How to pick a backsplash for your kitchen

So, you’re renovating your kitchen. Congratulations!

You’ll have to pick cabinets, flooring, paint colors, a countertop, and appliances.

What’s that? You’d like to pick a tile backsplash for behind the stove and sink? Wonderful. We’ve just done that ourselves.

This is all you need to do:

  1. Go to a store that sells tile. Bring photos of your countertop and your cabinets. Look at every single tile. Consider carefully which one will work best with your colors. Wonder what the salesman means when he says not to pick anything that’s too “matchy-matchy.” Order the tile.
  2. Walk out to the car, look at your husband and say, “Do you think that’s the right tile? I’m not sure.”
  3. The next day, call the store and cancel the order.
  4. Go to another store. Look at all the tile. Ask for advice. Take pictures of more tiles and text them to your husband. Tentatively pick a tile.
  5. Go home. Have doubts. Reject the tile.
  6. Go online. Look at hundreds of different tiles. Decide on a bunch. Then decide they’re all wrong. Throw up your hands in despair.
  7. Go to yet another tile store. Tell the salesman you have only three days to pick tile, so you only want to see what’s in stock. Pick a backsplash. Choose a grout to go with it. Tell them your contractor will pick it up tomorrow. Leave with a smile.
  8. Start driving home and get about a half-mile before someone gets cold feet. “I’m just not sure it’s the right one.” “But it’s my favorite so far.” “What if it’s not right?” “It has to be. We are installing it next week.” Decide it’s fine. Maybe.
  9. Contractor stops by the house to check the project, takes one look at the photo of the tile and says, “You don’t want that tile.” You realize he’s right.
  10. Go to yet another store that sells tiles. Text photos of tiles home to your husband. Pick one that you can agree on. Buy all the tiles of that style that are in the store. Drive 40 minutes each way to buy still more of that same tile. Bring it home and admire it together. The children love it. Everyone loves it. The search is over. At last. You knew you’d get there.
  11. The contractor arrives to work on the kitchen, takes one look at the tile and sighs. “You like that tile?” he says. “Yes,” you say. “Yes, we all like this tile.” He explains why it is not a good choice for the kitchen. He tells you that you will be tired of it very quickly. He pulls out a tile that he thinks will be just right. It looks great, but so did all the others. You can’t bear the thought of shopping for another tile ever again. You wonder where this tile was three weeks ago, but you’re so happy with the kitchen progress you aren’t complaining. You don’t have energy to complain.
  12. “Fine,” you say to the contractor. “You can put any tile you want in here as long as I don’t have to go pick it out or load it in the car and bring it home.” He smiles. You smile. Everyone smiles. Because one day, in the not-too-distant future, you are going to have a functional kitchen again. Will it have a backsplash? We can only hope. Will it be perfect? Absolutely. Because it will be done.
  13. And let’s just hope that’s where the story ends. But there’s always tomorrow.

Yes, it’s that easy.

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Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.