Garden Stone Kitchen Backsplash Tutorial {how to backsplash}

The kitchen isn’t really “show ready” yet and the lighting today is awful, but I just couldn’t hold off showing it to you any longer.  The stone backsplash that I started last August…yes AUGUST…is finally finished!  I’ll share the tutorial on how we did it, but first let’s look at the back of the cabinets.
I wanted to brighten and lighten this space as much as possible so used some beadboard wallpaper (purchased at Lowes for $15/roll) and hot glue to line the backs of my open cupboards.  My paper was pre-pasted, but I wanted to be sure I could easily remove it later if needed.  And because I’m a genius when it comes to cutting a straight line, I ended up with this lovely cut…on both sides of my cabinet.  Gah!

No worries.  I’m used to this sort of thing.  Every project I do has some sort of glitch which requires special creativity due to my own specialness.  I rummaged through my craft closet and came up with this…  What doesn’t look cuter with a little ruffle action?

With the backs of my cabinets done, I moved on to finishing the backsplash.  I used this product from Home Depot called Simple Mat to adhere the stones to the drywall.  This stuff really is quite awesome.  It’s like a giant double-sided sticker that you place on your wall.  You can start and stop tiling at your leisure which is very cool, but what really sold me was the couple on the front happily working together.

Here’s my guy.  He doesn’t look quite as happy as the guy in the picture, but we actually made it through this project without arguing which is more than I had hoped for!  (My guy loathes all things diy.  He puts up with me and all my demands quite well considering.)

The stones I used for the backsplash came in square tiles from the Christmas Tree Shop and cost $2.50 a square foot.  I think it cost us around $75 in stones for the entire kitchen on all three walls.  Not too shabby!

Once the stone was up, I took my premixed grout in Dorian Gray (did you ever read that book?) and just rubbed it all over the stone.  I tried piping it in with a frosting bag.  I tried carefully smoothing it with a tile smoother thingy.  In the end, just globbing it on and smearing it around worked best for me.

Once you’ve covered the stones, they  will look like this.  Don’t panic!

The next step is the most important one and the most tedious.  Hubs couldn’t quite get the technique down on this one, but it’s not hard, just detail oriented.  Watch this 1 minute video to see how to smooth out the grout and make it look pretty.
Once you have wiped (and wiped) all the excess grout away, you’ll end up with this!

Oh yes, and I should mention that we totally didn’t do the outlets the right way.  You’re supposed to use electrical box extenders and pull your outlet out so that it sits flush with your stone.  This was going to mean another trip to Home Depot for me, and I didn’t feel like it.  Therefore, we taped off the outlets and I grouted and then caulked around them.  The covers still come off (I think).

The baskets with my cute homemade chalkboard tags contain all of our vitamins, meds, and supplements :).
I’m still styling the cabinet above the stove and doing something with my bar stool backs and then I’ll show you the kitchen in its entirety!
No, it’s definitely not my dream kitchen but I think it’s come a long way from where it began!  Here is the before if you recall….
And here is is now…

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  1. - Brittany says

    Hey now! I love those stones. Very nice. And the open cabinets looks nice too. Thank you so much for sharing your kitchen process. It is giving me some great ideas. Now if I can only convince PHGuy that butcher block counters would be gorgeous.

  2. Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality says

    Beth, that looks really pretty! I remember that messy grout. Great job on your kitchen reno, it is looking fab.

  3. Nancy says

    I love it!! and you've inspired me to leave some doors off on the kitchen cabinets of the house we've just purchased!! I know I'm too chicken to attempt the stone and grout haha but would consider those glass tiles that come in square thingies. Thanks so much for sharing all your ups, and downs, with us :) ~ Nancy

  4. Randi~Dukes and Duchesses says

    I love it! I just looked at that tile setting mat at Home Depot … so glad to hear a report about it. Your rocks look great!

  5. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says

    Big difference, Beth! And that's only the portion you are showing us. I love the skirt you added under your sink and the stone backsplash finished up nicely. I think your guy looks pretty happy considering he doesn't like DIY! I would have done that to the beadboard wallpaper. I do that all the time ~ paper, fabric, hair. If you want anything cut crooked, I'm your girl! Well, you are, too, apparently! ; )

  6. Leanne says

    That looks so great. It's so much lighter and more open now. The rock backsplash and open cabinets are my favorite. I'm painting over my red right now too. I still like it but it's too dark.

  7. Jemsmom says

    Girlfriend!!!!! That looks A-MAZ-ING!!!! I love it! I have to say I was a bit leery in the beginning, but I am sold. That is gorgeous!

