The Lucky Backsplash

February 4, 2013

Well at last at last at last we’ve finally finished up the backsplash in the hall bathroom.  This remodel has been in progress for over a year, we procrastinated, but now we’re on the way to a nearly complete bathroom remodel. Here’s a look at the vanity wall where we installed a new backsplash, added new sconces, and also a brushed silver finish mirror.

backsplash with silver mirror


Here’s what it looked like a year ago. It had an old fashioned overhead light, a huge builder mirror, honey wood cabinetry, and cultured marble countertops. Not my favorite.

hall bathroom


The sink vanity wall looks much different today!

hall bathroom centsational girl


I call this the “lucky backsplash” for two reasons. First, I ended up skipping the blue brick pattern glass tile I mentioned awhile back because when I did the math it turned out to be way over my budget at $20+ a square foot and to tile up to the ceiling I needed 36 square feet. I was leaning toward something more neutral anyway. 


I found a more reasonably priced mosaic blend tile at $8 a square foot at Lowes, but when I went back to purchase it two weeks later, it was gone from the shelf and discontinued and I was heartbroken.  As I walked out of the store and glanced to my left I saw the clearance rack off to the side and sitting on that shelf was the exact same tile I saw two weeks before. It was the exact amount of tile I needed to complete my job, and not one sheet more, and it was marked down to $4 a square foot. Score! 

tile on clearance

I loved how it had a mother of pearl-ish quality to it, with various tones of white, taupe, subtle amber, and cream, I’m a sucker for anything that is or resembles mother of pearl – it’s one of my favorite finishes evah so I went with it. 

The second way we got lucky was because we were able to install the entire backsplash without a tile saw since the pieces a) fit the wall to perfection and b) I was able to complete the job with a little tool I found at Home Depot that saved us the inconvenience of renting or borrowing a big ol’ tile saw.

lucky fit on wall


There are a zillion tutorials out there for installing a mosaic tile backsplash and I know I’ve also covered this before, but here are the quick basics – prep your wall but make sure the sheetrock is both even and sound, and then make room for the tile (with extenders) around fixtures or sockets.

make room for tile


Layer the thin-set mortar on the wall with a trowel and use just enough to work with a few sheets at at time. Use a level as you go along to make sure your tile is straight as you install. Allow the mortar to dry for 24 hours.

thin set mortar and trowel


The sheets of mosaic tile fit the wall perfectly (lucky!) but not so much around the sconce boxes so I picked up a nifty tool to help me out.

tile nipper tool

This little tool allows you to clip small tiles without a tile saw for those hard to reach places where you need little pieces.

tile nipper


Just be careful! Little bits of glass can go flying so it’s a good idea to have safety goggles and even gloves to avoid injury. But what you get are those little corners you need to fill in where necessary.

clipped mosaic tile



tile around sconces


Mix up your grout and get in in between all the joints with a grout float in sections.

grout float


Before it dries, sponge off your tile with a grout sponge and let it dry for another 24 hours.

sponge grout


On the vanity, I also replaced the little knobs with more substantial pulls in a chrome finish.

vanity chrome pulls


I love the new sconces on the wall and how their shiny finish is a nice contrast with the brushed silver on the mirror. The Hill and Dale Mirror is from Lamps Plus and the long arm chrome sconces were a splurge from Shades of Light – they gave me small discount since they’re a sponsor. The vessel sink + faucet combo is from Home Depot.

new wall sconces

 vanity and sconce closeup


We’ve got a little more work to do, I have to finish priming and painting the cabinetry on the back wall and I’ll be switching out the overhead light fixtures too. 

vanity straight view


As soon as I finish them I’ll do an updated step-by-step on painting bathroom cabinetry, I’m using Ben Moore Advance in ‘Soft Chamois’ which is a slightly warmer white. 

Here are some of the projects we’ve done in the past to get to this point:

Building a new base and adding feet to the vanity

Adding an ogee edge to wood countertops with a router

Installing the wood countertops


centsational girl hall bathroom


The best news is we now have a functioning bathroom again with a much more modern look!



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116 Responses to “The Lucky Backsplash”

  1. Tracy says:

    Beautiful remodel. Would you mind telling me where the little clock is from?

  2. CentsationalGirl says:

    Target last year Tracy, I think I paid about $10 for it!

  3. It’s looking great in there, Kate! I think my favorite part is the wood counter tops… just beautiful.

  4. Margie says:

    Beautiful! Can you tell me how you got the builder’s mirror off of the wall? I have the same mirror in my master bath, and I’m afraid to even touch it. We had the same kind of mirror in another bathroom and luckily it just fell off of the wall one day. It looked like they just put it up with liquid nails in four spots!

  5. Jesyka says:

    Wow, making the choice to tile the whole wall makes it look sooo much bigger and more dramatic (but in a subtle way). Love it!

  6. Jessica says:

    Would you consider doing the same project in a master bathroom as well?

  7. CentsationalGirl says:

    Heck ya Jessica, I love the look!!!

  8. Sara Horgen says:

    Hi Kate – Maybe stupid question, but do the wall sconces actually work or are they just for looks? TIA!

  9. CentsationalGirl says:

    They are hardwired electrical sconces Sara, yes they work!

  10. Erin Curtis says:

    Hi Kate – love your re-do! What color are the walls? Thanks!

  11. cheri says:


    How did you install the mirror on the tiled wall? We are going to be tiling our vanity wall in a glass/stone mosaic blend and I just ordered the mirror and was wondering how you go about hanging it in this circumstance. Thanks

  12. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Erin, the walls are Ben Moore Affinity “Tranquility”

  13. CentsationalGirl says:

    We measured the width between the two rings on the back and then used two screws on the tile wall, we figured out where they would sit in between tiles and hung it up!

  14. Kathy S says:

    I noticed your walls are slightly textured. Did you not do anything to them to prep them for the quickset or tiles? We have orange peel (medium) walls and want to put tile as a backsplash in our kitchen, but my fiance thinks we need to smooth the walls first.

  15. CentsationalGirl says:

    As long as it’s not extremely heavy texture you should be fine. We have a lighter version of “orange peel” and I haven’t ever had problems. If you use enough mortar, then you should end up with an even application.


  16. Monica says:

    Hi! Awesome remodel, its so lovely! I’m wondering how you moved the wiring for the old light to fit the new sconces. Do you have any tips?


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