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In fitting with last month’s topic of countertops, let’s tackle its sidekick, the backsplash. When it comes to designing kitchens, a backsplash can add personality and offer great opportunities for some clever design.

Before citing specific products, there are some practical considerations to explore when choosing your backsplash.
1. How easy is it to clean and how resistant is it to stains? This, for some buyers, is even more important that the design itself. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are highly regarded for being impervious to most stains, but glass tiles are also a safe and practical choice because a quick wipe with a wet sponge and they should look as good as new. Natural stone backsplashes are a bit riskier as they are often porous and harder to clean. Stone can also chip and can be permanently stained with grease or even red sauce. The natural stone finishes are so beautiful that they are still used often in kitchens but they need to be sealed against stain damage at least once per year. For minimum maintenance choose a backsplash which is smooth and non porous.
2. Determine your personal style. The kitchen is probably the hub of your home so your cooking space becomes a place for gathering and entertainment, all the more reason to have every design element reflect your personality. This can be traditional, transitional, contemporary or a combination of several looks. When choosing your style, you will be drawn to a certain look, while others will basically “turn you off”. Not sure of your style? Get out there and look around, you will know it when you see it!
3. Keep the “magic three” in mind: the floor, countertop and the backsplash. These three must work together for your kitchen to have a balanced look that is not jarring to the eye. If you happen to be replacing any of these elements, keep the other two in mind. Some new backsplashes have quite intricate designs that may compete with your granite countertop or busy floor pattern. The three should compliment each other evenly so one of them does not jump out but simply blend with the other two to create a cohesive look.

Now lets look at some ideas on finding the perfect backsplash for you. Subway tiles,(classic replicas of the rectangular white ceramic tiles used in the New York City subway), are crazy popular. They blend with any decor and if you are planning to sell, they are a perennial favorite with buyers. However, they have taken on a new life of late! You can stick to the classic white but they come in so many other colors, materials (including glass) and sizes. They can also be installed vertically for a totally different and modern look. The sky is the limit with these beauties!

Patterns like arabesque or basketweave include intricate details that can compliment the stylish elements in your kitchen. When choosing a “busy” pattern just make sure it doesn’t fight with the other patterns in the room.

Mirrored backsplashes can make the kitchen space feel bigger, while looking modern and stylish. They will pick up marks and fingerprints more easily, but they are easily cleaned with a quick wipe with vinegar mixed with water.

The most popular backsplash in contemporary kitchens is painted glass. Custom glass backsplashes are sized to your kitchen with pre-cut holes for electrical switches and outlets. The back of the glass is then painted to match your kitchen decor which provides a clean look for modern kitchens. Or, simply choose the glass tile of your liking and have it installed as you would any other tile.

You can literally elevate your kitchen by installing a 3-dimensional pattern! Stacked stone patterns come in 6×24-inch tiles consisting of honed marble in various thicknesses and depths for an intense texture providing a rustic vibe. (the only downside is the cleaning issue). If you match this backsplash up with an otherwise monochromatic kitchen the look will be stunning.

Another popular trend is to have bigger backsplashes. Instead of just tiling from the countertop to the cabinet, they can go all the way up to the ceiling. This feature is often used when open shelving is involved. However you use it, this application gives the impression of more height and space.

Simple tile-work as a backsplash works best in a kitchen with lots of windows and you can understand why. Its the whole idea of patterns fighting against one another.

Another way to mix things up a bit is to use different sizes of the same material. You’d be surprised by what a little bit of variety will do for the design.

If you are aiming for high impact keep in mind that high-end and attractive tiles will cost more per square foot than simple tiles. That is not to say that you cannot mix the more expensive tiles with less costly ones. Perhaps the area above your stove can be highlighted with the more neutral tiles surrounding it. Even with a small space, the right tiles and patterns will make an otherwise drab wall come to life.

Choose your adhesive and grout wisely, don’t scrimp as you get what you pay for. (as with most things!)

In terms of cost, a kitchen backsplash can be as expensive as your wallet allows. If you are creative with the design, less expensive materials cab create a bold statement. A professional kitchen designer can be a worthwhile investment. They can help mix materials to create a quality finish, while still working within your budget.

Your home is yours and you may pick any style or design of your choosing. However, if you ever plan to sell your home, try not to use a design that is so taste specific that you reduce your buying audience. For example, an entire mural from tile of the Ko’olau Mountains, or creating a mosaic from various colors of tiles as the backsplash can be too much for some people to take in. If you never plan to move, have at it!

Whether you choose porcelain, ceramic, glass or natural stone, your backsplash can be the update your kitchen has needed to give it a new, fresh and welcoming look!


Where can you go in Honolulu to enjoy excellent food and wine, AND gain insight from Chuck Furuya, one of the first Master Sommeliers in the US? The answer is Vino Italian Tapas and Wine Bar.

The vibe there is both energetic and charming. You dine in a friendly rustic wine bar restaurant. They have 20 wines by the glass and many hard to find, yet reasonably priced. Chuck likely will stop by your table to offer suggestions from the menu and wine list. I particularly have enjoyed the roasted Hamakua mushrooms, crispy cauliflower and linguini with clams. The Chef, Keith Endo, has traveled to Italy and recognizes the importance of locally sourced ingredients to prepare Italian dishes. He specializes in delicious fresh pastas.

