Ideas for offbeat, vintagey backsplash pattern/color?

Angie_DIYApril 18, 2012

I'd like to ask for some help in choosing my backsplash. (Yes, Marcolo, I am guilty of trying to grab some matching, uhh, pants at the last minute on my way out of the house.)

Background: My house is a 1929/1930 Mediterranean revival. I am going for a vintage vibe, but not a reproduction of an old kitchen. As I will show later, my floor is travertine, but with a checkerboard of salmon/coral and tan tiles, the cabs are light brown maple shaker, and the countertops are a grey-blue soapstone with black flecking. The walls are a fairly bright yellow. (I was aiming for butter yellow and missed; I have grown to like them, however.) The fridge and DW will be covered in patinaed copper, and I am planning to use copper cabinet hardware. There is still plenty of stainless steel, however, as I did not get the copper sink or range hood I coveted.

I was influenced by the succession of "timeless" threads; I do not delude myself to think my kitchen will not age, but I'd like it to age gracefully. With no offense intended to others, I also happen genuinely not to like most of the current BS trends. So, all in all, I am looking for something that is a little offbeat and memorable, but tasteful. Frankly, I also do not want to spend $30/sq. ft. or even a fraction of that.

With all of this in mind, I think an interesting design in simple ceramic tile may fill the bill. I think such a thing would make the BS hard to date. I have two contenders to suggest, but would really love to hear ideas from others. I need help both on the pattern and on the colors.

The first pattern contender is to blatantly rip off, err, I mean pay deep compliments to, Melisstar's lovely kit. This would employ subway tiles set in a herringbone. However, the orientation of the herringbone would be not the usual angled one, but rather running vertically:

Note that my house has original subway tiles in the upstairs bath, and many other vintage ceramic tiles and designs throughout, so I think it could "support" subways in the kitchen.

The other contender is a hopscotch pattern. Here is a schematic of that pattern:

I would probably use larger tiles (maybe 6") in a sage green color, and smaller tiles (maybe 2") in a lighter yellow than the walls, but hopefully something that matches.

Here is a mood board that incorporates that backsplash (although my range is really a black BS that does not have brass trim):

And here is a closeup of some of the relevant elements. The cabinet color is visible above as well as on the wooden square on the left. Next is a tile in Daltile "Cypress" and then a small one in Daltile "Cornsilk," and another small Cypress. The red and tan squares represent the floor, and the copper pipe represents the patinaed copper panels on fridge and DW, as well as the eventual pulls. The countertop is Python soapstone, and you can see a bit of the yellow in our stained glass panel. (The brass pull was there to see if antiqued brass was tenable; we don't think it is.)

So, can the backsplash geniuses at GW suggest patterns and colors that they think would work?

As always, you have my lasting gratitude for getting me this far!! (But that and $4 will get you a latte!)

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WOW... I"m old enough to remember when the expression was "that and a quarter will get you on the subway".

As much as I like the notion of the two colored pattern; I think it'll be way too competing with the patterned floor. I prefer the first idea in a single color (and I'm not one to typically go safe)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:00PM
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I haven't priced them, but Granada Tile in Los Angeles has a lot fun tile.
If nothing else, their website is a fun place to play around.

Here is a link that might be useful: Granada Tile

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:11PM
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For "offbeat, vintagey", you may want to consider a vinyl anaglypta. You could paint/glaze it whatever color(s) you want, maybe just the wall color. You can do lots of practice before installation. If you don't like what you end up with, you can repaint once or twice, depending on how thick your coats of paint or glaze are. I just installed it as a backsplash and chose the vinyl product because it is removable in case I change my mind later. It's also very inexpensive and there are lots of patterns, although you have to be careful to select one that works horizontally.

Good luck! It sounds like your kitchen will look great whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:17PM
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I'm new here and not overly strong on design and colors. Your mood board is delightful in colors, textures and shapes.

