1.27.2015

Herringbone Slate Entry Pathway

When I left off on this front entry project last time, we had removed the unattractive orange tile, smoothed out the concrete and were searching for a new material for our front walkway.

We mulled over our options, flip-flopping back and forth between painting or tiling the walkway. I was eventually swayed the tile route when I found these inspiration images on Pinterest:

slate tile

I fell for the slate because I thought it was the perfect stone to tie in with the dark grey color of our shutters and front door, plus the idea of natural stone was appealing because this is the first impression of the house and stone is a nice, upgraded material compared to ceramic tile.

Once we knew we wanted slate, we went to our usual flooring store – Floor & Decor – and checked out their slate collection. We looked at all sorts of tile, from large squares to tiny backsplash tiles, but eventually we settled on the 12x24 Multicolor Slate Tile for $1.89/sq. ft. This tile won out because the size and price were right, plus it had a nice texture to it that I thought would guard against slipping issues when the tile is wet from the rain.


This tile comes in a wide variety of colors, but I handpicked 40 pieces to be in the color family I wanted, which was mostly charcoal grey with a hint of brown.

I asked the husband to try a herringbone pattern, even though he'd never done it before. He was hesitant, but I told him we could always do a subway pattern if the herringbone proved too complicated. But of course, nothing is too complicated for my geometry-teacher husband! He figured it out in no time and got to work. The first step was dry fitting the pattern to make sure we liked the concept before he made any cuts.


Once we were happy with that, he started by the door and began making his cuts. I could never do this in a million years, but his math-minded brain worked through the specifics right away. He put down the grey mortar and used 1/4 inch spacers to work his way out from the door.


The first section was pretty straightforward, but it got a bit trickier once the pathway got wider. He had some complicated cuts, but he made it work!


He let that sit overnight and came back the next day with the sanded Pearl Grey grout. The grout was given another day to set, and then he applied some stone enhancer/sealer that was leftover from our travertine project.

We are so happy with how it turned out! The husband really outdid himself on this one.



It's just another element that makes our curb appeal so much better than when we bought the house. What once looked like this...

... now looks like this:
And I feel pretty great about how much better the slate tile looks compared to the orange tile:


Check one more project off the list! Hooray! What projects have you been working on lately?

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1.19.2015

DIY Color Dipped Bowls

While the husband was working on our front porch project – which I hope to show you later this week, assuming I can get home before dark to take some decent photos –  I decided to upgrade these simple wooden bowls I recently bought at the thrift store. I mean, aren't they the happiest little bowls you've ever seen?!


I was driving home from work last week when my route was redirected because of construction. I got on an unfamiliar highway, promptly missed my exit and found myself in front of – wouldn't you know it? – my favorite thrift store. Subconscious driving? I don't know. I took it as a sign that I should go in, of course. About 10 minutes later I emerged with two miniature trophy vases and four wooden bowls. "Smalls," as they would call these purchases on American Pickers.


I have a thing for wooden bowls. I have no idea why. My husband thinks this is a really weird item to have "a thing" for, but I don't care. Wooden bowls are classic and one can never have enough!
* cough * Hoarders * cough *

I had a specific vision for these bowls right away. I thought I could instantly modernize them by doing a color dipping treatment with some painter's tape and spray paint. This isn't my first rodeo with the "color dipped" look. We had a long love affair back in 2012 that started when I made these color dipped spoons for my friend's bridal shower. I loved them so much that I made a rainbow version for a wedding gift and even some glittery wooden spoons for myself, which I am still using on a daily basis.

I hand painted all of those wooden utensils, but I thought this project called for some spray paint. So I started off by taping off all of my bowls that only the bottom third was showing.


After a few coats of spray paint and some clear varnish, I had the cutest wooden bowls on the block! There is something so satisfying about pulling off painters' tape to reveal a finished project.


I'm sure you've seen these types of bowls at the thrift store before. I hope I've inspired you to give them another look. I know I'll be on the lookout for more now so I can add to my collection!


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1.12.2015

Front Porch Makeover Options

When we were touring this house for the first time, one of the first things I noticed was the tiled path leading to the front door. The tile was orange with grey grout, and I wasn't a big fan.

This photo from our original home tour shows how the orange tile worked with the patio pavers and concrete driveway. Seems like an odd choice of flooring for the front path, right?


We looked past the tile and bought the house anyway, but it's always been something we wanted to change. Once we painted the house, I thought the tile looked even worse.


About a week ago, the husband finally decided he was fed up with the tile. Plus, he was on Christmas break from his job and was dying to have some sort of project. He used a sledgehammer to break up the tile and then a flat shovel to pry up all the tile pieces. (He did this while I was gone, so I don't have any photos.) Once that was finished, we were left with chunks of leftover mortar that was still attached to the concrete.


We knew we needed a smooth surface to work with, so he rented a demolition hammer to chip away at the mortar and then used an angle grinder with a diamond wheel to grind it down into smooth concrete.


This part of the job was incredibly dusty. I happened to be walking by our front door inside the house and saw tons of dust pouring in around the edges and under the weatherstrip. Gross! I immediately grabbed some towels and tried to seal the small openings from the inside, but not before a fine layer of dust covered the formal living and dining room.


Those two tools worked really well, and now we have basic concrete surface to work with. It's already an improvement over the orange tile. It's not really discolored, but in this photo you can see the front part of the walkway is wet from a recent rainstorm.


The question is, what should we do noq? We don't feel like we can stain the concrete because, as you can see with the rain-soaked photos above, some of the old grout lines are still faintly visible. The stain would probably reveal that even more. Plus the bottom half of the path has a different color concrete than the top, so the stain might not apply evenly.

The way I see it, we have two options. We can paint the concrete with an opaque paint or we can tile the entryway with some new tile that matches the house better. Of course, within those two options are even more options: Paint a pattern? Faux stone? What type of tile? What color?

Whatever we choose, it needs to coordinate nicely with both the grey concrete driveway and the multicolored patio pavers. The color scheme should work well with our exterior siding color (Shenandoah Taupe, Benjamin Moore) and the front door (Hematite, Valspar).

This is where I need your help. You can see what we're working with in the photos above. What do you think would look the best? Please leave your suggestions in the comments. We need a great idea because we are stuck!


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