Tile for Miles

Guys, the shower is fully tiled.

My hands are literally cut up and I have bags under my eyes rolling in to this Monday, but the tile in the shower is done!

Heading back to Thursday, Collin had off in the morning, so we worked to install the shower floor. We were using the sliced pebble tiles that install on sheets of mesh, similar to other mosaic tiles.

First, we laid everything out to dry fit the sheets and make sure the spacing seemed even.


Once we were happy with the layout, Collin removed one row at a time and laid the thin set down, before replacing each row back in its spot:



Once it was laid, we pulled some tiles off of the sheets and used it to fill in an big gaps. The rest of the gaps will be filled with caulk.

It took about an hour and a half to get the full floor laid. We let those tiles set for 2 days before sealing them up in preparation for the wall tile.

Collin had work all weekend, so it was up to me to tile the shower. First, I marked a level line 4 inches up from the highest point on the base. It is important to get the first line of tile set, level and spaced correctly, otherwise the rest of the wall will be un-level.


I used 1/8″ spacers in between the tile. I also taped off where my center inset was going to go.


I just kept working my way up the wall:




Collin got home from work around this time and helped me bang out the top. It’s crazy how much faster it goes when you have two people. One person gets to keep laying the tile, while the other is making the cuts. We finished up around 7:30 PM Saturday night.


Sunday morning, we needed to close up the wall behind the toilet, before I could continue to tile. To do this, we needed to remove the old toilet, mount the drywall and then install the new toilet. Luckily, Collin didn’t have to leave for work until 12, so he was able to help with the toilet removal process:



Its crazy what a difference a new toilet makes. We probably should have done this replacement sooner!

We are going to have to remove and reinstall the toilet again when we redo the floors in the next few weeks, but luckily, it’s a pretty simple fix.

Collin left for work around 11:30, and I continued on my never-ending tile journey:



And the end result:


It came out so good, especially as my first solo tiling project.

This morning, Collin is working on patching drywall, and tonight I am going to grout. I also have to go grab some marble to add to the top of the curb.

We are sooooo close to being able to shower here, and I can not wait!

Prepping for Tile and a Sneak Peak of Tile Choices!

Hey all!

This week’s post is going to be a high level recap of the last week’s progress, along with a sneak peak of the tile we will be using.

Right now, we are in the most boring part of the project. We are at the part where Collin has to do a bunch of work hanging cement board, patching, waiting for it to dry, blah blah blah. All this while I have stock piled all of the gorgeous tile and am itching to get it up in the shower!

The first step was to staple in the tar paper which will act like a vapor barrier:


Next, we (as in Collin) installed Cement Board all around the shower and patched all of the seams, corners and edges:


Like I said, snooze fest. But it is done and finally time for tile!

On to the exciting part! Originally, we were planning on doing white subway tile throughout the shower. Its easy, cost efficient and timeless. But when we got to the tile store, I threw that plan out and fell hard for some new tile. Unfortunately, we were at the expensive tile store, but luckily, I was able to find something similar from Home Depot.

The other concern I had was the size of that large wall. Since the house is so old, I can’t add a niche there because the framing is not 2×4, its actually more like 3×3. If a niche was added, it wouldn’t be deep enough to hold anything, once you add cement board and tile. With the wall being that large, I didn’t just want an expanse of the same tile. So after some shopping and planning, Collin and I decided on an inset of patterned tile.

Without further adieu, here are the tile selections:

Main Tile Walls: 


It is kind of a taupey grey, not too cool. and the 4×12 size is a new twist on traditional subway.

Shower Tile Inset:


Shower Floors:


Main Floors: 


And here are the shower tiles together so far (Floor tile doesn’t ship in until today):

IMG_0951 (1)

I am dying of excitement!

Now, on to Tile some shower floors!


New Plans and Shower Pans

Day 5 of Project Bathroom  and we have hit our first major issue.

Backing up, I had some plumbers come in to quote moving the drain and water supply to the back wall of the bathroom to create a tub/shower combo (See Layout Here). Since the old Jaccuzzi was still installed, it was pretty impossible for them to see the pipes or drains, but they just guessed everything would be ok.

Spoiler Alert – It’s not!

So after a long weekend of demo and clearing the area for the plumber, he showed up Monday at 8:30 AM and declared we can’t put a bathtub in the space. It has something to do with the height of the drain and that by extending it, we wouldn’t have the necessary angle for the tub to drain properly.

