Pinspiration Monday: Faux tile backsplash

It has actually taken me two weeks to muster up the emotional courage to tell you about this project. As you can probably gather, it didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, I am now strong enough to admit that it was a complete and utter disaster. But not ALL of our grand ideas will work out, right?

So here’s the story (plus an incredible amount of photos to document the horrors – Hope you have a big cup of coffee handy!)…

After redoing our kitchen cabinets, I was dying for some kind of backsplash. I would have loved to tile, but the expense and the work deterred me from ordering anything. So instead, I scoured Pinterest for ideas. I came up inspiration like a solid accent paint color, decoupaging take-out menus beneath the cabinets and even adhering metal tile to the wall.

Source: BHG

Source: One Brooklyn Modern

Source: Casa de Valentina

But the one below was the one that stole my heart. It could have been because of the similarities to our own kitchen – cabinet/appliance arrangement, dark brown cabinets, long brushed nickel hardware – but it was also that gorgeous pastel backsplash.

In order to recreate the look of the shiny rows of thin tile without actually ordering any, I decided to use a combo of high gloss paint and extra-thin masking tape. My “faux tile” would theoretically give me the look with about half the work and a fraction of the expense.

Source: Unknown

So here is the room as it stood before leaping head first into the project – We are still loving our brown cabinets but really needed something between the cabinets and countertops to break up all of that brown and beige.

First I rolled on two thin coats of primer – The same can we used on the cabinets at the beginning of the year. In my head, I thought that the under-layer of white showing between my faux tiles would look like grout.

The nature of primer to be a little uneven in look would (again, in theory) mimic the uneven texture of mixed grout.

Time for the masking – This part ended up taking a looooooooong time, but my sister thankfully offered to help as she was visiting that weekend. It was all a matter of keeping the lines straight and also measuring equal distances between rows.

We decided to start the taping by going horizontally since it would take the most time versus the shorter strips that would go vertically. We started right under the cabinets and then measured a ruler’s-width down before starting a new line of tape.

Once we finished the entire length of the backsplash, we stepped back and took stock of things. Seeing the long green lines of tape actually really appealed to me – I began to second guess the vertical strips altogether. The look of the unhindered stripes read super “mod” to me and I actually favored the look. So out went the idea of vertical strips to create faux tiles and in came the idea of mod stripes. My thought was that I could always paint white lines over the top coat if I decided that I wanted the tile look afterall.

Time for the top coat…I bought a quart of pale, minty blue paint from Lowe’s in high gloss finish to really make it pop on the wall. Even though I was no longer trying to replicate the look of smooth glass tile, I didn’t mind the idea of a high gloss stripe, so we went with it.

Two coats later (at about 9:30 p.m.  at night – sorry for the awful lighting) and we were DONE. I already loved how the color was breaking up all of the brown surfaces. Before letting the paint dry, since I’ve heard the paint can come right off with it after it dries, I started removing the tape to reveal the undercoat of white.

This my friends is where things all went to hell.

Oh man, it was so so hard for me to even snap these photos for you guys. At that point, I could hardly breathe from sobbing and the shock of it all. We had been working on this project pretty much all day, sucking up an entire Saturday. I think it was even harder to accept because I had dragged my sister into it as well.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea what happened. But as you can see, when I started peeling the tape back (slowly and gently, I might add) the primer and the wet top coat started coming off in strips with it. I suppose there are two possibilities: (#1) the primer SUCKS and didn’t stick to the wall correctly, or (#2) the masking tape I used was way to strong. Either way, after the initial gasp upon seeing the ruined paint job, it turned into a full on melt down as I continued to remove both the tape and my beautiful painted stripes.

Somehow, through my tears, I was able to remove the rest of the tape and repaint the entire backsplash. The only thing I could come up with was to go with a solid color paint job and call it done – At least for the moment.

In the end and after recovering from the hysteria of the failure, I actually really love the way it turned out. Sure, there’s nothing “tiled” or “striped” about it, but at least all of those brown surfaces have something cool and funky to bump up against. I adore the color.

There are still a few areas we need to damage control, such as the uneven edges at the ends, but I’m giving myself a little distance before working on it. I think I’ll pick up a couple pieces of decorative molding to cover the lines and be done with it. Thoughts?

Oh, and before I go, I wanted to show you a little detail – As you can see in the photos below, you can still make out the stripes left by the masking tape lines. Sort of makes for an interesting texture I guess. While I wish that those lines could have been white, it is what it is and I don’t HATE it.

The fresh mint color looks a bit retro sitting next to our brand new orange stand mixer (a gift from our wedding) – I am absolutely loving that color combo and might even try introducing a little more orange into the space just to keep it going.

So while I would still whole-heartedly call this a failure because it’s anything BUT what I had envisioned, we still managed to give the backsplash area a little pop. If you check out the “Before” and “After” photos below, you can see what a difference that mint color made.

Glad to finally get that off my chest after weeks of holding it in…

So spill the beans – What do you guys think? Have any idea what might have happened? I’m dying to solve the mystery…

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