Our New Kitchen Backsplash Crush Is (Spoiler!) Not Tile
Zellige, meet the competition.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:39 AM
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When Hotelette founder Allison Crawford first walked into the kitchen of her two-bedroom Austin loft project, she wasn’t seeing the light. Yet. “It was dark and small,” she recalls. So she switched up the layout, moving the whole room 25 feet closer to windows. Then, to amplify the natural light and open up the space, she chose an unusual backsplash: antique mirrors. The reflective material (a nod to the apartment’s Art Deco roots) immediately opened up the space.
The chunks of glass were tough to install but totally worth it. Crawford discovered the luminous panels on the Etsy shop Atlanta Mirror Marvel after a lengthy search process. Spoiler: The pieces aren’t decades old—they’re just made to look authentic with a smoke patina treatment. And Diana Skellenger, the contractor who worked on the project, was extra-particular when purchasing the handcrafted slabs from the vendor. “Unlike with tiles, there’s no room for mistakes during order or installation,” she says. While a definite investment (Crawford estimates the final cost to be around $2,000), the real deal would have come to at least double. Below, Skellenger and Crawford give us the backstory on the unconventional material and share tips for how to make it work in your home.
Skellenger had to be precise with her measurements when ordering the glass because the fabricator is the one who cuts the single ¾-inch-thick slab, including the holes for the outlets, before shipping it. Crawford, understandably, was on edge when the fragile piece was in transit, but, luckily, it arrived unscathed. The installers used a wet saw to cut the mirror into four separate slabs.
The Rest of the Room
Crawford’s goal for the aesthetic was to find a middle ground between old and new. “The owners wanted the room to be bohemian but sophisticated; eclectic but modern,” she says. The condo building was built in the 1930s, and the windows and terrazzo floors are both original to the place, so the antique-inspired glass was the cherry on top of the existing charm.
For a contemporary touch, Crawford chose high-contrast cabinets. The lower cupboards and the built-ins around the matte black refrigerator are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Railings, while the open shelves, hood, and walls are swathed in Benjamin Moore’s Super White—her go-to neutral. Crawford also sourced the hardware (a mix of vintage and new handles and latches, all in the same brass finish) from Etsy.
Not ready to financially commit to massive chunks of glass? Crawford recommends Ann Sacks’s collection of glass tiles ($80 per square foot) if you want a similar look on a smaller scale and tighter budget. Or if you’re not up for remodeling at all, stock up on antique mirrors and display them in a gallery on the wall. Your space will never feel brighter.
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