Mera’s House: A New Kitchen Backsplash

Last week Opal and I went to Portland for a few days with my sister and her beautiful brood. Chester stayed home, and with my dad’s help managed to put together the Taj Mahal of play sets in the back yard.  Here’s to industrious dads!  Opal was so excited when she saw it, and her first words were “it’s from Costco!”  You know you’re an Alaskan when . . . .

Also accomplished in our absence, a new backsplash in the kitchen!  Here’s the before:


When I picked these tiles initially they looked shiny and pretty, but I knew as soon as they were installed that I had made a mistake.  I lived with this backsplash for years hoping that I would learn to love it, like a successful arranged marriage.  Alas, time didn’t teach my heart to love.  Instead, my disdain hardened into hatred and I knew the backsplash had to go.

For the backsplash 2.0 I chose simple white 3×6 subway tile with a glossy finish.  I know people have mixed feelings about subway tile–some say it’s a passing fad, or too antiseptic looking.  That may all be true, but I still love it.  To me it looks clean, simple, and fresh.

Here’s the after:



Can we pretend the walls are white instead of beige?

I like the scale of the tile, and I think it looks really nice with our big porcelain farm sink (which I adore).  I elected to tile up to the cabinet level, but not farther.  This meant stopping just below the height of the tall cabinet on the far right.  I’ve seen a lot of blogosphere examples of subway tile going all the way to the ceiling, like this, or these.  I like the look theoretically, but it also makes me think of gruesome scenes of blood spattering at a butcher shop (watching all six seasons of The Sopranos twice isn’t without consequence).  We cook a lot and while we’re not the tidiest chefs, there’s no butchering or wild gesticulating with food-covered implements that would necessitate counter to ceiling tile.


I chose a medium gray grout to roughly match the concrete counters, and I think it looks beautiful.


Of course all these photos illustrate AGAIN that I desperately need to paint the kitchen and living room walls white.  Perhaps I can convince Chester to take Opal (and the dogs) for a father-daughter camping trip, and then I can paint my brains out while they’re gone.

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and a great Father’s Day!  Check back in on Wednesday when Katie will be sharing plans for turning her dining room into the indigo-hued room of her dreams.

16 responses on “Mera’s House: A New Kitchen Backsplash

    1. meramatthews

      Thanks, Aaron! There is so much about your gorgeous kitchen that I want to copy, the backsplash is just the tip of the iceberg!

  1. Carol Crump Bryner

    I like the rectangular brick-like white tile. It seems the perfect backdrop for colorful food and beautiful pottery bowls and hand-printed tea towels. Hope you have a wonderful painting orgy weekend soon. Last summer when my daughter and children were up here visiting from Portland, her husband painted their living room and dining room and hallways. Another score for industrious dads!

    1. meramatthews

      Wow, that is a lot of painting he accomplished! I agree about the simplicity of the tile, it sort of allows the eye to rest and enjoy the colorful bits here and there. Thank you Carol!

    1. meramatthews

      Thanks, Heidi! Clean, simple, and also inexpensive. Something to keep in mind for someone who may or may not have a huge kitchen remodel on the horizon! 🙂

  2. y2knina

    “its from Costco!” Hilarious!

    I am in the not a fan of subway tile camp. Personally, if I never saw another subway tile or chalkboard-painted wall / piece of furniture ever again, I would be perfectly happy.

    BUT that is just my personal taste AND I think the way you have used it, it looks great. (That grey grout is the reason, I think, and also your gorgeous farmhouse sink.) Congratulations on the new back splash.

    And if Tony Soprano ever wanders into your kitchen to, er, make some sausage, I hope Lenny Briscoe follows shortly thereafter. Because Lenny is always good for a quip, if nothing else.

    1. meramatthews

      The only store Opal likes more than Costco is Cabella’s! And I’m glad you like the backsplash even though you’re not a subway tile fan (I hear you, it is definitely everywhere right now). Thanks for being a part of the conversation, we love your comments!

    1. meramatthews

      Wait until you see it Katy, it really looks great in person! It allows my large collection of small bowls to shine! 🙂

  3. michellet2013

    I’ve always liked white kitchens offset with bursts of color and interesting objects. Your tile looks terrific and I think I’ll like it even more when the walls are white. Great work!

  4. Emma

    Looks so much better!! I’m firmly in the “let’s subway tile everything!!” camp so I’m naturally inclined to like it but still… looks great!

  5. Anna

    Hi there! Not sure if you’ll get my note so long after this post, but I’ve just found your blog and am really glad to see your subway tile refresh in the kitchen. Looks great! I’m thinking of doing a similar backsplash with subway tile. My cabinets are similar to yours, too, and I was wondering – do you have any idea where you got your kitchen cabinet knobs? Are they glass? Lucite?

    Thank you in advance!

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