...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I’ve shared the floor plan and phased facade makeover of our home, so the next logical step would be an interior tour. Let’s start with a tour of how the house looked inside on the day of the inspection, shall we? This tour isn’t meant to be a comprehensive study of each and every corner and closet. (I’ll save those details for individual room tours/makeovers in the future.) It’s more of an overall look at how the spaces flow from one to the next and serves as a baseline for any changes made. That being said, I’ll try to point out the prominent features we were (side- and heart-) eyeing at the time.

Note: The following images are not “pretty.” They were taken hastily on the day of inspection while I was following the inspector around, asking questions and listening to his answers. The lighting is terrible; the focus is blurry. Also, the previous homeowners were in the process of packing and moving at the time these photos were taken. No judgment.

Welcome! This is the front entry looking toward the living area. The front door is on the right and opens up to the side of the staircase. It’s a little odd but not crowded. After living in a ranch where the front door opened directly into the living room, this little entry felt like a luxury! We knew it was big enough for a few small entry staples (slim console table, mirror, shoe basket, etc), but it didn’t feel overly grand or showy – which isn’t our style anyway. It’s the perfect little “hug.” With no overhead lighting and a solid exterior door, this space was inherently dark. We pictured a new door with glass panels to let in ALL. THE. LIGHT. I really didn’t like the finish of the floor tile. (It reminded me of the tile in McDonald’s back in the day.) Notice the step down into the living area. We immediately liked this feature, signaling a transition to a different space.

Fun fact: there was a sign posted on the left that read, “WATCH! STEP DOWN.”

Here’s the open living/dining area after taking that step down. We LOVED all the natural light pouring in from the large windows and a north-facing skylight…so much that we imagined adding a second skylight on the south side. We were also big fans of the vaulted ceiling and wood-burning stone fireplace but were a bit perplexed as to the corner placement of the latter. We weren’t sold on the wood tone of the ceiling but figured it was something we could address later if we didn’t like it. (Spoiler alert: we lived with it and grew to love it.) We weren’t keen on any of the floor coverings (hearth tile and carpet) but they appeared to be in good shape, so we decided they were details we could live with while we addressed more pressing issues…like the ceiling fans and spotlights.

We saw ourselves using this half of the room as a living area with seating and a TV.

This half of the room was well-suited as a dining space with pass-through access to the kitchen (on the left). The French doors leading to the backyard were a selling point, but the teeny deck right outside wasn’t. We also predicted the overhead lighting situation in this area would be…challenging (notice the off-center chandelier)..but it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

This is the view from the dining/living area looking back toward the staircase and kitchen. See the pass-through on the right? We detested it upon walk-through and still aren’t fans of it visually but do appreciate its practicality;) We felt the swinging louvered doors (shown center) to the kitchen were completely unnecessary. (I removed those suckers the day we moved in.) Notice the open space under the stairs and the *indoor* Juliet balcony off the upstairs bedroom. Gotta love that ’70s quirk! We knew we could turn the unused spot under the stairs into something more, well, usable. I was dead set on closing up the Juliet balcony but, three years in, it’s still there. Let’s just say we could host American Ninja Cat Warrior if approached.

What we most loved about the step-down space was its openness and spaciousness. And, yet, it still managed to feel cozy. With all the weird angles, I knew a more balanced furniture layout and matching bay window/French door curtains would help unify the space.

Ah, the kitchen. (See the stone fireplace through the pass-through?) So many angles. Angled doorway to the living room. Angled sink. Angled island. Angled soffit. ALL. THE. ANGLES. There isn’t really anything about the kitchen that we liked other than the overall size, access to the backyard and separation from the living area. (With older kids, we’ve discovered we like the separation.)

The small pantry and desk area are severely under-utilized. So much wasted space.

Initially, the small breakfast nook felt nostalgic but it’s proven to be quite pragmatic as well, especially since remote learning and working have taken over the larger dining area during the current pandemic. French doors (just on the other side of the wall oven) lead to the backyard.

As dark (it’s north-facing) and inefficient (it’s really only workable for one person) as it is, upon purchase we were willing to live with the kitchen and brainstorm a complete overhaul. The appliances worked (and still do) so we’re getting our money’s worth until we attempt to streamline the entire layout which will involve nixing all the angles and getting rid of the soffit!

