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  • Writer's pictureLea

Handmade Modern Mosaic Tile

When Mercedes Austin with Minneapolis’ Mercury Mosaics reached out and wanted to collaborate on a kitchen backsplash design together I nearly passed out from excitement. My husband and I always wanted tile in our kitchen but when we designed the kitchen a few years ago, that was taken out of the budget to make room for other things. To get creative I came up with the idea of installing shiplap to the back of our range wall for character and dimension foregoing the boring blank wall of drywall.

This is the before:

Disclosure: If you’re in the market and researching Mercury Mosaics these are my words, review, and opinions only and should be taken as such.

All Good Things Come To Those Who Wait.

Fast forward 3 years to where our handmade modern mosaic tile journey began.

I first was introduced to Mercury Mosaics through my friend Morgan with Construction2Style when she revealed her beautiful, custom kitchen. I think it broke the internet that day, I’m sure of it. I instantly fell in love, how could one not? I thought to myself someday Lea, someday…

So when Mercedes herself reached out to me one day for a collaboration idea (well, first I hyperventilated when I saw her name drop in my email inbox) I instantly jumped to the idea of working together! For I knew I was in good hands (sort of like Allstate but much better, ok I digress). First, Mercedes really wanted to get to know more about me and my husband to truly understand our styles and lifestyle. As a stylist myself I knew the importance of creating this relationship because that’s truly where the magic begins. Understanding and relating to one another (it’s like a dance or speed dating) and then BOOM! the ideas flow out. So we did the tile tango together and after receiving the first mood board I instantly was like YES! It was full of beautiful BOLD color!

But wait…I sat on it and sat on it and sat on it, kinda like a mama bird waiting for her egg to hatch (not literally) and I showed my husband who was like sure, I like it! Hmpf…not the answer I was hoping for (let me follow that up with, he pretty much gives me full reign when it comes to design in our home and by pretty much, I mean all of it). So I turned to our two children, both in their early 20’s and MUCH more creative than their father (I wonder where they get their creative genius from…hmmm…) and they both said it’s beautiful BUT…(ever hear that saying where anything before the word ‘but’ is irrelevant?). Gasp!

My darling and realistic children said you’re a stylist. You change the look of our spaces frequently, do you really want to commit to a color that will direct your story? (Ok, maybe they didn’t say that verbatim but something along those lines). So over a few more conversations with Mercedes, she could hear the ‘change’ in my voice and guess what? She picked up on it (like the mystical person she is) and spoke on it before I even had to say well…

And off to the drawing board, she was! While Mercedes was doing her thang (she gave me a homework packet of taking measurements of the proposed space and I was like girlfriend where were you when I was in 5th-grade math because I would’ve aced math by your direction)!

Making it rain…

After a couple of months (I told Mercedes we were in no rush, I wanted this to be as organic as possible) the day came when I heard from Mercedes and she had some drafts of what the project would look like. I opened my inbox and out popped the quad of her creativity (she gave me 4 design renderings). So what does a girl do with FOUR options? Run it past her Instagram audience of course! I mean…

After polling Instagram in a ‘She Designed, Yall Figure Out What I Should Do Now’ poll the masses chose Option 4.

I turned over the consensus to Mercedes and Laura (her trusty sidekick) and the Tile Elves got busy in the workshop and I decided to take a trip to Mercury Mosaics myself so that I could see all of the magic happen.

It is here where you realize it’s more than tile.

It’s art.

The amount of expression, passion, and skill that I felt and witnessed that day as I passed so many dope creatives was emotional.

All the tile gets laid out according to the rendering and placed on a mesh backing.

But coffee first..

One by one…

Here they are in the layout process and set up according to the map for the installers.

I believe it was here in the storyline where Mercedes had the brilliant idea of collaborating with Morgan and Jamie of Construction2Style for the tile installation. I mean who else would be a better fit?

  1. They’ve installed many, many Mercury Mosaic tile projects so they were SUPER familiar with the tile and process.

  2. They’re kickass

  3. They’re just all-around good humans

They said Yes (or I’m sure Morgan was more like ‘hell yes!’) and the Trifecta to this project was born.

Now came the hardest part. Waiting for the tile to be ready. I could barely sleep. I was like is it ready yet?, is it ready yet?, is it ready yet? How about now, is it ready yet?

The skies opened up one day and…

The day finally came and I saw that email from Laura and I looked over to my husband and said ‘Let’s Go!’

Off we went to Mercury Mosaics to pick up our babies, I mean tile.

I couldn’t wait to get home with the boxes to open them up and to pick them up and hold them tight and lovingly gaze into each one and tell them how much I loved them. I may have pressed them against my face a few times.

Another sunshiny day…

Next came the day for my babies to have their moment. Morgan reached out to me and scheduled the date that she and her team would be on-site for the installation.

And just like that..down came the shiplap. Buh-bye greasy, grimy and yellowing shiplap!

The C2S team kicked ass! Here they are prepping the layout by the included map from Mercury Mosaics.

here comes the install…

and voila!

Is that it?…

No, no, no…you know I had to pretty it up! That’s what stylists do!

If you know me, you know my love for supporting local businesses and especially women in business, so when Jennifer with Sage E Photography reached out to me for a photoshoot opportunity I said bring it girlfraannnd! Jennifer kicked it up a notch with her own posse that included the magnificent Ann with Dear Hyssop and boss babe Lisa with Hackwith Design House.

Are you ready for the reveal?

Ann is a botanical goddess!

Lisa supplied the ‘fits to make this girl shine bright!

Girl Power!

This collaborative effort with all of these amazing women in business helping one another, linked hand in hand and reaching out with their open arms to help me cultivate my haven and tell MY story is an experience I’ll never forget. THIS is women empowerment! #squad

Theee end!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


A VERY special thank you to…

Custom handcrafted tile by Mercury Mosaics

Tile installation by Construction2Style

Photography by Sage E Imagery

Florals by Dear Hyssop

Wardrobe by Hackwith Design


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