House For Six

Entry Progress: Herringbone Brick Tile Floors

Deme Crinion7 Comments

After all sorts of drama between us and the contractor approved by our insurance, we finally have new floors in our entry!  We ended up cutting ties with the old company after several weeks of waiting and miscommunication (drama! drama! drama!) and were able to use our own contractor for the job.....our contractor who may never do anything for us ever again after this time consuming labor of minutia.

Actually, I think the whole crew was quite proud of it by the end of the project.  And we could not be happier!

Last we left things, the old company had ripped up the damaged floors (from a toilet leak) and we were left with the exposed plywood subfloor.  All along we had planned to install the leftover wood flooring we had used throughout the rest of the main level of the house, but after taking all the measurements, we were two boxes short. 

Just order more, right?  Well, I originally got that flooring on a mega sale with free shipping since we bought in bulk.  The current price for 2 boxes was now more, and the shipping costs were as much as the product.  

Which opened up the possibility for us to do something totally different.  Because if we were going to spend the money, I would rather spend it on product/labor than shipping fees. Once we went down that Plan B rabbit hole, we knew that doing something other than wood was the way to go.  We really wanted to use something distinctly different from the surrounding wood floors, so it didn't look like a sad attempt at matching up two different but similar products.  

To quote the husband, "If we're going to do something different, then lets go bold".  I love it when he says that.   

But bold can also carry a hefty price tag.  This project had to stay within the amount covered by our insurance company. We had already come out of pocket for the deductible/plumbing repair and this entry makeover was not planned in our budget.  

Color and patterned tiles peaked our interest, but they were also pricey and ran the risk of losing our affection over time.....yet other options felt too safe.  I've always loved the idea of brick pavers (also $$) but stumbled on this brick tile via Home Depot.  It was neutral but had a great natural feel to it.  I thought if we laid it in a herringbone pattern it would add enough interest to keep a timeless material feeling fun and unique.  It would also be a nice nod to the larger grey tiles we installed in a herringbone pattern in our mudroom.  

When our contractor walked in and saw my little test groups of the teeniest, tiniest tile he just stood there quietly staring at them for awhile.  Finally, he pointed to the herringbone and said, "You want that one, don't you?" I knew it meant way more work on his part, and almost defaulted to the standard brick pattern because I felt bad (story of my life).  As I stood there waffling, one of the guys asked if I would regret not doing the herringbone.  Yes.  Yes, I would.  

tile layout options

So, I said "yes", to the herringbone, pleaded for them not to run out the door as what was supposed to be an easy 2-day job turned into a painstakingly detailed 4 1/2 day job, and quickly ran to grab a few bags of Chick-Fil-A chocolate chunk cookies for the crew as a peace offering. 

Thankfully, they stayed and we now have this beauty...

herringbone brick tile floors

This obviously wasn't a DIY job, but I tried to document the process along the way as best I could with my phone camera.  For those that asked for specifics....

-The tile is actually a glazed porcelain but feels very rustic and like natural stone to the touch.

-Each tile is 2 1/3" x 10" and had to be set individually.....the reason I can't call our contractor for at least 6 months (or until he forgets his back pain).

-We used 1/8" spacers

-The grout color is Dove Grey.  We didn't want too much of a contrast but didn't want anything too dark either.  

Ok, let's get into the weeds a little.  The first order of business was deciding where to start. When laying tile you always want to start in the center of the wall, but this space is not a simple square or rectangle.  There are lots of angles and doorways.  So, did we want that first row to line up in the center of the front door or the center of the doorway that leads to the kitchen/family room?   

plumb line

Since people are primarily transitioning through this space to other areas of the house, it made the most sense for the first row to be centered on the doorway leading to the most used area of the home.

In the photo above you can see where they found the center point in the doorway and made a chalk line down from that point to the opposite wall.  Fun tip:  they asked me for a can of hairspray to set the chalk line so that it wouldn't smudge.  It took just a minute to spray it and let it dry. Who knew? 

first rows of herringbone brick tile

They used all sorts of handy angle tools to ensure the first tile was set at a 45 degree angle and they laid out several tiles before securing them with thin set (mortar).  This gave them a chance to see how the pattern would hit the doorways and edges before we fully committed.  And they did lots of stepping back and eyeballing to ensure they were straight. 