I wish to say, my 1940 bathrooms have well preserved hopscotch porcelain tile which is very nice. That said, it does require a labor of love on my part to clean those small grout regions as well as the tile itself from active dirt brought in by family members. I may be applying a sealer after I research the matter.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:17PM
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Great looking remodel so far! Love your stained glass, countertops, and wall color. I am not one of the BS geniuses at GW (well, maybe, but not in the backsplash way), but here's my two cents: Balance the size/shape/color/pattern/finish.

- Size/shape considerations: Are the travertine floor tiles the same size as in the photos, or larger? If the floor tiles are 12x12, I think you could get away with the smaller BS tile in the same shape. But in the photo, the floor tile and BS tile are the same shape, but not the same size, which could look odd.

- Shape/Pattern: Likewise, having the checkerboard on the floor and a different pattern of squares on the wall sounds a bit on the busy side. To me, having a square BS tile of similar size but in a different layout pattern would be distracting, so if going with the same shape, I'd prefer a difference in tile size and then use a similar pattern.

- Color: The blue (while lovely on its own) isn't working for me in the mood board or in the photo. I either want it to blend in more (such as the yellow on the wall or the yellow in the stained glass), or stand out more (the red in the stained glass, or black from the counter and range). I think if you go with a colored glazed ceramic, do just one color and not two, because again it would either mirror or compete with the floor.

- Finish: I think the glazed ceramic would go very well with the other rooms of your home. However, the tumbled travertine floor is a bit more rustic. Again, for this reason I would not do a similar shape and size in a glazed material. So far you have a rustic stone finish on the floor, a more refined but still "natural" stone finish on the counters, and the glaze would be one more hard element in a new material.

- Option 1 idea: What about a glazed yellow or black ceramic penny tile? It's small enough that the difference in size and shape wouldn't be too close to the checkerboard pattern on the floor. While a third time of finish material, again the small size could help it blend in.

- Option 2 idea: What about a smooth sheet material that won't compete with the tile color/shape/pattern/finish material of the floor? It sounds like you like copper. How would a natural, patina-ed, or hammered copper look to you? Stainless steel is an option. So are copper, black-painted or stainless tin ceiling tiles, which are easy to install as a BS. The "living" finish of copper could compliment the rustic nature of the floor.

OK, that's it for my non-expert ideas! Can't wait to see what you come up with. Lovely kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:40PM
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Ooh, love quirkykitchen's anaglypta idea. Throw that in the "sheet material" category!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:42PM
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If you're looking for a steal, these porcelain tiles are on Overstock for only about $6.90sf. They're a true butter yellow though--chances are you would have to repaint to match.

We have penny tiles in a bath that was added in the 1930s, so I think they're the right vintage.

Melissastar's backsplash is lovely...copy-worthy for sure.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 9:23PM
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I'd like to see a contrasting pencil liner and/or bullnose. Revived the style in my bathroom and people love it.

The hopscotch is awesome but the similarity of not only shape but scale with the floor would probably be discordant. Check out that Granada site, it's fun.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:29PM
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I'm also in the camp of "less is more". Between your floor and the counter, there is a lot going on - which is good. I would opt for a ceramic subway towards the lighter color in your floor. I would probably lay it in a traditional brick pattern and be done.

It's like getting dressed to look your best.....put on everything you want to wear today, then take one thing off and you'll look just right. Didn't Coco Chanel say something like this?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 1:14AM
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Of the 2, I prefer the first. While I like the hopscotch pattern on a floor, the tiny slivers that happen on a wall always bother me. Check out how there's no way to avoid tiny slivers of tile on your mood board.

OT, we are so alike. Gungho with the DIY soapstone, though you blow me out of the water with your gorgeous runnels. Lighter stained cabs. Wanting a different backsplash than what is currently trending. And I even painted my kitchen what I thought was a buttery yellow that turned out to be a need my sunglasses yellow. I ended up going back and begging the paint guy to help me. My walls are now a buttery yellow.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 6:57AM
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Could you take two-three steps back with the camera and shoot the range wall with the window? I saw the sink wall in your other photos.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 8:01AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I don't know if it's offbeat, unless you include some of those wicca/pagan tiles on ebay, as accents, but have you considered soapstone? Slab or tile, at least around the stove and sink?

