...because home doesn't happen overnight.

noir hex grout 1

The bathroom floor has grout! The grouting process went smoothly and was a welcome “easy” step after the tiling fiasco. Steve says he would install tile all day long if the only thing involved was grouting.

I took some pictures to share with you. They’re under artificial lighting because it’s (big surprise) extremely dark and gloomy here today. We’re going to DIY a boat soon. KIDDING. I thought about waiting to shoot on a sunny day but I couldn’t! Still, these images are pretty spot-on for what the floor looks like in real life. It has some variation and variegation which gives it a natural, organic vibe. Just try to imagine white subway tile on the walls instead of that garish pink-red and be aware that almost everything has a pinkish / purplish tint to it from said walls.

noir hex grout 2

That’s the view from the hall looking in at the bathroom floor. The plumbing fixtures on the floor (left-hand side of this image) are for a claw foot tub. The rectangular hole is a heating / cooling register and you can see the toilet drain.

noir hex grout 3

And that’s the view looking back towards the hall. The plumbing fixtures on the wall are for the sink vanity. As you can see, there is a short hall that juts off from the main hallway and leads to a linen closet and this kid / guest bathroom. The door to the bathroom has been leaning against the wall waiting to be hung for over a year!

noir hex grout 4

This close-up shows the little imperfections in each tile. They look old and worn. I think they’re beautiful.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the grouting. There are enough resources out there on the inter webs and I don’t think I’d be saying anything that hasn’t been said already. A few things about our grout though…

Steve and I were at odds when it came to choosing a grout color. He was leaning towards medium to dark while I wanted something lighter to contrast with the noir hex. But I didn’t want white since I knew it wouldn’t stay white for long. So, of course, we googled a bunch of images of “black hexagon tile” for inspiration. We ended up choosing sanded grout in whisper grey. The grout lines are ~1/8″ as predetermined by the mesh sheets of tile. The tile is travertine – the same material as our mudroom / dining room floor – and requires sealing BEFORE grouting. This is a critical step which keeps the porous tile from absorbing the grout and it also helps with grout clean-up.

noir hex grout 5

We used a sealer specifically for travertine that we had leftover from tiling the mudroom floor. Steve rolled it on with a foam roller then buffed it lightly with a terry cloth to avoid pooling. It had to dry for an hour before grouting.

Once the sealer was dry, it was grout time. Instead of mixing up the grout with water, we used a flexible grout admixture. (We’ve actually used it for most of the grout in our house but I don’t think I’ve mentioned it.) Supposedly, the admixture prevents shrinking & cracking and improves strength, bonding, color and stain resistance. Since we used this technique in our master bathroom and the grout is still going strong with no cracks or stains 2+ years in, we figured it couldn’t hurt to use it here, too.

I think the sealer did help with clean-up afterwards. We didn’t have to use a grout haze remover – just water – to clean up. It took about five rounds of sponging with a clean, wet sponge to remove the grout residue.

We still need to seal the entire floor now that the grout is in. That will probably happen this week.

noir hex grout 6

Steve and I both LOVE how the black hexagon floor turned out. Yes, it was such a pain to lay and in the heat of the moment we may have questioned our choice of tile but…BUT!…we are so glad we stuck with it. The final result is just as dreamy as I had envisioned. My favorite part is that it looks old but it isn’t.

What do you think? I can’t say a black hexagon floor is something I’ve always wanted in my house. But now that it’s here I don’t know why I never thought about one before!

We partnered with The Tile Shop for the bathroom floor. They kindly gave us the tile of our choice and necessary tiling supplies. All labor, opinions, images and mishaps are our own.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

04.05.14 / Made Me Smile

made me smile

I feel the need to apologize for being a lame blogger this week. I’m sorry. I had planned on posting more but recovering from The Plague, occupying my kids over their spring break and trying to keep up with everyday household stuff took almost everything out of me. Clearly, I am not Superwoman. Even so, lots to smile about this week.

*Whilst browsing black hexagon floors for grout inspiration, I came across this bathing beauty.

*I grew up in a red metal barn. Bring on the nostalgia you lil’ mini-barn.

*A hall closet-turned-kitchen. Say what?!

*Steve’s co-workers in New Zealand now have a quake-proof building in which to work safely. (I’m pushing for relocation.)

*Being left-handed has its perks.

*I’m dreaming of a cozy beach getaway.

*Clean sheets and open windows are right up there with red wine and chocolate.

*My favorite acoustic trio, Nickel Creek, is back together after a seven-year hiatus. I’ve had their new album on repeat all week. It makes for some good house music.

Fun fact #1: By far, the best concert I’ve ever attended was Nickel Creek featuring Fiona Apple.

Fun fact #2: Nickel Creek covered Britney Spears’s “Toxic” several years ago. It’s beautifully hilarious and definitely worth the listen if you’ve never heard it.

I hope your weekend is full of smiles and glimpses of spring. This winter is like the annoying houseguest who just won’t leave. Good thing I refilled my supply of vitamin D. Vitamin D-induced smiles count too!