**Deep Breathes**

So left with no other option, I decided to make it a stand up shower. That would keep the drain where it is, but still move the water supply and faucets to the back wall.

In all honesty, Collin and I would both prefer a stand up shower, but we were adding a tub for resale value. I had the plumber take a look at where we are planning on adding a second bathroom (the old kitchen), and he confirmed we wouldn’t have any trouble adding a bathtub in that area instead. So it kind of worked out, but there was a moment of panic in there somewhere.

The plumber was all done around 11:30, and here’s what we were left with:


With the change of plans, I ran to Home Depot to pick up some new materials. I grabbed some 2×4’s to outline the shower base, tar paper, wire mesh and sand topper cement.

Quick Note here, we used this tutorial on the best way to do this: Installing Mortar Shower Pan Video

When I got home, I wanted to get the area prepped and ready for the first layer of cement. I installed the 2×4’s to outline the shower (30″ x 60″ inside) and then added a second 2×4 right on top, to make sure the curb is high enough that the water doesn’t go over it.

Once that was secure, I cut and installed 15lb Tar paper. I just stapled it right to the floor boards. The tar paper protects to the subfloor from sucking up the moisture in the cement.


The next layer was a layer of wire mesh stapled on top of the tar paper. I don’t have a picture of that, but just trust me, it’s in there.

Finally, we were ready for our first layer of cement. Collin mixed the cement to the consistency of a packed snowball,  not too wet. We laid the cement out and packed it down with a flat trowel. It was a laid on a pitch towards the drain:


After that cured for 2 days, we moved on to step 2 of the concrete. Collin installed some support backers around the perimeter of the shower, and some extra 2×4’s up where the shower door will go. Once I got home from work, we laid down the membrane (red) and nailed it in to the support backers:


We mixed 2 more bags of concrete and poured and packed it in, the same way as the first layer, at a pitch towards the drain.


You can see above, we trimmed the membrane and laid another piece of wood on top, to hold it in place and increase the height of the curb, so no water comes out while showering.

This has to cure for another 2 days, but in the meantime we picked out all of the tile!! Stay tuned for that, because I threw the old budget out the window and can’t wait to see the results!


Leaky Pipes and Demo!

Happy Monday!

I’m planning on lots of progress this week, which means lots of posts.

This past week/weekend was demo week and plumber quotes. I spent the majority of the week on the phone scheduling, rescheduling and meeting with plumbers getting quotes for the bathroom. We finally settled on a plumber, and he said he can start Monday (today!), but the tub and walls needed to be removed for him to start work.

Collin had removed all of the Drop Ceiling and the drywall/tiles around the tub last week. Here’s what it looked like as of Friday:


The good news is we gained between 8-10″ in ceiling height, once we removed the drop ceiling. The bad news is during demo, we must have tweaked a pipe and had water leaking everywhere. Now, it was not water flowing out, but rather a very very quick dribble out of the pipe. Since this bathrooms sits directly on top of the brand new kitchen ceilings, any water would have left big water marks on the ceiling. I was panicking a little. We rushed downstairs and turned off the main water to the house.

I was able to pick up some epoxy putty at home depot and that slowed the leak, but for the past 2 days we have needed to turn the water on from the basement, shower, do dishes, go to the bathroom and rush back downstairs to turn the water off. This was super fun for us, and our guests this weekend (luckily it was only Mom, so no need to impress!)

Sunday morning, after my mom left, Collin and I got to work. The plan was to somehow remove the tub. I bought some heavy duty moving straps thinking we could just walk the cast iron Jacuzzi out of the bathroom. Yeah, ok. This is how far we got it:


There was no chance that was happening. So I did some last minute research and found out you can break cast iron up with a sledgehammer. Que Collin’s happy dance!

We headed to our local Ace Hardware actually buy a sledge hammer.It was fate. Look at the sledgehammer’s name:

IMG_0891 (1)

When we got home, we laid an old towel over the area we wanted to smash and hit it with the sledge hammer. It was much more brittle than expected. Basically, once you bash through the maroon epoxy, the cast iron only needs 1-2 hard hits before it breaks in to big chunks:



After we got the top half off, we used a sawzall to cut the copper pipes and remove the engine:



Then it was easy to move right out. We demo’d the rest of the drywall that was around the tub, and cleaned up:


It was about 4:00 PM at this point, but we decided we could do some more work. We wanted to get the ceiling framed, before the plumber installs the bathtub. We had the wood already and got to work. We installed the edge pieces first:


And then cut and installed the cross beams:


We finished up around 5:00 PM.

