Backsplash to go with Cambria "Berkeley"

Mermom1February 20, 2013

I've been devouring this forum every day for a while and am finally jumping in myself. We are midway through our kitchen remodel and trying to make the final big decisions: tile and lighting. I've lived in a 60's "Leave it to Beaver" house for many years, and now that the kids are out of college, it's time to finally update the June Cleaver/Donna Reed kitchen! We took a bold step and knocked out the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. We installed wood floors (could be tricky with large dogs, but it sure looks nice!) and dark cherry cabinets. We have ordered the Cambria countertops, and once those are in, the appliances and backsplash can be installed. I hope to avoid joining the ABB club, and want to decide now, so that the kitchen can be finished in the next few weeks. (Yeah, I hear you all laughing!)

Our KD is strongly urging porcelain or ceramic over stone, so we've mostly been looking at subway tiles. I'm thinking we should stay rather simple so that the backsplash does not conflict with the pattern on the counters. I've picked out a couple of glossy cream beveled subway tiles- one plain and one crackled- in 2 sizes, and then a travertine-looking mosaic with long horizontal pieces. If it has to be a plain tile, I like the idea of having a size other than 3x6. I want something on the simple side but am a tad worried about it being boring. Anyone want to weigh in?

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I am just about to choose tile myself and have been thinking of subway tile but worried that 3x6's just seem to be everywhere.

I also have a busy granite counter and I know I need some visual rest in the backsplash. There are so many beautiful tiles that you get tempted.

How big of an area will you be tiling?

I love insets of herringbone pattern over the range. Google subway herringbone inset and I'm sure you'll see ideas. I have also seen subways put in vertically rather tan horizontally.

I have been thinking of 4x8's myself ...can't really say why this seems better to me. Maybe just because it isn't a 3x6 subway tile.

BTW, love the Cambria you've chosen.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:21PM
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I like the matte light brown--3rd from the left. And I love that that color of quartz!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 9:16PM
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Please wait until you counter is in to decided. Colors have a way of changing.
I agree with ceramic, but you don't have to do subway. Start looking at the Finished Kitchen Blog and the Backsplash Slide Show on GW for inspiration. Google backsplash and see what comes up.
Your granite does have movement so something on the simpler side would be best, but you can play around with size and pattern.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 9:54PM
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I would recommend staying away from travertine, real or faux. It would be helpful if you tell us your overall style - contemporary, vintage, etc.. and your budget in $/sf.

You can keep the look simple without using 3" x 6" tile - there are countless beautiful options including glass mosaics and hand glazed ceramic tiles in almost any size.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:01AM
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Kristen Hallock

Thats the color of Cambria that I want! Its nice to see a real picture of it. I havent even ordered cabinets yet so I am a long way off from choosing the final countertop though.

I dont love the white subway tile but I like both of the others.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:06AM
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We have Cambria Bellingham. We chose a matte white subway tile with a mosaic accent line. What changed was the color of the accent line when the countertop went in. Why? The lighting in the kitchen changed how things looked. In addition, we had a mosaic with *frosted* glass tiles...avoid these, they pick up oil from fingers and anything else. The frosted glass was difficult to clean, we tested it before installation.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 12:28PM
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We are also going with Cambria Berkeley so I'm interested in what you go with. Not that this helps much, but I agree with waiting until the counter is completely installed. Just looking at the difference between your sample and mine shows different movement/inclusions/blotches so I can't imagine trying to match an entire counter based on a 12x12 sample of it with a very small backsplash sample.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:37PM
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I have Cambria Buckingham - same sort of counter with lots of movement. I wanted to decide but waited until it arrived and definitely a good idea - I was way off on my ideas.
I went with a simple tile with an accent row.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:17PM
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Thanks, all, for your input and ideas. I will go check out the FK blog and the backsplash slideshow. eam44, those examples are beautiful! They look pretty pricey, though. jimson- can you post a photo of your Berkeley sample? I'd like to see how yours differs.

What's my style? Whoa, that's a tough one. I wouldn't know the correct terms, but according to our KD, the cabinets are considered "Transitional." I like old things and elegance and sleekness and handmade artsy things. Eclectic? Who knows. I just took a photo of the cabinets; hopefully that will help.

