Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wood Floors

Hello again!  So, the remodel is coming along really well.  For the most part.  One of my favorite developments of late is the hard wood floors.   Little Pink House III already had hardwood floors on the main floor.  You can see them best in this picture:

Kind of the ubiquitous (i.e. ugly) golden oak color of the 90's.  But, surprisingly, they were in pretty good shape (miraculous, really, considering the state of the rest of the house).  They weren't the trendy wide planks. Not even the mainstream medium planks; they were the traditional, even old-fashioned, skinny planks of red oak.  But they were not terribly scratched or dented.  And skinny red-oak planks are at least pretty classic.  So we decided to refinish them rather than rip them out and start over.

Our flooring guy, Josh, and his crew came over and patched some spots that had to be cut to fix pipes/vents, filled in holes from the previous island configuration, added wood to the office and new dining room, and removed hardwood from the old half of the enlarged family room (where we will put in carpet).  

Next we got to choose a stain.  Right now ├╝ber dark floors are very a la mode.  (Meaning "of the fashion" not "with ice cream" in case you thought we were going to serve ice cream on them. :) (Although, now that I think of it, my floors are covered in ice cream often enough that you could use either meaning really).   So that was our first thought--VERY dark.  Espresso dark. But then we've also seen a few examples of floors done with a grey stain.  Sort of Cape Cod beach house looking.  It was intriguing.  And after every person we know with dark wood floors had told us that dark wood floors are of the devil (dirt-wise) we though maybe grey might be a better option.  Or a lighter brown.  Yes, indecisive is a good word for us.  So we had Josh paint us a bunch of swatches:

Immediately, we both decided we hated the grey.  It was very blue and brown.  Red Oak is a very grainy wood with a lot of light and dark variation.  And it seemed that the light spots turned very blue but the dark spots kept a lot of their brown.  And overall, instead of seeming beachy like it might on hickory or maple, it just looked hideous.

The two lighter brown stains were...blah.  Safe, practical, and super boring.  They look the same in this picture, but the one on the far left "spice brown" is more cool and the one 2nd to the right "dark walnut" is more red.   

The white glaze was thrown in on a whim.  And we both were immediately intrigued by it.  It also carried a sort of beach house look, but somehow more clean and modern.  And Josh The Floor Guy said that white is surprisingly good for floors in terms of not showing dirt. Probably the best of all of the colors, he said.  So that made us even more interested in the white.  But it also tended to look just a little bit unfinished. And we worried that people would wonder if we even had the floors stained.  We also wondered if we had the balls to carry off something that bold and unconventional.  Hmmm...it warranted some thought.

And then there was the black "Ebony".  Although we were both immediately drawn towards it because all the pictures in our minds and on our Houzz accounts had dark wood floors, it was VERY dark.   And very cool, not a warm espresso color.    And then there were all the horror stories about every speck of dust and every crumb of any kind standing out like dandruff on a priest.  So we just weren't sure.

A day or two later, Big Daddy had gone to lunch at a local favorite called The Dodo.  And as he looked down at their floors, he realized they were the exact size and type of wood as our floors, and the color was PERFECT.  So he snapped a picture, we sent it to Josh, and Josh made up a concoction all his own to produce a lighter warmer shade of brown than the Ebony, but darker and more dramatic than the medium browns.   With 2 parts Spice Brown and 1 part Ebony....

We saw the swatch and loved it.  It looked just right to us.  So we gave the go ahead.  And within a couple of days, our hardwood floors were done!   One thing to note, we also used a water-based clear coat, not polyurethane, because poly is quite yellow and we wanted to keep the color cool.  We also chose a high-gloss because we like shiny things! (And the water base is not nearly as glossy as polyurethane).

Behold!  Spiced Ebony!!


To be perfectly honest, we both expected it to be a bit darker.  So when we first saw the finished floors, we were like, "....um...?"  But the more we look at it, the more we like it.   It's light enough to be classic and timeless, but dark enough to be striking.  I can't wait to see how it looks with furniture!

And one surprise... 


We chickened out on doing the whole house, but we both liked the idea enough to do one room in it.  So Josh built in a threshold piece to divide the entry from the office and put on the white glaze.   And we love it!  Way more than I expected to.  In fact, now I kind of wish we'd done the whole house in it!  Ha!  Oh well.  I do love the color we chose.  And now I know that in some future world where I refinish or install wood floors again (NEVER), the white glaze is beautiful, and I don't need to be such a wuss!

This is the whitewash.  It looks kind of like natural, unfinished wood, but a bit cooler in color.  Love it!

Next up?  Carpet!

** I've added some pictures later, after the remodel was finished, at the request of some readers who wanted more pictures of the finished product.