You can probably recite old soapstone threads in your sleep by now, ;) but here are a couple:

DIY soapstone/GW/don_chuwish

Here is a link that might be useful: Scroll down to twoyur pics

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Angie, I know you've been following the Art DAT, so you've seen Palimpsest's Balthus kitchen with the three toned tile. I think the would fit very well with the era you are working with, and the colors might work quite well too.

I like the hopscotch pattern in general but it creates a bit of an optical illusion effect that I think I would find annoying and distracting in a kitchen. The herringbone is very nice.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 11:46AM
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Oh, bless you all! There is so much good stuff here. I was not able to look at the thread last night, and am so pleased to see all of your responses this morning. I will respond as I can, but it may take some time to digest this!


    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 12:59PM
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As a first response, I just wanted to clarify some information. My floor is 6x6 travertine, but it is not tumbled or rustic. It is polished and honed. Actually, the red is polished, and the tan is honed. (This was initially a mistake, but I think I actually like it this way. Contrast in reflectivity as well as in color, and less slippery, too. ) I expect that the polished tiles will become matte with use within a few years. The soapstone is fairly smooth, but still matte. I was thinking of using matte ceramic tiles, but not decided on this.

Here are a couple of shots of the floor:

The busy pattern at the top is a powder room near the kitchen, and is original to the house.

More responses/info later as time allows. More ideas cheerfully accepted!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 2:45PM
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You all have me thinking that calmer would be better. I am not married to the hopscotch; I just felt like it had the right qualities of being a bit off the norm, but not outlandish. Looking at it with new eyes, however, I can see how it is a little busy. (This was noted by Pal, for example, in the Are kitchens headed in this direction? thread. Still don't have a direction that I am leaning, but your ideas are giving me a good start.

RemodelFla: I am old enough, too. Thought I would update the expression for the Starbucks generation. ;-) I was really hoping to use more than one color to tie various color elements in the kitchen together. Perhaps that can be done with one color+decos...

Wolfgang: What a great site! I could spend (more!) hours there.

Sparkling: thanks for the note! I am pleased to hear that hopscotch was authentically used in pre-War houses. I used epoxy grout on my floor, and I think I may do that again on the walls, assuming I do tile. If not, sealer is a must, I agree.

Quirky: Interesting! I had never even HEARD of anaglypta before. (Neither, evidently, had my spellchecker, as it just flagged it.) Will look into it.

Mizinfo: Wow, thanks for the careful analysis. I think you make a number of excellent points that were there, but hard to see until you articulated them.
I noted some answers to your questions earlier, but again, the floor tiles are filled and honed/polished 6x6. In my hopscotch plans, I was going to use 6x6 large tiles, and 2x2 small tiles. That was mostly to get the balance of colors between the two correct. It amazed me that, when using standard 4.25x4.25 tiles + 2x2 tiles, the area of the small ones looks far more than the 22% that it actually is.
I definitely see your points about the interrelationship between size/shape/pattern.
Color: Umm, not sure what looked blue on your monitor. The large tiles in my mood board were supposed to be olive/cypress/gray green. (I actually took the image from the Daltile site.)
Finish: do you think matte tiles would be better, in light of my comments about the counters and floors?

We thought about a copper backsplash. Still thinking, I guess. I worry because I am using them already for fridge and DW. Here are my eventual panels getting a much-needed sunbath:

Might be too much copper. Personally, not nuts about stainless.

All for now! A.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 4:52PM
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Modwalls has some really cool plus shaped tiles in some muted colors - not many to choose from, though. That's what I thought of when I saw your hopscotch pattern.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 7:21PM
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No offence to Mizinformation, but I love the Daltile Cypress, only I would go with a brick joint and a rectangular subway tile. That color lends itself nicely to the Mediterranean style of the house and the pattern has a nice vintage feel without being too dated.(I know this idea isn't very offbeat...)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 7:48PM
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I think it would help to see the stained glass; it might help decide what pattern would work best. If you choose the anaglypta option, you would need something else behind your range since it's flammable. I like the vertical herringbone in a pale yellow, but it would depend on the pattern in your stained glass window if it would work well in your space.