We've gone a bit overboard on this kitchen, especially since the house is not a big fancy one. Our project turned out to be the money pit, with one terrible discovery after another. We've now got new plumbing and level floors, but we hadn't planned on that expense. We did buy high end appliances (I am thrilled about this as I love love love to cook), but we've found ways to cut some corners, too (faucet from Costco, cabinet hardware online, keeping our old frig to name a few). Our KD wants us to look for tile that's We have one long run of backsplash (~18 ft) with 36 inches wrapping around at each end. In the former dining room, which is now completely open to the kitchen, there is a bank of cabinets with a space in the middle. We plan to put some tile there, too. Not sure if the tiles in that spot should be the same as what's in the kitchen, or maybe something a little funkier, or perhaps a variant (for example, same color, but different size).

Found out today that the Cambria is backordered (Berkeley is one of their new colors) and our install date has been pushed back 4 weeks! So more time to think about tile, but I don't want to wait much after that. I'm getting really tired of living in the cave (unfinished basement). Time to check out the slide show!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:17PM
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First photo taken from the former D/R looking into kitchen. Next photo shows the cabinets in the D/R. Couldn't figure out how to post 2 photos together.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:21PM
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Here is the picture of our sample. Obviously the lighting is different so it's going to be tough to compare but you can see each had varying areas of movement:

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 11:19AM
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My point is that you have more choices than you seem to think, and neither of the options you posted seems to inspire you much. You don't have to choose between subway tiles and an uninspiring mosaic just because you have some movement in your solid surface. Find a look you LOVE, then go for something similar in your price range. Prices of the tiles I posted previously are as follows in $/sf: 27, 44, 20, 32, 34, 24.

Options in your price range include the following, any of which would look lovely in your very traditional space:

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:03PM
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We are also going to have the Cambria Berkeley installed in our kitchen on March 11. Took a long time to decide on a color and liked the Berkeley picture on the Cambria site when it came out last year. My husband is actually the salesman at the store we have ordered this from. He has lots of ideas for a backsplash but I also want to wait until the product is installed. There are just too many choices. Because Berekely is so new here (Oregon) we had his company order a 12x12 sample as his company did not have it and neither did any of the other places around here. Our sample is even different from the two others have show here. Ours has more of the brown splotches in it and not as much of the cream colored swirl. Can't wait to see this whole piece. We have more of an arts and crafts decor with oak cabinets and wood floors. We also will have a black undermount sink installed. I think it will look good with the black specks that are in the Berekely. We also ordered a vintage faucet and hot water dispenser. We also decided to replace our electric smooth cook top and are replacing it with a four burner gas cook top. This has been a long process and I'm looking forward to getting it finished. When the counter top is in, then we will get serious about the back splash. I think I may look for something that pulls out the tiny copper specks in the Berkeley for an accent strip. I do love the subway tiles too. Thanks for the ideas everyone.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Hi Mermom1 & Clotto1,

Any updates on your Cambria Berkely installations/dates? Really interested in seeing some pics when you're ready to let us peek!


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:04PM
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The installation of our Cambria countertops is scheduled for tomorrow! I've been mum because I decided to follow the advice of many on this forum and wait until after countertops were in before picking the backsplash. Turns out the Berkeley color of Cambria is really new and really popular, so there was a 5 week back-order! If anyone out there is thinking about Berkeley, better order early.

In the meantime, I've gone all over the place looking for tile. The Berkeley is pretty tricky with color-matching and I still have not found the perfect tile. We did order a handmade ceramic mural to go above the range-top, so we will wait until we have that before making the final decision on the field tile. I'm anxious to see what anyone else has come up with. clotto1, did you find something? How do your counters look?

I found a cool glass tile, but it was $70/sf so not possible. The "bone" colored 2x4 crackle ceramic tile I first picked turned out to be too white. I need a creamier color. I still can't find a small subway tile (either 2x4 or 2x6) in a color that works. I like the long finger mosaic styles, but haven't found an affordable one in a suitable color. Same for glass, except for that pricey one. I will have to start ordering samples on-line, as I've gone everywhere I can think of around here. I found a travertine that works color-wise, but one of you said to avoid travertine. Is that out of style now or just not strong enough?

It will help to see the countertops-- tomorrow!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:28PM
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Kristen Hallock

I can't wait to see them. Please post lots of pictures. I am drooling over the Berkeley color myself!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 2:35AM
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Thanx for the update! The Berkeley has peaked my interest!