If you stopped by, leave a comment!  I'd love to know what you think.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I hate grout.  Hate it with a burning passion.  If you've ever had tile, you'll know that grout is a complete nightmare.  It is always dirty, so hard to clean, rough, stained, traps dust and spills.....I'm not even close to being a germ-o-phobe, but the thought of what is down in those cracks gives me the heebie-jeebies.  And then there's how it looks.  Even though I steam clean (AKA sterilize) my floor regularly, nothing seems to make it look better.  I've tried everything!  Bleach, Lemi-Shine, even scrubbing it with Comet and a toothbrush.  But it still always looks grimy and stained.   Tile is also cold.  And really hard underfoot.  So when we bought Little Pink House III and began renovations, I was pretty determined not to have any tile in it.  But, the alternatives were wood (not good in wet areas like bathrooms) and laminate flooring (ew!).  So I decided to take another look into the tile option.

The upside of tile is that it can be really beautiful.  So the appearance of the tile itself wasn't an issue.  But that grout!  So when I went to tile stores, I asked around:  What products were there that could make tile more user friendly?  Less rough?  Less prone to staining?  Easier to clean?   I got several answers.  The first was, make your tile joints a lot smaller.  Back in the day, people used these giant  1/4" grout joints.  But for almost all tile, you can get away with 1/8" or sometimes even 1/16".  Done!  Then, as for grout products, I was told:  1) Epoxy.  This is a combination of grout and epoxy.  It has a more smooth plastic feel.  It doesn't stain at all so it stays looking nice and it's easy to clean.  BUT it was a nightmare to work with, I was told.  And at almost $200 a bucket, doing 5 bathrooms, a laundry room, and a mud room was out of the question.  2) Polyurethane grout.  Same idea.  Made of polymers mixed with grout.  Smooth, stain free.  But about half the price.  Still, at $100 a bucket I was looking at a fortune just for grout.  3) Finally, on the advice of a very knowledgeable tile guy at my tile store, we found that mixing the sealant in WITH the grout, and some other special additive, made the grout really even in color without the usual staining caused by sealing it, and it responds way better to cleaning.  I had my doubts.  I still do.  I still think I may end up tearing my hair out over this amount of tile I just put in.  But he seemed pretty sure I'd like the result so....I went tile shopping.

For the master bathroom tile, Big Daddy and I chose a cream colored, shiny modern tile. 13x35, so pretty big slabs.  It has a sort of bamboo-ish stripe pattern to it.  I love it!  It will go on the bottom half of the shower and the tub skirt.

We paired that with 3x6 sea glass subway tile for the top half of the shower, the tub backsplash and the vanity backsplash, 1x1" sea glass mosaic tile for the shower floor, and Big Daddy chose a dark brown slightly linen striped 12x24" for the floor.


The tile in the master bath is all finished.  Do you want a sneak peak??  (The walls are still not painted and the floor is dusty, so obviously it'll look better than this when it's all finished and clean.)

Pippa's bathroom upstairs got a retro look with black and white hex tile.  I need to pick out a fun, whimsical towel/shower curtain design that won't be too busy for this polka dot look.  Any ideas?

Daphne and Beck's bathroom got a very modern 24x24" beige linen tile.  It was on sale for $2/square foot! And because it was such a deal, we splurged and bought this absolutely gorgeous aqua hex tile for the backsplash.

The upstairs laundry I chose black and white checkered 12x12" tile just like in my laundry currently.  Only it turns out that the one I bought is SUPER smooth and shiny.  I'm a little afraid of the cleaning prospects. Just see how dusty it is now!  However, since no one else ever does laundry but me, once the construction is over and the floor is carpeted, it will probably stay a lot cleaner.

The main floor powder room and mud room both got a really cool grey 12x24 inch tile with a glossy stripe pattern in it.   It has a little bit of brown tones in the stripes, which will go well with the brown hardwood floors just outside the mudroom and powder room.

And then on a whim we decided to tile the entire back wall of the powder room with a gorgeous lantern patterned tile.   It will be so amazing when the lights are in and the shiny red vanity is installed!

The only room remaining untouched is the basement bath.  Big Daddy chose a wood-look tile called Eclipse Olive. It looks like this...

And the general look of the room we're trying to achieve is this.  Very spa-like.  (Only minus all the fancy shower heads and steam thingies.  This is a GUEST bath not an actual spa!  Sheesh.)

Unfortunately, we've fun out of money to finish this bathroom so it'll have to wait until some future date when money shows up again.  Probably 2019.

The fireplaces, also, will have to wait. They had these horrible faux marble and faux granite surrounds, both mauve!  So those got ripped out and will be replaced with a lovely herringbone pattern, maybe like this (but probably not limestone = EXPENSIVE!)  Someday....

Of course, the kitchen backspash will be tile too.  I'm pretty set on a penny tile or an oval penny tile.  But since the kitchen doesn't exist yet (supposedly its going in on Thursday), I just haven't gotten my brain that far.  I'll update on that later.

Anyway, that, my friends, is how tile came back into my life.  I will report back later on whether the measures we took to make my life less plagued by grout were successful or not!