Choosing a Backsplash Dilemma

July 8, 2019
last modified: July 8, 2019

Okay, so I am wrapping up a kitchen remodel and am in the process of tiling the backsplashes.

I struggled with choosing a backsplash throughout this process. I finally Decided on a white/gray marble subway tile—but at the last minute worried it would make the room feel cold and sterile.

So I ran across a similar marble mosaic tile that was much warmer and was made up of the other colors in the room.

I got the first section installed and really like it, but I worried that it might be overwhelming if I do the rest of the kitchen with it.

So... I had some leftover thin brick from the fireplace threshold And decided to run that behind the stove. I finished it today and do like how it looks. (It is still wet and will dry a bit lighter....)

The problem is that now I like both but am not sure the two work together well. One is a more delicate look and the other more rustic.

my thoughts:

A). Finish the rest of the room with the original tile and suck it up if it’s a little overwhelming.

B). Brick the “Coffee Station” Backsplash which is the short countertop on the other side of the window from the stove. Then use the other tile around the sink wall/window and corner. Just hope it matches okay.

C). Use a rustic farmhouse wood —- possibly white on the other backsplashes to complement the rustic brick. Leave the original “fancy” tile in place. Hopefully that will kind of make the entry counter/buffet a little more special with the glass cabinets—but preserve the look of a vintage but updated 50’s cape cod kitchen.

D. same idea with the farmhouse wood, but brick the coffee station? Maybe put up a little chalkboard in front of the brick and make it legit!

E). Open to any and all other suggestions.

I just don’t want to blow this whole remodel by choosing the wrong tile!!!!

Thanks for any suggestions you might have.


Okay, some “Before and After” pics—in case that’s helpful:

Stout: He‘s very bored with all this remodeling... haha

Comments (83)

  • Destiny

    Thank you William! I love the subtlety of the alpaca in your kitchen. Actually more subdued in my opinion to the revere pewter I have on my kitchen walls.

  • catlady999

    Whichever color grout you used on the first tiled section should be used in the remaining tiled areas. You want the tile to look like a planned unified project, not a sample wall.

  • William


    I have some room to re-grout that section. I wasn’t planning on using two different grouts.

    It was after the fact, that I saw it grouted gray. I don’t know for sure but I like how it dresses it down a little. It looks less formal to me.


  • calidesign

    I would still grout the marble with a lighter cream/tan, but it's your home and if you like the grey that's certainly your choice. Keep in mind that your example photo had a solid black countertop, and yours has some variation. I do like the marble on all the walls. I would suggest that you get enough extra marble material now to redo the part behind the stove if you change your mind about the brick in the future.

  • William


    I haven’t really made my mind up about the grout. I actually mixed up the rest of the gray grout today and planned to test it on the small section right of the brick.

    I mixed it too thin though and didn’t have any more. So maybe that’s a sign?

    I’m kind of at a stalemate and frustrated. I don’t feel like making any decisions. The last thing I want to do is pull out the brick, so I’m not even thinking about that. It’s still drying so I’ll wait and see what it looks like in a day or two. Then, I will probably just paint it. I may just paint it the same taupe color (Alpaca) as the rest of the room.

    The marble tile looks pretty good next to it, so it probably would also look fine behind the stove.

    The other option i was considering was painting it the gray accent color I’m using elsewhere. It really just two shades darker and more of a brownish gray.

  • D N

    William, if I may ask, why are you so averse to pulling off the brick? Is it the labor and hassle, or is it acknowledging that despite the original good idea, it maybe just doesn’t work?

    Either is understandable. If it’s the second, you might want to consider that hardly anyone takes on a project like this without an “ouch” moment. There’s a definite live and learn factor in reno. And there’s always Craigslist to dispose of leftovers.

    Maybe you could tilt some sample panels of your marble up against the brick wall and think about what others are saying.

    I think the marble everywhere (no brick) would be perfect, whichever grout you go with.

    Sometimes stubbornness is a virtue; other times, not so much. Not meaning to be harsh, and best wishes for the final outcome.

