We covered a thin piece of plywood (luan) in a richly patterned fabric, then attached picture frames to the fabric-covered panel and fastened the panel to the wall. We used different sized frames but painted them all the same color to give the backsplash a uniform look.
hot-glue gun and glue sticks
a 1/8" to 1/4" luan panel
picture frames in various sizes (we got ours at the thrift store)
paint for frames (we used chocolate brown)
pictures for frames (we printed out sepia images)
1 to 2 yards of fabric (depending on size of backsplash)
sandpaper (for frames)
hook-and-loop tape (self-adhesive or glue-on kind) (optional for placing frames on fabric)
scrap molding and trim
paper bags and a marker to make a template
optional: 1/2" wood trim for edge around the backsplash
Make a template of the backsplash area with a large piece of paper (we used paper bags taped together). Make an exact cut around edges and double-check the measurements.
Use the template to outline your cutting area on the luan panel.
Use a jigsaw to cut the luan. Double-check measurements and make sure the panel fits properly in the backsplash space.
Cut the fabric to fit over the wood panel, allowing extra to fold over the back side of the panel. Use spray adhesive to lay the fabric in place and smooth it out. Fold the fabric over the edge and glue down using a hot-glue gun. Seal the fabric with a coat of shellac.
Use a screwdriver to remove hooks or anything that sticks out from the back of the frames; the frames must lay flat on the backsplash panel. Sand and paint each frame the same color; let dry. Apply a second coat and let dry completely.
Add pictures to the frames and arrange the frames on the fabric panel.
Glue the frames down or use hook-and-loop tape to attach the frames to the panel. Using hook-and-loop tape will allow you to change pictures in the frames more often.
Place the panel onto the backsplash area. Find the wall studs and use drywall screws to attach the luan panel along its edges and into a couple of the studs.
If you want, place a small piece of wood trim around the edges and nail into place.
When it comes time to remove the backsplash, just take the screws out and fill the holes with joint compound.
Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.