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Make a Splash

Liven Your Kitchen with a Backsplash

Decorating your home can be a lot of fun, especially if you are someone who is highly detail oriented. Tricia Gerson of Hampton Bays, N.Y., fits that description. She bought a half acre of property in a beautiful waterfront town long before she even opted to build her home. For years she steadfastly made her mortgage payments and slowly paid off her debt. When she was free and clear of the land loan, she interviewed a multitude of builders to find the one, the only, the master creator who could design her dream home.

Gerson worked endlessly with the builder picking out her floors. "Beautiful wood!" she says. The tiles had to be marble, and the fixtures had to be brass. She even painstakingly poured through catalog after catalog, picking out the right backsplash for her kitchen. She settled on brown-and-white-speckled tile designed to complement her cabinets and enhance that normally plain and ordinary space behind her sink. She made it come to life with speckles. "We wanted something that would match the Formica cabinets," she says. In addition, Gerson wanted a "complete look to the kitchen with everything matching."

The Purpose
Backsplashes really serve two purposes. They are designed to enhance that deserted wall space in your kitchen, as well as to protect the wall from damage caused by the water. Think about it: When you are doing your dishes and scrubbing those pots and pans, you are destined to send a few drops flying in all directions.

When Rebecca V. of White Plains, N.Y., was selecting a backsplash for her home, she kept the two purposes in mind. "We thought about going with wainscot for a little while," she says. "It really was a toss up whether to go with it or tile, but we chose tile because wainscot behind the heat of the stove wouldn't work." Rebecca ultimately went with "blue painted Mexican tile to add a splash of color to the area."

The Facts
Backsplashes are often sold in sheets and feature an asymmetrical pattern for easy installation. Most can be installed quickly using liquid nails. Home Depot and other home stores offer workshops on how to correctly install a backsplash. The asymmetrical pattern allows for you to line up the pattern correctly after you've measured and cut.

Home Depot has a comprehensive kitchen and bath department. "We have backsplashes and materials in a wide range," says Jill, a kitchen specialist at Home Depot in Holbrook, N.Y. "Tile, wainscot, painted wall with faux finish, punch tin, stainless steel sheeting, mirror and marble." When installing your backsplash or ordering materials, Jill says make sure that you "measure fully from the countertops to underneath the cabinets" to ensure that you are ordering or installing the proper amount of material without gaps.

If you're looking for a backsplash that will truly make a splash, try Pacifica Tile and Art Studio (featured in the photos). A purchase of $200 to $400 gets you a choice from their vast array of colorful renderings, ranging from bowls of fruit to birds nesting in a tree. The Green Winged Macaw features a beautiful bird perched on an exotic tree branch. The colors are so vivid that the tiles offer a perfect focal point for the room. The tiles are available in ceramic, marble or glass.

Ultimately, when decorating, your goal is to make your home into your castle. Don't hesitate to spend time exploring different color combinations or materials. Remember, you can really liven up your kitchen in a quick flash by adding a colorful and beautiful backsplash.

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