I really like the choices you've made! Can't wait to see what BS you choose!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Shanghai: thanks for the tip. Penny round is so funny -- it looks vintage AND it looks '60s AND it looks way modern. We tossed around the idea of doing it with actual US pennies (for the copper), but decided not to pursue that idea. Liking yours, though...

Marcolo, I like that idea, too. That is what is in my bath (with celadon subways, black cap, and B/W stenciled listel). In the kitchen, almost all of the backsplash ends under a cabinet, up under the light rail. Hence, not a lot of space for classic bullnose to top it off. Do you think that having the top course tile (not bullnose, since it butts up to bottom of cabinet) be in a contrasting color makes sense?

1929: Thank you for your thoughts. You know, I am coming to your way of looking at things (i.e., simple is better). I bet Coco wasn't going to the beach the day she said that! ;-)

Lax: Thanks. I think I can avoid small slivers by judicious choice of large/small ratio. I think that if I choose 6x6 and 2x2, depending on exact size and grout size, I can keep the pattern "locked" such that you always get either 1/3, 2/3, or a full tile showing. But definitely something to bear in mind with hopscotch.
We do have a lot of commonality going on! (I think the runnels comment goes too far, though.) I assure you, however, that I do not have stick-wielding kiddos running around my house! Too funny about the yellow.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 12:53AM
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bmore and flowers: Let me just come out and admit it: I was being coy. I selfishly/secretly was holding out on that shot for "the big reveal." However, since you asked for it, I'll show it. Not to mention that, you are correct, it has a bearing on the choice of backsplashes.

I should explain that those striped drawers will not be visible in the final product. They are the "mixed hardwood" option from Scherr's. I absolutely love 'em, but they will be covered up by the drawer fronts. (I am waiting to get the cabinet pulls in hand before installing the drawer fronts.)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 1:08AM
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I'll be curious to see what the designers say, but since I've loved your floor every time you've shown it and you have the a similar diamond pattern in your windows, why not continue that pattern in the backsplash? Too much of a good thing? Not "offbeat" enough?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 1:46AM
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Mamagoose: I am fairly committed to not doing a 3 or 4" backsplash. However, doing soapstone tiles is not off the table. In fact Detroit_burb suggested that to me unbidden a long time ago. I see that M. Teixeira. now has 3x6 soapstone tiles. I think I will get a price on those.

cawaps: Excellent idea! Seriously, this is a really promising idea! It is simple, cheap, interesting, unusual. It could be used with 1, 2, 3 or more colors. Funny, I did see it and like it in the DAT thread, but it never crossed my cranium to use it in my kitchen. Humans are funny, no?
This idea reminds me of a floor I saw in a cafe in Amsterdam. I was so taken with it that I took a million pictures. All of the tiles were the same size, but they did a really neat effect with 6 or so colors:

These tiles we not even set on the diagonal! They paralleled the wall. They just made this feeling of being diagonal solely through color choice.
In my (and Pal's) case, what do you reckon for sizing? Do you think he used 1x2's?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 1:48AM
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Here is Palimpsest's backsplash from the DAT Art thread:

It needs 5 courses of tile to work (you might be able to shorten the top or bottom row), so you'd have to work backwards for your tile dimension. Pal's board showed about 16 tiles in the width of what I think was a 36 inch range, so appx 2 inches wide. Maybe a 2x4 tile?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 3:02AM
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I like cawaps suggestion. That could be sensational in your kitchen. I like the penny round, too. Real pennies might be too much copper, but it's so pretty when done. You could mount it on plywood like these folks did, and change it out if it was too much copper.

For offbeat tile ideas, I've always liked the tile in the Barney's NY ladies room. Not your colors, but the patterns are fun.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:49AM
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Angie, look at this page for inspiration. You don't need the top bullnose. Just do a retro liner one or two courses down from the cabinets (depending on field tile sizes). MTW makes custom color combos, so you can bring in your floor, window, whatever in a small element. I'd run it horizontally around the room, let it die into the window behind the stove, but by the sink, I'd have it take a 90 degree turn down, follow beneath the window sill and then take another 90 degree turn back up. Or run straight under the window, but have the deco tile go either over or under your stove window. Just avoid the outlets.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:30AM
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A quick look at the thread might let someone erroneously think that that first photo is from the kitchen. It's only a sample tile pattern from somewhere else, right? Those first stained glass windows are not yours, right?

