House For Six


Entry Progress: Herringbone Brick Tile Floors

Deme Crinion9 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!

Entry Inspiration and Plans

Deme Crinion2 Comments

Throughout this month I thought I would show you some of the spaces we plan to give some love this year.  After Christmas I like to sit down with a notebook and brain dump on house projects for the coming year.  My list is almost always too ambitious, but I do allow myself to just dump all those ideas onto the page and then I go back over it with a realistic editing eye.  

I've come to realize that too much of a rigid schedule gets me derailed and discouraged almost immediately, but I also know that I need some structure and guidance or I will be all over the place.  As much as I would love to knock out projects left and right, I can't keep up with that kind of pace.  

I haven't always planned with the seasons in mind either (I do not recommend attempting to paint furniture in the garage in the suffocating humidity that is summer #askmehowIknow).  I seem to have better success with 2-3 projects per season.  That usually ends up being one larger project per month, along with a few smaller things like organizing a cupboard or hanging some pictures. 

The two areas we're focusing our energy for the rest of winter are the laundry room and the entry. You've seen our plans and progress for the laundry room and I'm working on slapping a big fat "Done" bow on that one by the end of the month.  

As for the entry, a water leak damaged the flooring in our 1/2 bath and entry area....which sort of bumped this project up the list by default.  Can I admit that I'm secretly giddy about it?

We've spent a lot of time working on the main living/dining areas of the home, but this is the first thing people see when they walk in the door.  I'm really excited about creating something that reflects what you'll find throughout the rest of our home in this space.  

We had to rip out the flooring in the entire entry which includes a 1/2 bathroom (where the leak originated) and a full sized coat closet. Since the entry shares a wall with the stairs, I'm hoping I can convince James to suck up the pain and let us tackle the stairwell while we're at it.

When we ordered the flooring we used throughout the rest of this main level, we actually ordered enough to eventually do this entry space too.  Or so we thought.  We didn't account for the bathroom or closet space, and we would have been short just a couple of square feet in the main entry too.  No problem, we'll just order a couple more boxes right?  #ifonly

I could only find that flooring a couple of places online.  One didn't ship to our area and the other had ridiculous shipping costs for just 2 boxes of flooring (shipping was free when we placed our original bulk order).  We could have tried to order though another vendor but then we started entertaining the idea a plan B. 

Sometimes plan B turns out to be even better than plan A.   I simply hadn't let myself envision any other options in this space because THAT WASN'T THE PLAN.  Once the crew pulled up all the old flooring I could start to see something different altogether. 

If we were going with a different material we wanted it to be distinctly different from the wood flooring in the adjoining it would look intentional and not like we ran out of flooring #oops #wedid

We narrowed our search down to a darker grey/slate tile, some sort of brick option, and something more bold in the way of color or pattern.  I'll spare you all the back and forth and in between.  

Bottom line: the slate tile felt too safe (and we have that look in our mudroom), the patterned tile felt too busy and had the potential to lose our adoring gazes over time, and the color options were limited and pricey.   Which left us with the brick.

At first, this felt a little safe too but then I came across this entry by Rhea Crenshaw.

It's still neutral but laying the brick in a herringbone pattern will give us the interest and impact we're after...while hopefully standing the test of time.   There are many expensive options out there, and we really needed to stay within our approved amount by the insurance company. So when I found this product at Home Depot we were sold. We're going with grey (which we saw in person at our local store) and it should be installed next week!

When we think about our plans for the space as a whole, this flooring makes sense.  We definitely want bring some white trim work onto the walls.  I love the architectural interest they add, not to mention the functionality - super easy to throw up some hooks for guest's jackets, bags, etc.  And then this space needs some color.  Our whole house does and it's one of our main house goals for the coming year.  

I sort of went color crazy in our first fixer and then went the other extreme in our last house.  I think I've finally realized that I need a mostly neutral base, so that I can bring in the bold color I love without it feeling overwhelming.

Here's a few more spaces that are getting us excited to tackle this project!


Entry by Studio McGee

Entry by Mary Ross

via Southern Living

Our entry is covered in wallpaper and I really don't want to remove it (we still have the battle scars from our Albuquerque fixer).  It's in great shape, so I think if we take the proper precautions we can trim/paint right over it.  #fingerscrossed

Anyone else had success painting over wallpaper?  How about using a brick material for flooring?

