At Home with Christiana: Quick Style Fixes

While this is the Home Renovation and DIY section of our blog, there are many reasons and different stages in our lives where we may not have the ability to take on major home renovation projects. Be it time or budget constraints, or simply living in a rental where making permanent changes isn’t an option, sometimes the dirty work just has to wait.  This post is a nod to some of my favorite, time-tested quick style fixes for the home in times or situations like these. Big style, little effort. No sledgehammers, no permits, no construction loans required. Promise.

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These simple tricks of the trade are great tools to make a temporary house feel like home, stage a home for sale, tap into design trends without commitment, or bring style into your home without investing a lot of time and money. 

Make a Gallery Wall

For those big, empty walls in your home, a gallery wall can make a big impact and really personalize your space without making any permanent changes or dropping any serious dinero.  Use your own photos, or print some cool stock images that speak to you. You can download some beautiful botanical prints for free from Botanicus.org.

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I love the clean, simple look of black and white photos in matching frames. Or for a more colorful look, I love coordinating images to create a theme for a space, as below.

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Improve Aesthetics with Lighting

Shed some light on your situation. Literally. I mean “wow this room is so great and dark” said no one, ever. Dark rooms feel smaller. Period.

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Adding lamps to a space can not only brighten it, but add an instant element of style to it as well. Rental properties, in particular, often lack quality lighting (think harsh, fluorescent lights) and softer light from accent lamps can provide a nice alternative.

Rule of thumb for table lamps: Always, always, buy a PAIR. Even if you only need one lamp at the time of purchase, someday you will, without fail, need two and you will hate yourself for not buying the pair while you could. Trust me.

Play with Pillows

Let me start by saying that I have a definite love/hate relationship with throw pillows. In the sense that I hate how much I love them.

brown and grey leather sofa with throw pillows

Like, I recognize how completely frivolous and unnecessary they are. I do. Remember that pillow scene in Along Came Polly?

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I want to embrace that minimalist “who-needs-throw-pillows” mentality in theory. But in reality… pretty, soft throw pillows got me like…

Because really, comfort is a thing. Fluff has never, that I am aware of, ever made anything less comfortable. And from a design perspective, throw pillows can totally change the look of a piece of furniture and/or update accent colors in a room for a fraction of the time and money required to replace large furniture pieces or paint walls.

ashtray book cushion decoration

You can easily change them when you’re tired of them, or even swap them out seasonally if you’re so inclined. Major pointer for pillows: Unless you are buying for staging purposes only, spend the money for pillows with removable, washable covers.

Bring the Green in

Indoor plants are another quick and simple way to warm and bring style to a space. (And I’m talking REAL plants here folks, none of your granny’s faux flower arrangements) With the added benefits of purifying your air, plants are a design multi-tasker for making your home both prettier and cleaner. A few personal favorites are the fiddleleaf fig, palms, succulents, and orchids. The fiddleleaf fig (shown below) is having a major style moment as of late, but is also a notoriously slow and finicky grower.

green indoor plant in a room

Orchids are a design classic often written off as pricey or difficult to maintain but at around $15 for a medium sized plant, which should last you a few months at minimum (even if you kill it) I would argue they are more cost-effective than buying cut bouquets. I’ve had a few re-bloom for 3-5 years, which is like $5 a year. Definitely less than most fancy design items, and I swear that maintaining them is as easy as just watering less than usual houseplants. (You can find straightforward orchid tips from the pros here.)

candles contemporary decoration furniture

For the non-plant people out there, succulents are the lowest maintenance way to bring the green in. (Bonus points if you coordinate your plants and your pillows.)

photo of plants on the table

Temporary Wallpaper

Temporary wallpaper is a great non-permanent alternative to traditional wallcoverings and is a quick way for renters and commitment-phobes alike to tap into the current wallpaper trend. Put it on an accent wall, on stair treads, in a closet, on a door, in cabinets or on shelves, and make a statement with it.

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Expressive Palm Removable Wallpaper, Urban Outfitters

Available in a variety of price points and design styles from mainstream retailers like Amazon, Wayfair, and Target. (Fixer Upper fans check out the shiplap print from Home Depot!)

Soften your Surroundings

Quality flooring is another element that is often lacking in rental properties and is generally difficult to install in homes without major expense and time. Area rugs provide a quick and easy way to add style to a space and cover less than desirable flooring.

white and tan english bulldog lying on black rug

Soften tile and vinyl floors wherever you can with rugs. Heck, I’ve even used area rugs over carpeted floors to define spaces and well, just to cover up ugly carpet. General rules for rugs: don’t float a rug in the middle of a room. Always buy a rug big enough that it reaches your furniture. If that’s not in your budget, I’m a big fan of layering smaller plush rugs over a more affordable natural fiber (jute) rug for a clean look with softness where it counts. Apartment Therapy breaks down how to layer rugs with style here.

Window coverings

Let’s be real. Curtains are about as fun to shop for as socks. They’re not exciting, but they’re style necessities. Vertical blinds never helped noooobody. The short and simple truth of window coverings: buy the best you can afford, and hang them as high as you can. You won’t regret it.

architecture chairs contemporary curtain

That’s it. A quick and dirty on the quickest style fixes in my book. What are your favorite ways to add style to your space? And what style problems do you need solved on the cheap and easy? Shout out!

Cheers to happy homes!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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At Home with Christiana: Grout redemption!

As a follow up to my earlier backsplash post (more on that here if you missed it), I want to highlight a quick fix for what can be a frustrating aspect of a backsplash project, or of tile anywhere for that matter. Grout. Like the constantly dingy-looking, never comes clean, “I think it used to be white but now it’s just gross” grout.

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You can fudge up grout color in a project, or you can simply inherit some yucky stuff with your house. Either way, I. HEAR. YOU. And I am here to help you fix it! Once and for all. In one afternoon. (Don’t worry, this is not a “magic” cleaning method involving a tootbrush and too much of your time. Whole lotta nope.) Welcome to your grout redemption!!

Let me explain how I got to this point. We had awesome marble basket-weave tile floors installed in our hall bath, which is primarily used by our kids, buuut is also frequently used by guests since it is located in our front hall. (Basically, it is not a room you can just close the door and pretend doesn’t exist.) We chose light gray grout for the installation based on the package color sample. Which looked great. Until it dried. And our “light gray” grout was in fact not gray at all but… drumroll please… white. Womp, womp. Who wants to clean white grout in a kids’ bathroom? That’s right, no one. We weren’t pumped, we didn’t get the contrast we wanted from gray grout, but okaaaay we thought, it’s not awful. (Not yet.)

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Noooo! We white-grouted our bathroom floor!

Buuuut, fast forward through potty training two little boys, 1,000 grimy kid (and dog) baths, and SURPRISE! The grout was no longer an okay white-ish color. In fact, it never looked clean, and most of the time was a shade of icky beige which made our very recently installed floors look old and dingy. SHOOT.

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These guys make a mess?! No way…

After I discovered became obsessed with DeLorean Gray grout and used it on pretty much all of our other projects, I had a hard time refraining from adult tantrums about our bathroom floor situation. I actually contemplated re-grouting the whole floor until I figured out that for starters, it would entail chipping old grout out of approximately 5 million tiny joints with an itty bitty diamond coated blade. Uhhh no. 

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Fade-Resistant and available in something like 40+ colors. This stuff is legit!

I had pretty much given up when I stumbled upon Grout Renew during an early morning hardware store run. And praise to all the high powers it was available in Delorian Gray. For less than $20. Um, excuse me. Whaaaat?  I was pretty sure that it was too good to be true and most likely wouldn’t work, but what the heck did I have to lose?

So, that afternoon, my husband I found ourselves with a napping baby and two fairly distracted children and decided to give it a shot.  Per the package, you simply apply the solution evenly to all of your grout joints with a toothbrush, wait 30-60 minutes and wipe off. Easy peasy, right??

Actually yes, with one caveat.  Work in small sections and work quickly. Make sure you wipe your tile before the solution dries, which happened way faster than we expected.  DO NOT ATTEMPT this project when your children are only fairly distracted and might want a snack, OR when a certain baby might wake from nap time early. (Say, our whole lives right now.) Set your timer for 30 minutes and attach it to your person. Getting distracted and missing your clean-up time can derail this project in a major way and leave you with our pretty little situation below. But don’t worry, even that can be fixed.

 

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Dang nap time sabotage!

While scary, even the holy-crap-there-is-dry-grout-paint-everywhere situation was not unsolvable! Just way more difficult than it needed to be. (Luckily you have us to try out the more difficult route for you. You’re welcome!) But really, just a lot of extra scraping with One of these multi-tools (which I recommend everyone have on hand for clean up after any and all paint, tile, adhesive, anything projects), and the tiles cleaned up perfectly.  No more icky yellowish-white grout! Instead, perfect, easy-to-clean gray. Fist pump.

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After Grout Renew: Clean and gray!

In sum, use this stuff! Just don’t don’t make the same mistake we did.   (Unless of course you want to skip your arm workout and scrub tiles instead…) Here’s to happy grout!

 

At Home with Christiana: Back-splash Low Down

Installing a tile back-splash is one of the first projects we took on early into our reno days, and I think it’s a great place for beginners to start. It’s fairly quick, fairly simple, and provides almost instant gratification. WIN! This post may seem long at first glance, but don’t be intimidated – EVERYONE can do this in ONE. WEEKEND. This post contains a complete shopping list of all the materials you need to get started, along with step-by-instructions to get you a back-splash-beautiful kitchen in just two days.  

**Recommendations and opinions are all my own, no sponsors.**
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Our first DIY backsplash in progress. If we can do it- you can!

Before you get started, A couple of things to note:

  1. The budget and difficulty of this project can vary greatly based on the type of tile that you select. 
  2. Soapbox moment: a back-splash is best when it complements without overpowering the kitchen. From my real estate experience, if a buyer leaves a house and all they talk about is the back-splash, it’s always for the wrong reasons. Please no tile ocean motifs, unless you plan on never moving, like ever.

STEP ONE: SELECT YOUR MATERIAL

If you’ve already picked your tile, great! Measure twice three times to make sure you buy enough material, then add at least 10% to account for mistakes or faulty tiles and skip to STEP TWO!

If you’re still on the fence about what to use, allow me to introduce some of my back-splash favorites, ranked in order from the easiest to most time consuming material. All of these looks are equally timeless and beautiful… the hard part is choosing which one you like best.

(1) White subway tile: Beginners rejoice! White subway tile is a classic beauty that installs with ease. No patterns to match, super durable, easy to clean, and a look that never goes out of style. Need I say more? Well, I will, because it gets better. You can install this tile without using tile grout spacers, since the tiles have nifty ridges built into the side which will give you 1/16 grout lines without any extra work. Boom! This tile is also great for beginners to work with because it can be easily cut with a manual snap tile-cutter as opposed to the pricier and more complicated wet saw required for larger tile and natural stone projects. I have an indiscreet obsession with white subway tile that has earned it a place in many of our renovated spaces.  

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Our white subway tile-clad kitchen.

Subway tile also comes in a variety of styles like the cool, modern bevel; and sizes such as the popular mini subway sheet mosaic. Trim pieces, such as bullnose tiles, are available to use if you will have exposed ends of your backsplash to give it that “finished” look.

Best for: Beginners, budget, classic style, messy cooks (like me)

(2) Encaustic or ceramic imitation: Equally stunning and costly, genuine encaustic or hand panted cement tile, is famous for it’s bold and beautiful patterns.  Lucky for us, there are some great ceramic encaustic-style look-alikes on the market these days. These tiles are popping up ALL OVER design sites right now, but with roots pre-dating the 16th century, this historical look is anything but a trend.

 

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Minton encaustic tiles, US Capitol, installed in 1856!

While ceramic encaustic-style tiles are not quite a hand painted piece of history, they are pretty, budget-friendly and easy to work with. I’ve ranked these as more complicated than subway tiles for two reasons. First, the tiles are generally larger in size and thus require a wet saw.  Second, these tiles ALWAYS, ALWAYS require a design plan. Patterned tiles must be arranged thoughtfully to achieve the desired pattern and overall effect. Even if you want your tiles to appear ‘random’ you need to make sure you don’t group tiles of one type together. Also if the spacing or alignment is off AT ALL at any point, it will be very noticeable because the patterns will not line up correctly.  In short, layout your project before you begin, use tile spacers and check your level lines and you’ll LOVE the result. I have personally installed the extremely affordable black vintage Merola tiles and the Faventia ceramic blue shown below, and I love the look, price, and durability they provide without sacrificing style!