Angie, I'm the one who once started a thread on disquieting backsplashes. The hopscotch pattern is one of those, at least for me. Intellectually you can rationalize it but visually, it will never sit still. Your eyes will tell your brain to figure out why it seems to have movement and you will lose your train of thought. Every time I'm in The Tile Store or a similar place and I see one of these, it just stops my thinking and takes me on a birdwalk elsewhere. Can't think straight.

I veto the pennyrounds. Knowing that they are historically accurate is not a sufficient reason for them.


The rest of this is a presumptuous personal commentary and you can stop reading before venturing below.

I am assuming that you are interested in a somewhat-historical, happily colorful and playful yet working kitchen. Nevertheless, there needs to be a peacefulness, especially if there is not a large space. Am I correct?

You already have a number of geometric rectangles and diamonds. They are dominant, despite the small amount of rounded floral items within the stained glass. The sink edge is another minor area of roundedness but it is very different from the flowers.

You're thinking very well; those tiles in the photo are good ones that compliment everything. But your question is how to assemble them so that they play well with the whimsical kitchen and with the historicity. Try to rephrase that, though, and ask yourself "what is my reason for having this backsplash."

One thing I always consider when I make a design is "where are the clowns?" meaning what are the items that demand us to look at them. You can only have a couple up to a handful before they begin to compete and make a circus. Your range window and your floor are two "clowns." The copper itself will be a major design factor and whether it will retreat to secondary status or be a "look at me"" is not clear yet. The light fixtures in the mood board are not subtle either and the countertop has diagonal movement. Your cabs have a lot of rectangularity. And your windows have non-diagonal rectangular grids in them. The floor has naturalness but some of the tiles you've seen here are very artificial and unnatural. The usual "wait until it's all in before you add a backsplash" might be good advice here. Believe it or not, you might do well with a wallpaper that adds only texture and no definable design. In fact, will you really need a backsplash?

If you crave color, you still have fabric and objects to add and much can be done with them.

I very much like that multicolor tile floor from your vacation--I can see why you photographed it. But it has the luxury of covering a very large space and can take its time being quirky. My need for peace would say go for restrained quirkiness, at best, because the room is too tight for a battle.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Cream colored subways (or baby tiles like 1x2s) with a red liner. Possibly with a black cap.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 10:30AM
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I am sorry I have not yet been able to respond to the latest great ideas. We decided to take a last-minute weekend getaway. Therefore, I will be incommunicado this weekend. I am so grateful for the help so far, and will follow up on this thread when I get back. THANKS.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Wow Florantha, love your post. The clown analogy is helpful to me and hopefully to the OP as well. In re-reading your post several times and going back to her pics, I too wonder if she needs a back splash. I think I'd at least wait until the copper fridge panels and the rest of the doors/drawer fronts were installed and then see what it feels like in there.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 6:44PM
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Angie- love your kitchen and that bathroom floor is so pretty! What about something like the backsplash I have linked to at Busby Gilbert, simple and vintage but the diagonals echo the floor and the stained glass. Cannot wait to see your finished kitchen!

Here is a link that might be useful: back splash- so love this color!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:54PM
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Looking at your kitchen the splash I linked to may work well if less of the diagonals are used so are spaced out more. Another backsplash that would look nice is beadboard painted the color of your trim with stuff hung on it- a knife holder, a utensil rack, etc. I really want to see more of your house!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:10PM
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    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 11:54PM
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O.T. Deedles, I have posted the "clowns" analogy a few times over the years. It works for me but I know that it can irritate or make people confused. Glad you have found it useful. Everybody thinks differently; I think in metaphor a lot. [Proviso...I'm NOT a design professional. I'm a rank amateur, but I like to think that my age gives me some perspective.]

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:02AM
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I am finally back at this, and I think I have made some progress with your help. I will post some feedback to your comments and my latest ideas in a little bit.

