Merlene Davis: Learn how to install a backsplash and save your marriage

I am convinced that if I listen to Linda K. Whitfield long enough, she will have me believing I can build a garage from the ground up.

A couple of weeks ago while I was shopping in home improvement stores and thrift stores for mirrors and light fixtures, I ran into Whitfield, who works at The Home Depot on Richmond Road. She showed me a glass vase she had stained to look like wood. She asked if I liked it.

Of course I did. It was gorgeous, and I could see how I could add my own twists and colors to have it become a nice accessory in my décor.

She explained how easy and inexpensive the technique was and told me where to find the clear vase for about $1. Cheap and easy were words that reeled me in.

Whitfield had demonstrated the finishing technique at the "do-it-herself clinic" she conducted in August for women. At her next clinic, she said, women will learn how to install a backsplash.

A backsplash? The last time my husband and I added a backsplash to a small section of our kitchen, we almost divorced, which is also the reason it was only a small section. I want to do the whole kitchen, but I still need his paycheck to buy food.

But Whitfield was encouraging, saying there is a new method available that eliminates a step and shortens the application time.

I was hooked.

"I love empowering women and helping them to realize just how powerful and smart we really are," she said.

Whitfield, who works at the service desk and in the paint department, recently moved to Lexington from Arizona, where she had cared for her aging mother alone.

Fearing the level of care she could give her 82-year-old mother might be slipping, she brought her to Lexington, where several members of her family live.

Whitfield was born in Arkansas and reared in Chicago. Twelve years ago, a job transfer led her from Chicago to Arizona, where she picked up a part-time job with Home Depot a couple of years later.

"I always liked fixing stuff," she said. "My husband did the cooking and cleaning, and I did the fixing."

Eventually, when her day job was eliminated, Whitfield joined Home Depot full-time. Three years ago, she took in her mother, Mollie Hayes, but being the sole caretaker began to take a toll. Whitfield decided to move here two months ago because of that support system. She was able to get a job transfer as well.

Once in Lexington, Whitfield asked to start a clinic for women, which she had conducted successfully in Arizona. That's how "Ladies Night" was started.

"With the simple backsplash techniques I am going to show you, your kitchen or bathroom can go from plain to fabulous, just like that, in no time flat," she said. "You won't need to hire a handyman or add it to your 'honey do' list. You can do it yourself."

See what I mean? Don't you feel like building something, too?

Whitfield will be demonstrating a backsplash method that does not require thin set, the traditional way of adhering tile to the wall. The tile has an adhesive backing that allows it to be placed directly on the wall. The method also includes pre-mixed grout, which saves even more time.

Whitfield will have smooth boards and boards where tiles have been removed to demonstrate how to make the method work, she said.

Everyone gets a chance to participate, she said. "If you just watch, you won't learn. The clinics are stress-free, hands-on and exciting."

All materials as well as refreshments will be provided.

"I also will have coloring books and crayons for the little ones to keep them entertained," she said.

The clinics, which feature something new each month, are free. The topics are customer-driven. What she doesn't know, Whitfield said, she will ask a co-worker to demonstrate. No reservations are required.

"A lot of people think they can't do certain things," Whitfield said. "I can show them how."