    PS: you’re doing fantastic installation work!

  • PRO

    Sweetie, the brick is going to look just as bad in another two days as now. Too many ideas isn't a GREAT idea. Bite the bullet. Ahem... bite the brick. It just doesn't work.

  • Hande Dinckal

    Tile for sure ! As woman if I enter that kitchen can't complain about anything very cozy , soft , clean look. Good job .

  • nicole___

    I love brick....just not on "this" backsplash. It's too rustic for THIS kitchen. The marble is a wonderful compliment to this kitchen! Your grey paint color is fantastic! Love the brick as a fireplace hearth.

  • William

    Had to try painting the brick before demo. I mean, can’t hurt anything to try right?

  • William

    Brick Before/After:

  • calidesign

    The lighter brick looks better than the dark brick, but it still makes it seem like you ran out of the right back splash material and just stuck something up there. Your marble looks very nice.

  • William

    Calidesign: Don’t people normally do something different over the stove? I was inspired by a photo where someone did brick (or painted brick) over their range but everything was white.

    I can’t capture how this looks in person, but I really like it. It might be the same for thing though.... out of place. I wish I had a better photo though.

  • calidesign

    Yes, sometimes there is something different over the stove, but usually with a different configuration of the vent hood and cabinets than you have. In your case, the area behind the stove is not a focal point, or it shouldn't be anyway. They would also choose two tiles that coordinate with each other, or one tile set in a different pattern. Two tiles that coordinate not just in color but also in style. In my opinion, you could have used either all brick, or all marble, but the marble and brick are too different to use together. It's your house though, so only you need to be happy with it.

  • Jora

    William - I get you, I'm just as stubborn with my decisions, wrong or right, especially when I'm the one that has to live with them.

    In this case, however, I'd def. remove the brick. You did a fantastic job with the install, and you kitchen thus far looks beautiful. I like the tile you chose and I think it makes your coffee area POP.

    Mixing the marble and the brick together, in one kitchen, seems like you updated your whole kitchen, but decided not to touch that one spot behind the stove. It looks like a forced fit.

    It will be a pain in the a$$ to remove the brick, but I think in the long haul you'll be glad you did.

  • wickedwhite

    The brick is a mistake. It devalues your remodel and all of the hard work you put in. Remove it.

  • threepets37

    Calidesign already said almost exactly what I was going to so I don't have much to add. The area behind your stove is just a continuation of the rest of the backsplash area to the right of it. There is no variation in height there that would define a specific area for a change in materials or pattern to create a focal point there. It just looks odd when viewed as a whole. If you look at photos where they have done something different behind the stove, they usually have a vent hood or shorter cabinets above the stove that make the backsplash area much bigger than in other parts of the kitchen.

  • William

    It isn’t stubbornness. I actually like it. ;-)

  • D N

    Ha ha, well there you go. It's your house after all!

  • William

    Satin clear-coat gave it a slick finish. Ultra-washable now and feels nice to the touch. It also enhanced the color a little.

    Sorry guys. I know nobody likes it except me. Haha. I see a lot of bad choices with home improvements when I see customer photos on the reviews at Lowe’s. Now I’m that guy!!!

    I think there’s a danger in waiting to make a change because you start to get used to it and eventually you don’t notice it anymore.

  • William

    Original vs. Painted

  • Jora

    William - I didn't use the word stubborn as an insult. Of course you like it, why else would you put it in, and keep it? :).

    I meant that you are stubborn, like I am, in asking for suggestions/advice, but not allowing anyone to deviate you from what your decision/s.

    I'm typically not one to put down anyone's re-modeling decisions (as it's very subjective), however MY reason for 'xnaying' the brick was mainly because your tile is TOO similar in esthetics to the brick, but different enough that it looks like you ran out of material.

    Your kitchen, your choice, I know...just putting my 2 cents in again (+ my previous 2 cents making it 4). Because I'm stubborn that way! ;)

  • threepets37

    You're the only one who has to be happy with it William! If you love it despite all the points made by everyone here that's what's important!