Those first two rows took the longest to get in, but once set it was pretty easy to continue the pattern out from there. 

herringbone brick tile floors

This flooring extends into a coat closet (door on the right in the above photo) and a 1/2 bath (door on the left).  Our insurance covered the wallpaper removal in the bathroom (hallelujah!), so we now have a totally blank slate in the bathroom.  With the absence of any natural light, I'm leaning towards a darker color on the cabinet base, light walls, some fun art, and eventually swapping the counter out for a wood top. 

herringbone brick tile floors

I really appreciate the thought the crew put into the path they worked.  We obviously couldn't walk on the tile while it was setting, but we did need to access the stairs.  

herringbone brick tile floors

They made it a point to leave that patch in front of the stairs for the last day and made sure it would have enough time to set before the kids came home from school.  The kids quickly learned that they could walk on the areas where the spacers had been removed (set tiles) and stay away from areas with spacers still in....though we tried to keep them off the area as much as possible.  This was a feat in itself as Liv took to saying "hi" to them every single time she walked past (approx 754 times a day)...and they were sweet enough to greet her back every time.

herringbone brick tile floors

They were thrilled when they came home and the floor looked like this.  No spacers = dance party on the tile.

herringbone brick tile floors

Even without the grout and before they had cleaned, it looked incredible.  The grout just took it over the edge.  And grouting was an all hands on deck affair.  The grout dried quickly and if it wasn't wiped down well in a timely manner it would be a pain to clean.

We had just a fine layer of dust that disappeared after another day of wiping it down. Once the floors were installed, the very earth-toned wallpaper became a hundred times more noticeable to me.....and my rockstar husband said "Let's go ahead and finish the entry" (happy wife, happy life #somethinglikethat).  Which means the magic of trim and paint are transforming this space even further. 

trim work in progress

I'll break down the trim installation in a later post once it's all painted out, but for now we have the trim up and I'm aaaaaalmost done patching, sanding, and caulking. (I don't really have any fingerprints left after that, so James says I should probably transition to a life of crime). 

You can see that we didn't we take down the wallpaper first. This is something I could totally regret, but is a worthwhile gamble in my book.  

The crew used a steamer to take down the wallpaper in the bathroom and it came off so easily. I was hopeful that the entry wallpaper would follow suit but we tested the steamer on one of the seams and it would not budge.  Even after holding the steam on it for a good long while we could barely peel even a corner back.  Which makes me semi-confident that a few layers of paint would not cause the paper to bubble and peel.  

The wallpaper goes all the way up the stairwell into nooks and crannies that would be really difficult to take down. This would be an inch by inch process and I think we value our sanity too much to tackle that much wallpaper. 

Normally when doing a board and batten type wall treatment, we would paint the walls first, then put up trim.  But we thought covering up those wallpaper edges with trim (instead of paint that could seep through) would give us a better chance for success.  Fingers crossed.

Once all that goes white, I'm thinking the door needs a fun, green, blue, black?  The kids have deemed me "The Color Thief" as of late....which is ironic because I'm a color lover at heart.  I just need a nice neutral base and then we can bring in the color we all love.  I'm not going to decide on a door color until all the walls are painted, but these sure look fun...

blush pink door
mint green door

Photo by Light Locations

grey and black interior doors

Grey or black door

We also have plans for the stairs!  The carpet is coming up, a runner is going in, and well, there's more painting in my future.  I'm so glad that James gave us the push to see this area done to completion.  Those herringbone floors are just too pretty not to address the things around them.  I know this was not exactly a thorough step-by-step but if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!

The Year of Stewardship: The Lies We Believe

Deme CrinionComment

I've deemed 2017 my Year of Stewardship.  Can you see me pounding my gavel all official-like?

If stewardship is what we do with what we've been given, then I have to admit.... I've been less of a good steward and more of a selective clinger.  Life's been swirling, sometimes faster than I can handle, and I've been frantically grasping at some of those gifts, while totally abandoning others. 

Now that we're in a season that feels slightly less chaotic and uncertain, it feels like the right time to take a closer look at how I've mistreated some blessings, and what got me to clinger status in other cases.  

The past few years were full of so much change and flux that we often felt like we were just surviving our circumstances.  To climb out of that mentality I know that it will first take some major shifting of the ole' mindset, followed by some practical changes to help us get to a place where our family is thriving once again.

I think a lot of ways I've fallen off course, stemmed from a lie.  In fact, I think there's a lot of lies floating around about what will bring us happiness and contentment.  And what we should do when we're not basking in all those rainbows and unicorns.

I sat down with a notebook and started to write down the lies I've allowed myself to believe.  Some of them actually hold some truth, under certain circumstances, and understanding that distinction is key.

