Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Big Ideas, Little Budget: Painted Tile Back Splash

I don't always have the cha-ching in the budget to make my BIG ideas into BIG reality, which means I have to come up with other ways to make my BIG ideas into BIG reality.

And here's a BIG idea. I love the beautiful tiled back splashes I've seen in magazines. But, because I like to change my mind (which sometimes also translates into changing the decor in my home) and because I don't have big bucks to drop on a different back splash every couple of years (or more), then I had to come up with an alternate way of getting those fancy-schmancy back splashes for my kitchen.
This is why I love Pinterest. (For those of you who don't know, Pinterest is like computer crack. Seriously.)
When I saw this from Sawdust and Embryos via Pinterest, I heard angels singing. Can you hear them too?

They've painted tile. Not painted ON tile, but painted the tile!
This, I thought to myself, I could do. So, with the help of my wonderful daughter (who is completely used to her mom calling her up and saying, "Hey, I have this idea and need your help!") and her understanding boyfriend (who is getting used to his girlfriend's mom calling him and saying, "Hey, I have this idea and need your help!"), I tried my own version of creating a painted black splash in my kitchen.
First, I needed to paint what would be the "grout lines" in between the tiles. Since my walls (and originally the wall behind the sink) is yellow, that meant that I needed to paint the area white. Also, since this was to be our first attempt, and if I decided that I didn't like it, I could paint over it, I decided to do only the section directly behind the counter.

You can see the blue painters tape I used to mark off the edges.

Next, we needed to tape off the "grout lines". To do this, we had to first cut the tape into the appropriate width. I got a roll of one inch painters tape, which we then marked at the half inch width, then carefully cut with a sharp blade.

Cutting very carefully!

Next, was the most painstaking part--laying the tape. We had a template (sorry--no pics of the template!) that I created from the side of macaroni and cheese box that we used to mark the first row and used a light pencil mark to help guide the tape placement.

Eventually, we had the entire area taped.

Next, came the painting part.
For painting, I used the acrylic paints that can be found at nearly every hobby store (like Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc.). Mine, I bought for about 69 cents on sale.
I mixed the colors and did the "tiles" one by one. Each color is painted on approximately four to five "tiles". I had a painting in my kitchen and a rug on my floor which had similar colors to the ones I mixed and used.

To add a bit of visual texture to each "tile", I dabbed the paint on with a small paint brush.

Here's a section of what it looked like when all the "tiles" were painted (before we removed the tape).

There were mixed opinions as to if we should remove the tape while everything was still somewhat tacky (slightly wet and not completely dry), or if we should remove it right away. We decided to VERY CAREFULLY remove it right away.
And, ta-dah! Here's the final product!

Just to remind you of where we started...


And after!

When we first pulled off all the tape, I wasn't sure if I liked it. Both my daughter and the boyfriend were also not sure if they liked it. However, throughout the evening, I found myself drawn to it and it made me smile. I think it gives my plain-Jane kitchen a bit of spice and personality, which is what I was looking for. 
Once the weather gets warmer (and I can open some windows), I'll add a coat of clear polyurethane to protect the surface from water and other splashy things that might be on the counter. Until then, I'll be very, very careful. 
This project (not including painting the "grout" background or installing the new lighting--see below) took a complete afternoon--about three or four hours--with three people. While my daughter and the boyfriend did most of the taping, I did all of the painting, while they provided their suggestions as to the shades, colors and placement of the paints. Although this could be a one person project, having an extra set of hands makes it much easier and faster. Plus, having someone to provide their thoughts and suggestions also helps.
If I had it to do all over again, I might make the size of the "tiles" and the "grout line" a bit thinner. The size the "tiles" are now are thicker than typical tiles you might find in a netted sheet at Lowe's, but thinner than typical subway tiles. The grout (at half an inch) is also thicker than traditional grout lines. I think 1/4 inch grout might be more "realistic" looking, but I'll not be changing mine anytime soon.
You might notice that the under the counter lighting in the after picture is much brighter. That's because my wonderfully handy (and always willing to help his mom on her latest ideas) teen son and I installed a set of under the counter lights I got for around $40 at Lowe's that morning. Before, I had two separate florescent lights, and I really like the look the under the counter lighting provided.

This back splash will be fairly easy to repaint over if I decided in the future to change my mind and the decor of my kitchen. 
Until then, I've provided interest and personality to my kitchen for a very reasonable investment of paint, tape, time and effort (and a few extra helping hands!).

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