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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