before & after: kitchen redo + mosaic backsplash

It’s funny how things overlap in life sometimes — this Before & After dropped in my inbox just as I was attempting to make my first-ever mosaic design. I’m using standard pre-cut tiles, but after seeing Marisa’s lovely kitchen backsplash, I’m inspired to break a few china pieces and play around. The dark grout was an incredibly inspired choice — not only does it add a great moment of contrast in the newly white-washed kitchen, but it also makes the mosaic pattern stand out much more than it would on a light background. Lest we forget the other key ingredients to this successful kitchen redo, I have to say I also love the dark painted floors, the striped rug and the colorful accessories popped in here and there. Nicely done, Marisa! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read more about Marisa’s mosaic backsplash and kitchen makeover after the jump!

Time: 2 years for kitchen, 1 month for mosaic backsplash

Cost: under $100

Basic Steps: I collected the dishes and would work on it as a weekend project. The plywood they sell at Lowe’s is a perfect size for the spot (some things are just meant to be). I also added in shells and a spoon with the china. My inspiration was clean and vintage. I like the shabby chic look, but wanted it more modern and simple. My basic steps for achieving the look were to have one focal point of “wow,” which is the backsplash, that would distract from the less glamorous parts of the room I wasn’t able to change. The rest was up to a fresh coat of paint to brighten everything. Black and white simplifies the room and lets that natural beadboard’s beauty shine.

My advice for anyone trying to tackle a similar project would be to use your imagination and use what you have. You can transform a space with just a few elements, like a coat of paint or a temporary point of focus — not only is the backsplash removable, I could always turn it into a table top or hang it elsewhere as art. Let the space evolve; not being able to do everything at once (due to time or finances) is good sometimes. Use those weekdays when you don’t have time to work on your project to dream up different possibilities, then when the weekend comes, you are well prepared to put your ideas into action! — Marisa



  1. Rene says:

    The back splash is amazing! And it looks so much more cheery with the white instead of the yellow. Nice redo!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Marisa, the kitchen looks great and the backsplash is spectacular.
    Kate, jump in and enjoy the freedom of the mosaic. As someone who does a lot of mosaics, I find silver gray, is my go to grout, it looks good with light and dark tiles, also don’t be afraid to use more then one color of grout in a piece.

  3. STUNNING back splash! Added so much more to the kitchen and gave it a totally fun new look! Beautiful

  4. Jen O says:

    The new black floor color really makes the look. I’m always afraid to try that, since I’m not sure it won’t scratch off. What did you use to paint over the existing old lino floor?

  5. Sharon says:

    So lovely and modern! May I ask where you bought the rug from?

  6. David says:

    Great work! The backsplash really brings the overhead cupboards and the counter together (they felt very disparate before). Just wondering where the kitchen table went….

  7. Ah, I wait in anticipation for your before/after days! Great inspiration and they always make me want to get to work.

  8. Suz says:

    The mosaic is really quite beautiful. Perfect for a kitchen. Have you thought about hanging it on the wall? It looks like it could use more room to breath.

  9. Kristin says:

    Wow! It’s amazing what white paint can do. It looks so clean and bright. The mosaic is gorgeous, and I love that it is removable. Great job!

  10. Shannon says:

    Love, love, LOVE the back splash!!

  11. jamie says:

    seeing those floors makes me want to go home and immediately rip out all my old tiles that are broken. i have a rug in my kitchen to cover up broken tiles… i’d prefer to have one because it looks nice!

  12. Paulina J! says:

    What I love the most about this B&A (besides the mosaic) is how she worked with what she had. Sometimes what we already have has so much potential and we just need to think outside the box! I think we have gotten used to ripping everything out and starting from scratch, which is necessary sometimes, but this is refreshing to see for those of us on a budget :)

  13. Connie says:

    What a great transformation! Really loving the place Marisa!

  14. What an amazing transformation! I love the backsplash and the painted floor is awesome.

  15. heather says:

    Hope that ceiling water damage was dealt with appropriately and there isn’t residual mold, eek. It looks like it was just painted over. careful!

  16. karla says:

    Wow! I want to do that!

  17. Carla says:

    Hey Marisa – your kitchen looks fabulous! What a great idea to use broken plates to make a removable back-splash. I love how the black grout matches the floor.

  18. I love this idea for do-it-yourself backsplash in a kitchen. Not only is it inexpensive and creative, it it 100% unique! This would make a great kitchen art piece too!

  19. Tania says:

    So lovely, you’ve inspired me to make a mosaic end table for my porch (with black grout! genius).

  20. evaone says:

    That was so wonderful.. i’ve got a lot of ideas on how to make over my kitchen soon.thank you so much for posting it

  21. diana says:

    Cool! Love those kitchen cupboards as well! I used to have those in my old apartment…

  22. Tami says:

    When I saw the ‘before’ photo, I thought, ‘Oh no, another ruined vintage interior in the name of fleeting hipness.’ But you really did a terrific job – thanks for sharing it with us.

  23. Lisa says:

    I love how your cupboards and sink which had amazing personality really stand out now. Love the black floor it just ties everything together – great makeover!

  24. I’m going to be moving to the country in a year or so and a lot of the houses we’ve been looking at are a very similar style to yours, so I find this project SOOOO inspiring! Thank you!

  25. sarah says:

    I love this so much! This is the first time I’ve ever commented on any design forum/blog…I too am polishing up a vintage home on almost no budget and with the little cracks of time here and there. It is hard work and sometimes I wish I could gut and start fresh– but once the ball starts rolling, it is really fun and liberating to work with what you have. My favorite part is the black floor. It will only look better as it wears as it appears to be the original wood? thanks for sharing!

  26. Cute! What a cheery space ;)

  27. Georgia Coyle says:

    WOW, that’s beautiful! What a talented young lady. This looks like a project I could tackle. Thanks for the inspiration.

  28. pam says:

    great before/after! the kitchen looks so much brighter & cleaner! Love the back splash, it is like putting a piece of art in your kitchen! wonderful job!!! And the floors look fab!

  29. What great ways to add personality to that kitchen. Dark floors and light cabinets always look great.

  30. Stian says:

    The back splash really is an eyecatcher, but the black paint makes me feel a bit sad: that original floor doesn’t look like cheap lino but rather like a well-crafted limestone tile floor and in that case you’ll probably never get rid of the paint…

  31. hamsandwich says:

    What’s the deal with the floor? Wood hiding underneath the lino? Please tell!

  32. Marisa says:

    The old lino was pulled up (3 layers!) and there was wood underneath. The wood was in bad shape, old lino glue/tar, replaced pieces of odd shapes, old paint, etc. I scraped as much as I could, sanded, and painted with the black paint. Ideally I would have resurfaced the old floors, but as this was not in my budget, (its a rental) and the wood was very damaged- the paint helped protect the kitchen from moisture and allowed me to walk on it without getting splinters :)

  33. Pam says:

    Could someone please give me directions on how to do this?? The link to the other site isn’t working anymore.

  34. Peggy says:

    I love the mosaic back splash but what is holding it to the wall?

  35. Debby says:

    This is a great idea! I’m going to try this back splash project. It really is eye catching.


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