our first four tiles tuck behind the stove, we decided to leave them the full 6 by 6.  Then Ben measured each opening, cutting one tile per side, installing, then measuring for the next.

I’m guessing the marble tile cuts like a hot knife through butta because Ben made very nice detail cuts, like these around the outlets.

And he joked the he’ll start carving chess pieces from marble when we finish the house.  Here’s another shot of the tile behind the stove.  Once it’s pushed back in place, it won’t look any different.

Bright and pretty, just the way I like ’em.

Now that we’ve gotten the little ‘splash out of the way, let’s get to the main event; the back splash behind the sink.  Our starting process was similar, but Ben had some cutting to do first.  We agreed the first full row of tile should start at the counter, so Ben had to cut pieces to fit in the lower sink area.

Thanks old back splash for leaving so much ugly junk behind.  That’s why water and particle board are a bad combo.

With the sink row cut, things went up really quickly because Ben installed the full tiles, then moved to the smaller, detailed pieces.  Here’s a little space under the window sill.

And after, with the tiny pieces stuck forever.

Tons of one inch pieces on each side of the window and we made it to the top.

Instead of back buttering each tile for the part above the window, Ben spread the mastic on the wall.

Putting in some of the final cut pieces.

Because we’re putting crown moulding along the tops of the cabinets, we decided we’ll continue the crown across the front of the marble, covering the gap near the ceiling.

Before going to work the next morning, Ben pulled the spacers so I woke up to this pretty wall ‘o tile.

Pretend all the shelves are painted and we’ve got crown at the top, okay?  Oh, and pretend we’ve got doors on the upper cabinets, too.

Is it wrong that I want to stare at it all day?  Maybe I’m turning into a tile stalker.

The blue-gray works so well with the stainless, gray cabinets, and the warm wood counters.  Which is why I love this shot.

Just a detail shot of the cuts around the sink.

Now, a before and after for added drama.  Before:


Ahh, the magic of the internet.

What do you think?  I’m in love.  Like seriously, in. love.  I’m just visualizing this shot with trim and doors and I have a dopey, just-fallen-in-love smile on my face.

Of course we still have to grout the tile, so we’ll be back to share more info on the install and pictures when we’re done.

33 thoughts on “The Big Splash

  1. Looks awesome, Amanda! I am thinking of doing similar marble for our behind-the-stove backsplash – but likely in a smaller size (maybe 1x2s). I am glad to hear you had such good luck with it, and it looks beautiful!

    1. Hi my honest answer, He is so skilled, it can be annoying. Everything he tries, he’s good at. including marble tile cutting and installing. 🙂 And we’re both so thrilled with how everything is looking. Still more work, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

      Hey Katy! Thanks so much! I think anything marble will look fantastic! 1 by 2s are a cute little size, too. And, I was so pleasantly surprised the tile cut so well. No breaking or funky cuts. Ben was completely light hearted the entire time, which means nothing went wrong for him. Good luck with your back splash!


  2. Beautiful job! You and Ben are so talented! The pictures look fantastic too!
    I have a feeling it was Ben’s idea to include that picture of him finishing up the last few pieces above the window, what with his leg up on the counter and all. 😉

  3. Amanda! IT LOOKS AMAZING! Seriously. I am absolutely in love with the slightly cool marble against the warm wood counter tops. Yum. Very sexy kitchen you have there.

    I need to get my husband on here to read about this adventure. We’re more like intermediate renovation people- we demo and drywall, but hire out the tiling and electrical. As I learn more from you I’m gaining confidence. Love it!

  4. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!! =)

    I’m pretty much squealing with excitement over your totally transformed kitchen! I personally love an open kitchen and wood counters…so it’s right up my alley. Terrific job!

  5. Wow Amanda!!! The backsplash is BEAUTIFUL!!! I like that you took it all the way to the ceiling too. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing in my new (not-built-yet) house but the entire house is open concept so it might look weird not having a wall to “end” the tile at. Still debating though 🙂

  6. I am so jealous that you will have a brand new kitchen, built by your own hands. I love the way it looks, but more, I love that you will have the memories of all the work that went into it. While the process of a remodel can be hard- all you have to do is look back at all the pictures of your family doing it together and know that it was worth it!

    1. Hey Stephanie! Aww, thanks. The cool/warm combo is my favorite part. They way the two look together, just ahhhh. I understand your concerns and reasoning for hiring our electrical, but tile is a pretty reasonable project for an intermediate DIY-er. Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it, but if you know someone who can help you (watching over your shoulder offering advice) I definitely think you could handle it. 🙂 Let me know how it goes!

      Hi US, thanks so much! The stainless definitely makes the wood and marble feel more contemporary. Yep, we’re getting there! Now what will I blog about?!? Haha.

      Hey Life Begins at Thirty, Right, Thanks! So glad you’re liking it. 🙂

      Hi Andrea, Thanks!!! I’m totally squealing with excitement, too. Glad I’m not the only one. Haha. The wood counters definitely were the best choice for us. Glad for happy accidents. 🙂

      Hey desertdomicile, Thanks so much!!! I think taking it to the ceiling just makes more sense. Especially when the tiled area is so small. For your house, you wouldn’t need a wall to end the tile at. You could either use bull nose tiles along the end edge, or cap it off with thin piece of trim for definition. I think you’d be so happy with the tile that it’s worth it. 🙂

      Hi Megan, The kitchen has most certainly been a labor of love, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re such hands on (control freak) people that we love making the decision for every little detail. And, I have to say, before starting the remodel, I had huge fears of Ben and I fighting over everything and me storming out in tears. For the most part, it has been much easier (mentally, I knew the work load) than I thought. So thankful for that. 🙂

      Thanks everyone!!