To get the ball rolling, though, first I will post the money-no-object solution. (It's not that bad, at $35/sq. ft. Still too rich for my blood.) If I didn't care about the money, I think I would put this in. The curves would go nicely with my arches and curved stain glass window and range hood, I think.

I adore this! It is completely custom, so for $35/sq. ft. you get to choose the glaze, the height, and the focus point of the vortex!

Here is a link that might be useful: North Prairie Tileworks

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 2:26PM
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My vote is for travertine subway tile in either a very small pattern or a larger one, OR, Venetain plaster.

The link below has several examples, the first one is similar to your darker floor color. Scroll down and take a look at the lighter colored ones around the cooktop which is also noce travertine, same as the floor.

Your kitchen would look stunning if your carried it all the way to the ceiling around your range hood and definitely keep it in one color as the natural variations in the stone will create enough of a pattern.

These tiles were purchased in 2009 for a cost of around $4.50 sq foot plus installation. Because the granite is so busy and it's got a lot of green and gold in it we didn't use it on the backsplash but used Venetian plaster instead.

Venetian plaster is gorgeous and insanely cheap if you do it yourself. While you're on the link below, use the search box and type in Venetian plaster to see several examples.

You could do a beautiful terra cotta color plaster and seal it with Bri Wax for a rustic finish or an acrylic gloss if you want to add some sparkle.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen backsplash ideas

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 2:55PM
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That's hot.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 3:32PM
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ayerg: Those plus-shaped tiles are adorable! They would be perfect for a quirky, fun, modern kitchen, too. Funny that, like the penny rounds. they could be used either way.

Cateskitchen: I really like that Daltile Cypress color, too. We kept (keep) vacillating whether to go full-on Tuscamerican coloration. Sitting in Panera bread will do that to you (yes, pull you in both directs!)

Flwrs: Isn't Melissastars backsplash (posted in first picture) just lovely in the vertical herringbone/pale yellow? This is still a contender.

Jessica: Boy, that first diagonal red/white backsplash appeals to me (no surprise!). I, too, was hoping someone with more refined taste than I would weigh in on whether this is too much of a good thing. My head says that it is.

Lax: thanks for the actual penny link. Learning how long it took those folks to accomplish that officially ends that idea for me!! The floor that I put in took soooooo much longer than I planned -- never again!

Marcolo: Thanks for the details. You'll see your suggestion show up in my schematic pictures later. I really like some of those MTW combos. I am inspired indeed!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Florantha: First, yes, I was not as clear as I should have been. That first picture is Melissastar's kitchen. It struck me as an exemplar of the character that I was looking for: not usual, not bizarre, tasteful, inexpensive.

Second: "But where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns. Quick, send in the clowns." I think your analysis is spot on; you nailed it. Yes, your assumptions about my desires are correct. And I think you have correctly identified the clowns I already have sent in. You have influenced me. I think I will back off and relegate this element to "rodeo clown" status: this clown will work in the background and merely support the major players. Thank you so much for putting it that way!

Bmore: sounds tasty!

Deedles (and everybody): On my thread where I was discussing picking my floor, it was pointed out that in the 20s/30s, floors were more wild (like mine) but backslashes were either nonexistent or austere.

Athomeinva: I love that backsplash! My girlfriend's boyfriend (if you can still say "boyfriend" at our age) has a counter and backsplash like that that well match his 1925 home. Another contender.

Thrauli: Those mosaics certainly do look happy. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 4:43PM
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Okay, I have made some CAD drawings of relatively simple designs. For reference, here is the wall I am targeting with my drawings.