Best for: Beginners, statement look, global style

(3) Marble: There really is nothing like the natural beauty of marble, which is available in several varieties, colors, and price-points. And don’t believe the “you can’t have marble if you have kids” nonsense! I have now maintained beautifully resilient marble in two heavily used kitchens and two constantly used bathrooms (including bathroom floors with potty-training boys… if you know what I’m getting at). And LOOK AT IT. So. pretty.

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Carrara marble mosaic. 

If marble is prepped and handled correctly it will weather your kitchen for longer than you can live in it. I promise. Let’s not forget there are actual buildings made out of marble that have been sitting there looking gorgeous for centuries. When installing marble, I suggest three additional steps for function and aesthetic.

  1. First, it is critical to inspect and sort the tiles to remove any chipped, cracked, or discolored pieces before you get started. When working with any natural material, some tiles will crack. Natural stone is much more prone to chip and crack than man-made materials such as porcelain or ceramic. Color and movement can (and likely will) vary greatly between natural stone tiles, and marble is no exception. Be familiar with the return policy of your retailer as you will likely have a number of tiles you won’t want to use.  
  2. Second, seal the marble according to directions on your marble/tile sealant of choice BEFORE you install it. Grout and adhesive can stain porous stone if it is not sealed correctly. Allow tile to rest for the prescribed time before proceeding with your project.
  3. Third, arrange the marble tiles to achieve your desired color and movement in a template BEFORE you begin to install any of them. This holds true for sheet mosaics as well as individual tiles. (TIP: Use painters tape to attach guides on each corner of your layout such as Top L, Top R, Bottom L, Bottom R. Particularly if you’re not working alone, orientation can be easily confused. You’ll be glad you did, just trust me on this one). At this point, you’ve already taken the time to seal your pretty stone, so don’t fung it up by installing all the dark tiles together in one “blob” under your cabinet!  DON’T DO IT. This step can be time consuming but is so worth it, and is often the difference between a professional or amateur looking result.

Best for: Patient beginners or experienced DIYers, adding luxury to a space, natural beauty

STEP TWO: GATHER YOUR SUPPLIES

Once you’ve selected your tile, there are a few more supplies you need to purchase before you get started.

(1) Tile saw: You can use a manual snap cutter for most small ceramic or porcelain tiles. (like pretty white subway tiles! Woot!) For larger tiles or natural stone, you’ll need a wet tile saw. Wet saws range in price anywhere from $100 for a basic saw to $1000 and up for contractor grade standing wet saws. Depending on the complexity and frequency of your projects, different tools will best suit your needs. We have used this pretty basic $189 Ridgid for several years now and it’s withstood all of our projects pretty well. You can also rent tools from hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes if you’re not in the market to buy.

Mastic

(2) Adhesive: If you are installing a backsplash in your already finished kitchen, you are likely installing over drywall or plaster. (This makes for easy tiling, hooray!) My favorite adhesive for the job is this pre-mixed mastic. It comes off the shelf in a premixed, resealable tub so there is no messy mixing and no rush to finish the job if you have to take several breaks to say… pick up certain rascals from soccer practice. Available at most hardware stores. 

(3) Trowel: You will need a trowel to spread your adhesive, and for wall tiles up to 8″ you’re looking for a 1/4″ square notch like this one

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If you selected any of the recommended tiles, I’ve included my favorite coordinating grout colors here. For both subway tile and marble installs, I love this perfect not-too-light-not-too-dark Delorean Grey color. I advise against white in almost all situations, but particularly in one where you will be potentially splattering your red wine and bolognese in the vicinity of this grout. With blue encaustic-style tile install I love this Italian Stone color by Stainmaster, and this charcoal grout by Maipei is perfect with bold black patterned tiles.

