Category Archives: house and home

Fridays at Home: Half Bath, Flooring

9th February 2018

Last Friday, I talked about half bath demo and framing the wall and pocket door.

Once the wall was framed and the floor was clean and free of any leftover screws, we could lay backer board and then begin to tile!

We both really hated using the backer board. While it’s relatively easy to score (you really need a carbide blade for this, I discovered through reading contractor forums), the boards do tend to crumble, so it isn’t quite as easy to work with as drywall. You also do not want to lay your boards in such a way that four corners meet, so stagger them for stability. You have to leave space as well for them to shift. Otherwise, down the road, your tile might be affected. The purpose of the backer board is to make a monolithic substrate – a flat surface on which to lay tile. Contractors are divided as to whether or not you mud first. However, because we were going back with the same small mosaic tile, we were less concerned with breakage and decided to move forward. We used the appropriate backer board screws and, for stability, added them closer than every square foot. Time will tell if this was the right move.

Here’s where I’ll admit that I was desperately trying to get the job done. We host an annual Christmas party, and I was hoooooping I could have this close to finished. [Spoiler: I did not finish in time.] So I decided I could tile myself, once I finished the semester. Even though I’ve never tiled anything. Ever. We borrowed a wet saw from a neighbor who is really generous with his collection of tools, and I dry fit the tile to see how I could make the fewest cuts possible. After lots of looking and dreaming, we went with the Daltile Prologue Ceramic Octagon/Dot tile from Home Depot. The price was too good to pass up; the tile fits the feel/age of the house and the half bath and will abut the black and white lip into the kitchen (seen below). If you order tile, make sure you order more than you need – take it from me.

My husband helped me find the square of the room (don’t even ask me, it was way over my head) to make sure the tile was square. We snapped chalk lines for me to find a good spot to start. Note: Square and flush – those concepts are beyond me. Level is about as much as I can conceptualize.

Annnd I got started. I mixed my thinset, let it sit, per instructions, mixed again, and nervously began.

Mudding suuuuucks. I hate it. I was a mess. Who knew that using a wet saw and cutting tile was the easiest part of the process? Not me. But I powered through.

Tiling this tiny space took me all day. It’s so much trickier than it looks. See those little diamonds that fit into the spaces? Impossible not to have thinset ooze out. Because we used the same tile as the previous owners, I knew I had to fix that or be left with a tile job I was not pleased with. Once I finished, there were two square-foot sections that were higher. Thankfully, Caleb (my husband) was once a bricklayer, so he redid those for me.

After allowing the tiles to dry and cure, it was time to grout! Because of the size of the space between the tile, unsanded grout is recommended. I mixed it according to instructions, let it sit, then mixed a minute longer and got busy. You need a grout float and grout sponge for this step, and while it takes some elbow grease, it is SO satisfying to see the results! Essentially, you push the grout into the spaces with your grout float at a 45-degree angle, do an entire section, then wipe with your barely damp sponge. A haze will be left, but after 24 hours, you can wipe that away with a dry cloth. I couldn’t believe the difference.While it isn’t perfect, it’s so much better than the tile job before, and I love that even with the same tile, we went with a light gray diamond in between the white hexies. The gray is subtle but adds interest – and most importantly, made it feel like I wasn’t just having to correct someone else’s bad job.

We still have to seal the grout, but other than that, it’s ready to go! I’m proud that I did this almost totally by myself, but I will also admit, out of the many home projects I’ve tackled, this was not my favorite. But I saved us some money and retain bragging rights.

Join me next week as we get one step closer to completing this project.

Fridays at Home: Half Bath, Demo & Framing

2nd February 2018

If you missed last week’s Fridays at Home, and my home’s deepest, darkest secret, you might want to read that first.

So. Once we decided the layout of the room, got bids for plumbing, etc., it was time for the work to begin! The plumber came, discovered our hot water heater was leaking, which tacked on a few hundred dollars more to the scheme, but we had all that and the new plumbing installed in a day.

