My Home Remodel, Part 15: A Backsplash to Swoon Over

backsplash, New Ravenna, Margot

I started designing my kitchen with inspiration from a sign we had—and still have—hanging in our dining area that says, “Life Is Better at the Lake.” (Our home is on a lake.) The sign is just the most beautiful shade of blue and it inspired my color scheme for my kitchen and, ultimately, the entire open-concept living area of our home. I found a swatch of a similar paint color and thought I would paint my future island that blue while the rest of my cabinetry would be a cool light gray.

This sign was the inspiration for my color scheme throughout our open-concept living space.

I tested the blue first by painting a built-in cabinet in the hallway that leads to our bedrooms and main-floor bathroom. As much as I liked the blue on the cabinet, I knew it wasn’t right for the island. It was then that I made the decision to make the island the same light gray as the other cabinetry and go bold with the backsplash, somehow utilizing that blue from our lake sign.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that there were three items I agonized over when designing my kitchen: the pendants over the island, knobs and pulls on cabinetry, and my backsplash. The backsplash honestly took the cake when it came to the amount of time and research I put into looking for the perfect colors and pattern. I spent hours watching every design show on HGTV and scouring Pinterest. I started ordering samples of all types of backsplash materials, from glass to porcelain to concrete tiles, in all sorts of shapes and geometric patterns—all with the blue from the sign. But nothing felt quite right. My entire design process had been based on gut feelings, and I wasn’t going to change what had been working so far. I knew my gut would tell me when I found the right backsplash.

My husband Bart and I came home from a trip to find Margot on the walls. The mosaic sheets are on a thinset bed and are protected by tape on the front of the tiles for 24 hours before grouting. The backsplash already is looking gorgeous!

In October 2020, I stumbled across a tile pattern from New Ravenna on Pinterest that intrigued me. I decided to dig into the company’s website, and that’s where I spotted Margot in Dahlia, Indigo, Cornflower, Hydrangea and Lotus. It appeared the shade called Cornflower actually matched our “Life Is Better at the Lake” sign perfectly! Margot was it. I was in love.

New Ravenna makes custom glass and stone mosaics for residential and commercial applications. I reached out to New Ravenna in October and was told Margot was a custom mosaic so it likely would have a six- to eight-week lead time. That was OK; I didn’t need my backsplash for quite a while at that point. However, I ordered sample chips of Margot’s colors so I could view them in person within my kitchen’s natural and electric light. Just as I’d hoped, they were absolute perfection.

I asked Joe to leave the florets visible at the top and sides of the backsplash so the beauty of the mosaic was on full display.

By January, I was working with Paige, my account representative at New Ravenna. She recommended I provide a drawing with dimensions of the backsplash area. She said because of the template size and shape of Margot, it can be tricky to estimate the square footage needed without a CAD. Paige wanted to ensure I wouldn’t need any additional material after the fact, so my lot of tile would be consistent.

Ted, my cabinetmaker, had an old version of CAD so he literally hand drew the dimensions for Paige. (Did I mention how above and beyond Ted went for my kitchen?) Paige had a few questions from her CAD department for Ted, which made it clear to me that New Ravenna was doing everything it could to make my order right.

By February my order was in production, and by mid-March it was delivered to my house where it sat in our garage until late June. It took me that long to find a tile installer who was available to install the backsplash. Everyone is so busy in our neck-of-the-woods! When the installer who had done my husband’s previous backsplash and our fireplace stone, which was part of this remodel, was too busy to take the job, I reached out to Ted again. Ted recommended Joe, who came to my house to look at the project. He told me the job wouldn’t be ordinary but he could do it. I accepted his bid and, a month later, he had his team installing my backsplash.

Next challenge: choosing an outlet color. I asked my friends, Megan and Paige, at New Ravenna for guidance and ultimately chose black. I’m very happy with my choice.

My husband Bart and I actually were in New Jersey for the celebration of Dan Burke’s life, one of my retrofit colleagues, when Joe was ready to start. I had been waiting for this backsplash to be installed for three months, so Bart and I gave him the go-ahead to begin even though we were away. I can’t even tell you what it was like to come home to Margot on the walls! While I waited for its installation I had begun to doubt my choice. This is pretty typical. Until I can see something and be absolutely sure, I tend to begin wondering if it will work. Fortunately, my gut has not been wrong yet (in my opinion)! The moment I saw Margot on my walls I almost cried with joy. The backsplash truly is gorgeous and absolutely what my kitchen needed to be complete! (I should mention there was very little waste at the end of the job. I think there were two leftover florets and some loose pieces but that was all. Ted and New Ravenna’s CAD department estimated my job perfectly!)

A few days after the backsplash was installed, Bart ran into a lady in our town who happens to be related to Joe’s dad. (It’s a small town.) Joe’s dad actually helped install my backsplash and told her it was really unique and he enjoyed doing the project because he doesn’t get to do installations like mine every day. (I like that people are talking about Margot!) I couldn’t help but reach out to Joe to learn more. “It is definitely one of a kind,” he responded. “This was a fully custom backsplash for sure—a little more challenging to install than the norm but the extra time proved that the unique design and materials were worth it for the end result. It was a fun project to be involved with.”

My life comes full circle in Part 16 when a friend from college completes a few projects in our home.

Our counter stools perfectly match the Cornflower color in the Margot backsplash.

Read the previous posts in my home remodeling series:

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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