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

bday 2

On Saturday, we celebrated Mabrey’s and Everett’s birthdays with extended family. (Mabrey turned two on Sunday and Everett will turn six on Monday.) Their birthdays are close enough to warrant a joint celebration – at least with extended family. Mabrey and Everett have such a close, unique relationship. They don’t mind sharing the spotlight with the other. At least for now.

On my kids’ actual birth days, the goal is to make them feel as special as they are. For us, that doesn’t mean oodles of gifts or an expensive party for all their classmates or even matching decorations. Extra cuddles, some balloons, a special gift, favorite foods, revisiting their birth story, maybe a visit to their favorite park and saying “I can’t believe you’re X years old already!” is all it takes. And we always read Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday to You!

bday 3

It got me thinking about how other families celebrate birthdays. Back when I working as a pharmacist, one of my co-worker’s had a Birthday Hat. It was a big, obnoxious (in a good way) hat that each person wore on their special day. They have pictures of each family member wearing the hat each year on their birthday. Such a fun tradition!

Growing up, my family took pride in singing the most horrible, drawn-out version of “Happy Birthday” you’ve ever heard. Loud, off-key, out of sync – that’s the stuff! The worse, the better. It’s always funny to see how non-family members not accustomed to our tradition react to the rendition. Usually, they look on in horror!

bday 1

How do you celebrate birthdays in your family? Any unique traditions? I’d love to hear ‘em.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

noir hex 4

We have floor tile in the kid / guest bathroom! It took two tries along with the help of a friend with more tiling experience than us to knock it out. We need to address a few wall and corner tiles in the far right corner and we haven’t grouted yet but I couldn’t wait any longer to share our progress – especially since this project proved to be more difficult than we had anticipated. The floor tile was in as of Sunday and I would have shared images sooner but The 2014 Plague had me down and out the last two days. The last few days have felt like weeks but things are finally returning to normal around here.

noir hex 3

We had family in from out of town so I took the kids to visit them while Steve and our contractor friend, James, tackled the bathroom flooring. As much as I want to be an active, hands-on participant in this bathroom project, often it’s more helpful if I’m the one keeping the kids occupied and out of the way.

I thought I would share the tiling tidbits that Steve found most helpful when laying the hexagon tile. Some of the tips are basic ones you’ve heard before but were easily forgotten in the heat of the #epicfail. Others come from the experience of our friend, James. Maybe you will find them useful.

*First, don’t rush! Steve was in a hurry to get going the first time around because the project had been postponed from the day before and he had to be at work the next day. It’s imperative to have a good game plan and be patient. You’re better off with a really nice half-tiled floor or wall than a shoddy “finished” job.

*Work from the center out. Define your reference line based on where / how you want your tile to hit in the most critical areas. Mark off a second line perpendicular to the first. Essentially, this breaks the room up into four quadrants. Start where the two lines intersect and work your way out, constantly checking your reference lines and adjusting as needed. For this project, Steve focused on perfecting the entrance and visible floor-wall seams. He wasn’t as concerned with tile that will eventually be hidden by the tub or vanity.

*Inspect and dry fit everything. Steve did dry fit the first time he attempted to lay the hexagon tile – but only partially. When he discovered there was an issue with the tile sheets matching up correctly, he assumed he would be able to “make it work” as he went along. James suggested inspecting each box of tile before dry fitting. Upon inspection, one box contained tile that was 1/8″ smaller than the rest of the tile with tighter gaps between the individual tiles. And wouldn’t you know, that was one of the two boxes Steve started with the first time around?!

*Mix up small batches of thin-set. Mixing up a large bucket of thin-set might seem like a time-saving step but, actually, it could be detrimental to the whole “don’t rush!” mindset. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t take that much time or effort to mix up smaller batches of thin-set as opposed to one big batch.

*Be clean with your trowel. This takes time and experience. Steve admits to slathering on a bunch of thin-set then forging ahead. But you really only need to trowel on a little more thin-set than what’s required for the current tile sheet you’re working with at the moment. Also, be aware of your reference lines when troweling and don’t wipe them out completely.

*If an individual tile needs adjusted, it’s easier to make the adjustment after the sheet has been laid. Just trace the outline of the tile with a utility knife, cutting the backing in the process. Shift the tile into the proper position. Use spacers or even small pieces of cardboard to hold adjusted tiles in place. This works for tiles that are thinner as well. Cut the tile out, pull it up, back-butter it and then place it back at the same height as the rest of the tile. Steve guesses he had to adjust ~1 tile per sheet due to spacing and height issues.

*If you have help, let someone else cut the tile. This saves time running back and forth between the wet saw. If your tile and layout allow, hand-held tile nippers or scorers can save time and energy, too.

noir hex 2

I called Steve a few hours into the job to see how things were going. Just from his tone of voice, I knew it was going well and I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. When a DIY project isn’t going as planned, it helps us to take a break, take a step back, start over, get back to basics and enlist experienced help if possible. We’re so thankful James was willing to help us out. (FYI – We’re compensating him for his time with dinner and concert tickets.)

I hope you learned something from our tiling snafu. We sure did. Next up? Grout!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking