Thinking about tiling your kitchen backsplash and love the thought of a blue and white backsplash tile, but afraid of the commitment? Maybe the compromise I came up with will be an answer for you too.
We renovated our house a few years ago, top to bottom, whole house renovation!
That was our kitchen on a good day during the renovation.
It felt like the kitchen was in a holding pattern like that for a very long time. We had found out that the roof leaked and all work inside stopped as the crew moved outside to build the front porch and roof.
Fortunately, we have a lovely apartment in the lower level that we lived in during all this.
Finally, the main level could get the attention it needed and the kitchen was ready for backsplash tile!
By the time the kitchen looked like how it does in this picture above, I was pretty elated. The renovation took a lot longer than anticipated and this room was the holding/dumping grounds for everything on this level. So to have it with the new wood floor, (you can barely see it peeking out from under it’s protective brown paper), cabinets installed, and some appliances installed too, the kitchen looked really great to me. (I could easily ignore the fact that random sinks and plumbing parts happened to be in the kitchen as well).
Funny how one can forget… I’ve been toying with the idea of selling this beautiful home and doing it all over again… Then I see this pic and remember the pain of childbirth hmmm… do I have it in me???
When my parents heard that we were buying and renovating a new house, my dad climbed up in their garage attic and pulled down a box of these leftover windmill tiles from his trivet making days.
My dad used to make tile trivets with all sorts of patterns on them. He had a kiln and after he fired the chosen decals on the tile, he made wooden frames for each tile creating a trivet pretty enough to hang. These windmill patterns were one of the patterns from that. My mom is Dutch, in fact, my folks named the farm we had growing up ‘The Dutch Mill Farm’, so needless to say Dutch windmills are kind of special to me. (Here’s a post with a pic of us on the farm!)
Blue and white are classic and I always have that color combo mixed into my decorating. However, even classic color combinations can be done poorly and feel visually too busy. I needed to figure out a way to lay out this tile pattern so that it didn’t feel overdone or dated.
Some of the tile layout patterns I considered, but dismissed, were the windmills across the bottom, where the backsplash meets the counter, (but that felt a bit dated, and I can gather stuff on the counter so having that bold tile pattern so low might just look messy). Another idea was a random placing throughout the backsplash, intermixing a windmill here and there, but that felt too busy.
I drew my ideas up on the wall and finalized the plan…
I came up with the idea of framing the windmill tiles, so to speak, in a pattern type of way… leaving the rest of the backsplash just classic white subway.
I only had enough for over the sink, so I really had to get creative for over the cooktop.
I found this tiled tray on Ebay. The blue and white tile with a windmill in the background would coordinate beautifully with the windmill tiles my dad made.
Next, was to find the actual border to solidify that connection each tile grouping would have to each other… and one that would fit perfectly around the two different sizes.
I was so fortunate to find a tile artist in Portugal on Etsy ‘AzulPortugues‘ that hand made the border and corner pieces to fit perfect around the tiles!
They were reasonably priced considering the custom work and shipping. (and my dad just happens to be part Portuguese, so that was a fun mix, Dutch and Portuguese tiles!)
I laid out the tiles for our installer, marking each with numbered taped pieces to assist him the placement of each tile.
The tiles that were in the tray bottom were glued on the backboard of the tray so firmly that we were afraid we’d break the tile if we tried too hard to get them off…
Since they were stuck on it so well, our contractor installed the tile, board and all. The only issue was that it was a bit thicker than the border tile, but he beveled the grout to camouflage that pretty well.
I don’t give enough shout outs to our contractor! If you’re in the New Richmond, Wisconsin area and want a to hire a terrific contractor, let me know! I’d love to pass on his name and contact info to you! He really is amazing and does excellent work. It’s nice to have someone that you can trust and know they’ll do good work. Through all the renovations we’ve done with his help, he’s become a good friend too.
Here is the tile over the kitchen sink before it was grouted.
I’m actually happy that I didn’t have enough of the windmills to do the exact same pattern over the cooktop. I feel that it might have felt too repetitious. This way it feels more ‘cottage-y’ to me. Just how I like it.
The star of the show is the blue and white tile, the white subway tile is just a classic in the background.
The grout I selected is a very light grey color. Just enough to give a subtle definition between the tiles and not show dirt like white would, but not be so dark, like black, inviting more busyness than I would want.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Flipboard, Bloglovin, YouTube and Instagram! I appreciate you reading along.
You can also find me at Frame and Frills! I offer decorating coaching and stock amazing DIY products like Fusion Mineral Paint and Mint by Michelle decoupage papers in the shop. You can shop in person or online.
Here are some more posts I’ve written about this whole house renovation: