After completing the tile wall behind our coffee / wine bar, it was time to move on to the main event: backsplashing the rest of our kitchen. (Spellcheck continues to remind me that “backsplashing” is not actually a word, but I’m going to keep on using it anyways).
Ok, guys. Moment of truth. When the time came to backsplash the walls behind our L-shaped cabinet configuration, I made a very, very controversial decision.
Let me just pause to savor any lingering fragment of respect you have for me, before I tell you what I did to my kitchen (and your opinion of me plummets from “girl with some pretty OK ideas” to “girl I’m going to ask my Bible study group to pray for”).
Ok, let’s rip off this band-aid.
As any Pinterest tutorial, YouTube video, or guy in the Lowe’s tile section will tell you, the general rule of thumb for tiling is to find your center-point (like a window, a cooktop, or a sink) and arrange your tile pattern outward from that point.
Well… I didn’t do that.
Instead, I made the incredibly controversial decision to start from the inside corner of our L-shaped kitchen and work my way out from there.
Crazy, I know. But hear me out!
Before I began the second installment of our backsplash project, I did a bit of presearch on how to properly tile inside corners (lucky me, I only had one to deal with). This landed me on the Houzz.com advice forums and, after seeing some crazy corners (think lots of slivers, crooked cuts, and compromised patterns), I realized that this could get go very, very, verrryyy wrong.
To avoid awkward sliver cuts in your corners, the ‘pros’ over on the Houzz.com forums suggest shifting your layout slightly from the center point.
Of course this advice relies on you being the type of person that takes tile layout reallllyyyy fuggin serious. Like, so serious that you have your entire backsplash planned out, blueprinted, and CAD-designed before you’ve even slathered thinset on the wall.
…I’m not that person. I can’t go for that (no can do)!
But I did want my corner to look good! And I knew that, to me, a bad corner would be way worse than a layout that wasn’t perfectly balanced or centered over my stove. Off-center, I could live with. Bad corner? I’d probably cry myself to sleep every night for the rest of my life.
So I decided to start from the corner.
Let me reiterate:
nobody no professional recommends doing it this way. This was me going totally rogue, and doing something that a lot of people would probably call a ‘rookie move.’ I went through with it anyways.
In keeping with our running bond / brick pattern, I decided to form our corner with alternating full and half-size tiles.
I did all the obligatory prep work (covering my surfaces, eating a bowl of Cap’n Crunch, drawing a straight reference line with the spirit level, accounting for a 1/8″ expansion gap between tile and countertop, etc.). Then I cut my half-size tiles…
…and started building my corner!
I arranged the tiles so they butted together with an overlap, like this:
I also used spacers to maintain a 1/8″ gap between where the tiles butted together.
Once I had finished my corner, I continued to work outwards:
I stopped several times to take a step back and observe my layout, and to make sure I was still happy with how things were shaping up.
Note: if you’re curious how we mangled our ways around outlets and awkward edges, I talk all about our tile-cutting exploits over in this post!
There were a few ways I got incredibly lucky while tiling my backsplash.
First: by either sheer luck (or, perhaps, the sheer genius of the guys that installed our cabinets), I didn’t need to make any cuts to my top row of tiles. Seriously: I was able to tile exactly six rows between my countertops and cabinets (with 1/8″ spacers between each row). When I say exactly, I don’t mean I got to the top and said “meh, close enough.” I mean, my backsplash finished exactly beneath my cabinets. Like, to the millimeter.
(Maybe this is standard? I don’t know. But I was really impressed, and it also gave me a boost of confidence that my tiles lined up so nicely).
Second: despite my unconventional starting point, my layout actually ended up looking really nice, and I didn’t run into any crappy cuts at either of my edges!
Since we had to do some duct work over the range before installing our hood, I decided to leave this bit of wall bare and come back for it later.
In the meantime, I did decide to grout the rest:
Note: for more about grouting (and why it sucks), check out this post!