    I'm curious and feel free to ignore this question - Is there a woman involved in this remodel? Does she love the brick too? I don't think I've seen a "we" mentioned in any of your posts. Just wondering because my husband and I often disagree on how things should look, and it seems like the love of this brick might be a guy thing! LOL

  • catlady999

    With all of your skills and the OCD, why didn't you properly frame the wood edges around the hearth? The ornate molding on the fireplace and scalloped valances contrast too sharply with those raw edges.

  • William


    Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know? After I installed the brick on the hearth, I looked at it and noticed I should have at least ran one piece of trim horizontally to separate the brick from the wood frame it in. Didn’t think about it until after everything was installed and caulked in. I don’t think I want to do it above the surface.

    Also, I didn’t like the brick. It was a much lighter gray on display at the store. Must have been a different lot, because mine didn’t have as much contrast with my floor as I was hoping for. I’m kind of tempted to paint the threshold the same way... But probably won’t.

    I’m an amateur. This is obviously not my profession. Haha.

  • William

    Threepets: Wife says she likes it. She wasn’t thrilled about the brick either when it first went up. She is the one who said to just leave it for now and just finish the other tile.

    She also hasn’t seen it in person. We live in California right now and I’m working on this project for our home in Dayton, Ohio.

  • William

    Itsminenow: You must have an amazing home.

  • William

    Jora: I didn’t take it as an insult. Not at all. Haha. I welcome criticism and enjoy having all this feedback. Plus, nobody here (present) cares about this very much. They’re all tired of hearing me talk about it. Haha.

    I do take consider all advice though and I’m sure I’m probably doing the wrong thing now because no one agrees with me yet. ;-)

  • ljptwt7

    I actually like your brick more than the marble. (But I don't like them together, sorry.) Just thought I would be the odd one out!

  • calidesign

    After your wife sees it in person let us know if you end up changing it. And congrats on getting out of CA!

  • Carol jean

    Great kitchen do not like brick but it's your kitchen and we live in America with free choice

  • catlady999

    itsminenow - By the way, I wore my strappy grey stacked heel Crocs sandals with silver accents with my little black dress and grey lace jacket to my reunion and they looked great! Picked them because they matched and because I didn't want my feet to hurt during 5 hrs of standing, walking and dancing. (and they felt wonderful)

    I know the point you were trying to make, but know the brand before you slam it. Crocs makes a wide variety of styles from ballet flats to wedges to rain boots. They aren't just clogs, though those are also really comfortable.

  • catlady999

    As a former fiscal manager, I know that designer prices do not guarantee elegance. I have skin sensitivities that forbid some natural fibers like wool and cashmere, so I often wear synthetics.

    If those are your only view of Crocs, you clearly didn't look farther than the first page of the site.

    These are my sandals but in grey, silver, and pink. Yes, they are made of plastic. And they are comfortable. And you can probably guess that I don't care if you like them or not.

  • catlady999

    Gee, William, you never expected this thread to veer into an argument over ladies shoes!

  • AJCN


    Just in case you change your mind later (or a future buyer doesn’t like the brick, or your stove or MW changes requiring some changes behind stove), buy enough of the marble mosaic now so that the colors match.

    William thanked AJCN
  • cpartist

    OP, that backsplash is gorgeous. That brick isn't. They don't work together. IF you have enough of the marble tile, I'd pull the brick off and put the marble behind the stove. I do think it's wonderful that you chose a marble with some personality. Congrats on that.

    William thanked cpartist
  • Karenmo

    This was an exciting thread to read -- the suspense was: will he or won't he? Of course the real story is TO BE CONTINUED to when the wife arrives and......

    Seriously, my two cents worth is that down the line, if the brick falls out of favor (the cleaning booger thing, or the look, or whatever) AND tearing it out seems like too much, there is an alternative. Cover it with a brushed metal panel, perhaps with the ends curved slightly to cap the brick end surfaces.

