Backsplash renewal

It happens every year like clockwork – once the days are yucky enough that I can’t go outside regularly, I’m hit by Home Renovation Fever. I start watching all the HGTV and DIY shows I can find online (since we don’t have TV), and longingly cruising the tile and lumber aisles at the Home Depot. Maybe it’s a bit of the stir-crazies, and maybe this year it’s a little bit about nesting – but whatever the cause, I’ve started tearing apart my kitchen.

Let me state up front, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with my kitchen – in fact it’s one of the nicest rooms in the house. It was updated maybe in the late 80s to judge by the decor, and has very copious cabinets and a looooong center island. The problem is me.

See? Nothing wrong but a little mismatching and outdating. I’m such a spoiled brat.

I have very particular ideas about good kitchen layout design (it comes with being the daughter of an architect, so blame my dad). And I just happen to really dislike country-style golden oak cabinets, formica countertops, the color forest green, brown floors, and floral motifs. Instead, I appreciate solid-surface countertops, simple cabinet design, natural surface floors, crown moulding, and saturated accent colors that pop against a background of white.

In fact, I really like the look of the retro 50’s design stuff. And that’s a great model for us here because I think simplified 50’s design is coming back in a big way AND it more or less fits the age of our house. The key is to keep it understated.

I love pretty much everything about this kitchen except the floorplan. If only I had the guts – and money – to buy tinted appliances. Which I don’t.

Since I spend nearly all day, every single day in the kitchen, it’s really important to me that I’m happy with my habitat. (We eat there, do crafts there, I check my email there, of course I cook a lot too.)

But with nothing actually wrong with the kitchen, I can’t possibly justify the $40K remodel that it would take to move the island around, widen the window, and move a doorway like I wish I could. Instead, I have to find a way to make the kitchen pleasant for me to work in without spending anywhere near a fraction of that kind of money.

But that’s what DIY is for, folks!

Let’s start with getting some color into this overly-neutral room. The easiest place to start is replacing the backsplash tiles and oddly mismatched garden window tile, something I’ve always found fascinating on the DIY shows.

Out comes the old tile, garden window and walls.

Why yes I am 8 months pregnant, funny you should notice. Do you feel sorry for my windowsill?

The wall tiles were so much easier to remove than the tiles that had been cemented onto the garden window’s plywood floor. And their having been put onto plaster is great, because the substrate is still very strong. No need to bare the studs and re-drywall, I just need to smooth and patch a little.

And then I had an extremely enjoyable time at the tile store this afternoon with one of my best friends, getting thoroughly OCD about exactly which shade of turquoise to bring in. (Remember, I want color in here… and I want it to pop!)

The colors look a bit grayed out here but you get the idea. I’ve had my heart set on glass subway tiles for a while now, so the shapes will of course be different. I have pretty much decided on the top, right-hand color.

Now the question is – do we do an accent line, or not? The small mosaics on the right are iridescent, and not at all what I’d had in mind, but so beautiful. I’m not sure how they might look with the sleek retro 50’s vibe I was planning on aiming for either – can chrome jive with mosaic? any designers out there want to weigh in? – but I love them, and I have to decide pretty darn soon.

Because in just a couple weeks it’s Christmas, and then we’re having a baby. And I can pretty much guarantee that after that, laying tile will take second place.

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