Renovation Diaries

This Scandi-Style Kitchen Redo Features a Brilliant Chic-but-Cheap Backsplash Hack

published Aug 17, 2021
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Credit: Petra Ford

Renovating a kitchen comes with a million decisions, and an endless loop of Well, if we spend on this, we have to cut back on that. The trouble is you can quickly run out of things to cut back on. 

Not so for Jennifer Maxcy, who renovated a 1958 ranch outside of Los Angeles with her husband. She thrives on being as resourceful as is humanly possible, thanks to a very clever mind that can spot some inexpensive wood paneling at a hardware store and conjure up a vision of it serving as a Scandi-vibed backsplash.

True story. 

Credit: Petra Ford

While most of us would immediately (and exclusively) think of tile for a backsplash, Jennifer wanted warmth and something to connect to other wood elements in the light-and-airy open-concept space. She also didn’t want anything that was too kitchen-y. (One of her many smart design tips when it comes to an open floor plan.) And so she went with something called pole wrap.

Not just a clever name, pole wrap is meant to wrap poles. The idea is simple: If you have less-than-pretty support poles in, say, a basement, you can wrap this thin, flexible, fluted wooden panel around the poles for a more considered appearance. And if you’re Jennifer Maxcy, you can think of other fun ways to use the material.

Credit: Photo: Petra Ford, Jennifer Maxcy. Design: Kitchn

Out of the entire kitchen reno (and it was a doozy!) using the pale wood paneling for the backsplash was her favorite decision. It was inexpensive (especially compared to trendy tile). It’s got major Scandi appeal. It’s warm and earthy. And it sets this kitchen apart from so many that all look alike. 

Credit: Petra Ford

“It elevated the design,” Jennifer says, and besides costing less than $100 for an eight-foot-sheet, it was easy to install as a DIY project, saving even more money. You’d never know by looking at it that it cost so little … or that it wasn’t meant to be backsplash.

See Jennifer’s Full Reno Diary