  7. Thank you for showing pictures of the hard to do spots. That’s what always gets me in my tile projects.
    I am inspired by you to finally do my tile now. I really appreciate your before and after pictures. We remodeled our kitchen a few years ago, but it was so low-budget that there are spots of it that I want to re-do already. Thanks!

  8. I love your tile! Marble tile wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I love how it looks with the cabinets and countertop. I’m loving your kitchen and can’t wait to see it finished! I bet you’re anxious too. By the way, can I borrow Ben when it’s time for our kitchen reno? 😉

  9. looks so beautiful!
    i cracked up at one of your comments above about fighting over everything and storming out in tears. we are about to start our kitchen remodel and that is the only thing i’m scared about!
    my husband is worried about uncovering some major budget-blowing problem once we start tearing the old kitchen out. i’m worried about us strangling each other!

  10. I’m simply jealous. There, I said it. I love it so, so much, and it looks perfect, and the kitchen looks so harmonious. And it has a good vibe about it, the colours, the fabrics, the shapes, the size, everything goes with everything. It’s balanced, and this makes it so beautiful. So I’m jealous. I hope your kitchen will be featured in as many places as possible, to give your blog the boost it deserves. I love the shot where you can see the window sill, the faucet, the back splash and the sink.
    And the back splash over the sink is per-fect.

    1. Hey Jennifer, You’re so welcome. I’m glad you found them helpful. Hopefully you can find a good solution to fix up the areas of your kitchen you’re unhappy with. 🙂

      Hi Ellie, Thanks! It’s funny because marble is usually my first choice for nearly everything. It’s just so pretty and classic. And goes with nearly everything. Yeah, we’re so anxious to see a completely finished kitchen. I’ll tell Ben to pack his bags when he’s done with our kitchen. 😉

      Hi Nikki, Thanks! So glad you’re liking it. 🙂

      Hey Chance! Thanks so much for your kind words!

      Hi Melissamevans, Thank you! Marble tile is always dreamy, isn’t it? I have a serious crush on almost anything marble.

      Hey Ashley! We’re on the exact same page. Love the combination. The wood counters really do make all the difference overall. It just wouldn’t have been the same with stone counters. And, I read your post about painting the trim. Could you paint the trim around the windows and doors, but leave the actual windows and doors stained wood? Our basement has all white trim, but the doors are a deep cherry stain. Would your hubby go for that?

      Hi Abi, Aww, thanks! We can’t wait to share the finished kitchen with you. 🙂

      Hey Lizzy, Thanks, lady! That was seriously my concern, but it has been surprisingly pleasant. Of course there were a few minor arguments, but nothing crazy. Hopefully your kitchen reno goes smoothly! 🙂

      Hi Diana! For five years, I’ve been jealous of everyone else’s pretty kitchens. Now, I don’t have to be. 🙂 Your comment put a smile on my face. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but yes, everything does seem harmonious. Fingers crossed it will be featured somewhere. 🙂 That would be a dream come true! That is my favorite shot, too. And now that I’ve put things back on the counter, I have another favorite. I’ll share it when we get the grouting done. 🙂

      Hi Kristen! Thanks!! 🙂

      Hi Gabbi, Thanks so much! Your kitchen looks wonderful, too! So glad to see you opened things up. 🙂

      Thanks again!

  11. ha! I’m stalking your tile via the internet. you guys have done such a nice job with your kitchen and have given me so many useful ideas for ours.

  12. Ok, just awesome. I didn’t even see the finishing touches not done. I just honed right in on that beauty of a backsplash. Great choice. It really is stunning and fits your kitchen so well!

    1. Hi Katie, Thanks so much. That photo is great because it shows almost every detail of the kitchen.

      Hey Karyl, Ha, that’s totally cool. 🙂 I’m glad to hear you’re gathering ideas for your kitchen. If you have any questions, we’re here to help.

      Hi Pine Tree Home! Glad you honed in on the tile and not the rest of our to do list. Haha. So glad you’re loving the kitchen so far. 🙂


  13. It’s so so so pretty. I love that you are tiling all the way to the ceiling around that window. Divine my dear friend. You have done a fantastic job selecting complimenting finishes and colors!


  14. it looks amazing!! I love that you tiled it all the way to the top!! Perfection! 🙂 Were the tiles pricey? Sorry if i’m getting ahead, not sure if you plan on doing a budget breakdown

    1. Aww, thanks Jen!

      Hey Katrina, Thanks, lady! Um, the tiles weren’t too bad. $6.86 per square foot. We needed about 7 square feet for a total of $48.02. And it makes such a huge difference it was worth every penny. And, we have plans for a whole kitchen budget breakdown when you’re completely finished. 🙂


Now it's your turn! Share your thoughts and opinions, stories and links. We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s