Now we are already for the plumber to come this morning. He is going to re-route the water supply and drain to the back wall and prep for a shower to be installed.

Its going to be a busy week, but the goal is to be showering in the new shower by Sunday night!



Bathroom Renovation – Day 1

Finally, the Holidays are over and we can get back in to full blown renovation mode over here! And this is an exciting one because we are going to reno our Bathroom! Currently our house has 1 Bathroom. We will be installing a second one done the line, but for now we are in desperate need of renovating our only Bathroom.

Let’s start at the beginning. Our current bathroom is straight out of the 80’s, full of pink tile, faux wood drop ceiling and the ‘piece de resistance’ – a maroon Jacuzzi. The positives of the bathroom currently are the size, it is huge for only having one bathroom, and the condition (for being 30+ years old, there is not a single chipped tile!

Here are the before pics (straight from the realtors when we bought the house):



And here is the current Layout:


The plan is to remove the Jacuzzi and make a combo tub/shower in its place. Then we can change the standing shower to a linen closet and extend the vanity to become a double vanity. Of course we are going to change out all of the tile, drywall the ceilings, build a custom vanity and install a new tub and lighting. It is going to be a huge project!

Here is the new layout:


This weekend, I got started. While Collin was a work on Monday, I decided to take on 2 small projects in here, while I had a few hours of free time.

The first project was attacking the window area. It had horrendous vertical blinds that I couldn’t look at for one more second. So I ripped those off and sorted through my craft drawer for some extra vinyl frosting I had left over from another project.


Yes that is the neighbors windows! Ah the beauty of  living in attached row homes. 

To start, I measured the window area and cut a piece of frosting 1 inch bigger on both sides.  Then I peeled the backing and used a credit card to smooth it out on the window.


Once it was attached, I used a razor to trim the excess.


Of course, I ran out of frosting on the top window, but thankfully, I don’t think anyone can see in from all the way up there (hopefully).


Now I just need to get the window surround painted, and that tiny area will be done 🙂

I also took some time to remove the pink sear-sucker wallpaper from the window wall. I peeled the top layer off with a scraper tool, then used our wall paper steamer to scrape the under layers:



I promise, I cleaned up afterwards!

Overall, not too much progress, but it is great to have gotten started. Lucky for you, we will be documenting the entire reno here so stay tuned!


Closets, Chairs and Demo

This post is going to be all over the place, so get ready.

I may suck at keeping this blog up to date, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t moving right along over here. Today’s post is to get everyone up to date on where we are, and what’s next!

  1. New Living Room Chairs:

So, Ikea has totally stepped up their game lately and our new chairs are a great example of that. I have been hunting for chairs for this room for a while now, and just needed to get it done. Believe it or not, I have never ordered a piece of furniture online. I have a really hard time committing to comfy things without actually trying them out. So I headed to Ikea to see what they had in stock.

Here are the chairs we chose:


What really sold me on these, were that the covers can be washed and changed if needed. Also, you get to pick the leg color.

Here are ours in the living room:


Love them! And so does Chase:


2. Painted Closet Doors:

Completely changing gears, I finally got around to painting the closet doors. I was really on the fence about whether to replace them or paint them. I was really hating the glass inserts since they looked so dated, but they were solid wood doors and the new doors wouldn’t have been. So quality of door won, and I gave the doors 3 coats of white paint.

Here are the before and afters:



So much better, and I actually hate the glass insert way less than I did before!

3. Closet Demo:

When we renovated the office, we didn’t touch the interior of the closet. This past weekend, I was feeling really motivated and decided that some demo was in order. Here is what the closet looked like when we started:


I removed all of the plaster and slats from the walls, and demo’d down to the studs.


Next up is finishing framing and dry-walling this space. Once that’s done all that’s left is paint (walls and door) and adding a shelf and rod. Then this room is done!!

4. Stairway Work:

Last project that is in the works right now is the stairway. Here is what it looked like when we bought the house:


A few weeks back, Collin removed all of the paneling, and we were left with this:


It has to get worse before it gets better, right?

I keep trucking along on painting those spindles. That is the never ending project, but it’s close to being done.

