Thursday, July 02, 2015

And I still can't get Nick to call me Khaleesi

After nearly six years in our house, we decided it was time for a kitchen back splash.

I'd never given any thought to a back splash. I didn't have one in my condo. I'm not overly observant, and didn't used to pay much attention to architectural details.

So it could be that the numerous apartments I'd rented over the years had one. Or maybe they didn't.

But you want a back splash, it turns out, so that when you splash things on the wall behind the sink or stove, you can wipe them right off. Like red wine, for example. Not a good splash.

Plus these back splashes, they can be pretty.

I'd never looked for tile before, so when Australian Builder took me to a tile place I was a little overwhelmed.

After 45 different attempts, I found a very pretty marble mosaic that I thought would do nicely.

They did the square footage and it turned out to cost oh, approximately 8 kabillion dollars.

At that point I actually started thinking about what I wanted. Like, about what fit our house and personality. (You'd think you'd start with that, and why do I never, ever start at the actual reasonable beginning?)

We have a Victorian house, so I started googling Victorian tile. Do you know about the Arts and Crafts Movement? I certainly didn't. But I'm now completely in love with so many designs from that era. Eventually I came across William Morris Tile.
The first thing I saw was this William De Morgan Persian dragon tile. Isn't he lovely? Or maybe she? I dunno. In any case, I now have two of him/her.

I contacted Christine, the owner/artist, who said she'd be delighted to talk tile with me.

Her original dragon set had 13. I asked if I could order 15, and she said, "Yes, but I wouldn't want you to have to do repeats. So let me consult my medieval bestiary and come up with a couple more."

She had me at Let me consult my medieval bestiary.

This is a phrase I hope to use one day.

So I bought a bunch of dragons and then set about choosing matching field tile. And then you need to choose a complimentary grout color and matching caulk (heh). So many decisions!

Christine said, "Don't pick light beige matching grout or it'll look like a summer camp project." So we picked a light silver. I think it's kind of perfect.

The project started in February with walls being ripped open and under cabinet lights being installed and then walls patched with white stuff but not actually repainted because we were going to tile in like 10 minutes!

So there was this loooong span of time in which Australian Builder was in Australia and then way too busy. And the walls were splotchy yellow and white with maybe an extra splash! or two. The situation deteriorated rapidly, is what I'm saying.

During this time, Christine made more dragons, and dangled them in front of me. Turns out I'm a sucker for a pretty dragon.

And in fact, she has so many delightful tiles that I love that I've been looking for other tiling opportunities. Eventually we're going to put these fantastical birds on a fireplace. And might we tile the sofa, for example, Nick?

Because they are just awesome and I love them so much and really, how can you have too many dragons, Betty bought me six more. Australian Builder was worried we had too many, and we'd be overwhelmed with dragons. But in the end, they all spaced well, don't you think?

We did wind up repeating two of them, which I think was perfect.

Christine very kindly gave me an extra dragon because she said that the Horus Deliciarum really ought to go with the 10-horned Apocalypse Dragon from the Lieber Floridus, and I hadn't ordered her.

There they are pictured below on either side of the switch that needs something done to the wiring, apparently. Nick said the wires got squozen when they got put back in.

India calls the one on the right of the outlet Lady Princess Dragon. Although I assume she's more of a queen.
I'm going to risk boring you by putting up the whole kitchen.
Here's the other side:
Sorry for my not-great photography skills. And hey, here's a used pan on my stove!
The flying gecko dragon on the end, uh, above the gin, is one of Nick's favorites.

In fact, we all have our favorites and when people come over, I love to hear theirs, and their reasons for it. Pretty sure I've weirded out at least one guest with my insistence on talking about them.

I love this basilisk dearly, mainly because his face reminds me of my dog Gloria's. OK, so technically they're not all dragons. They're more like fantastic beasts, I suppose.
India's favorite is the Japanese Baku, because it eats bad dreams. Christine said we needed a Baku, whether we got the tile or not. And who wouldn't want their bad dreams eaten?
A couple people suggested it sounded unusual when I told them that we were tiling our kitchen with dragons.

But I am just fine with being unusual, and I am super in love with them.


  1. Loooooooooove!!! And if and when I redo my kitchen, I am totally stealing this idea.

    1. Thank you! And you are more than welcome to. I adore Christine, and it's been so much fun choosing interesting tiles with cool history.

  2. That looks fantastic! I love the background, too. But those dragon tiles are so gorgeous and whimsical. I love it.

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! I feel like so much of life is tedious and humorless. If you can add whimsy, you ought to. I am certain you agree.

  3. love this! I saw the post and have been excited to read it all day and see the photos. The kitchen was beautiful before and now it's amazing - so unique and cool. You did a great job. Love the colors and shapes and details, truly art.

    1. Thank you so much, Heather! I love your aesthetic and it makes me feel good to know you like them!

  4. Love the magical beastie tiles! When I clicked the link to the Wikkiam Morris Tile website, they're now using a picture of your backsplash as the first picture on their home page! How cool is that!

    1. I know--Christine told me! So cool, right?!! Doesn't she have so many lovely designs?

    2. She does! I've fallen in love with "The Forest" backsplash..."The Beasts that be in woodland waste, now sit and see nor ride in haste". I may need to redo my fireplace just to have a place to put this!

  5. Beautiful! How I wish we had a home of our own to decorate. Some day....

    1. Thank you! I'd trade home decorating for your adventures. I really would.

  6. Four years later: we're finally going to do our kitchen! Your tile/background/grout combo is still an inspiration.
    As for favorites, I love the dragon eating a guy -- I like to imagine it's eating you-know-who. And I'm not talking about Voldemort.


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