Two of my favorite things are travertine and subway tile.  This project mixed them both into a fantastic backsplash at a beautiful home near Bloomfield, IN.  The homeowners had been working on their kitchen for some time and was ready to finish it up with an eye-catching backsplash.

When I first met these clients they hadn’t quite decided on what they wanted for tile.  They had picked up some samples and we talked about ideas.  They ended up choosing this beautiful travertine 3″ x 6″ subway tile from The Tile Shop called Jinshan Coffee from Rush River Stone Studios.  Sounds nice, eh?  Anyway, it’s a filled and polished tile.  That means that all the typical voids that are natually found in the travertine are filled and polished to make the surface smooth and easier to clean.  It still has plenty of natural stone variations left to show off.

Before I dove into laying the tile I started by setting out a sample on the counter to see how things would go together.  I really wanted to finish with whole pieces on either end and have the layout be centered on the sink.  Since it was subway tile, I would be alternating each row, but I had to figure out which configuration to start with so that things would end nicely by the time I got to the top row.

The decorative strip looks like a piece of metal, but it is actually some sort of ceramic-looking molded piece that was easy to cut with my tile saw.  When using relief pieces like this that have such a design on the face it’s important to be careful when you get to grouting the tile.  It’s best if you can avoid getting grout into all those small nooks and crannies, but that is much easier said than done.  First, I tried to cover the face of the tile with some painter’s tape to keep grout out, but alas, the tape would not stick!  That left me with the option of just being careful with the grout and then cleaning it obsessively with a small stiff-bristled brush as I was cleaning the grout off of the tiles.  This was work, but totally worth it to produce a remarkable backsplash.

One other detail that is truly high-end, were the stone outlet covers.  They are actually crafted from natural stone, including all the screw holes and indentations to fit over the outlets.  They are beautiful and finish the backsplash well.  If you install some, just be extremely careful.  Stone can be fragile anyway, but when screwing it onto an outlet be extra extra careful to apply just the slightest pressure and then get away!  I tried to handle them as little as possible so I wouldn’t accidentally break one.  To my relief, they showed no signs of weakness and blended in well with the travertine.