This past Sunday, Collin started the Drywall work:


And here is where we are as of today:


Looking better, but we have a long way to go. I am going to have to write a whole post about this at some point, but I figured we would get you up to speed for now.

Whew, that was a long post. But you are all caught up now! The next few weeks and weekends are going to be jam packed, so stay tuned!



DIY Trestle Console Table

The area near the front door, where you walk in and out of the house, has been an issue for months. I kept trying to use things from around the house to help this area do its job and it was failing every time.

For a little while, it looked like this:img_1584

A very little while, since I stole that map to put in the den. The mail holder was too high, and honestly, we don’t get that much mail, so the mail holder was just filling up with junk that should have just gone in the trash. The hooks were ok, but they were too thick to fit normal key chains and the bench ended up just being a drop zone for things coming and going in and out of the house.

Finally, I decided we needed something better. If it was going to act as a drop zone, let make it function as best as possible. Here’s what it needed to do:

  • Spot for Keys and Wallet
  • Spot to Hold the dog’s leash
  • Table Height
  • Mirror (to make sure you look semi-presentable on a daily basis)
  • Deep enough for seasonal decor
  • Cheap, but still real wood (it needed to be sturdy, but since we don’t know how long we will be in this house, we don’t want to spend a ton of money on large furniture pieces)

Seems easy enough, right?

First, I decided to take the mirror from above the fireplace and add it to this wall, as detailed in this post. Then I needed to sketch up a design for the console table. One thing I had was a leftover wood table top from an old dining table. It has been in our basement since we moved in. I knew I wanted to use this as the top to the console. This helped dictate the design. I headed off to Home Depot to collect my supplies.

I started out thinking I would use 4×4 posts as the 4 legs of the table, but once I got them home they were way too thick. So, I had to adjust my plans. Here was the sketch:


To start, I cut the posts to 30″ high. Then I cut the table top to 20″ deep.

I attached two 1×4 (cut at 18″) to the top and bottom of the post, to make an I shape. I secured it with glue and screws:


Then I had to whip out some knowledge that was buried deep. Luckily, Google saved my life, but I needed to use the Pythagorean Theorem to figure out the length of the angled edges. I’m not getting it to details about how I figured it out, because it literally hurts my brain, but due to the size of the piece and that my mitre saw only goes up to 45 degree angles, it somehow popped out that the pieces needed to be 9″ long.

I cut 8 pieces to size with a 45 degree angle on each edge. Then I stained everything before putting it together:





Final Product:



Since we already had the table top, the full piece cost about $20 to make. $14 for the post (cut in half to make 2 legs) and $6 for the 1 x 4 board. Not too bad! Now hopefully, it actually functions in this area and gets our lives a little more organized.

$25 New Front Door

This legitimately might be considered stealing, but I am totally blaming multi-tasking and not paying attention as to why I have a new $25 door.

A few weeks ago, I decided we needed a new front door. I am sure the previous home owners are giving me the biggest eye-roll ever, since they probably paid a million dollars for our current door. The current door, as seen below, was a custom door (since the row homes have the smallest door openings), it weighed at least 200 pounds and had a very fancy glass insert that I’m sure was all the rage in the 80’s.



But the color was blah, the door was dated, and even with a good coat of paint, that oval glass insert was never going to be ok.

So after researching my options for the custom sized door and coming up with nothing less than $1,000, I had to get creative. So I headed out to Second Chance, a used furniture and Building Materials store in my neighborhood. I knew I might have luck finding the right size door since all houses in our area are row homes with about the same size openings.

After combing the racks of doors, I found one that was the right size, shape and would let in good light through the windows. It needed a serious coat of paint, but was manageable. The door had $100 price tag, and lucky for me it was 50% off Doors and Windows weekend. I let the stock guy know which door I wanted and he helped load it in to a cart and take it to the pick up area. Now here’s where it gets a little sticky. He wrote me a receipt for $50 since the door was 50% off and told me to take it to the register and pay, and then he would load it in my car.

When I got to the register, I handed the woman my checkout slip and credit card and then got side tracked by beautiful glass door knobs (who can resist glass knobs?). I figured she would check me out while I perused the knobs. She handed me my receipt and I went to pick up. The stock guy loaded up my car with the door and I headed home. Once I got home and looked at the receipt, I realized she gave me 50% off the door – again. So $25 total. I probably have terrible Karma following me around now, but I was pumped anyway!

