Our Kitchen Tile DIY

Our Kitchen Tile DIY

Let me just start this off by telling you what I have really learned today… This is the SECOND time I am writing this post, because I didn’t save my first one. Nooooooo! Horrible. 

Have you ever done something that you never expected to do in your life?  Pretty much every project in our home is turning out to be that “something” for me.  Sticking with the flooring theme, we decided to tile the kitchen floor.

When we purchased our home, the flooring in the kitchen was an avocado-green vinyl sheet flooring.  It was chipped in some areas and lifting up in others.


We had to do a lot of preparation for this project.  We started by pulling off the baseboards on the walls and scraping up the areas of the vinyl that were lifting up.  The floors in the kitchen were SO squeaky.  This happens when the subflooring begins to pull away from the floor joists, underneath.  We spent a lot of time going through the kitchen and finding those areas that were squeaky and screwing them back down to the floor joists.

We then measured the space and got the right amount of tile for the area.  We chose and 12 inch x 24 inch tile in a medium grey.  We planned to have 1/8 inch gaps between the tiles.  Prior to laying the tile, we measured and marked where all of our rows would go.

Next, we mixed the mortar and started laying the tile.  This proved to be time-consuming and a LOT of work.  We found that the most efficient way to lay the tile was to have Tyler measure and cut, while my sister, Maddy, and I laid the tile in place.  We used a level to make sure that all the tiles were level.  And we also used a lot of spacers so that we would have the correct amount of space between each tile and so that each tile would be straight.

In hind site, I would have been less messy.  Now, I can remember Tyler saying that I needed to be careful with the mortar, because I would have to clean it off.  It wasn’t until after the mortar had set that I tried to wipe off the excess.  It all came off easily enough with a little elbow grease.  But it would have been better if I wiped it off when it was still wet!

A few days later, we were ready to grout.  (You can grout sooner.  You can grout 24 hours after your tile has set. We just couldn’t do it sooner.)  We chose a light grey grout.  I love how clean the combination the medium grey tile and the light grey grout look.


The finished product was, honestly, the most satisfying part of the whole project.  The grout really makes your hard work look SO good.  And, surprisingly, it is very forgiving. This project was a LOT of work, but such a good beginner tile project.  I thought that the floor was a good place to start.  The next tile project we did was the shower walls, which proved to be a lot more challenging.  Especially, because we built an alcove into the wall of the shower.

Materials used: 





1/8 inch spacers

1/4 inch shims

1/2 square notch trowel

grout float

2 buckets, for mixing mortar and grout

power drill

grout mixing paddle


tile saw


New Digs

New Digs

I can  remember the night that I got the call from Tyler.  I picked up the phone and he said, “Jess, I got in.”  My initial response was, actually, to laugh.  He laughed, too.  He had gotten into one of the best schools in the nation.  How could we turn down this amazing opportunity???  We both knew that we couldn’t.  So we started prepping for the biggest move of our lives.

Our home needed a little bit of sprucing up.  We got to work.  We painted the house inside and out, updated our fireplace, got new carpet, staged our home and cleaned, cleaned, CLEANED. We put so much work into our little home in the last few months, I thought to myself, never again will I go so long without updating along the way.  I barely got to enjoy the beautiful changes that we had made.  Lessons learned from your first home.  And in a matter of months it was time.  We cried and cried some more and said goodbye to our little blue house.


When we started looking for homes in New York, the process proved difficult.  The market was slow and there were only a few candidates in our price range and in the right location.  We ended up settling on a 1960s split level home.  Let me tell you, it looked like it had not been touched since 1960.  Lime green carpet, panelling and vintage wallpaper galore, avocado and lime colored kitchen appliances.  I loved it and loathed it all at the same time.  We were going to have our hands full with this property.  But we were ready to get our hands dirty and put our hearts into it.  This was our beginning, our hello to our new blue house.

My wonderful father-in-law & our new little blue house



Hardwood Flooring Update

Hardwood Flooring Update

IMG_5842 When we first moved into the house, we knew that there would be a few projects that we needed to work on.  The floors in the bedrooms upstairs were the first on our very long list of To Do’s.  The floors are made of a hard wood peg oak.  Which I must admit, were one of my favorite things about this house when we did our walk through.  I could see the potential underneath the dirt and grime.  They had seen a lot of damage over the years.  They were discolored in areas where the sun had bleached the floors out and the varnish had been worn off in other areas so that the wood itself was being exposed.  So for the next few weeks we all camped out in the living and dining room until we could get the flooring finished.

Materials Needed:

  • Drum floor sander (rented at Home Depot)
  • Floor edger (rented at Home Depot)
  • Sand paper for both sanders (Grits of 60, 80, 120)
  • Shop Vac
  • Microfiber cloth mop
  • Stain of choice; we used
  • staining rags
  • Polyurethane
  • lambswool applicator (x2)
  • fans
  • wet sandpaper

This project was MESSY to say the least.  First off, you start sanding.  This process was intense!  My muscles ached by the end of the day.  The edger was so heavy and will take you for a ride if you don’t have a handle on it well enough.  Please note that it is noisy and sawdust gets every where! Wear protection for your ears, eyes and mouth!  *not pictured*  I wore a pair of Beats headphones to drown out the noise.


When you are sanding, you have to go over the whole flooring with 3 different grits of sandpaper.  You work from the smallest grit (60) to the largest grit (120).  This is done to create a smoother finish.  You also want to go with the grain of the wood.  It is harder to get a smoother finish if you go against the grain.


This is after using the edger with the 60 grit sand paper.  As you can see, the 60 grit does the job getting off all of the old varnish.  It was so exciting to see the wood underneath.  I knew that this project was going to be amazing.


Such a HUGE difference!  I actually truly loved the look of the flooring naked like this.  I almost chose to keep the flooring light.  We had a few spots in the other room that were discolored and would not do well with just a gloss.  Ultimately, we ended up choosing this stain, which I absolutely love. Also, don’t you love our master bedroom’s vintage watercolor wallpaper???

At this point, you want to clean.  Vacuum and mop with a DRY microfiber cloth.  Then vacuum and mop with a DRY microfiber cloth again.  I think we did this 5 or 6 times, just to make sure that all the saw dust was gone.  Any of the left over saw dust could create issues when you apply the stain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We started applying the stain at night, the lighting was not great.  After a few passes, we decided it would be better to stop.  We started again the next day.  We used the lambs wool applicator to apply the stain and then the staining cloths to wipe away the excess.  I didn’t want too dark of a stain.  The stain is supposed to cure for 24 hours before you try and apply any of the polyurethane.

Lastly, we applied the polyurethane.  It was SO stinky!  All of our windows were open and we had fans on trying to get all the smell out of the house.  We put the first coat of polyurethane on.  The first coat just lays down a good surface for you.  You let this coat cure, then come back in with wet sand paper and rub the surface smooth.  We used a bowl of water and a few drops of dish soap with our sand paper.  Once you sand the whole surface, you will have a bunch of cloudy white marks.  (It is supposed to look like that!)  Wipe the white away with a damp cloth, let dry and then you are good to apply your final coat of polyurethane.


Overall, I am pleased with the results.  I think that the flooring looks 1000 x better than when we moved in.  The flooring looks more cohesive and I love that you can see the grain in the wood, better than before.