The most effective lies have an element of truth (which makes them so believable), but that truth has been twisted.  And it takes the God of Truth to undo the damage from the Father of Lies.

Sadly, there's a lot of untruth I've allowed to occupy my head-space.....

"You should lose 10lbs before you wear that"

"If I just had this one more thing, then I would love it and never want/need anything else"

"Too much time has passed.  They won't care and it doesn't really matter anymore.  Some friendships don't last forever"

"It's not on the list or in the budget this time, but I'll just borrow from another category.  It's so cheap, it really won't make any difference"

"If I don't act right now this opportunity (or price) will be gone forever"

"You're so selfish for wanting to pursue hobbies and/or a career outside the home, away from your family.  That's where you should be until the kids are out of the house."

"Your desires, career, happiness and personal fulfillment are more important than serving your family. Your personal happiness is the highest priority."

"The dishes are more important than creating"

"Creating is more important that making sure the kids have clean clothes to wear tomorrow."

"You would be happier on your own." 

"You're not a good mother.  So many other women are more patience, loving, and selfless - they nurture their kids far better than the crap show you're running."

"All he sees are my lumps, bumps, and wrinkles.  Hide yourself."

"I can't do this anymore"

"My kids will be embarrassed by other kids for not having as much, or the latest and greatest, or..."

"Just accept that this is the world we live in"

"Your dreams will have to wait"

"But it's not perfect yet"

"If you devote yourself to family life, you will lose yourself"

Some of these still sting when I read them, because at my core, I struggle to reject them.   

There is an undoing that needs to happen in me.  An untwisting of the truth, and a reminder of what is in fact true, good, and worthy.  Then there is the work moving that truth from head-space to heart-space....because it is one thing to know something and another to live it. That's where grace comes in - thank God!

When we operate from a place of exhaustion, lack of purpose, or skewed clarity, it's easy to just put our head down and go through the motions to survive the day.  And it's also really hard to pick your head back up, especially when the whirlwind isn't slowing down.  Yet, God promises that we can set our feet on solid ground no matter the circumstances.  And boy, am I in need of that. 

Tomorrow begins the season of Lent (a time of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting in order to draw closer to Christ and be renewed in his grace).  I know that not everyone who reads this blog observes this liturgical season, but I can't think of a better time to pull some of those weeds masquerading around as flowers.  I hope you don't mind that we tackle some of that work here over the next few weeks.....and don't worry, I have plenty of house projects to update you on too!  #winkwink

Our entry floors are finally done and they're completely different than what we planned.  The happiest of accidents indeed.  I'll have an update on that space later this week.  In the meantime, I would love to hear from you....are there certain lies you find yourself falling for?  What helps you stay grounded in truth during a season that demands more than you feel you can give?

A Quick Coat Closet Makeover

Deme CrinionComment

The coat closet makeover has to be one of my all time favorite projects.  They give you such a big bang for your buck in the function department, but don't demand a ton of time or resources. All it takes is a little creativity and resourcefulness.  

Our most recent closet makeover was small scale, but made a huge different in how we come/go each day....and how pleasant we are now that we don't have to wrestle a snow gear monster before greeting each other.

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

We're dedicating an entire room to laundry/corralling our kids gear (those lucky ducks), but James and I were still in need of a space for us to drop our own bags, shoes, and jackets.  There's a tiny little coat closet right next to the garage door we had been using.....which mostly consisted of jackets on hangers above a heap of jumbled shoes, more jackets, and bags on the floor. 

It was like being welcomed by a crap avalanche every time we came home and opened the door. Super serene and welcoming, right?

With the rest of our house in disarray, I needed to claim myself a corner of sanity.  So during one naptime a couple months back I pulled everything out, dug through our extra hardware for leftover hooks from our last coat closet project, and grabbed a can of leftover paint.  

I didn't let myself get caught up in design details or color schemes and just focused on getting it DONE before the baby's chants of "Up!" rang out from her room.  I didn't even take before pics. #badblogger   

I started like I do any organizing project and pulled everything out of the closet.  I wiped down all the shelves and baseboards, then grabbed a paintbrush.  I wanted something darker that would hide scuffs and dirt, but the only colors I had were a deep but bright blue we used in our shared boys' room and the black paint we used on our shutters and garage door when we painted the exterior of the house (post on that coming soon!). 