  8. Danielle @ Transforming Home says

    Yea! So happy to see your kitchen…and I love it! I am in the process of a small reno myself…bought some cool morroccan tiles for the backsplash but now I'm afraid to install it! You are helping me get the nerve up…..or maybe I should just hire someone…


  9. Myra @ The Casabella Project says

    Great, GREAT job, girl! :) The stones add so much character to your kitchen. I also love your baskets of "meds!" :)


  10. Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma says

    Totally read Dorian Grey in high school. We seriously have the SAME kitchen cabinets. I didn't want white because I am a messy cook, {although I sometimes regret it now}.

    Dark wood feels like home to me.

    Your backsplash brings so much texture to the space…

  11. Traci says

    I just saw this product at Home Depot this weekend. It is great idea. I love your rock backsplash.

  12. vanilla bean says

    Progress on the kitchen! Yay Beth!! It looks great! Me and hubby have been talking about doing glass subway tiles, but I actually like the look of this way better!!

  13. Christan says

    Oh. my. goodness. I absolutely love this. We need to do something with our kitchen to make it more "me". We don't have the funds to totally remodel, and the stones are wonderful, and this may just have to become our summer project! :) Thanks!

  14. laxsupermom says

    Love the backsplash! It looks amazing! I can't believe you got the pebble mats at the Christmas Tree Shops! Who knew? Your kitchen is looking terrific! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Jensamom23 says

    Beth, it looks amazing! Not wanting to make ANOTHER trip to Home Depot for the proper electrical thingies and cutting such perfect lines are things that I may or may not have done….just sayin'.

  16. Patti says

    This backsplash is beautiful…and I love your kitchen…especially the color on the walls – well done!

  17. Traci@ Beneath My Heart says

    Beth, your kitchen is looking amazing! I love the stone backsplash.
    Great job, girl!!

  18. InMyOwnStyle says

    Hi Beth-

    I just love what you did – what a nice way to bring nature indoors, too. It looks great. Must have been fun swirling around all the grout.

    My best- Diane

  19. Ms. A says

    Wow!! So pretty!! Thank you for sharing the video – I would never have figured out what to do! I'll keep this in mind for when we get our forever home.

  20. a4a8c284-3941-11e0-bd8d-000bcdcb2996 says

    Hey Beth…I think it looks fab….

    So hope you had a nice Mother's Day…I have been out West visitng my kiddos and Grand Furbaby LOL

    I am looking forward to seeing the WHOLE kitchen :)

    All the best,
    Kathy :)

    ps I tried the blush you use from Target, OMG loveeeee it

  21. Ashley says

    Looks awesome Beth!! I've been debating on whether or not I want to take off a couple cabinet doors in my kitchen and I think you just talked me into it. 😉

  22. GinaE says

    WOW great job on your backsplash! Many thanks for the info on the tile setting sheets. I think this is finally what I need to try and brave making my own. We have never had a backsplash and I have always wanted one, but couldn't afford to have one done. Great to know the bead board wall paper is cheaper at Lowes than Home Depot. Also, I was going to email you and ask how you do your grout, so thanks for already answering that. I think I have to be your biggest fan!
    Love you and you blog!!!

  23. Carol-Anne (Use the Good Dishes!) says

    Visiting from Addicted 2 Dec……

    Great job! What an amazing transformation!

  24. Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating says

    Beth, it looks amazing! Your entire kitchen is really beautiful, and such a drastic change from the "before" picture!! It looks so warm and inviting and charming now.

  25. Chris says

    It is seriously a brand new kitchen. I can't get over it. When you slapped that grout over it, it looked like it would never come off. Scary! Not for you, of course. You're a true DIY warrior!

  26. A Stone Gatherer says

    LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!! I so want that!!! Now question for you. You said you bought the stones in a square. What if you have all separate stones? You see I am a stoneaholoic and every time we go up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan I come home with buckets of all shapes and sizes and would like to use those. Is that possible???

  27. Jenny Lee says

    Looks Phenomenal! l love the natural elements in the kitchen, the soft curves of the stone are a nice contrast to the clean lines of the cabinetry. Softens things up a bit.
    @A Stone Gatherer, you can find an adhesive at Lowes made by Keraset that is premixed in a tub. I believe it is plainly called "Type 1" and if you use a grout tool, you can spread it on your wall and apply the stones individually. It is super sticky and works great! I used it to apply 1" slate tiles on my backsplash.

  28. Chrissy says

    Very pretty! Love the idea of using stones as a back splash. =)

    Also, the new paint color looks great too.

  29. Sewn Inspirations says

    Oh, I just love this unique backsplash! Thanks for the idea, I'm inspired now! I wanted something different, other than tile, but just didn't come up with an idea yet. This is great!

  30. Sandy says

    Hi, I loved viewing the kitchen pics (although the one-minute video had an error occur, so I couldnt’ see it..), esp the stone backsplash – how creative is that?!
    Since we remodeled our kitchen a couple of yrs ago, one comment I might add is a good idea is to place the outlets on the under side of the cabinets, so they don’t show on the wall. My SIL did this and it’s nice not to see them interrupt the backsplash or other decorating ideas. I don’t know a lot about electrical wiring, so could be this is more of a headache to implement than it’s worth, but the resulting outcome is much less of an eyesore. Ok, that’s my 2 cents worth for the day – take care, all!