Vino has special wine dinner and tasting events regularly. This week they, have fresh Pacific Northwest oysters prepared in different fashions. Twice this month, they have blind Cabernet Sauvignon tastings, one week wines from California the next from outside the US. Later in March, they feature Kona Cold Lobsters. ( “Kona” lobsters are actually east coast lobsters rejuvenated in seawater, pumped up from 2000 feet below sea level in Kona, Hawaii!).

Chuck will educate your palate to show you how refinement in wine shines. For example, he dislikes overpowering oaked wines. In time, you will understand and appreciate his perspective. He favors mineral driven white wines, rather than the buttery chardonnays others enjoy. In any event, you will learn and have fun. If you are more of a novice, attend their Wine 101, as well as Wine and Food Workshops, held on a regular basis.

Vino is open Tuesday-Sunday, 5:30PM -9:15PM Address: 500 Ala Moana Blvd #6f, Honolulu, HI 96813 You can have validated parking inside Restaurant Row Phone 808 524 8466



March 6th -8th … The Honolulu Festival spans for two days and includes: stage performances at Ala Moana Center, crafts fair in the Hawaii Convention Center with over 100 venders, an Ennichi Carnival, a grand parade dance competition, and many more events. Check out their website:

March 8th … Lace up your shoes for the Honolulu Rainbow Ekiden Run. This year as part of the Honolulu Festival, there will be an exciting relay race added. The Ekiden race originated in Japan and takes place between 3 to 5 runners. The course starts and ends at Kapiolani Park.

March 17th … Watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Waikiki. The parade begins on Kalakaua Avenue fronting Fort DeRussy and ends at Kapiolani Park, noon-1:30 p.m.

March 21st … It is time for the Rubber Duckie Race. Cheer your Duckie on to swim strong, as prizes will be given to the top 50 winners…out of 20,000 other rubber duckies racing in the Ala Wai Canal.

March 28th … Hawaiian Scottish festival and Highland Games will be held throughout the weekend in Ala Moana Beach Park near the McCoy Pavilion. Enjoy the live music, dances, sword fights and lots of games.

The Prince Kuhio Parade will be held on March 28th. Line up along Waikiki Queen’s Beach to watch a Royal Hawaiian parade pass through the streets on their way to Kapiolani Park for a day of celebration and honor of the late Prince Kuhio. Food booths, Hawaiian arts and crafts, and a line up of live performances will take place around the park bandstand. Make sure not to miss the Royal Hawaiian Band perform!


March 1st… The super American Circus will be held at the Blasidell Arena Stage.

March 1st and 2nd… The Bob James Trio will be on stage at the Blue Note in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort with their cool vibe.

March 6th and 7th … Professional tennis is coming to Hawaii. The Davis Cup will be held at the Arena Stage with the USA team challenging the team from Uzbekistan. For tickets, contact the Blaisdell box office or order online at Ticketmaster.

March 7th and 8th …Actor and singer, Wayne Brady, will entertain you at Blue Note Hawaii.

Carol Burnett will be at the Blaisdell Concert Hall on March 6th and 7th. Share an evening of laughter and reflection.

Mariah Carey is on tour and will give just one show in Hawaii at the Blaisdell Arena Stage on Tuesday, March 10th. Tickets are still available.

March 13th- March 15th … Blues artist, Taj Mahal, will perform at Blue Note Hawaii with special guest Willie K.

March 15th … The Wiki Wiki Vintage Collectible and Hawaiiana Show will be held at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. There will be over 70 vendors showing off and selling their collectibles. You’ll find just about everything here that’s at least 20 yrs old, including Aloha shirts, artworks, koa wood pieces, ukuleles, Hawaiian jewelry, Niihau shell necklaces, toys, coins and much much more!

March 18th and 19th….Singer-songwriter, KT Tunstall will perform at Blue Note Hawaii.

March 20th-22nd… Blue Note Hawaii welcomes pianist, Hiromi, to the stage to captivate you with her incredible talent.

March 21st and 22nd …Jeffrey Kahane performs dual roles as pianist and conductor in this program of classical masterworks by Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 4, Mendelssohn – The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave) and Schumann – Symphony No. 1 at the Blaisdell concert hall.

March 26th- March 28th … Grammy Award winner, Kool and the Gang, will bring the funk to Blue Note Hawaii with their foot-tapping performances of their golden hits.

March 27th … The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra will play the music of John Denver at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

March 27th…Daryl Hall and John Oates, the number one selling duo in music history, will rock the Blasidell Arena for just one night.

March 28th … If you enjoy beer, it might be fun to attend the Hawaii on Tap event at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall from 12:30 PM to 5 PM.. More than 100 beers can be sampled from 50 breweries. There will be live music and plenty of delicious food.

March 28th and 29th … The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra will perform Beethoven – Namensfeier Overture, Tchaikovsky – Violin Concerto and Elgar – Enigma Variations.

Kind regards,

Cathy, Mary and Jeff