July 10, 2017
Inexpensive white tiles were painted in bright colours and placed on the diagonal for a one-of-a-kind kitchen makeover.

Dear Debbie;
We are redecorating our kitchen on a small budget and want it to look artsy. We love colour and know from reading your columns that you will have a good idea or two. Thanks for your help.

Dear Antony;

The backsplash spaces in your kitchen present the perfect place/s to add colour and your own design details. There are lots of exciting options. If there are already tiles in place, you can paint over them with a good acrylic paint. Prepare them first by cleaning and sanding and applying a high hide primer that is designed for slippery surfaces. Apply two base coats of your chosen colour. Now, map out a design that will personalize the backsplah. You can add a border design with squiggles and lines or polka dots painted onto the tiles freehand. You can also use a stencil to fill in central tiles with a motif. It’s like painting a picture with the tiles acting like graph paper.

You may not have a tiled backsplash in place. Here are some other ideas. Buy the inexpensive white tiles and paint them to make your own design. You might want to check out the stunning tile choices that can be costly, and choose a small selection of embossed or glass tiles as a focal point. Then fill in the space with plain tiles.

Shown here is a backsplash I created for a small apartment kitchen that needed some fresh character. We applied tiles on a diagonal to break up the linear motion of the cabinets. Ceramic paint, found in craft stores, was used to colour the tiles. Dip a brush into the paint and brush it onto the tiles, always brushing in the same direction. Don’t worry about brush marks. They add an appealing naïve quality to the painting. The ceramic paint comes with directions on how to heat the tiles in the oven in order to set the paint colour. Once the tiles are all cool, apply them to the wall with tile glue and add grout.

Another option is to make your own mirrored tile design. Mirror tiles are cut to size using a glass cutter. Score the tile with one end of the glass cutter. To break, tap the tile over the score line. As the edges are sharp, wear gloves, and sand the edges once cut. Your design can include both mirrored and painted tiles. You can paint over the mirror with glass paint.

Dear Debbie;
I am painting my kitchen backsplash in a diagonal tile pattern. I’ve chosen a mid-tone colour for the tiles and want the grout lines to be shimmery mother-of-pearl finish so the grout stands out. Does that sound strange? Please tell me how to do this, what order do I paint?

Dear Catherine;

All you need to paint these faux tiles is lots of tape. First, prime the backsplash space and let dry. Next apply two coats of your mid-tone tile colour. You don’t say whether these will be glossy tiles, semi-gloss would look good. Let the base coat dry and set for 24 hours as you will be taping over it. Mark off your diagonal tile pattern with chalk lines. Lay down tape on each side of each chalk line creating ¼-inch grout lines around each faux tile. Use a small artist’s brush to fill in the grout lines with your shimmery paint. Remove the tape before the paint is dry so that you can do touch ups as needed.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie’s new website,