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Kitchen backsplash and electrical outlets
Old 03-18-2017, 02:43 PM   #1
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Kitchen backsplash and electrical outlets

Another kitchen challenge. We have an intercom / music system that was in the original build of the house. It doesn't work well and is an eyesore, and needs to come out.

The control unit is in the kitchen, set into the backspash, we don't have any of the original tile and I don't see any option other that to retile the entire backspalsh. My question is, can we pretty much put the electrical outlets anywhere we want? Closer to the countertop, for example?

Second question - is retiling the backspash risky in some way? We have a functional kitchen and there is no need to change cabinets or countertop, and I'd hate to find myself having to do that because of some backsplash related problem.
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:17 PM   #2
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Our experience with outlets in the kitchen taught to be sure you know what code is for your location. Code for established a minimum distance to nearest water as well as decreed a minimum spacing between outlets. YMMV.
Another possible option for redoing the entire backsplash is to look for an acceptable scene (picture/graphic) that will fill you space and use complimentary borders as needed.
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:24 PM   #3
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One option would be an accent panel, either a different but coordinating panel of tile, or stainless steel.
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:25 PM   #4
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Not sure if this would work in your case, but DW is the tile person in our house and she faced a similar problem in our last house. She bought some very decorative large tiles and simply put them over the spots she wanted to cover up. It looked great. Sorry I don't have any pictures.
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:56 PM   #5
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Some decorative tile would be nice but DW feels it would be too disruptive. The hole left behind will be around 10" x 20" - she'd rather put in a new intercom system and at least keep the current "look". I don't mind spending money where it's needed, but not on an intercom system - it's just too retro and non-functional for me.

Good point about making sure the outlets meet code standards. That had not occurred to me and I can easily imagine an installer here not giving it a second thought.
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:58 PM   #6
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Yes, I'd definitely consider alternatives to re-tiling the entire backsplash. It doesn't matter what the hole looks like where that intercom-thing is, it's small potatoes to square it up and put some nice edge tiles around it.
1) There are really nice decorative tiles with any kind of fired-on design you might want. Roosters, country scenes, abstract art, etc. (oops--cross-posted with MichaelB. This suggestions conflicts with SWMBO . . .)
2) How about another built-in? Small fold-open knife-storage bin, paper towel holder, cubby for frequently-used spices, etc. It would give a nice custom look that could be cool.

About the receptacles--sorry, I don't know about the codes regarding distance from the countertop. Obviously, common sense says to keep them well above spills and water level. Regardless of code, I wouldn't put them lower than about 4-5", because that's the common height for ready-made backsplashes and I'd hate to set the next person op for expensive re-moving of them if they change countertops and go with an integral backsplash. IMO, having the receptacles higher is a convenience, it gets them out of the clutter down low and makes it easier to see what is plugged in and reach the plugs.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:08 PM   #7
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That looks like a good spot for a cookbook stand or a little smart TV.
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Kitchen backsplash and electrical outlets
Old 03-18-2017, 04:20 PM   #8
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Kitchen backsplash and electrical outlets

I have tile like that, as do a couple of friends. Seems that style is readily available. "Might" be able to color match closely enough to do a patch.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:24 PM   #9
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The house is DW's domain, but in the kitchen she reigns supreme - all I can do is try to influence. No complaints from me on this front.

I like the idea of a built-in of some sort, and have been thinking about options, but so far no good ideas. A touch screen control panel for some home automation, like a video doorbell and stereo system control. A cubby for some specialized storage.

The electrical receptacles are already 4 or 5 inches above the countertop level. My thought to move them was more one of aesthetics, get them out of view because they stand out in an unattractive way, but I see that's is looking like not such a good idea.

Appreciate the replies so far.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:28 PM   #10
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The electrical receptacles are already 4 or 5 inches above the countertop level. My thought to move them was more one of aesthetics, get them out of view because they stand out in an unattractive way, but I see that's is looking like not such a good idea.
To me, the receptacles stand out because the covers are white. If you replaced them with beige covers, they might blend in better with the tiles.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:28 PM   #11
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As far as the outlets go, look for some colored plates instead of the standard white.
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Kitchen backsplash and electrical outlets
Old 03-18-2017, 04:31 PM   #12
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Kitchen backsplash and electrical outlets

I suspect you have a hot wire feeding that intercom system that will need to be dealt with before you cover it up. At a minimum there has to be an access plate to it if it remains. If the wire just comes from the nearby outlet, you can probably remove it without much trouble. The speaker wires to the intercoms are likely low voltage and can just be covered with electrical tape, pushed into the wall and covered with your new drywall and tile.
One suggestion we're looking at adding as we remodel our condo is a small wall mounted water feature. There are a lot of nice ones out there, but hard to tell from the picture if it would work.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:36 PM   #13
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To keep the look consistent along the counter, are there tiles behind the stove that can be used to fill in the hole? Then, replace the stove tiles with accent tiles or a mosaic and it would look like it was that way all along.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:46 PM   #14
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Maybe mount a tablet (iOS or Android) as a smart/control display?
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:53 PM   #15
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Good spot for a mini wine chiller, or espresso maker.

I don't think there's any inherent risk in redoing backsplash if you went that route. And small tiles like that would be a pretty simple job. If you hired someone they'd be done in a day. That tile isn't terribly unique, and I bet if you shopped around you could find a 99% match. Not at a HD or Lowes, but an actual tile shop.
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:13 PM   #16
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You could eliminate the outlets from the current location and mount a product called plug mold up under the upper cabinets. This would allow you to tile right over the existing outlet locations.
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:03 PM   #17
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Not sure of your local requirements but new code requirements may require GFI or Arc-Fault outlets or breakers. Pic shows you should have a ground on the outlet but if wiring in the box is very old some hack electricians may just leave earth ground unconnected or (shudder!) even connect it to the return line. Just a heads up from someone with an older home...
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:12 PM   #18
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The white switch plates do make the outlets stand out. You could paint them to match the tile or buy new covers. You may want to replace the outlets too since they are white.
You could remove the intercom and the outlets and make a larger storage cubby. Put the outlets in the larger cubby on the side wall. No need to tile the cubby, frame it out in wood to match your cabinets.
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:20 PM   #19
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The white switch plates do make the outlets stand out. You could paint them to match the tile or buy new covers. You may want to replace the outlets too since they are white.
You could remove the intercom and the outlets and make a larger storage cubby. Put the outlets in the larger cubby on the side wall. No need to tile the cubby, frame it out in wood to match your cabinets.
+1. This is what I'd do.
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:35 PM   #20
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Too much w*rk, buy a new house.
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