Our oldest nabbed the bedroom off the kitchen. You know, to be closer to the food.

Back out in the kitchen, this is the hallway connecting the kitchen and garage.

Halfway down the hallway is the laundry/utility room. It’s not a huge room but we were happy to gain a designated laundry space with a door.

Further down the hallway is a shorter hallway that leads to a bathroom (on the left) and two more bedrooms. The forked “intersection” at the end of the hallway had us scratching our heads. Only in a ’70s house!

This is the only bathroom on the first floor. We imagined it serving as both a kid and guest bathroom which we liked. It was decently sized and had a great layout, but we wished it had a window. Since no one in our family spends a ton of time in the bathroom, we were willing to sacrifice a window and vowed to put in better lighting and ventilation instead.

Two bedrooms at the end of the hallway round out the first floor. We liked the fact that we would be gaining a (fourth) bedroom. We also liked that the bedrooms weren’t too big or too small…just right for a bed and desk. We loved the windows in all three bedrooms downstairs. We didn’t love the carpet; overhead lighting was absent. Again, these were cosmetic issues we were willing to wait out and change in the future.

Back down the hallway and on to the second floor! We fell hard for the wide, wood staircase. It screams ’70s. The wood is super warm and handsome, especially on the underside of the staircase. Originally, we tossed around the idea of switching out the railing but over time we’ve grown to embrace it. A landing overlooks the vaulted room. I envisioned a casual gallery of framed photos and art lining the stairwell.

At the top of the staircase is a small loft area. We weren’t sure what exactly we would use it for so dubbed it a flex space and decided to let it evolve organically as we lived in the house. We adore the two windows that flood the stairwell with natural light!

The upstairs bedroom is more generously sized but, still, not huge. It features French doors (on the left) leading to an upstairs deck and an awkward Juliet balcony (on the right) that overlooks the living area. Before touring this house, we’d never considered a floor plan with kid bedrooms on the first floor and a parent bedroom on the second floor. This was our AHA! moment. How amazing would it be to have our own adult space up and away from most other daily activities?! Our kids were older and didn’t need us most nights anymore. The timing was right. We were game. Bring on the adult sanctuary!

A closer look at that Juliet balcony because that’s not something you see every day! For reference, I’m 5’4″ and the header on that bifold door hits at my collarbone. Whatever your question, my answer is “I have no idea.”

More bifold doors (!) lead to an en suite bathroom and closet. We liked the size of this space and the sight line from the bedroom, but the layout is wonky and windowless. The double vanity was a nice feature.

The Chocolate Potty and Tub were not nice features. And there were so many doors! Two bifolds to enter. Two doors on the left (shown above, linen closet & water closet). The small door in the wall behind the towels above the Chocolate Potty is a laundry chute to the utility room.

And two doors on the right (shown above, closet & shower). And, yes, you counted correctly. There are TWO showers in this bathroom. (?!) One standing solo and one combination tub/shower. We predicted we wouldn’t use the tub/shower combo and, three years later, we never have. So, yeah, there’s a lot to contemplate here.

Who knew our adult sanctuary would boast a Chocolate Potty and two separate showers?! Ha!

This is out on the upper deck overlooking the backyard. THIS! This is why we fell in love with this place – the woods! Not the deck with the not-to-code railing that small children could slip through.

“Sorry, kids, you can’t come upstairs because this is an adult sanctuary AND YOU MIGHT DIE.”

This photo was taken in early March (of 2017) and things were already starting to green up. The potential of this outdoor space sparked our interest immediately. Whenever possible, we’re outside and we could see ourselves spending a lot of time out here.

And, just like that, we’re at the end of this before tour! Much like the exterior, the interior of the home was VERY BROWN and sported lots of ’70s flair – some of which we appreciated (vaulted ceilings, wide staircase, stone fireplace, skylight) and some of which left us puzzled (angles upon angles! indoor balcony! mini-loft! Chocolate Potty!)…yet oddly bewitched. We’d never experienced a house quite like this one and that made us love it even more. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’re committed to NOT making this house something it isn’t. We’re happy to call it home, quirks and all!

I’ve been wanting to paint the original ceramic floor tile that lines our entry and a hallway (from the garage to the kitchen) for over two years. I came across this Pinterest image shortly after we moved in and learned that it was achieved by applying chalk paint and lacquer. I thought it might work for our tile and pinned it for future reference. Well, I finally made it happen!