Even though we had a lot of visitors in and out, I was determined to get started, so I began ripping up the tile one evening when my husband was playing a jazz gig. That weekend, he helped me get the rest of it up.

Next, we had to rip up the concrete backer board, which was. a. mess.

Thankfully, the wood floor beneath that was in shockingly good condition. The floors are original to the home, and at the time the home was built, there was no sub floor underneath, so we were very happy we didn’t have to rip this out.

We also needed to pull out all the trim in order for the new tile to look neat and clean once we were finished. Pulling out trim doesn’t sound like a tough job, but these boards are ancient and thick and did NOT want to come out easily. It was quite the job.

Next, we framed out the pocket door. Because this space is so small, a swing-out door wasn’t a possibility. After a lot of research, we ordered a Johnson Pocket Door Kit to fit our door specifications. They also have a super helpful video with instructions. However, the framing was a bit trickier. In most cases, people are ripping out a wall to insert a pocket door. We were having to create a wall, and I really had to be able to visualize this process. The tutorial that helped me the most was from Sawdust Girl. Once I realized that we were really creating a pony wall (non load bearing), I was less stressed. Essentially, we needed to create a header. The Johnson pocket door kit gives explicit instructions as to the height and width you need to situate the kit.

The toughest part about this was our ceiling height. Those suckers are HIGH, so it took both of us on ladders working above our heads to get this installed. Once that was done, the pocket door kit itself was really simple to install.

Voila! Demo and framing complete.

Join me next week when I talk about the project I’m most proud of but that I’m not in a hurry to do again – floor tiling.


Fridays at Home: A Deep, Dark Secret

26th January 2018

When I bought my house nearly nine years ago, I was young and pretty broke. My house was old then and needed some love. I added duct work, a/c and heat (central air is a must in our area). I had the exterior painted. I did my own painting on the inside, but all along, I was hiding something.

The butler’s pantry. Yes, I have a butler’s pantry, which is ridiculous in a 114-year-old, 1700-square-foot house. This is a tiny, empty space that I’d gotten so used to I didn’t even notice it anymore. The previous owners had begun prepping the space to create a half bath, but they did an incredibly shoddy tile job, as you can see above, and that was about it. Years ago, I priced plumbing, finally picked my jaw up off the floor, and went on my merry way. I could live without a half bath. I was single and living alone. One bathroom was enough.

For years, I rarely had house guests. I *think* my aunts stayed once because I recall going out and buying a mattress specifically for their stay. However, once my now-husband moved in, we had his sister come and stay, and later, his mother. Having only one bathroom was extremely inconvenient, especially as it’s attached to our bedroom. Still, other needs came first. The house had to be painted again to protect the aged wood. The back door wasn’t working properly and had no steps once we ripped out a deck, etc., etc.

However, after the hurricane, my parents were with us for nearly six weeks. We also had some lovely people stay with us while they volunteered in the area, and then my mother-in-law and her husband stayed with us for two weekends. The half bath, which once seemed a luxury, became a necessity.

While we’re well on our way to completing this project, I thought I’d show you guys my inspiration board before delving into the details next week.

The space is approximately 4 feet by 5 feet, so a small toilet and pedestal sink are about all that will fit, but I thought, I’ve waited this long, why not go all out? I want to open the pocket door and just feel like this is a perfect little spot in the house.

I’m planning on wallpaper half up, paint half down. There is a massive window in the space, so even covered, there should be plenty of light even with all that black wallpaper. Two globe fixtures should brighten it up as well.

We’ve already:

  • had a plumber install new lines and tie into sewage
  • ripped up the tile and removed trim
  • framed a pony wall
  • installed the pocket door hardware
  • laid new tile
  • drywalled
  • added bead board
  • and installed the door

Now I need to get my rear in gear and wallpaper and paint so that we can hook up the sink and toilet. I cannot tell you how excited I am! Come back next Friday, and I’ll share progress photos.


