You can get 12x12-inch tiles so cheap at home improvement stores - even stone tiles run as low as a couple of dollars per square foot. But limiting yourself to a 12x12 grid can be a bit, well, boring. We can recommend this trick of the trade we've done many times:
DIY Kitchen Makeover Ideas - DIY Shaker Style Cabinets - Cheap Projects Projects You Can Make On A Budget - Cabinets, Counter Tops, Paint Tutorials, Islands and Faux Granite. Tutorials and Step by Step Instructions http://diyjoy.com/diy-kitchen-makeovers
How to paint ceramic tile. "We've been here well over fifteen years and I've only touched up the paint once. I don't even have a rug running down this hallway and I've never had to touch up that stretch."