Coat Closet Makeover

Deme Crinion6 Comments
I'm a firm believer in not living with something that isn't working for you.  Even if it means breaking a few house rules.

James and I are quite capable of making a mess on our own, but throw a few kids in the mix and the house can get out of control in 5 seconds flat.  Especially that area where we come and go.  It's like a magnet for chaos.
We're fortunate to have a full size coat closet between our garage entry and front door.  But even with all that glorious storage space, most of the time it looked like this.....

How?! Well, the closet was great for anything that belonged on a hanger...beyond that it wasn't offering much in the way of practical help/organization.

First, we have little people that can't reach the hangers.....
Next, we have bags for every activity.....
Then there's the random stuff we would like easily accessible but just ends up buried among sweatshirts, backpacks, and I think that's an extention cord I see on the ground. 


With the winter fast approaching, the amount of "gear" needed to get us out the door multiplied overnight and if you can even imagine it (don't let your head explode), this closet got even worse.

It was time to make this space start working for us and I'm thrilled to say that with just a few small tweaks and additions we finally have a space that is working overtime for our whole family.
coat closet makeover

I started by pulling every last thing out of the closet and taking inventory of what we particular, what was contributing to the mounds on the floor.  I put away anything was better stored in another room and came up with sketch/plan for organizing the rest.
coat closet makeover

The plan was fairly simple - ditch the closet rod....add lots more accessible hanging storage...get the bags off the floor.

We started by pulling off the doors and taking down the rod.  This alone was a huge improvement and having the doors off made the space feel larger.  Sure, it's nice to be able to hide our messes behind closed doors, but they were old and rickety and just one more thing that got in the way as we were all trying to find or take off our stuff.

I liked the simple lines of the support piece below the upper shelf, so we added another piece of trim in a similar size halfway down the wall and gave them both a fresh coat of white paint.

Of course, in my grand scheme I wanted to do some amazing wall treatment in here....maybe some wallpaper or stencil.....but in the end I realized that our gear already had a lot of color/pattern and decided to keep it simple by painting the walls the same light neutral that's going throughout the rest of our living, dining, and entry space (Irish Mist by Behr).

Next came the hooks. Seriously, you guys.  Hooks.  Sometimes we can just make things too complicated. Every hook has two prongs and they were the easy answer for maximizing our hanging space in a way that the kids could maintain. These are all from Home Depot in an oil rubbed bronze finish.
coat closet makeover

Then it was time to fill er' back up!
coat closet makeover

James and I claimed the top row of hooks for our coats, scarves, and bags.  Although, our daughter can reach these too.
coat closet makeover

We do have more jackets than this closet holds, but we only keep our most frequently worn numbers here and the rest are in our master closet or off-season storage bins.
coat closet makeover

Adding hooks to the narrow side walls gave us even more storage and enables our bag hoarding tendencies.  We have bags for library books, school, and varies other sports/lessons throughout the year. 
coat closet makeover

Having a designated space for the bags eliminates the frantic dash around the house trying to find missing shin guards when we should be piling everyone in the car....most of the time anyway.

The lower rail is obviously dedicated to the little people around here.  We gave them plenty of two prong hooks for a lighter sweatshirt or fleece and a heavier coat.
coat closet makeover

The hooks have been fantastic, but we found that all those cold weather extras like scarves, gloves and hats were still littered all over this space.  So, we screwed in a wire basket for each bambino and that was the game changer.
coat closet makeover

coat closet makeover

We have a narrow shoe cabinet from IKEA (this one here) just across from this closet.  It houses most of our shoes, but we needed a place to put our wet boots after a snowy outing.  I was e-stalking all the pretty trays, but eventually practical and budget friendly won the day with these boot trays from The Container Store.
coat closet makeoverThey're a really durable plastic, so I won't worry about rust like I would with a metal finish and for only $7.99 a pop, they couldn't be beat.  I would still like to add some river rock for drainage, but so far they have been perfect for our wet and muddy boots.  Not to mention easy to clean!

