Backsplash on a Budget: Stunning Design Options

So, you’ve fallen in love with the new, flashy glass mosaic backsplashes. Highly reflective and brightly colored, these upscale glass tile patterns often feature combinations of greens and blues to evoke the illusion of shimmering seawater; in earthy combinations of bronzes, browns and golds, they provide a dynamic, sun-splattered look.

Or maybe you covet the charming artisanal look of a backsplash of hand-painted tile.

Or, you would love the jolt of color a bright new backsplash in a vibrant shade can provide.
However, in tough economic times, a new backsplash might not be in the cards. According to Homewyse.com, the cost of a good-quality glass or quartz mosaic backsplash, with installation, can easily top out at over a thousand dollars.

If you’re on a tight budget, don’t despair. With a few cans of paint and some inspiration, you can duplicate the looks that you love, and have a backsplash that is as stunning as any upscale creation.

Back-Painted Glass

If it’s the color and shine of glass or quartz tiles you’re after, you can get the effect by simply painting the back side of a sheet of glass that has been cut to fit your backsplash area. This inexpensive solution affords you the wall-protective effect of conventional tile backsplash, while yielding a look that is effortlessly clean, simple and stylish.

The secret here is to go bold: since a backsplash area is usually not large in relation to the whole kitchen, you can use intense, vibrant colors such as teal, tangerine, persimmon, and russet.

When it comes to deciding on the color intensity of your backsplash in relation to your kitchen design, many experts recommend the common-sense technique of “color balance.” According to this design principle, dark cabinets call for a lighter backsplash, while pale or white cabinets benefit from the pizzazz of a bright or dark color. However, you should let your personal preferences be your guide — if you have dark, dramatic cabinets and feel that your backsplash is crying out for a rich, glossy plum color, go for it. If you decide you’re not crazy about the effect after all, you have only to paint another glass sheet – still a much cheaper option than installing quartz or glass tiles


Mock Mosaic

Can’t live without a mosaic tile backsplash? Go faux!

Believe it or not, you can create a very convincing version of a glass mosaic with painter’s tape and acrylic paint.

To execute this clever maneuver, first paint your backsplash area bright white,then apply painter’s tape in parallel lines to make slender horizontal rows; vertical snippets of tape at irregular intervals join forces with the horizontal lines to form the illusion of a grid of narrow tiles. Next, use acrylic paint in a trio or quartet of complementary colors, alternating them according to your taste; using one or two shades in a metallic finish help provide the reflective quality of a glass mosaic. Be sure to pull away the painter’s tape before the paint completely dries, or parts of the colors may come with it. Removing the tape reveals the white paint underneath, which gives the appearance of grout. After your masterpiece has dried, clear-coat it to protect it from moisture, steam and kitchen spills.

Shades of aquamarine, turquoise, blue-green and silver will mimic the popular aquaticeffect; cocoa brown, espresso, metallic bronze and gold will create the fashionable “coffeebean” look.


More Faux Effects: Hand-Painted Tile

Savvy DIYers say you can reproduce the charming, artistic look of hand-painted tilewith chalk and paint. Beginby drawing a chalk grid of symmetrical squares over the backsplash area, and add a diamond in the exact center of each square. You can add diamonds at the corners of the squares,as well. Paint the diamonds in an earthy, organic color such as terracotta, russet, cocoa, gold or tan; in order to add an intriguing sense of dimension, make sure the color you choose is darker then the background. Next, highlight the chalk outlines with a light, reflective color, which creates the illusion of grout.

You can make a more intricate pattern by adding lines radiating out from the point of each diamond, continuing through the grid top to bottom. You can also enclose each diamond within a larger one; generally, any well-executed, symmetrical embellishment should work.

Then, step back and admire your handiwork. Whether you have created a colorful glass backsplash, conveyed the shimmering look of a mosaic, or reproduced the beauty of hand-painted tiles, you have crafted a backsplash that cleverly evokes tile or glass – minus the expense and installation cost of these materials.

About the Author

Molly Hilton is the owner of Renaissance Painters in Toronto and has devoted more than 30 years to home renovation, painting, and custom home building. Her unique design concepts bring homes to life with colours and unique pieces that are artfully placed to draw attention to the most powerful and distinctive features of a home.