First, feast your eyes on the ’70s reddish-brown goodness I started with…

While I didn’t particularly care for the tile finish (too stripey and unnatural), I did like the placement and herringbone pattern. Hard-wearing tile makes sense in the entry and hallway, but the red-brown finish was generic and the grout lines had seen better days. I think the grout lines were originally light gray but had darkened with dirt and grime over time. (See the lighter grout lines near the staircase?) There were also small, random dark spots on the tile that WOULD NOT come off. Something tracked in from the garage or driveway?

Instead of ripping it all out and installing new tile, I wanted to try painting the existing tile for several reasons: to avoid unnecessary waste, to keep costs down and to hold on to a little bit of that ’70s vibe. By painting the tile and grout, my intent was to give the tile a more natural look and emphasize the pattern. I really wanted it to feel like it could’ve been original to the house. Something like this…

After a ton of online research, I landed on this website dedicated to all things chalk paint. I found a few examples of homeowners using Annie Sloan chalk paint in graphite (on tile) + Annie Sloan chalk paint in french linen (on grout) + Annie Sloan lacquer in a matte finish (as a sealer) to achieve surprisingly realistic slate lookalike results. I’d never used chalk paint before but it sounded promising. No primer or sanding required and, when sealed properly, it’s extremely durable. When I read the fine print that literally states “wait 8-21 days before hosting a party in the room,” I knew it was the perfect quarantine project. To cover the roughly 130 sq ft of flooring with one coat of grout paint, two coats of tile paint and two coats of lacquer, I ordered 1 litre of graphite chalk paint, 120ml sample pot of french linen chalk paint and 750ml pot of chalk paint lacquer in clear matte. With shipping, the total was $106.

FYI: The paint supplies come with extremely detailed instruction sheets. You’ll want to read these before starting your project. Lots of helpful tips!

To start, I thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned the tile. The instructions suggest cleaning with Fabuloso but I didn’t have any on hand so used my go-to: distilled white vinegar + Mrs. Meyer’s basil scent multi-surface cleaner + water mixture. It worked great! Then, using a small art brush from our craft supplies, I painted the grout lines in the french linen chalk paint. I wasn’t super precise since I was going to use a darker paint on the tile. Still, it took FOREVER. Okay, maybe not forever but something like 12 hours on my hands and knees. My back hated me.

I let the grout paint cure overnight (it was dry to the touch in 1-2 hours) and, even with the cats roaming around, it was fine unprotected…probably because it’s somewhat sunken between the tiles.

The next morning I had to re-vacuum (I kept the vacuum and SOFT BRUSH ATTACHMENT nearby throughout this entire project to catch stray hair and dust as needed without marking up the chalk paint) then started on the tile using the graphite chalk paint. I tried using a 4″ foam roller but, sadly, it was a tad too wide and hit my freshly painted grout lines :( I ended up using a 1″ foam brush on the tile because that’s what I had on hand. I think I went through a half-dozen of them before the entire project was over. It was tediously slooooooow but gave good coverage and excellent control. At one point I told Steve, “I’m just going to have to be okay with this taking a long time.” One coat on the tile took 14 hours to complete. (And it needed two coats.) Again, my back hated me. That was my weekend.

I was back to work at the pharmacy during the week so I put down old towels and flat sheets to help protect the first coat of chalk paint somewhat. (The chalk paint isn’t really protected until it’s sealed.) When I pulled back the towels and sheets the following weekend there were a few scuff marks (similar to what you would find on a chalkboard) but no chips. I was pleasantly surprised. Up until this point, I hadn’t been super vigilant about the floor. Kids and cats had been walking on it barefoot for a week with just one coat of grout and tile paint. BUT! (THIS IS IMPORTANT.) Before brushing on the second coat of tile paint, I quarantined the cats upstairs with their litter box and food/water bowls and thoroughly vacuumed with a SOFT BRUSH ATTACHMENT. I also threatened my family to not walk on my progress as I applied the second coat. BECAUSE…it doesn’t really matter what your first coat looks like, but the final product is fully dependent on what the second coat of tile paint looks like! A scuff in the second coat will stay there unless you touch it up before sealing which, trust me, you aren’t going to want to do.

