Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kitchen Backsplash

I'm not ashamed to say it:

I'm on the subway tile train. I get it. I've gotten it for a long time. It's beautiful and clean. It's throwback and yet modern. It's versatile. I get it, I get it, I get it. I just wish everyone else and their dog didn't get it too.

When we renovated our last kitchen we installed subway tile on the backsplash in your standard brick format.

I enjoyed the backsplash over the two years we had it. It was easy to clean and it gave a blank slate backdrop to our food, our utensils and the artwork in the room. I was pretty well sold to install it again in this house so I ordered up a few more boxes of tile and then we waited until we were ready to start the process.
But days before we were ready to begin install, I started debating the installation method. I had at least five different choices for installation after narrowing it down. Half offset brick, vertical brick (also half offset), stacked bond (straight) and vertical herringbone and 45° herringbone.
We had already decided to tile the entire back wall of the kitchen. I'd even considered for a moment, tiling all of the walls in the kitchen from floor to ceiling. But after some internal, crazy, interior design debate I decided to keep some of the walls painted and only to tile the back wall. Now here's where my dilemma for the installation method came in. The flooring and the waterfall edge of the counter (and the counter material/color) put this kitchen right on the fringe of modern/traditional. The green cabinets also play a huge factor on which side of the line the kitchen falls. I am trying to be real careful to not let the "modernity" of these elements take over. I still want this kitchen to have some traditional flare and the backsplash can really make or break that overall goal.
So here was how it started shaking down:
Standard Half Offset Brick
Classic Appearance (relatively historic, good balance between the modern and the traditional)
Easy Installation
Follows the running bond install we did on our floors
90% of people who have subway tile install it in this method
Compared to the other choices, it could be considered "boring"
Vertical Half Offset Brick
Different (not seen very often, unless you watch House)
Easy Installation
80% modern, 20% traditional
Could be too stimulating visually since all the other strong lines run horizontally in this room.
45° Herringbone
I love it
Much more feminine in appearance leading me to see it as more traditional
Visually agreeable (movement but not overwhelmingly so)
Chevron style (which Paul has loved long before the trend hit - it's his love for emergency management)
More complicated installation (more time, more cuts, more waste, etc.)
Trendy (am I going to look at it 5 years from now and regret it?)
Doesn't follow suit with anything in the house
Vertical Herringbone
Still herringbone pattern
Less complicated to install than 45° option
70% modern, 30% traditional
Trendy (again with the 5 year plan?)
Doesn't follow suit with anything in the house
Stacked Bond
Easy installation
Straight Lines
50% modern, 50% traditional
Probably my least favorite out of the gate
I surprisingly didn't lose sleep over this decision. Maybe I'm just too tired to lose anymore sleep to things like this. I texted my parents last night with all the options and we played a game of "Help the tired interior designer!". They were absolutely no help, which I have already told them. They had just as many opinions as I did but we couldn't come to a consensus. So I quickly decided to just go with my gut decision. I had the vertical herringbone, the vertical brick and the stacked (straight) install all knocked out pretty quick. They just didn't feel right for what I was trying to accomplish in the room. It was down to the herringbone rotated 45° or the classic brick. 
While I would have liked the herringbone, and there may be days I kick myself for not doing it, I don't think I'll ever regret installing the standard brick pattern. So that's what we chose at 9:30 last night. And if we're totally honest with ourselves, the ease of install may have had something to do with it. We wouldn't have made it as far last night as we did if we had been cutting 45° angles. We may also not have been talking to eachother this morning.

We did the install just like we did at the last house. Paul would throw some mortar up on the wall, I'd start tiling. He'd run up and down the basement stairs cutting, quite exact pieces to fit at the end of the walls, under the cabinets, around the switch and outlets and around the top of the window frame.

We're halfway done. We have to tile just a few more pieces above this center window, tile over the windows to the right, down the wall to the window bench and over the back door.
We also made some more progress on our vent hood. Sunday afternoon Paul put all the structure in the ceiling, we made all the necessary prep to get it up but the two of us couldn't hold it into place and screw it in without some help. So our friend Phil came by to help hold it into place while we all three took turns screwing the 16 tiny screws into place. It's powered and hopefully sometime today will be hooked up to the venting and vented straight out the back of the house, right over that window.
Some days we feel so far from completion. And then we have an incredibly productive evening and we're amazed at how far we've come and how close we are to the end.

You guys! We're getting close!

1 comment:

  1. Laying pavers & this was extremely helpful.