Fridays at Home: The Eclectic Bedroom

7th August 2015

When people visit my home, they usually comment that they love my rooms but aren’t sure how I put different pieces together. I can’t claim credit for that because I guess I’ve never really known any other way to decorate. My mom and dad always had a nice home, but they were – as I am – on a budget, so big box, matching pieces never filled their home. Chairish – a site where design lovers can buy and sell furniture, both locally and nationally (you can sort your search by location) – asked me to join other bloggers for a Mix and Chic Style Challenge. You know I was so in. 🙂

When I bought my house, any extra money went to add central air conditioning and heat – a must in southeast Texas. I pieced together my rooms from different vintage shops, but over the years, I’ve gotten more comfortable in trusting my gut when it comes to decorating and have been slowly revising different rooms in the last several years.

After ten years with the same bedding and bedroom decor, I decided it was time for a refresh. For months, I pinned ideas to Pinterest. Personally, even though Pinterest is now chock full of ads, I still use it to curate ideas. That way, I can look at a board and see what I gravitate toward. I realized I wanted to keep dark bedroom walls (and even go darker) but modernize most everything else. I chose a bed and nightstands first. My nightstands match for the first time ever, but to keep the room from being too matchy-matchy, I went with different lamp styles. I painted. I chose bedding. My grandmother’s sofa keeps the space from being all modern, all the time, but I also didn’t want the two sections of the room to look like two different styles.

My antique vanity has seen better days, and it was a little too big, so I’m looking at options. I like the idea of an ultra modern vanity with a vintage mirror. Who says the two can’t live together well? I have a vintage lamp for the top along with candlesticks for my many, many bracelets, so I think something like I’ve added below would work well.

It’s still a work in progress, but each night I climb in bed and sigh. I love the changes. Putting together an eclectic space certainly takes longer than buying a pre-designed set, but it’s also extremely satisfying. Once I get the final pieces in place, you know I’ll share.

Bedroom 1


As for how to put together a room, I recommend several things, though the order can change:

  • Think about how you want the room to feel
  • Curate your style – look back at magazine photos you’ve loved or Pinterest boards
  • Envision specific pieces or check out sites like Pinterest, Chairish, or local sale sights for inspiration
  • Pick one major thing – for me it can be paint color, a piece of furniture, or a rug and then build a room around it
  • Get started!

Fridays at Home: Dresser Makeover

5th December 2014

This is the tale of an ugly duckling. A very ugly duckling (and please excuse the awful quality of the photos):


A decade ago, I really disliked mid century modern furniture. Of course, much of what I had seen was in really bad condition, with really bad colors. But in recent years, I’ve fallen hard. But I’ve also been on a budget, and mcm furniture usually isn’t cheap. So when I found this beast at a local vintage place for $50, I snapped a photo, sent it to my vintage-shopping partner in crime for approval and felt like a criminal when I left with it. I was in the midst of painting and updating my guest bedroom/office and knew I wanted something with a bit of storage.

It was in bad shape. Baaaaad shape. The veneer was ripped off in lots of places, and I considered just painting it as is. But then I came across this post on repairing damaged or missing veneer, and I knew I was down to try this with some Bondo.


This Bondo is messy stuff, but it’s also pretty miraculous. (And no, they aren’t paying me to say that.) I Bondoed like crazy. This stuff dries pretty quickly and makes a huge mess…er, actually that was me making the mess…but it was worth it. After I sanded it down and started to paint, I knew I had made the right decision.


I boldly went where I never thought I would go – fuschia. And not just fuschia, but high gloss fuschia. I’m not a pink girl, but I had just repainted the front bedroom/office bright white and knew I needed to inject a good bit of color in that space. Well, look no further. I used Clark & Kensington’s Calypso Beat in high gloss.

I tried primer on one of the drawers, but it didn’t make much difference. The key to a high-gloss finish is patience. Of which I have little. But I did it! I painted three coats in all, waiting 24 hours between each one, and I absolutely love the finished product.



I also spray painted the pulls. They’re brass, but cleaning ten of them proved to be a ridiculous amount of effort, and they would eventually just tarnish again.

So this was my most recent house update, and I love it. I painted the room bright white, and now it’s a room I love going into (which is always a plus).