(4) Grout: Grout comes in two varieties, sanded and unsanded, and is available in a mind-numbing selection of colors. Backsplashes are typically installed with narrow grout joints, meaning grout lines of 1/8 inch or less. In this case, unsanded grout will get the job done. (Sanded grout is required for flooring projects and wall installs with grout lines greater than 1/8 inch wide.) You can buy grout in a pre-mixed tub, or for a bit less money you can buy it as a powder and mix it yourself. Grout can be mixed by hand if you don’t mind putting some muscle into it, or a mixing attachment like this can be purchased for your drill, if you have one. The drill option saves time and sweat, which is always nice.

 

(TIP: Once you select the grout for your project, please please take a picture of the package in case it gets discarded by an unassuming spouse (not that this ever happens…) or gets too gunked up to be read clearly. Take my word for it, there are too many brands and too many colors at too many different stores to simply go back out for more of “that grey-ish” grout when and if you run out.) 

 

 

(5) Caulk & Caulk Gun – You’ll need caulk to seal up the seams between your counter and cabinets or shelves. It is available in colors to match grout, or clear is always a safe bet. A caulk gun is used to press the caulk out of the tube and apply it along thin seams. You won’t be able to use the caulk without one! Enjoy a reason to make lots of Caulk jokes. 

(6) Grout float: Buy more than one of these if you want someone to help you grout! 

(7) Grout sponge:– Same as above!

(8) Tile spacers: (if needed) As mentioned above in the case for subway tile, no spacers are required for subway tile install with 1/16” grout lines. However, almost EVERY OTHER project needs tile spacers. These little guys keep your tiles evenly spaced, and your grout lines straight. I suggest 1/8” for backsplash install. These come in a few styles, but my favorite is this plastic type with a stabilizing ring.

(9) Tile nippers (optional) – I would suggest these if you’re going to work with ceramic or porcelain as they can help you make a small notches in tile if required to accommodate an outlet or cabinet. Skip them for marble or natural tile, as they tend to crack natural material too easily.

(10) Bucket (optional): For rinsing  your grout sponge. If you’ve got an old bowl lying around you can use that too!

(11) Level: For drawing a reliable center line and sanity-checking those grout joints.

(12) Measuring Tape: You’ll need to measure tiles to cut and fit accurately along walls, around outlets, and under cabinets.

(13) Grout sealer (optional): If you don’t heed my warnings against white grout, help me help you, and seal it. Application is easy with something like this

STEP THREE: PREP!

Yep, the boring, but oh-so-important step everyone wants to skip. DON’T!!  I promise, backsplash prep is really not too involved, and it pays dividends.

(1)  Clean up! Ensure the wall for tile install is clean and flat. Bumps will make tile uneven and adhesive doesn’t stick well to dust and dirt. Wipe off that kitchen grease behind the stove! I see you! A simple multi-surface cleaner is fine. Dry the area before tiling. Remove any electrical outlet covers in your tiling area. Move your range forward and out of the way. Now is also the time to clean and/or seal your tile if necessary (Marble people, I’m looking at you.)

(2) Measure and Layout: Measure the wall area for install and, if desired, create your backsplash tile layout on a table or floor area nearby. (TIP: DO NOT do this on the counter. While it might seem convenient, it will be super annoying when you accidentally glop adhesive on it!) This step is especially critical if you selected a natural stone or patterned tile (see STEP ONE above).

(3) Select and mark your starting point. Depending on your kitchen layout and the surface to be tiled, your starting point may vary. However it’s important to note that the best place to start your backslpash is usually NOT along one wall or the other. If you have a focal point on your soon-to-be-backsplashed wall, use this as your guide. For instance, often the center of the cooktop, pot filler or vent hood is a good place to start. Mark the direct center of the focal point, and draw your center line using a level or straight edge starting at just above your countertop. This is where you will center your first tile. You will always complete the bottom row of tile first so tiles can rest on the counter, and then, each other.  Otherwise, tile will sag – gravity is a thingIf there is no counter surface behind your range for your first row of tile to rest on, you can either (a) screw a ledger board into the wall to support your backsplash tile. A ledger board can be any scrap piece of wood (as long as it’s straight!) screwed directly to the wall in line with your countertop height to maintain a level bottom tile line; OR (b) run your tile to the floor for easy wipe-down cleaning behind your range. Up to you!

