Backsplash advice -- Rookwood tiles, layout, color, help!

MargaretHMJanuary 16, 2012

I've been lurking here for so long, posting for the first time... Hoping to get some good advice and feedback about tiles...

Our new kitchen is completely done except the backsplash:

For background, the house is a 100-year old Queen Anne, with a lot of DARK quartersawn oak panelling in the living room, dining room, etc. You can see the color on the swing door that goes into the dining room. There is also a lot of arts-and-crafts wallpaper, stained glass, and tiling in other parts of the house. In the kitchen, the cabinets are quartersawn medium oak, the counters are Cambria Ferndale, and the walls are Benjamin Moore Putnam Ivory.

Here is the backsplash we'd like to use:

They are Rookwood Tiles (www.rookwood.com), and they're really beautiful. But they are also really big -- in a bunch of ways. The tiles are 6x9 and also very thick, about 3/8 of an inch. I'm trying to figure out how to frame them and fill out the rest of the wall.

We would use the panel you see above (which is 18x18, more or less) centered over the stove. The space between the stove and hood is about 31x31. To fill out that space, we can use field tiles in the same background color as the panel tiles. We'd also use these for the two "wings" underneath the cabinets, and for the very short space between the counter and window sills, about 4" tall. There's also taller space to the right of the sink that will also need tiles.

So here are my questions:

1. what do you think of the tiles?

2. What do you think of using thick tiles like this, especially around so many windowsills. They will stand almost flush with the window sills and frames. Will that look awful?

3. For the field tiles, should we continue to use 6x9s around the central panel in the space above the stove? Should we use them "tall" like the panel? Or should we run them horizontally like subway tiles? Or, should we use 6x6 in the same color instead? How should we mount the tiles (whatever size they are) on those very short spaces under the windowsills?

I hope this makes sense. Please let me know if you have questions and THANK YOU for any advice!!

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springroz

That tile is drop dead gorgeous!! I love your cabinets, the wood is lovely.

Sorry I can't answer your question about the installation..... Beautiful!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 7:03AM
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suzanne_sl

I went to rookwood.com - Thank you for posting that!! Wow.

For you, I think you should consider a frame of the type shown in the brochure (Browse our collections, architectural tiles). I didn't see page numbers, but it's about halfway through in a photo of a stove with a copper hood. I'm thinking the field tiles should be smaller than 6 x 9 and horizontal, but I'm no expert on that.

Did you see these tiles in person? I would think that the people who sell these would be a good resource for design.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 7:49AM
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lazy_gardens

Oh wow ... those are fabulous and would really fit the house. Having them grow up out of the countertop would look interesting.

One way to make them "fit" with thinner modern style tile is to cover the wall with tile backer board EXCEPT where the Rookwood tiles will go - leave a pocket where the thick tiles will go. That shims out the the wall for the thinner tile.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 5:33PM
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joyce_6333

Can't wait to see your finished backsplash!! It's good you are addressing the thickness of the tile. I didn't think of that when I had a large Motawai tile put into our fireplace surround. I thought the tile setter would adjust for it, but he didn't and it does stick out a tad.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 6:36PM
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melissastar

You said the field tiles would be the same color as the Rookwood decos...so you're planning to use Rookwood field tiles, which are the same thickness, right? If my assumption is correct, you're only worried about there not being much difference between the thickness of the window trim and the tile. I don't think that would particularly bother me, as long as the tile was no thicker than, and hopefully somewhat thinner than the window trim work.

If, in fact, you are using a thinner field tile, do keep in mind the need to adjust (or live with) the way the deco tiles will protrude a bit from the field. That's actually what my Motawi tiles do...they are somewhat thicker than the Ann Sacks field tile. I accomodated by having the edges of the Motawi tiles used as a border around the decos glazed, so that it looks deliberate. And it's not a big difference because the Ann Sacks tiles are a bit thick too.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 7:42PM
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enduring

I have a porch where years ago wood tongue and grove pine
paneling was put up, and next to the door casing it is flush
with the casing. I think it looks odd.

I think with your lovely home the casing would look odd almost
flush with the tile. I think it would look like a "remodel job". With the
beautiful kitchen and that wonderful tile I'd consider a shallower
tile profile. Maybe something like Melissastar proposed.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 8:01PM
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MargaretHM

Thank you all for your great thoughts. I *was* thinking of using the Rookwood tiles everywhere. They make field tiles with the same glazes as the background to the polychrome decorative tiles, but in various sizes. So I thought my only challenge was to figure out what size of plain field tile to use.

I had not thought at all of using a different (shallower) tile on the rest of the wall. That would certainly fix the problem with the window casing! But finding a color match will be a challenge... and figuring out a framing device that will set the decorative tiles off from the shallower field tiles.

Hmmm... lots to think about. Thanks so much. To answer suzannesl's question, we saw the tiles in a showroom in Maine while on vacation this summer. I have samples of the right thickness and glaze color, but not those particular decorative tiles. We were actually in Cincinnati on Jan. 2 and tried to go to the Rookwood factory but they were closed for the holiday. I think another field trip might be in order!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:03PM
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MargaretHM

Hello all, this is a follow-up to the original message from a couple of months ago. I found out that Rookwood make a thinner field tile in the same glaze as the decorative tiles, so my worries about the tile butting into window casings are now solved.

BUT, I'm still trying to figure out what size field tile to use. A little background: I really, really love the decorative tiles and the polychrome glaze on them is gorgeous. But in general I'm not a fan of really busy tilework, and I rather like the idea of the decorative tiles floating in amongst the rest of the backsplash. Put another way, I really *don't* want this to look like a framed picture set against the backsplash. But, on the other hand, keep in mind that the field tiles will be about a quarter of an inch less proud than the decorative tiles.

Given all this, what would you advise -- what's going to look the least obtrusive, most "natural" and least busy??

I made color photocopies of the decorative tiles to scale and taped them to the wall along with mock paper field tiles in the same dimension (6x9) running the opposite orientation. They would look like this:

Then the tile designer came up with these sketches of progressively smaller tiles (subway and square). She also suggests putting a pencil liner around the whole thing. What do you think of these?:

Unfortunately the tile showroom is in another state and the designer is only seeing the same photos, etc., that I'm posting here. So she can advise, but I'm open to other input as well. Any thoughts on all of this much appreciated!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 4:52PM
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Mabies

Hi, did you install these tiles? If so, how did it turn out? I am very excited to see your post, as we met with our tile designer today and are trying to finalize our design for the same tiles! We also have cherry cabinets, though our countertop is dark (black/green/some grey soapstone)...

I have the same concerns about the thickness... the person we are working with doesn't think it will look weird.

We are struggling over colors mainly now. We want the tile in matte. I also prefer to avoid including a "frame" so am interested in what you ended up on that. We want to include subway shapes - I was thinking smaller, but your photo of the 6x9 mock up is very cool.

Thanks much for any thoughts/advice!
Karen

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:41PM
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