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When Brie Larson bought a hillside home in Malibu last year, she was really purchasing a place in Tuscany. By the look of the real-estate listing, the driveway leading to the single-story home is lined with Italian cypresses, and the large stone floors and exposed wood ceiling beams inside give it a rustic farmhouse feel. Then there’s Larson’s kitchen backsplash, which looks like it came straight from antiquity.  

The metal plate was front and center in a recent cooking tutorial video the Oscar-winning actress created with chef Joshua Weissman. The piece (possibly made out of steel) is covered in elaborate engravings, including an Aphrodite-like character. More intriguing than that, though, is the placement of the backsplash. Look around and you won’t see subway tile or stone. It’s only where it needs to be: over the cooktop. 

Celebrity photo

This strategic placement can be a major money saver if you’re looking to renovate. Designer Claire Thomas did something similar in her Big Bear Lake, California, cabin, swathing the wall over the range in graphic tiles from Fireclay. Her thinking? She could get her dream backsplash without spending a fortune. For Thomas, 16 tiles hit the sweet spot, but there’s a world of natural stone and cool metals to choose from. When you’re on a tight budget, less is definitely more.

Introducing Domino’s new podcast, Design Timewhere we explore spaces with meaning. Each week, join editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez along with talented creatives and designers from our community to explore how to create a home that tells your story. Listen now and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday.