Backsplash Makeover

If you could only pick one thing, what would you change about your home? Sometimes paint colors don’t turn out quite like we’d hoped or the rooms have so many doorways that furniture placement is complicated. The quirks can drive us crazy, even when we are extremely grateful for all that we have.

We have what I call, my Castle Wall.

Castle Wall at SkipperClan

You can see above this home was already painted and furnished in all neutrals when we purchased it last year. Even the rooms with colors are subdued versions of greens and aquas. The kitchen appliances were white and the tiles beige.

Except the Castle Wall. This wall is immediately to the left as you enter the front door but does not quite reach the high ceilings. There is a cutout ‘window’ from the front door into the kitchen. To the right as you enter the front door, you would see our dining room before it opens up into our living room. The Castle Wall meets the open counter between the kitchen and living room.

Castle Wall Bartop at SkipperClan

These photos were taken when we were waiting to close on the house. This patterned wall paper covered the entire wall along the entrance, underneath the bar top, and along the backsplash in the kitchen. You can see the backsplash to the far right above.

Castle Wall Backsplash Before at SkipperClan

Castle Wall Backsplash Detail at SkipperClan


The number one response from guests is, “Oh, it’s not that bad, it’s kind of interesting.” Have you seen Fixer Upper on HGTV? This Castle Wall, as I not-so-affectionately call it, is not my style. So I was super excited when we cashed in some points from our credit cards for some Home Depot gift cards to get started on the backsplash.

{In case you’re new here, we are working on becoming debt free and I do NOT recommend credit cards in any form, but since we already paid the #stupidtax, I figured we’d at least put it to work for us!}

Here is how I went from Castle Backsplash to Terrific Tile

We chose our tile, selected a grout color, and proceeded to make a half dozen trips to the two closest stores getting the items we’d chosen. One of those items was the SimpleMat to use in place of mortar.

SimpleMat at SkipperClan

I started with a solution of vinegar and water to help remove the wallpaper. I am very grateful this paper was professionally installed and that the walls had been painted previously. I know that helped removal significantly. The top layer peeled off easily and the vinegar solution worked perfectly as well. I had the entire section cleared of wallpaper in under ten minutes. I only let the solution sit about 45 seconds before I was able to gently remove the bottom layer of the wallpaper.

Vinegar Solution to Remove WallPaper at SkipperClan

I did lay out the tile sheets across my bar and adjusted a few individual tiles so that I would have a truly random look to the design. Had I not moved a few individual tiles, I would have had long sections of the silver tile, for instance. Once I was happy with the ‘dry run,’ I followed the instructions on the SimpleMat and started placing it against the wall.

Next I started with full sheets of tile, working from the hallway end toward the refrigerator. I also started with the full sheet closest to the countertop, knowing I would use some of the small tile to fill the gap between the sheets and the upper cabinets.

Backsplash Tile Progress at SkipperClan

Backsplash Tile at SkipperClan

We thought using the SimpleMat would make it easier for me to tackle this project on my own while SkipperClan was at work. Obviously it did work out, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to manage. Honestly, I would use it again in a heartbeat on a floor, but for the walls, I think it would have been just as simple to use mortar. The really difficult part ended up being the small cuts needed to finish the ends and the areas around the outlets. I managed, but don’t look to closely if you come visit.

Backsplash Tile Small Cuts at SkipperClan

It may have stayed like this for a few days, waiting for grout…and outlet covers…

Backsplash Tile Before Grout at SkipperClan

Then a few days weeks later, I was able to complete the grout, caulk, and sealer. We tried the technique of taping off the edges with painter’s tape to get a nice, finished line with the caulk (pre-colored to match the grout) and it worked wonderfully!

Tape Technique for Applying Caulk at SkipperClan

Place the tape so the gap between the lines is where you want the caulk to remain, steadily run a bead of caulk, wipe smooth with a damp fingertip, and gently remove the tape before it dries.

Tile Backsplash Detail at SkipperClan

What a difference the tile makes in brightening this space. I am so thrilled with the results and how little we spent out of pocket to complete it.

Backsplash Tile After at SkipperClan

Let’s look at that before and after one more time…

Kitchen Backsplash Makeover at SkipperClan

Now, to get the rest of the wallpaper down and paint that Castle Wall….



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