Removable Tile Backsplash (My Mini Kitchen Refresh!)

When we moved into our home last summer, I knew I wanted to do some sort of mini makeover. Although I know a full kitchen remodel is in our future, we wanted to save it for last so we had more time to plan and save up for a true dream kitchen. I learned (via my DMs) that it’s a HOT debate whether a phase one makeover is totally worth it or a big waste of money. I’ll explain why I am on team-totally-worth-it below.

First, here’s how our kitchen looked when we moved in:

As you can see, it’s a nice kitchen. It’s an upgrade in SO many ways—most of all, space. There’s so much cabinet and counter space. The downside, however, is that it wasn’t/isn’t our style and it didn’t have much personality … unless the personality is “mid-’90s rich people kitchen.” In that case, she’s right on target.

At first, I was very hung up on the granite counter on the island and wanted to change it. But, after putting in a lot of thought, we decided to leave the bones of the kitchen (including my foe, the granite island) alone.

Instead, we opted for an easy fix that gave us one “cute” view for the kitchen. I used some removable vinyl tile from Etsy to cover up the mirrored backsplash. Since I picked a colorful and trendy pattern, it immediately brought some FUN to our kitchen. I spent a little over $200 on this upgrade. I understand how it could be viewed as “a waste” to some, but HEAR ME OUT. I have some thoughts on why this expense was completely worth it! Keep reading …

Here’s a link to the material. It is the same thickness as stick-on wallpaper. It is NOT tile. However, once you install it, it looks just like real tile! I like how thin it is because it’s very easy to install. We did paint the mirror before installing, mainly in case it showed through the cracks. I recommend this if you have a dark surface because it will make your tile appear more bright (again, this is a thin material) and it’s a piece of vinyl.

Why a phase one makeover is TOTALLY worth it:

1. I love my kitchen NOW. 
Loving your space matters. Even if it’s just for a year, it matters. I am highly affected by my surroundings and a year and a half (which is the soonest we will remodel this space) is a long time. In my opinion, if you can do a mini makeover that takes a day or a weekend and it’s affordable to you, GO FOR IT. You don’t have to hate your space while waiting to remodel. Sometimes something as simple as a coat of paint can make it more cozy and comfortable for you.

2. I get to try a new style with less commitment. 
I will be honest, before this pink stick-on tile, I would have chosen a solid tile for our future backsplash. I just know there’s no chance I would have considered something this bold. But after having lived with it for a month or so, I am LOVING the vibe and I would definitely consider a more bold look for our remodel. This is amazing. I got to try something I would have been too scared to do and it changed my feelings—I’m now way less scared of patterned tile! I’m surprised (but really happy about) how much this changed my plans.

Use your mini makeover as a chance to experiment!

3. The mini makeover makes me feel less anxious or in a rush to renovate.
I have always been really bad about rushing, which can be good in some situations, but renovating is definitely NOT one of them. The mini makeover helps me feel more satisfied and content with our current setup, which makes me less likely to rush into a renovation I haven’t full planned. I love that it takes the edge off. I tend to get very frustrated early in renovations when it feels like it’s not going fast enough, so these mini makeovers can be a satisfying creative outlet if you’re feeling that way.

Thanks so much for following along. If you have strong feelings about mini makeovers, I’d love to hear them in the comments! xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Kelly. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop
  • Would something like this work on a tile backsplash where the last homeowners had used two different kind of tiles that were different sizes and thicknesses? I HATE our current backsplash but an update isn’t in the budget right now.

    • Hi Sophie! These are vinyl stickers, so they work best on a smooth surface.

  • Wow! This story is on point. I’m looking for cool tiles like this to create backdrops so thanks for this. Love the pop of color on white. Thanks for sharing and posting the link.

  • Hi! I love this makeover and especially love the backsplash! I was looking at ordering it for myself and the Etsy listing was a little confusing to me. What did you order to get this? Was it multiple individual tiles or one large sheet with a tile pattern printed on it? I really appreciate the help! 🙂

    • Hi Abbey- the tile comes as sheets and you can cut it as you install. I hope that helps!

  • Gorgeous! I feel the same way about more permanent changes, knowing I’d have to spend $$$ if I suddenly changed my mind! This looks amazing. I love the retro patterns popping up everywhere.

