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Visual Story-telling Through Art & Interiors

(If you've already read this post, scroll down to the bottom for the updated images!)

One of the things that make my design process unique is the way I use art.  Many people think of art as an afterthought, or just an accessory.   When I can, I try to use it as inspiration to build a room from.   That is exactly what I did when designing my kitchen.  About 12 years ago, I purchased my first pieces of art, which included these two great vintage magazine covers.  I love their personality, history, and humor.  My goal was to evoke that *feeling* in our kitchen.  I also used a literal translation, by mimicking the colors in the art.  You’ll see the same colors in my barstool fabric, my cabinets, and even the cream background of the art is what I used in selecting my countertops.
Here are the vintage magazine covers I used.
Being a picky eater growing up, I could totally relate to wanting to feed the dog under the table…and anyone who knows me knows that while I’m a great cook, I can’t bake.  Every time I try, it burns & my hubby laughs at me…so you can see the immediate connection these pieces have with us!
My husband & I built this home.  So, the “before” was actually on blueprints.  Fortunately it was much easier to change a blueprint on paper than to actually knock down walls… The original design was very closed off to the rest of the home and had an extremely basic look.   So, the first element of design I tackled was the island shape.  If you are a baseball fan, like my hubby is, the *baseball diamond* shape may look familiar to you.  This was one way I was able to pull him into the space.  Because of the island shape, we had to build the rest of the space on the same angle.  I actually have a great working triangle & love the placement of the dishwasher in relation to the sink.
My latest project, which will be finished by the end of the week, is my penny backsplash.  Yep, you read that right…I’m adhering pennies to our wall.  (It is wonderful to have a husband who trusts my designs!) Why pennies?  Well, I really wanted copper.  Copper is pricey.  So, this was an affordable option.  Also, I have a connection to *pennies* that added to *our story*.  My grandmother who passed away several years back used to collect pennies.  When she passed, she left me a container of pennies from the year I was born.  Till this day, when we find a penny on the ground, we have to pick it up and say “Grandma Janeczko’s with us today!”   It is a fun way to keep her memory alive & in a room where our family gathers the most, I know she is smiling on us. 
More about the pennies…my husband isn’t as, ummm…how do I say…*artistic* as I…he is more *structured*.  So, in order for me to be allowed to glue pennies on the wall, he said they had to all be facing up.  We also didn’t want people to think we had an unhealthy obsession with Abraham Lincoln…(Ha!) so I alternated randomly between heads & tails.  We just love it.  It was the perfect final touch to bring texture, history, and uniqueness into our kitchen.  I googled & turns out I didn’t invent the idea, there are a couple other documented kitchens out there with penny backsplashes, so I was able to learn from other peoples mistakes when selecting products to use.  So, that is our Kitchen-story.  Come back soon as I will be updating the completed backsplash!  J     

Ok, so here is the finished backsplash!
It is Christmas time, so you can see my nativity set above the cabinets.  Below I have framed Christmas cards, from my aunt, featuring favorite images from "It's a Wonderful Life".

What do you think?


  1. I love your kitchen. I love all the personal touches you chose, and I love that you have oak cabinets (or maple?) because it seems they are so hated and most end up painted white. Your penny backsplash is great!

    1. Hi there! Thank you so much for the compliments. Our cabinets are actually cherry. Oak & pine are two of the most *affordable* I think folks feel ok with painting lower end wood. Oak can be identified by its deep veins & it typically has a yellow-orange color. (Which I think is what people hate-ha-ha) Yes, there certainly is a *trend* of painting everything white. Right now the US is in a HUGE DIY trend, so I think that is part of it. My personal forecast is that all the white will date itself & people will learn to appreciate the beauty of wood grain again. Most of my clients are already tired of the white. So, I'm already seeing a movement back to wood (and much reclaimed wood) in the Midwest. Thanks so much for reading my blog-hope you had a great weekend!

  2. Oh dear! I wrote a whole lot! Then is all erased!

    Here is the reason I left! to give you this link! My name is Penelope; nickname, Penny!

    Please read and watch this very short post that tells the story of my mother and father!
    (I know it sounds ho-hum; but it isn't!!!

    Please watch it! (I promise it is short!

    I have been a decorator for 42 years; my name is Penelope; my Daddie died when I was 4!

    He handed out rolls of pennies when I was born!

    I have one gold-plated one 1947; the year I was born! It is a charm on a necklace!

    Here is my website! My blog is part of it!

    May I do a blog post on this amazing use of Pennies? I was in tears when I stumbled upon it!
    You are a genius! and so is your husband!

    It is the most imaginative and creative backsplash I have ever seen! (even if my name were not Penny!!!)


    1. Hi *Penny*! My daughter's name is, Anna Penelope! We almost went with, Penelope as a first name, but thought it was hard for her to learn to spell (haha). Penny, is a very sweet nickname! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story! I would love for you to feature this in your blog! Feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions. (ps what a special video to have - i enjoyed watching that footage!) Enjoy what is left of the weekend!

  3. I love the personal touch your backsplash adds to your beautiful kitchen. What a wonderful way to remember your grandmother, too. I bet you smile every time you're in your kitchen!

    If you'd like to see my kitchen, you can take a tour here:

    1. Hi Jen, Thank you for stopping by & for your kind words! You have a lovely kitchen as well! I really like your pendants, and oh my you are so organized! :) Kitchens really are the soul of a home aren't they?! Thanks for sharing your link!

  4. Did you grout the pennies? What did you glue them with?

  5. Hi Carolyn, thank you for visiting our blog. As of right now we have not grouted. We really like the look without grout...but unfortunately in a kitchen we've found grout is a necessity. (flour can get in the cracks etc). So I will be grouting in the same color as my wall. I used a product that can be purchased
    at any hardware store, called "loctite" in clear. It comes in a caulk-like gun & is easy to apply. I ran a thin line (about 2' at a time) then used my finger to spread it out more flat. Good luck on your project! If you have any more questions feel free to ask!

  6. are you going to or have you considered sealing the pennies somehow so as to make it easy to clean like say if it behind the stove area? I am looking at doing this in my kitchen but would want to be able to wipe the area (without having to scrub the pennies) if grease or other items would happen to splash it? Looks fantastic

  7. @ Giraffe Lover
    I apologize for missing this comment! We thought about sealing them, but I was unable to locate anything that can be applied after they were installed. I would recommend, doing a test board flat and making sure whatever chemicals are in it won't oxidize/tarnish the pennies. If not, maybe apply them to a board first and seal, then install on the wall. Otherwise, maybe a scratch-resistance acrylic over the pennies might work? Grout doesn't adhere to metal, so I'm unable to grout mine-there is such a tiny gap, that it doesn't bother me. Thank you for the compliment. Best wishes on your project! Please post a picture if you do/did it! :)


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