Removing The Side Splash & Backsplash From Our Bathroom Sink

You might notice a theme when it comes to posts like this and this and this and this. Making this house feel like ours seems to be just as much about stripping things down and removing stuff as it is about adding new furnishings and wall colors. Just like the old matted carpets in the sunroom and the bathroom of our old house had to go (along with the crocheted duck curtains, the wallpaper, some small doorways, a few bi-fold doors, and the linen closet door) we’re all about working with what we have. Which could mean altering things a little bit to help them fit more within our aesthetic instead of just junking them and starting from scratch. Which is why the granite backsplash around the bathroom sink (which happens to live in a nook on one wall of our master bedroom) had to go.

Wait, before you get all nervous, let me explain. We thought the backsplash made the sink scream “Look! I’m a sink! In the middle of the master bedroom!” And removing it might make it whisper “Hey. I’m a sink. But I look more like a piece of furniture because I’m slick like that.” We don’t actually mind the location of the sink, we just want to make it fit in more with the rest of the room instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. So this little project is step one of that process.

Thanks to some waterproofed caulk around the edge and some semi-gloss paint on the walls of that alcove, we won’t have any issues with splashing or water damage (our last house didn’t have a backsplash in either bathroom and the caulk and semi-gloss paint approach worked like a charm. I would even venture to say that the caulk & semi-gloss paint method took a licking and kept on ticking. Yes I just pulled out that hokey little rhyme. You’re welcome.

So here’s how it all went down. First I scored the clear silicone caulk by running a box cutter along the top of the backsplash:

Then I scored the caulk between the counter and the backsplash using the same method:

Next I used a thin metal spackle knife to get in there behind the backsplash and the wall and pry it away slowly:

I was able to teeter (yes, that’s a technical term) each of the three backsplash pieces back and forth away from the wall and back again until they completely broke free of the wall and could be lifted out. Those suckers were heavy but I got ‘er done. In fact I’m pretty psyched that I was also able to do this whole project on my own while John was on Clara duty (she says with pride, while simultaneously patting herself on the back and brushing her shoulders off).

Wait. Did I mention I started it without talking to John first? I just wanted to see if removal was even possible and once I got into it there was no turning back. Or telling John what I was doing since the sink looked like this. I would have been in so much trouble (cue all the kids in class saying “ooooh” when the principal gets on the loud speaker and calls someone down to her office by name).

I wasn’t totally going rogue though. I knew he’d go for the backsplashless concept since we had chosen it for both of our previous bathroom overhauls in the old house. So I just crossed my fingers that I could strip things down and make them look a bit more presentable before he and Clara came in to see what I was up to. So here I am furiously scraping the silicone caulk off the surface of the granite counter with the same spackle knife I used to remove the backsplash pieces (it worked really well without scratching the granite at all):

And here I am using the same trusty spackle knife to get in under all that nasty glue and flake it off to reveal a slightly roughed up (but much less gnarly and bumpy looking) piece of drywall:

Here’s what it looked like when John came in to see what all the noise was about. Thank goodness it was a lot less grody looking once all that glue was scraped off. And he was, dare I say it, pleased (!) with the surprise project that I sprung on him. Whew.

Then it was time to skim coat all the roughed up drywall so it would again look seamless like the rest of the wall. Some people would choose to mud the wall when skim coating, but I actually used some of the same lightweight Dap spackle that I mentioned in this post, which I was able to sand down to a totally smooth and even surface that looked seamless with the rest of the drywall (but remember, don’t sand until the spackle is totally dry). Then I used some white waterproof paintable caulk (I like the Dap door and window stuff) around the perimeter of the counter to fill and seal any tiny hairline cracks between the granite and the wall so no water could collect or drip back behind the counter or vanity.

Here’s what she looks like now from afar (ignore the baskets and all the junk that we have yet to organize):

It’s not too bad when you compare her to her glory days (this next photo was taken when we first moved in, before removing the bi-fold doors and of course that backsplash).

My apologies about the bad blue light, I’m still learning how to tell the Nikon who’s boss.

Anyway, I know the after pic above this one still might not look like much, but we’re psyched. We can picture how great some wipe-able semi-gloss paint will look on the walls of that little nook, and we have some other big plans for that area (to make it look even less bathroom-sink-ish). Oh and as for where those three slabs of granite that I removed will go, we’re sending them off to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore since someone else might be able to use ’em. You know in case they buy a house from someone who went crazy and stripped out their backsplash while the hubby was watching the baby and they’d now like to add it back in. Haha.


  1. says

    Girl power! Great job, Sherry.