  • i love it!!! i am 100% on team phase-one-is-worth-it. my master bathroom felt clean for the first time after i did my phase one and i was so much happier using the space. i finally did my phase one on my disgusting everything-is-the-same-tone-orange wood kitchen this year and i am SO MAD it took me 4 years to get it done. it’s SO much brighter and better and was worth every ounce of energy i spent doing it. i didn’t use cabinet paint, but it cost me about $200 in new materials and being able to actually see what you’re cooking is invaluable.

  • A little kick to get you through to the big Reno is a fabulous idea and not a waste at all. Happiness is a major factor for me in my spaces and I need to feel like I’m not just getting by… ☺️

  • I love mini makeovers! When I first moved into my house, I knew I couldn’t live with the dark black laminate countertops. So I slapped some thick, good quality, textured, concrete-finish contact paper (from Amazon) on the counters and I was instantly so much happier!! I don’t know how I’m going to fully renovate the kitchen yet, but being able to take my time and think through what the space actually needs is so helpful. The mini makeover let me slow down, listen to my house, and not make costly mistakes.

  • I love the update! Can you share where you bought your olive oil dispenser spouts? I don’t like the flap on most spouts and haven’t seen any like yours. Thanks in advance!

  • I so agree about mini makeovers–we bought a house last summer, and want to remodel the upstairs, but our current focus is on installing a fence and refinishing the basement, which was trashed due to them using it for a grow room.

    That being said, I have to live and work in the upstairs everyday, and while it was totally fine, it was still a drag. So we dedicated a weekend to repainting the kitchen, and I hung stick on backsplashes and some art. It’s not perfect, but wow does it make a difference!

  • I’m all in for the vinyl tiles. I’m going to use different colored tiles that I bought from various stores on Zulily, as backsplashes in two bathrooms and a kitchen: Red in the master bath, Mediterranean blues and grays in the kitchen and pink and white in the guest bath. I hope this will liven up the golden brown cabinets and weathered countertops. I’m going to paint them next. I’m retired so keeping costs down is a must

  • I guess I am a little of two minds here. To use finite resources that cannot be reused is wasteful.
    I don’t like wastefulness.
    I do love updates that will improve my home. To buy second hand/vintage when possible and save up and buy quality when vintage is not an option. And reuse what I already own and change things up.
    I would also cover up that mirror because…. yes the reasons you gave 🙂 And 1-2 years is a considerable time living with things you don’t like.
    Would I have used plastics to do it? Maybe. I would look into eco friendly alternatives and that might be plastic. (consider production, transport, time etc…)
    The pattern is lovely in your space and I understand that you love it. It does look beautiful.

  • I love the refresh! Do you mind sharing where you got the salt cellar and the utensil basket? Thanks!

  • Thanks for this! We have a very ugly bathroom that we’d like to completely gut, but some of the things we hate about it (like the short vanity and small fiberglass tub) are actually sort of appropriate for our toddler, so putting off the renovation makes sense. I’ve been debating about whether it’s even worth spending time and money on cosmetic fixes right now when we’re planning a renovation sometime in the future, but you make a good point that it’s a bummer to hate a room that you use every day. I would love a tutorial about how to install stick-on tiles around toilets and other oddly shaped bathroom fixtures!

  • I’m very pro mini/phase 1 makeovers. For people who don’t have a lot of money, it can be YEARS before they can afford a major renovation, or it could never happen at all. To say the only worthwhile makeover is the big expensive one is basically to say those with less money are foolish to improve their homes in small, affordable ways. Which is so obviously not true! Creative, inexpensive solutions can have such a huge impact. People make a truly beautiful homes without big-reno money. I’ve loved all your mini makeovers, and they are inspiring to those of us you like to or need to work with what we have.

  • Totally with you on the mini-makeover. Living in a space I hate for a year seems silly when changes like this can make all the difference.

  • I love this kitchen mini refresh. I had no idea that this type of product existed.
    I don’t think I have ever seem a mirrored backsplash. That would drive me to distraction.
    I look forward to your ideas for a full kitchen makeover.

  • I am totally pro mini makeover! I also am very affected by my surroundings and seeing something ugly or totally not me every day stresses me out! I got some similar vinyl tiles to cover gross old tiles in my entry way as a temporary fix until I have the time, money and capacity to replace them with real tiles. I spent $300 and they make me SO HAPPY. The space looks so much better, and it inspired me to do a couple of other easy things with paint in the area that really pulled everything together.

    Your kitchen looks super cute and very you now. 🙂 Have you ever considered doing marble contact paper on the granite temporarily? I’ve seen a couple of other bloggers do it and it looks pretty good for a short term solution!

  • I love seeing the mini makeovers because they are often renter-friendly!

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