First, the simplest design. Here is a rendering of plain ol' 4.25"x4.25" tiles with a pencil liner. My antediluvian CAD program is not great at colors. I am trying to convey either a creamy, off-white tile or perhaps a pale yellow. Liner and accents are intended to be sage green, although I am (alternately) interested in a darker tone (i.e., artichoke or Daltile cypress):

Now, let's jazz that up a little. (Not too much, see clowns discussion above.) 4.25"x4.25" in a brick pattern:

As another option in this vein, let's try 3x6 subway in a brick pattern, but set vertically:

I know which one I like best. Do you like any of these?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 5:10PM
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I love your kitchen! It's so cheerful and looks like you could add lots of fun accessories that would integrate into the scene nicely. I like the mockup #1 or mockup #2 from your cad drawing. I love the green tile you chose.
I think the square 4 X 4 ish tile is classic (by 'classic' I mean it's something I personally would never tire of). The pencil line of tile looks great too.
I think it will a little bit be busy, but I'm a fan of busy :-) I don't think it's overdone, and I think it will go nicely with your floor.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Isn't it rich? Are we a pair?
(Send in some clowns?)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:48PM
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For your kitchen (which I really like!) I think option #2 with the running brick pattern is the way to go.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:20PM
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Your last CAD drawing reminds me of early Atari games -- I think centepede or space invaders?

Your kitchen rocks, btw.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:48PM
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I vote #2, too. :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:13PM
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What about using a more "detailed" decorative pencil liner with your plain field tiles? I'm thinking it was arlosmom's kitchen? In her backsplash behind her range? Plain subways, or in your case 4" x 4". Then the pencil could be a bit of snazz, but from a distance would look like a simple pencil liner.

Ok, found pic in my oodles of saved "stuff"

Here is a link that might be useful: arlosmom on FKB

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 11:13PM
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I'd pick #2 from your 3 options, too. (But, I'd still wait til everything else was in, just in case). Love the floor!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 1:31PM
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FFJ: Thanks, I had never heard of Venetian plaster before. I don't have any marble dust, but I do have travertine dust (which should be the same thing). Anyway, I will not do a plaster backsplash -- I want something with little texture for cleaning purposes. I wish you good luck with your website!

Marcolo: I agree, that tile is the bee's knees. (Hey, it is a 1920's kitchen!)

pawa, dseng, Baltra, jessica, and deedles: thank you so much. You made my day with your nice comments. As far as designs go, I like #2 the best so far, too!

home4all6: That is a nice pencil liner!

I am about to post a couple more ideas inspired by athomeinva.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 9:05PM
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Okay, a couple more ideas (which are basically the same. Athomeinva suggested some diamond decorative tiles to pick up on the floor. Here are a couple of "classic" designs that use clipped-corner 4.25x4.25 tiles.

(I just now see that I made a mistake with the window. The top course of tile needs to drop down under the window. Ooops.)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 9:12PM
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I might have to change my vote to the latest option, Angie, since I love the diamonds (just a little bit, this time, so as not to risk too much of a good thing!). If you go this route, though, I think I'd stick to the lighter of your greens to minimize busy-ness from the contrast. Oh, and if there's a difference between the top and bottom diamond accent samples, I missed it.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 10:40PM
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Love how your kitchen is coming together, Angie. Great, fun colors! Good luck figuring out your backsplash.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 11:25PM
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Angie's research unearthed an old thread from when my DH and I remodeled, about 4 years ago now, and I was planning a running bond backsplash with 4x4 glazed ceramic tiles.

I'm excited that she's considering something like this :-) Here are pics she asked me to add to her thread:

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 9:47AM
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Flipflopping...back to my original vote of running bond 4x4s, unique but calming among all the other "clowns".

I'll have to google and check out the rest of your lovely kitchen, now, melle!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:41AM
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I'm pleased to see the direction this is going. I find it funny that right now people feel subway tiles are "the" classic tile, when 4x4 square tiles have been much more common over the last 100 years. I strongly considered 4x4 in a running bond, but we're going with the cut corner tiles and diamonds (except every third tile instead of every second tile). You could also consider just one row of diamond tiles down the middle instead of two.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 11:09AM
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I really like the #2 (running bond with pencil) drawing above, as well as Melissastar's backsplash, with either a few decos (like hers) or a pencil. FWIW, I do like the Cypress, and think (in small doses) it will play well with the soft yellow.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 11:47AM
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Happened to check in today and was startled to find a pic of my kitchen here, so...thanks for the compliment Angie!