  31. Karen says

    I like how your kitchen turned (or the part that’s finished anyway!). We used the stones part way up the walls in our powder room. Our daughter-in-law has her degree in interior design so the powder room was her’s to do as she pleased. The top of the walls are painted in grey sand paint and my husband built the cabinet for the sink, stained in black and distressed. The light over the sink is an outdoor light and the mirror has achisled edge. I’ve gone the beach route for decorations with pictures of the ocean and lighthouses and jars of shells sitting around.

  32. Andrea says

    We recently found the same stones in at The Christmas Store for the same price. I love the way it looks as a backsplash. We are planning on using them in a small guest bathroom (no shower) just on the floor. I just have one questions? Did you seal the tile after you grouted?

  33. says

    Hi Beth – I remember seeing this post a long time ago and put it in my mental file for “to do” projects. Today I came across the same garden stone tiles at Dollarama (here in Canada) and picked one tile up to see what it would look like in my kitchen. We’ve lived here 13 years and never done anything with the backsplash and still don’t have a huge budget to work with. I love the look of stone or brick for a backsplash so I’m thinking this could be a good idea. My husband’s a little leary of it working well. Sooooo, tell me, how has it stood up over time? Are the stones staying put, chipping, falling off? Would you recommend actually bringing out the electrical boxes or did your method work fine? And, as another reader asked, did you put any sealer on at the end?
    Your advice would be welcome!

  34. Julie says

    The Christmas Tree Shop… it a chain, does it have a website? The Christmas Tree Shop we have here ONLY sells very expensive Christmas items. :-(

  35. Cara Bohart says

    I just Love this stone look. I have been collecting small stones on my travels, but I can see I will need a whole lot more to finish the job. Thank you so much for the info. Your kitchen is so warm and inviting.:)

    • Beth says

      Christi, so sorry that the link is broken. I have no idea why Vimeo isn’t allowing my link to work. Unfortunately, my hard drive crashed since creating the video so I no longer have the hard copy. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

  36. Willette Norris says

    You wouldn’t believe how much this helps me! I have already bought the rocks and was thinking is this right? It matches my granite perfect and we have a rock fireplace in our living room. You really helped me make up my mind to get with it!! I love it!! Thank you!!
    Btw, my cabinets are exactly like yours 

  37. says

    You wouldn’t believe how much this helps me! I have already bought the rocks and was thinking is this right? It matches my granite perfect and we have a rock fireplace in our living room. You really helped me make up my mind to get with it!! I love it!! Thank you!!
    Btw, my cabinets are exactly like yours :)

  38. ImaReck says

    Just wandering if you could explain in a little more detail about how to wipe off the excess grout. Is it with a wet or dry cloth, and if wet just water? I would have loved to see the video of this you didn’t happen to put it on youtube by chance. Really like this idea.


    • ImaReck says

      Also can you tell me, how has it stood up over time? Are the stones staying put, chipping, falling off? Would you recommend actually bringing out the electrical boxes or did your method work fine? And, as another reader asked, did you put any sealer on at the end?

      • Beth says

        ImaReck » They look beautiful and “new” over a year later. No chipping, or stones falling out whatsoever. I think if you can easily bring out your electrical boxes, then do so. It is certainly the more professional route to go, but I haven’t had any trouble with my method. And yes, I used a wipe on grout/tile sealer.

    • Beth says

      This is the only video that I’ve ever done on Vimeo instead of Youtube and I obviously will never host one over there again. So sorry the link is broken. I wet a sponge and using my index finger as pressure through the sponge I “traced” around the stones. It was tedious work. If you simply wipe the grout over the stone it doesn’t give the stone as much dimension and your stones look “stuck”. So lots and lots of rinsing the sponge and wiping off grout to get a good look.

    • Beth says

      Hi Martha, you can see me updated kitchen here to see how fantastic the backsplash still looks. I haven’t had any trouble with it at all. I bought the garden tiles over two years ago but I see them pop up in the store every Spring/Summer so be on the lookout for them soon.


  1. […] This next backsplash does resemble one we described earlier, but the stones used are a different size and are installed using a very different technique. These little stones cost around $2.50 per square foot so expensive is not part of the equation. If you want to do this or something similar, the effort required for this DIY project is less than you might expect to create the finished wall you see here. Apply the required grout carefully to the wall area, smoothing it over the entire surface. Then take each irregular shaped sheet of small stones and place it on the grouted wall, setting each sheet so the stones eventually cover the entire wall in an interlocking pattern. Voila, the garden stone kitchen backsplash is now ready.{found on homestoriesatoz}. […]

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