Back on the top shelf we have even more storage.  I picked up these lidded bins for just $4.99 a piece on a Target clearance aisle a few months ago and they turned out to be a great solution for all those remaining items that were previously homeless.
coat closet makeover
Bin #1 has small off-season items like sun glasses and sun hats.  Bin #2 has our on-the-go items like sunscreen and bug spray, and various refills for the car (wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.).  Most of James' tools are stored out in the garage but Bin #3 has a handful of small tools that we reach for on a regular basis like a tape measure, hammer, screwdriver with adjustable bits, level, etc.

I had originally planned to have some sort of umbrella stand on the floor, but since we needed two boots trays that ate up most of the floor space, I moved the kids umbrellas to a basket up here.  And now I don't have to worry about one of these "swords" poking an eye out.
coat closet makeover

And that wraps it up!  It's amazing what a little trim, paint, and hooks can do for a space!  One last before and after?  That's my favorite part too.....


coat closet makeover

We're fortunate to have this closet, but I know many homes are completely lacking in the entry storage department. If you don't have space for a cabinet or free standing storage, you might be able to nab some wall space......sometimes just a few hooks can make all the difference!

*How do you corral all the coats, bags and shoes you need to get in/out of the house each day?  How do you get creative with limited or non-functional storage options in your home?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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A Drop Zone For Mom

Deme Crinion6 Comments
I hope everyone was able to enjoy the long weekend!  We had plans for lots and lots of blue paint for Jack's new big boy bed.  And paint we did!  But not blue, and not the bed.  It was supposed to warm up even more this week, so we held off for higher temps. 

The extra week won't much do you think a 2 year old can grow in maturity and self-discipline to not get out of bed in a week's time?  I'm thinking he'll be like an older man, totally in control, with no interest in silly games like 57 rounds of bedtime Jack-in-the-box, phantom pee-in-the-potty, and just-one-more-sip-of-water.  No?  Me neither, but one can dream.

Now, on to what we did paint!  

Back in October I joined the Nester for her 31 Day Challenge, where I put myself on a spending freeze and wrote about Working With What You Have.  One of those days, I shared my plans to create a Mom's Drop Zone in the small space next to our fridge:
When this picture was taken the walls had finally been peeled and scraped of all wallpaper and the wall board had been textured.  But we still needed to seal/prime/paint it. 

And it was like this until two days ago.  I realize it's all of a couple feet of wall, but I can procrastinate with the best of them.  I also needed to paint the foot or so of wall space above the kitchen cupboards.   This weekend we knocked out both!

I wanted to be resourceful for this small project, so I planned to use this mirror with hooks that my mom donated to us.
 I debated what color to paint it, how to switch out the knobs, etc. etc.  Since we painted most of the other pieces in the nook area just across the way, and wood floors are a long way off, I decided to leave her as is.

*Gasp*  I didn't paint it!?  No...the natural wood helped to warm up the space and the skinny hooks are great for my keys and my sunglasses that are missing their case at the moment.  I may switch it up down the road, but for now, I'm really happy with it!

We hung it a little off center, based on some upcoming plans we have for the kitchen.  Right now, the fridge sticks out past the edge of the counters into the kitchen, and beyond the end of the upper cabinets.  There is extra counter space that can be cut off, so we can move the fridge to the left until it's flush with the cabinet.  Eventually, we would like to push out the wall into the garage a bit and create mini-closet for the fridge to slide back into.

That will leave even more of a gap on the left side of the mirror, BUT once the fridge scoots over and all is even with the upper cabinet, we want to add one of these that I keep ogling on Pinterest:

An accessible and organized spot for cleaning supplies that takes up little space!  Until then, I love that I have a handy spot to place my things as soon as we come in and that they're ready to go when we head out the garage door.  I also love that it keeps my purse out of reach of curious little hands.  The last thing we need is a child sucking down a shot of hand sanitizer or throwing my debit card in the trash.

Once the walls were painted it took almost no time at all to hang the mirror securely and be ready for me to use.  It's amazing how much a few small projects can give you the motivation to keep going in a space.  My poor cabinets having been sitting primed and doorless for months.  Now that the paint is on the walls, I'm ready to see some fresh white cabinets pop off that grey!  Here's hoping I don't run out of steam!

How about you - have you claimed a spot your own "drop zone"?  Anyone else making a small extra space go to work for them? Do tell!