Condé Nast thinks my backsplash is a glamour do

In the Vix Household, we excel at turning renovation-related molehills into mountains. So by the time our (fairly) budget, seemingly endless, mostly DIY kitchen reno came to a point where form could take precedence over function, I was thrilled.

When choosing the flooring, cabinets, counter, hardware, and sink, we’d factored in lots of variables. Cost. Durability. Practicality. Design. But once those items were out of the way a tiny swath of L-shaped space remained in limbo: the backsplash.

I knew an easy, inexpensive solution (paint). And I knew a solution that was popular among those renovating older houses (white subway tile).

But I listened to my gut, and my gut said to go another way. So I did:

7-plus years after I grappled with thinset and grout, my pal Ms Eileen took this beauty shot of my fancypants SICIS iridescent tile and its companions (regular ole laminate counter, big box store cabinets, and generic sink/faucet)…now editors control its fate

And other than still wishing I’d done the install before I had to wind myself around a corner cabinet, I have no regrets about slapping up my pedigreed, school-of-sardines tile amongst my more generic items.

Fancy Italian tile + materials: $400. 7+ years of daily pleasure: Priceless!


I’ll admit I’m a little envious that my tile’s life always seems to be more exciting than mine, a hypothesis confirmed when a photo editor from Condé Nast’s Fairchild Books division recently asked if I would allow a shot of my backsplash to be used in their Foundations of Interior Design textbook.

Granted it’s one of their instructional publications, not Architectural Digest…but the invitation is still pretty exciting around these parts.

Especially since my tile doesn’t live in a sleek urban loft with high-end appliances and a thick stone counter, but in a funky 10 x 15 foot space with low-to-the-ground windows, 4 doors, and a beloved but problematic hutch that’s the only vaguely original built-in left in the joint.

And as most of our money went into boring structural things like plumbing and electricity, the bulk of our kitchen ingredients came from big box stores or no-frills warehouses with remnants from commercial jobs.

The tile was/is definitely the odd one out. See?

Vix Household Kitchen, Before and After (towards back door)

Vix Household Kitchen: Not up to NKBA standards, but lots of shiny plus a rehabbed hutch

Apparently there’s something to be said for spending one’s youth in narrow and/or tiny square’d kitchens with people and pets underfoot, because while our “after-to-date” kitchen isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with its efficiency, I rarely get aggravated when cooking in it. Guess it’s all just…wrong in all the right ways to me.

[Though I still wish we’d get around to a new back door!]

Of course dear, dear Condé doesn’t want to show students the whole hot imperfect mess—they just want a beauty shot of the tile.

Enter Ms Eileen, who happily agreed to a photo shoot though she had to be arm-twisted into claiming the accompanying photo credit should her masterpiece make it through the book’s final editing process.

Whatever the selections when the textbook goes to press, though, the luscious little blue-green zone will always be a winner in MY book. In fact, I’ve come to realize that my ‘splash has done more than brighten my kitchen—it’s helped change my closet. Call it backsplash therapy, baby, and color me a convert.

Kitchen-to-Closet Confidential: Lessons My Backsplash Taught Me

1. Mixing curvy with straight adds visual interest

2. Simple lines can make cheap look more expensive, and one pricier item can class up budget items

3. A little pattern elevates the Sarah, Plain and Tall elements

4. It’s worth spending time to figure out how—or if—to use low, medium, and high contrast

5. Whatever the other kids are doing, choosing colors that one loves AND that make one’s skin look like a million bucks ups the chance of long-term happiness

L, many of my current closet colors; R, the backsplash shows another of its many shade variations

Over the last 2 years I’ve slowly come to embrace purples and peeenks on more than just my walls

What can I say? Blame/credit the damn backsplash!

6. Self-defining my personal style as “Minimalist Magpie” and “Contrarian Classicist” (with their love child, the Persnickety Bohemian, wriggling in here and there) helps save time and money when shopping…and keeps me from taking the quest to dress myself too seriously!


9 Responses

  1. Yay! I’ve always loved the backsplash. Now it’s my brush with fame!

  2. Brenda—

    We can be tentatively brushed with fame together! Thanks for the continued support.

    Glad the beauty shot appeared, as a mysterious glitch kept photos #2 and #3 from showing in some browsers.

    [Good thing I led in with, “See?” NOT REALLY VIX, NOT REALLY]

  3. But that’s so much fun! And also, nice photo of the splash:).

  4. Lisa—

    It *is* pretty fun, especially as it was so random (it’s true: put stuff on the Internet and for better/worse you don’t know where it will end up!).

    [Getting a good shot for submission was also a nice break from much more boring stuff that’s been eating up time/energy.]

    I will make sure Eileen sees your compliment on her new-and-improved version; thanks!

  5. So exciting! I’m not surprised though, it’s a totally beautiful backsplash.
    And funnily, I was just looking at your kitchen photos again last weekend as I think Beloved Husband might let me paint so I wanted to drool over your color scheme!

  6. Ha! A well deserved notice of your gorgeous backsplash, I must say.

    Somewhere along the way I had saved that pic as an inspiration for our imminent kitchen update — and I still stand in awe of your use of those tiles 🙂

  7. A closet full based on a backsplash. Only YOU Vix! Hey Congrats on the fame….sooooo cool!

  8. Ms EO—

    Since I am terribly biased, I agree with your good taste/kind words, ha—but it’s tickling me aqua that CN/Fairchild has put my ‘splash in the running!

    BTW, *very* excited to hear this news of painting possibility. Enough time has passed that he’s seen the light, eh? Don’t even think about failing to document/share the result!


    Many thanks; I guess you and I just can’t help having terribly good taste (or the same bad taste), right!

    Congrats/condolences on the upcoming reno. Remember the outcome will justify the PITA parts.

    Things to budget for now: Therapist. Healthy relaxation activities of your choice. Non-healthy relaxation activities of your choice. [And feel free to email me if you need to vent/weep!]

  9. Linda—

    Credit where due: Exposure to your decorating and reno choices—along with those made by others in the old gang—helped me make choices that resonated personally and holistically.

    And clearly BHG agrees with me about your skills/talents, given that they’ve had the good sense to feature entire ROOMS of yours!

    [Readers: If you haven’t gone there yet, check out her “Lime in the Coconut” blog via my sidebar link and look for her personal shots.]

    Re the backsplash driving my wardrobe: Hey, it’s the least it could do given there was no money, time, or energy for clothing during the first 2 years in this house, ha!

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