Although I, of course, love the herringboned subway idea, my choice for your kitchen would be more along the lines of Marcolo's suggestion...contrasting pencil liner and 4X4s. I particularly liked the second graphic you did, with the running bond under the pencil liner. I could also really see the Pal 3 colored tile thing. Sounds like you've got multiple good options and aren't likely to go wrong with anyone of them, though!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Wow, thank you to so many people for chiming in! I do appreciate it!

Deedles: I continue to like #2, too. Boy, I thought almost everything that mattered in the kitchen was already in! The copper appliance covers are the big unsettled element, I guess.

Jessica: I like the diamonds, too. (My problem: I like everything!) The difference between the two patterns is very small -- the diamonds are offset from each other in the second one, but stacked in the first.)

jmcgowan: I appreciate your support! (I was going to say "your constancy and support," meaning that I appreciate how you are continuing to help, but I guess I had to remove the "constancy" part to allow you to flip-flop! But seriously, the "anti-clown" argument continues to have merit.

Melle_Sacto: Oooh, thank you so much for posting your running-bond 4x4s. I appreciate your effort. They really look classy. Examples of this are a bit hard to come by, so it is really nice to see it in a photo. Thanks.

gregincal: Thanks, I like these directions, too. I am kinda torn between KISS (with the running bond) and incorporating diamonds to tie in the floor. Hey, maybe your idea of using fewer diamonds may be the right compromise for my situation.

Sweeby: Thank you for the positive feedback. I appreciate your comments on the colors, because I am really weak in that department. Happily, I think all my schemes have the cypress downplayed to small doses now.

Melissa: What can I say? You are welcome, and Thank you for giving me the inspiration. Also, thank you for the feedback on the alternate designs. On my long list of things to do is to draw up your idea on the same scale as the others. At first I thought I did not need to do that, because I had your picture to go by, but I think I will do it to give a fairer comparison.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 4:31PM
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I really need to look at a plain subway:

As well as my imitation of Melissastar's vertical herringbone:

Finally, I couldn't resist throwing in the ringer:

Any takers?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:17AM
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I love the running bond subway with a liner, most probably because that's what I have in my own kitchen. Mine are 4x8" bevelled white subways with a 1x3" multi-coloured glass liner. Perhaps too modern a take for your tastes, but seeing variations always helps me to make up my mind. HTH, Petra

Here is a link that might be useful: White kitchen in southern Spain

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:58AM
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I love the last one! (no idea about how it would look with the floor, though.

Of the other designs you've posted, the ones with the diamonds look like they fit better to me. Since your diamonds are so small, it looks like you've put just the right amount in.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:27AM
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have you decided yet?
I thought a little about this, and I realized that I like the designs that have the jog in the pencil line around the window. That adds just the right amount of snazziness, imo.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 4:27PM
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here is an example of the jog.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Aw, Pawa, that is a perfect example of the jog! Thank you. That certainly looks vintage and classy.

I have not yet decided. I am "sleeping on it" for a while. I keep gravitating back to 4.25x4.25 in a running bond (i.e., a brick pattern), what we were calling #2 above. (I should learn to label things as I post them!) And yes, I agree with you, a jogging pencil liner seems likely to make the final cut!

I think one of the deciding factors will be exactly what tile (color, shading, sheen, $) I can find. My "plan of inaction" now involves languorously shopping for the right tile. I am actually away from my home (for work) for a few more weeks, so I am just looking at national sources and big-box stores. I intend to look at smaller tile stores when I get back.

Thanks so much for that inspiration picture. You may have sealed the deal! ;-)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 6:04PM
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Angie, I have a vintage style kitchen, with checkerboard floor plus decorative backsplash. LOVE your floor!!!

It's not everyone's cup of tea but the patterns in our kitchen work pretty good.

Floor - Caboose Red/Tan/Crossville Tile

Backsplash: White subway w/trim, and ruby red glass diamond inserts.

Behind the stove and sink I used light yellow glass diamond inserts.

The yellow diamonds don't show up well in this picture.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Yes, I do that too, re: sleeping on it for a while. I like to sit with an idea and let it soak in before making a call :-) I hope something catches your eye while you languorously shop. I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:42PM
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