More neutral felt right since I do have some colorful accessories, but that also meant that two coats were needed.  Since I was in a time crunch I opted to only paint the section below the shelves and leave the top lighter.  I set up a small fan on a chair to give the drying process a boost. 

Once it was dry enough, I grabbed our drill and screwed in some hooks.  I screwed them right into the existing trim so they're extra secure.   I also had these simple shoe shelves from Meijer (just $10 each). I planned to use them in our boys' room, but they didn't work and they were the perfect side-by-side fit in here.  Well almost...   

They fit with 1/2 inch to spare going wall to wall, but the quarter round along the baseboard took up just enough space that these would not sit flat on the floor.  So, I pulled off the quarter round and figured James could cut the trim pieces to fit around the shelves if we really wanted a more finished look. 

For now, we sort of forgot all about the missing quarter round because with just a little paint, a sprinkling of hooks, a few baskets, and some shoe shelves, we now have a high functioning sliver of a closet. 

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

I've taken the hanging rods off of closets in exchange for hooks in the past, but this closet is quite small and we do keep multiple coats in here during the fall and winter months. Keeping the rod and a few hangers seemed a good way to store multiple coats and keep the hooks free for bags, purses, scarves, etc.

Quick and easy coat closet makeover

That woven basket keeps some of my running gear and gloves, while the bins up top hold on-the-go resupplies, tools, and off-season items.  

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover
Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

Definitely my favorite kind of project: quick, minimal investment, reuses what we already have on hand, and makes our lives less chaotic. Since I was able to use leftover paint and hooks I already had, the only cost was the $20 spent on the shoe shelves, but even if I did fork out the cash for hooks and a quart of paint, I think this could have easily been an under $50 project. Cheers to that!

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

The Year Of Stewardship

Deme Crinion6 Comments

With January almost over (how?! why?!) and our household finally out of the pass-the-stomach-virus game, I needed to sort through the spaghetti of thoughts I've had swirling about the new year.  Our new home marked a shift in our family's life, and I'm only just beginning to understand the ways that move positioned our family for new things and to better invest in what was already there.

To be honest, the past couple years have been full of so much change that we became really good at survival mode.  So good that we almost forgot what it was like to thrive.  Of course life wasn't without joy, but it felt like we could never seem to get our feet planted on solid ground. 

With our family a little larger (Hey, Liv!) and having committed to laying roots in a new place, I'm not quite sure what thriving looks like for us now.  But I think it's time to find out.  

 (blank slate #seewhatididthere)

(blank slate #seewhatididthere)

Before Christmas, I started praying about the coming year.   I don't pin myself into a mega resolutions list each year.....sometimes I might land of a few specific goals, other times it might be a general area to focus, or maybe there really is a single word that feels appropriate for the year.  So many different areas came to mind as I thought about where to focus in 2017, but all of them carried the same theme:  stewardship.  

Stewardship is what we do with what we've been given, and I feel God asking me to look at how I can be a better steward of the gifts in my life, in our new season.  And there are many...

How am I using my time?  Where am I wasting it?

How do we view and use our home?  

What is my mindset towards our "stuff" and how do we treat it?  

How am I caring for the relationships in my friendships, my children, my marriage?  

How do I view and treat my body? What about my family's health?

How am I cultivating my faith?  Where have I become stagnant?

How am I using my unique gifts and talents? 

How are we managing our finances?  

It feels like so much to work through, but I'm not trying to figure this all out in a week.  I'm taking the year to really dive into this concept of stewardship, one area at a time.

Admittedly, I've avoided those questions, because I know some of the answers are ugly and embarrassing......we've been exhausted and over-committed. I've been lazy and indifferent. I've been anxious and fearful.  I've been irresponsible. And I've floated through the monotony of routines.   

And floating is dangerous, because before you know it the days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, that turn into years. I'm so much more aware of how fast the time is going (with our kids in particular) and I don't want to waste this time.  I can't afford to.  It's all far too important....for the here and now, and the life to come.  This is not about being perfect (no hope there), but about having my head in the game.  

So!  I'm going to offer myself a nice dose of grace, muster the courage to face some hard realities, and get ready to make changes for the better going forward.  I obviously don't have all the answers, but I hope we can explore this topic of stewardship together throughout the year.  

There will still be plenty of home projects and organization happening around these parts too, so I'm planning to run this as a monthly or bi-monthly series on the blog.  January always seems to bring that desperate sense of needing to PURGE ALL THE THINGS and I think starting with the excess STUFF is a good place to start.

How about you?  I would love to hear what's on your mind in 2017!