    There are various ways to integrate it into the kitchen design -- the shelf/rack in the first example pic is just one. (Ikea has lots of stainless kitchen accessories/rack-type things. )

    Family Handyman has an article about all this: https://www.familyhandyman.com/kitchen/design-ideas/ideas-for-the-kitchen-stainless-steel-backsplash/

    The kitchen looks really nice in so many ways, and the stone backsplash ties the colors together really well. And I love the subtle texture of the countertop. My other thought (after looking the pic of the window next to the stove) is how nice it would be to add a little bench there between the cabinets, kind of like a window seat, a place for somebody to hang out and keep the cook company......

    William thanked Karenmo
  • Karenmo

    Here is the picture that fell out of comment above:

    William thanked Karenmo
  • lshack17

    OP, Your remodel looks gorgeous. Love the counters especially. From a practical viewpoint, the brick just seems like it would be difficult to clean and maintain. From an aesthetic viewpoint, it seems too rustic and doesn't quite work.

    catlady999, while I love your screen name I can't say that I love your Crocs. :) There's so many stylish comfortable heels available these days you really don't have to resort to plastic shoes and a cocktail dress. Try Sofft brand, AGL, Vionic, Cole Haan, Naturalizer. Even UGG makes really cute and comfortable sandals. Probably get some good deals at the famous Nordstrom sale going on this week.

  • Jora

    cat lady - Although I'm one of those "Why would anyone wear a Crocs?" kind of person, I'm all for free will to dress (or design) as you wish.

    I applaud you for being true to who you are and pairing up your little black dress with Crocks. :)

    William - sorry for hijacking your thread!

  • Karenmo

    Hey, who would know that they are crocs if they didn't have that intrusive logo label? I am just resentful that crocs never fit my foot......

    On the other hand.....back to the backsplash:

    Here is Ikea's take on the stainless look for covering a backsplash -- for $50 a 48 inch panel with the stainless look on one side and the brass look on the other!


    It isn't going to be magnetic, since it is laminate and aluminum. But it's nice to know that's an option, and it's wide enough to cover the entire bricked area.

    For about $130 there is a real stainless one with a nifty integrated shelf:


    Of course, this one is made to be just the width of the stove, so it wouldn't cover all the bricks, and designed more to be used for slide in type ranges or cooktops without a control panel in the backsplash area. But good to know these solutions are out there.

    Still, with a stove width stainless panel, removing & replacing just the brick bits around the edges would be easier than redoing the whole thing....

  • catlady999

    Thanks for the kind support. I only made this an issue because I've seen too many excellent products or brands fall to the wayside. Either they don't have a big enough audience to support them or a corporation decides that new and different is better. So, I believe in supporting the brands I like in hope that they'll last longer.

  • William

    I have enough marble to change it, if I decide to later, but I am definitely leaving the brick for now. Here’s a pic with the rest of the marble in place:

  • Liya

    Your kitchen looks amazing! I'm curious what type of flooring that is?

    William thanked Liya
  • William

    It’s the Pergo Timbercraft. West Lake Oak. Thanks!

  • tqtqtbw

    I’m glad you have enough of the tile in case you or a future owner wants to remove the brick. It would be horrible to have to remove all of the backsplash because the tile was discontinued and a patch wasn’t possible. You have done great work, but I’m another no brick vote. Glad you are happy and hopefully your wife will be, too.

    William thanked tqtqtbw
  • William

    I don’t know why, but it really does look better in person. or else I’m just getting used to it now. But, everyone who sees it in person seems to genuinely like it a lot.

  • Alisa

    if you like it then ignore everyone who doesn't. it's your kitchen. you are the important one. I personally like it too.

    William thanked Alisa
  • Haley

    William- I might be the only person on your side. I like it too! You can always put a cooking utensil holder up against where the two materials meet to help blurr the lines. You’ve done a great job!

    William thanked Haley
  • felizlady

    I would continue the same light backsplash everywhere, including over the stove. The brick is powerful and dark, and does not work with the lighter backsplash, which is gentle and light and more timeless.

    William thanked felizlady

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