(4) Set up your saw. For a manual snap cutter, this pretty much just involves getting it out of the garage (yay!). But a wet saw requires a power source (think extension cords) and cool water. Follow the instructions on your saw for proper set up, please! If you grabbed tile nippers, it’s good to have those on hand too. You don’t want to be searching for tools while your adhesive dries.

STEP FOUR: START TILING!!

Yes! The fun part!! You’re here!!! Pop open that adhesive like a bottle of bubbles and get this show on the road! 

(1) Spread your adhesive. Using your trowel, dip into that adhesive! Using the notched side of the trowel, spread your adhesive across the wall from your starting point to create a “striped” look across the wall surface. It doesn’t have to be thick, just enough to ensure full coverage of the tile. Make sure your center line is still visible before you get too carried away, and drumroll please… Press your first tile firmly into the adhesive, centered on your starting point, and place a tile spacer under the tile so it doesn’t rest directly on the counter. (You’ll caulk that space at the end of the job.)  YES! A tile is on your wall!! Do your happy dance and continue by applying more adhesive in small sections just large enough to apply a few tiles at a time so the adhesive doesn’t dry before you get the tile up. Place a tile spacer between each tile as needed, to ensure proper spacing.

(2) Cut tiles to fit. You’ll hopefully get through at least most of one row before you have to cut a tile to fit around an outlet, wall, or cabinet. When you reach the end of your first row, if you can’t fit a whole tile, simply measure the remaining space (accounting for your grout lines), measure and mark on your tile, and cut the tile to fit with your manual snapper or wet saw by following the tool’s instructions. (TIP: If adhesive starts to gunk up your trowel, you can use water to rinse with a sponge in a utility sink, bucket, or bowl.)

Keep at it until you’ve filled up every last inch of that backsplash! If you’re using trim pieces, don’t forget to place your bullnose tiles at the exposed edges. Now revel in your beautiful tile!!! (And go to bed.) Wait 24 hours before you move to STEP FIVE.

STEP FIVE: GROUT

Alright, by now you have a legit looking kitchen with a fancy tile backsplash. Time to fill in all the perfectly straight and evenly spaced (because you DID that! Woot!) tiny little joints with grout. Wait at least 24 hours after tiling before grouting your new beautiful backsplash. Get your grouting tools out: Float, sponge, bucket of water, and rags.

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Our freshly-installed DIY Carrara marble backsplash.

(1) Mix grout per instructions on the bag to a toothpaste or peanut butter consistency, or open your pre-mixed grout.

(2) Remove all of your tile spacers and bag them up for your next project! (TIP: Label the bag with the spacer width, so they don’t get mixed up with others as you take on more of these exciting tile projects. Yep, see what I did there?)

(3) Scoop grout with grout flout and apply over the tile at a 45 degree angle, working evenly into the grout lines between tiles.

(4) Fill your bucket or bowl with water and grab your sponge. Wait 10 minutes.

(5) Use a damp sponge to remove excess grout from your tiles. There will still be residue, called a “haze” left on your tiles. This is NORMAL. Don’t try to get it all of right now. (Wait 2 hours. See next step!)

(6) After your initial tile-wiping, wait 2 hours. Use a slightly damp, clean sponge or rag and wipe remaining haze from your tiles, and celebrate. YOU. DID. IT.

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STEP SIX: FINISHING TOUCHES

Let’s be real – you are pretty much done-zo. Hopefully you are loving your result and can get this baby over the finish line with a little caulk.

(1)  Wait until tile is completely dry and use caulk to seal in the gaps below the tile and above the countertop, as well anywhere cabinets meet your backsplash. Caulk gives flexibility for material expansion and won’t crack easily. 

(2) Wait 7 days after tiling and sponge on a grout sealer, if you like!

(3) Fill previously mentioned wine glass, have friends over and impress them with your swanky new backsplash. Your kitchen value just went up and so did your DIY street cred. BOOM!

CHEERS until next time!

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