It took me another 14 hours for the second coat of tile paint and another night of curing. (The cats slept upstairs.) Looking ahead to the lacquer, I also turned the unopened pot of matte lacquer upside-down overnight. The instructions advise to do this to prevent settling of the flattening, or “matte-ifying”, agents on the bottom of the can. But! DO NOT SHAKE THE LACQUER. The pictures above show the floor with two coats of tile paint just before I started sealing it with the matte lacquer.

Once again, I carefully vacuumed the tile with a SOFT BRUSH ATTACHMENT. (Even rolling vacuum wheels will leave marks on the second coat!) I thoroughly yet gently stirred the lacquer for 10-15 minutes. You don’t want bubbles to form in the lacquer! For high traffic areas, two coats of lacquer are required for maximum durability. It’s recommended to slightly dilute the first coat of lacquer with 10% water. I poured ~350ml of lacquer into a small paint tray and added 35ml of tap water then stirred well. I used a 4″ multipurpose paint brush to apply the lacquer to the tile and grout lines. The directions caution against “overstroking” the lacquer so I tried to work quickly with long brush strokes, but it was a little difficult not to backstroke because I wanted to make sure I hit the grout lines completely. The lacquer went much more quickly than the chalk paint because I was brushing everything – grout and tile. It maybe took 2 hours to apply the first coat of lacquer. I let it dry for 2 hours then applied the second coat at full strength (no dilution).

Here’s everything after the second coat of lacquer. The second coat of lacquer went on even more quickly than the first because, in effect, the tile was now sealed and not soaking up as much of the lacquer. This is where I could really tell a difference! Before any lacquer, the tile felt like a chalkboard. With the sealer, it felt really smooth like stone. I let the two coats of sealer cure overnight. (The cats slept upstairs again. I think Steve was starting to feel bad for me towards the end when he offered to tape off the baseboards right before I applied the lacquer…after I had already painted everything. Probably wasn’t necessary but was appreciated.)

Side note: The instructions advise applying a gloss (versus matte) lacquer as a first coat on a dark chalk paint color to avoid “clouding” but since I was aiming for a slate lookalike (and slate is naturally cloudy/vein-y) I went with two coats of matte lacquer and no gloss.

And this is how it looked the next morning! I actually love the subtle cloudiness and veining. I think it gives the tile a softer, more natural look which is exactly what I was hoping for. And the herringbone pattern is definitely more noticeable!

I let the cats come downstairs that morning but didn’t replace the rug or furnishings for another three days.

We’ve been living with the newly painted floor for a little over a week now and I’m AMAZED by how well it turned out! We walked sock-footed on it for a few days but are already back to entering/exiting through the front door with shoes on and it’s holding up superbly! Our cats are not declawed. I’ve run the vacuum over it a few times (without the floor brush rotating) and wiped up dirty footprints with a damp soft rag. I have NOT dragged any heavy furniture across it. I haven’t noticed any new marks/scratches other than what was already there before the tile was sealed. The hazy finish is quite forgiving. I expect it to hold up in the long run, especially since it isn’t even fully cured until 14-21 days after application. In fact, the matte lacquer is approved for outdoor use too! It provides UV protection so our floor shouldn’t fade over time from sunlight pouring in through the front door. Another thing I want to mention is that I’ve noticed NO ODOR from the chalk paint or lacquer – now or while painting. NONE. Extremely low VOC for the win!

Was it worth it? Yes! I would absolutely do it again…just not in the next month or so, ha!

If you’re considering this project in your own home, I have a few takeways:

*READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. This wasn’t a difficult project – just tedious. There are no shortcuts. If you follow the directions, you can’t go wrong.

*It would be much less time-consuming in a smaller area.

*Set daily progress goals. With all the steps and curing time needed, this can’t be done in an afternoon. (I may have used PTO – paid time off – at my real job to work on the floor one day.)

*Turn off central heating/air to reduce the amount of dust/hair floating around.

*If your space is a frequently-used area, make arrangements for a temporary detour. Be prepared for extreme ninja moves!

*Fold up a towel under your knees/bum while you’re working. Tile is hard!

*Keep pet paws off from second coat of paint to final coat of lacquer.

*Take short but frequent breaks.