    I’m sure you both already have an idea of what to do for your vanity, but just in case you are still pondering a solution… my brother-in-law’s sister has a window over her vanity just like yours. She has two very cool slender swivel mirrors on either side of the window and when you turn them around they are medicine cabinets. It is such a great solution for that kind of space, I thought I’d share. don’t ask me where she got them. She’s an architect, so she most definitely is in the know. =)

  2. Jessica G. says

    I’ll echo everyone else by saying Wow! At the beginning of the post I thought the backsplash seemed like such a minor thing, and perhaps you were being a little too nitpicky about it. But seeing the two pictures side by side… the “before” looked almost like a doctor’s office, and the “after” could be out of a Pottery Barn catalog. Good work!

  3. Veronica says

    Hi there. I have noticed in your last couple of posts you have talked about the color being off in your pictures. I am DSLR entusiast and thought I might offer up a simple tip as to how help you get great fairly accurate colors in camera. A grey card will help you with that. Like the one linked below. I am sure you can google around how to use it to set your white balance which will help get rid of the tints you have in your pictures. If you want you can email me and I would be happy to explain as well! It is just a bit cumbersome to type out here. I love your website and live vicariously through you guys while my hubby, new baby girl, and I (& our two dogs) are still apartment living. Someday : )

    • says

      Hey Veronica,

      Thanks so much! We’re having fun trying to learn the ins and outs of the DSLR (it annoys me/fuels me to know that John’s much better at it than I am). We’ll def look into a gray card and check out that link!


  4. Patti says

    Love your determination to do it yourself! I’m a wimp when it comes to diy, I hate that I always defer to my hubs! Anyway, do you think you’ll use this as a vanity for yourself with a lighted mirror sitting on the counter, cute little cushioned stool and makeup and such in the drawer? It’s really a perfect spot for that.

    • says

      Hey Patti,

      I’m not much of a dressing table girl (heck I probably wear make-up once a month these days) but I’d love to make it feel more like a vanity or a dressing table than a sink- that’s for sure!


  5. Meredith says

    Those 4″ backsplashes are my pet peeve too! I had new granite installed in my kitchen and insisted it be “flat deck” (the technical term for no splash I understand) and they thought I was nutso. But it is SO MUCH BETTER! I also took off the side splashes in my bathroom where i could – we have cultured marble (yuck) counters in there and the back splash is molded to the top piece but the side is seperate. I yanked one out it my kids bathroom and it was a mess – took a lot longer than the 3 pieces you did. But I was glad I did it. Fo sho!!

  6. Katie says

    Okay, this looks great, and I’m really impressed by Sherry’s prowess. BUT I have to say that now I’m totally craving a Take It Away sandwich from the UVA corner(I’m sure John knows the place!).

  7. says

    I love this project! I think it looks very chic without the backsplash. And Im guessing youre going to do something fun with the hardware? :-)

  8. Amy says

    I checked out the floorplan and this looks similar to a home we owned in the past. I think the builder’s intention is for that entire area to be the bathroom/dressing area. There’s a closet on one side, more private area on the other (toilet/tub), and a shared vanity in the center. The doorway leading into the vanity area from your bedroom, is the bathroom doorway.
    I like the room~ particularly now that I know there really isn’t an actual sink inside the room. When it was all first described, i expected to see a sink jutting out from the wall beside the bed~ lol
    You guys like the open look (so do we), and you’ve removed lots of doors~ it’s great for an airy feel, but the down side is seeing everything at once. If we removed our closet doors and bathroom door, seeing the sink, our clothes, etc would take some getting used to~

  9. says

    I just followed your steps and took out our backsplash in the master bathroom in less than ten minutes! Our spackle knife is plastic and I broke it right away so I just used the crowbar and it worked like a charm :)

  10. Laura says

    Looks really great. I can already see such a difference! Much less bathroomy and more like a great little Hollywoodesque dressing area. I think a ghost chair would look really cool there. What do you think? What type of chair are you leaning toward?… or do you want to keep that info. for the big reveal?

    • says

      Hey Laura,

      Ooh a ghost chair would look awesome. We honestly have nothing planned in the chair dept yet (we have other changes on the agenda first) but we’re hoping the perfect chair or basket or something for that spot (at the perfect price) will find us one of these days…


  11. charlotte says

    Excuse me if you already answered this off-topic question…but I’m so curious to know! Did the previous owners know the house was going to be blog famous? If so, I wonder if they read the blog. I sooo would if I were the previous owner! And are you at all curious what is happening/changing at your “Skipper” house?…Ok, sorry that was two questions!

    • says

      Hey Charlotte,

      Yup, they didn’t read our blog before we put in an offer, but have been reading ever since, which is really cool. They seem to love following along! As for Skipper, we’re partially curious and partially happy to keep that house as it looked when we lived there in our memory. But mostly we’re so caught up in new house stuff that we forget all about our beloved first house! We’re so thoughtless.


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