DIY Home Decor Upcycling

Kitchen Backsplash Project Part II – Beginning Work on the Walls

Kitchen Backsplash Project Part II – Tile Design and Beginning Work on the Walls

After absorbing inspiration and stockpiling tiles for my kitchen for three years, how did I begin the process of actually getting some tiles on the wall?

I’ve been intending since I moved in to my condo in 2004 to eventually repaint the kitchen. The paint in this room is rough, and even worse, it’s pink! So it has to go and until it’s repainted it doesn’t matter to me if I mark it up with pencil or tape.

To begin my designs I cleared everything off of the counter top and used a ruler and pencil to mark where I wanted strips of tile. This work would be too much to be completed in one work session. It being necessary to use the kitchen in between work sessions, I had to devise a way to design and install the strips in sections.

I decided on a repeating pattern that would appear at intervals, with more free-form arrangements in between. I measured where the repeating elements would go and decided how many I would need, then I went into my studio and designed one of the repeating sections. Then I made sure I had enough of those tiles to repeat the pattern the required number of times. Choosing the tiles from which to create the repeating patterns could have been an overwhelming task, given the number of tiles I had accumulated – I had been collecting them for multiple projects, not just the back splash. For help I referred to the swatch page I had made for my kitchen to help me keep in mind what look and feel I wanted for the room. I hung up the swatch page nearby and sorted out tiles that seemed to fit. That narrowed down the selection and from those I was able to come up with the repeating pattern. I laid each section out on a tray in my studio and carried it into the kitchen to install each section, then repeated until all the recurring sections were in place.

Final tile design of strip around sink in kitchen

After that was done, I filled in the spaces between the repeating segments, then added a strip in a terra cotta color above it.

Close up of tile design that includes handmade tiles, purchased tiles, and salvaged tiles.

A strip similar to this would be very easy to do with purchased or made to order tiles of a uniform size. Since I was including a lot of salvaged tiles however, I had to do a lot of piecing, cutting and nipping. I’m very pleased with the result and I think it was worth the extra effort – it would not be to everyone’s taste but is exactly the kind of look I wanted. There is no way anyone would be able to replicate this design exactly even if they wanted to!

While I had the tiles out, I decided to do a strip by the pantry as well.

Working out tile design in my studio before installing on the wall

I drew an outline of the area to be tiled on the paper that covers my studio table, then filled that in while working out my design. When I was satisfied, I placed some of the tiles on a tray, carried it to the kitchen, and installed the tiles one section at a time. I marked the wall with pencil lines before beginning so that I didn’t go out of the allotted spaces while installing.

While working on the tiles, I gave some thought to the future paint scheme of my kitchen and picked out color swatches. I put the swatches and some notes in my idea book and also marked in pencil what color goes where on the kitchen walls.

Read more:
Kitchen Backsplash Project Part I – Introduction
Kitchen Backsplash Project Part III – Filling in the Tile “Murals”

By Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann

Carolyn was raised in a DIY household. From an early age she was encouraged to try everything from baking to soldering. These days she enjoys paper crafts, mixed media crafts, sewing, ceramics, mosaics, gardening, making things out of wood, home decor projects and upcycling found items into useable and decorative objects.

In the past Carolyn has worked in the retail, web design, and marketing fields. She now works part time at Schnarr's as a cashier, helps with the store's marketing efforts, writes her own blog and craft tutorials, and teaches craft classes. Carolyn’s father introduced her to hardware stores, his tools, and the “stuff stash” that every DIYer collects. It’s no surprise that time spent at Schnarr’s makes her giddy in the presence of things you can use to create! She still loves working on projects with her Dad and it's a treat to make a joint trip to the hardware store!

Carolyn is excited for the opportunity to help Schnarr's customers enrich their lives with creative and fun projects. She wants as many people as possible to experience the joy that DIY projects have brought to her life.

Other places to share Carolyn’s passion for creating:

Carolyn Hasenfratz Design Blog -

Carolyn's Stamp Store -

Carolyn's Pinterest Boards -

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