Here is the door the day I got it home:


On Sunday, Collin and I went about getting that door mounted. We first removed the old door and measured where the hinges needed to go on the new door. Then, we mounted the new door. It actually was the first time we have ever mounted a door and it actually fit on the first try.


Once mounted it was ready for paint. I chose Benjamin Moore Marquee in Art District. It is this great muddy brown green color that brings some much needed contrast and looks great with the white trim and black hardware. The door needed 2 coats on each side.

Here it is in the day and night:



Its looking so much more modern and clean, let’s in a lot of light and we’ve gotten a bunch of compliments from neighbors!

A little side by side action:

Next on the list is to paint out the mouldings around the door and finally finish off this area!


Make Store Bought Art Look Custom

Guys. This is an art game changer.

Now that I figured out that the mirror above the fireplace was just wrong, I have been searching for some large scale art to hang in its place. I checked a million different places, and even considered trying to make some myself, but the size I needed was expensive anyway I sliced it.

Then a Home Goods miracle happened and I stumbled upon this cutie:


  • Size: 40″ x40″ (perfect!)
  • Colors: Blues to match the couch, Greens to Match the walls (perfect!)
  • Price: $40 (seriously, perfect!)

So I snatched it up and ran towards checkout. I got it home and hung it above the fireplace. It was still great, but the light color towards the top of the art, got lost against the white fireplace. It just needed something small to make it pop.

I headed to Home Depot to pick up four 1.5″ pieces of trim at the cost of $1.96 each. When I got home I cut the trim to size and stained the pieces.

Finally, I simply nailed the trim pieces as a frame directly to the art work:




The stained frame matches the Mantle and puts a nice boarder around the art. For an extra $8, it was well worth it! It makes the art piece look more custom and pulls together the room perfectly!



Coming back later this week for a new front door (eek!), a DIY Console Table and to find out where the mirror went!

Living Room Detail Work

Happy Tuesday!

I might actually have more than one post this week since we had a really productive weekend! Collin and I have been out of town for the past 2 weeks, so it is finally time to get back in to the swing of things around here.

Our goal at this point in the renovation, before fully diving in to the Bathrooms we need to fully gut ($$$), is trying to go back through the house and finish all of the detail work that needs to be done. So we are starting in the front living room.

Last week, Collin had off on Thursday so I tasked him with finishing some detail areas of the floors. When we laid the floors we were missing a piece called the Stair Nose. I needed one that matched the hardwoods we laid, so I ordered it from Home Depot ages ago. And then it sat in our living room collecting dust because neither Collin nor I had ever installed one before, and didn’t want to mess it up.

I don’t have a great before picture, but you can sort of see below that the edge around the step down to the tiled entry is just cut straight across.


To start, we pulled up 7 rows of flooring. Since it just floats on top, this was easy. Then Collin cut a piece of the edging at a 45 degree angle and then cut to length for both the left and right side. We installed that with nails.

All that was left was to re-lay the hardwoods and shorten the end ones. Here is the finished product:

IMG_0639.HEIC We do need to finish off the edges with 1/4″ Round still, but overall it is a much cleaner, more finished look.

In addition to this little flooring updates, big moves are happening in the front living room. Since my last post, the big temp couch is gone and we were able to rearrange furniture to get the room back to the way it should be. Also, we ordered a new rug from rugsusa.com, and bought some IKEA curtains to finish off the window areas.

Here is the before and after of the same view:

Before: The cowhide rug that used to be here had an incident with a dog we were fostering (not the angel in the picture below, he is a good good boy). That had to go so we did a little rug borrowing from the den and guest bedroom. This rug works in here, but I need to buy a new rug to fill the rooms that we just took from. Also, the Window Treatments look unfinished. I think its because the windows are so tall (like 6.5 feet tall), but they need something else. Finally, the mirror above the fireplace, while so cute, can only be used by someone over 7 feet tall.


After: A more neutral rug in the right size (6 x 9) helps lighten the space up. I picked up the RITVA window treatments from Ikea (118″) and hemmed them with simple iron hem tape to the right height. Finally, the mirror has been moved to a more useful location (more on that later this week)


Later this week I’m going to post all about the new front door (the steal of the century $), a simple update to make some affordable art look custom, and a DIY Console table I built! Get excited!