Before and After: This $0 (Yes, Free) Tile Refresh Looks Way More Expensive

published Aug 30, 2020
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: plain white kitchen tile behind a stove
Credit: lani kennefick

White tile is a nice, versatile addition to a kitchen: It looks good with everything, and makes cook spaces look bigger and brighter, to boot. But sometimes plain white can feel a little uninspiring. Lani Kennefick knew she wanted to do something with her simple white backsplash in her Portland, Maine rental. “The tiles are plastic, and have been painted over many times,” Lani says. “The plastic tile was a perfect canvas for something more interesting.” A paint job would not only add interest, but would also make them look refreshed.

Credit: Lani Kennefick

Lani finally found a pattern she liked on cement tiles, and wanted to copy it for her own. She used paint and supplies—including stencil brushes—that she already had on hand for the project, bringing her total cost to $0.

Credit: Lani Kennefick

Mixing colors for her paint job was the longest part of the process, since Lani was only using what she had on hand; it took a long time to mix them into the exact colors she wanted. Lani used paper to create her stencils, which were a simple triangle pattern. Then, over a few hours, she applied paint to the tile while leaning in over her range—back-breaking work, but worth it!

Credit: Lani Kennefick

The two simple triangles on the stencil create a dramatic zigzagging shape on the wall that looks extra effective in two different colors. The green is a close match to the counter color, while the dusty blue adds some contrast.

All told, the project took just a little over three hours, which is impressive for the level of impact the after brings. Lani’s tile is proof that tiny projects can totally change the look of a space—all without having to spend a cent.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.