Good luck with your install!


    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Hoping for pictures.
Have you looked at grazia Rixi crema? I had the same problem and this hit it right on!
It might have the creaminess you need.
I am on my phone but if you search for a2gemini final reveal. I will try to post a link later.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Counter tops are in! I am loving the Cambria Berkeley. It's even prettier than I expected. Having the counters in makes my kitchen look so much bigger! And the island is huge! After our long wait I had gotten kind of used to having a cardboard surface on the island. Having real counter tops is very exciting. In the next few days we should make great strides-- installation of faucet, range top, dishwasher, and disposal. We are finally in the home stretch! I will tackle the backsplash soon. Really, I will.

I am going to check out the grazia Rixi crema, a2gemini. It's great to have a specific suggestion to look for!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 9:16PM
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Here's a shot of the Berkeley; don't mind the reflections of the lights. I could not figure out how to post 2 photos in one post.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Kristen Hallock

Beautiful! I just ordered a 12x12 sample. Do you find it very glittery? Are the specks of copper color only noticeable as you get really close?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 9:36PM
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Mermom - It looks beautiful! And coordinates with your cabinets very nicely. It is hard to tell from your pictures if the Rixi will work but an idea.
Here is a link to our kitchen -
I worked with with Nelson Chow(someone else originally but she left) I believe it was the Berkeley store.
Can't wait to see your decision and final reveal.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Beautiful! Congrats!

Also nice to see a2gemini checking in... her Cambria Buckingham is what got me to go the the Cambria website. After seeing the Berkeley, I just had to Google 'gardenweb cambria berkeley' and found this thread!

Thanx again for posting the pics!


    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Here's a similar porcelain mosaic from Daltile. I don't remember the price, but I don't think it was too expensive. I accidently used two different shapes of this tile in two different houses, so I must like it. For my old backsplash, I had the tile guy cut some of the tiles and insert 1-4 glass squares.

Here is a link that might be useful: City View Mosaic

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 4:33PM
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tmy - glad that I inspired you
Mermom and tmy - I have not seen Berkeley in person but it looks similar in the color/temperature(warm) to the Buckingham.
Tossing in a picture of our Buckingham with the Grazia Rixi with a Beach mosaic to view.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 8:13PM
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So, Tuesday night I find & bump this thread after visiting Cambria's site. Wed morning I read Mermom1's update before heading to lunch. Less than 10 minutes after my post, I pass a Cambria semi truck on the highway.

Coincidence? I think not!

Looks like a busy weekend visiting the local KDs. :o)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Serendipitous! Have fun shopping.
Mermom- what part of the country are you located?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 8:11AM
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Thanks for posting the picture of your counter. It looks great. My wife and I are trying to decide on counters tops now and liked the Berkeley and Buckingham. There are no other pictures I could find of Berkeley in a real kitchen. I was worried the Berkeley would not have enough interest, but from your pictures my worries are laid to rest. Do the flecks of copper shimmer in the light?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 11:36AM
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Hi Gang-- I'm back to working on this after taking a vacation (while floors were being done) and then a work trip. At this point pretty much all is done in the kitchen except for the backsplash and window treatments. I guess that puts me in that dreaded ABB club. After letting this stew in my brain for a month, and enjoying the pretty Cambria, I'm thinking I'd like something on the simple side for the backsplash- a creamy almondy 2x4 subway tile would be fine. I like it when the tiles look hand-made, but so far have not found any in the smaller size. (I've found a bone color, but that's too light.) What I haven't told you guys yet is that we have a custom-made marine life stone/ceramic mural to go above the range-top. So I'm keeping this in mind as I hunt for backsplash. For those of you who asked, yes- the Berkeley has coppery sparkles in it, which had me worried when I received my sample, but the sparkles look fine in the installed counters. They add character, not glitz. I live in the Midwest, but my heart is on one coast or the other. I am hoping to get to Daltile soon and check out the one shown by jxbrown- that looks intriguing. Stay tuned...

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 5:05PM
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Yay! Good to see you back!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:22PM
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Also like the third to the left in samples you posted, maybe because it looks most like mine! We picked it because it was a) cheap b) matte c) porcelain and durable.

Love the Berkeley, kind of wish it had been out when I picked out my Darlington!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 12:50AM
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