Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to pick out tile (in the laundry room!)

Hello all! I’m making little bits of progress on a bunch of rooms right now – it’s decorating ADD at it’s finest. But at least there’s (some) progress, right?

I’m SO happy with how our basement laundry room is turning out! It so fun to have a new space to work with, I’m in heaven. And dare I say it – it’s not so bad when I have ROOM to do laundry.

Yep, I said it.

Anyhoo, I actually picked out the tile for this room months and months ago, I think before the room actually had walls. ;) I had always dreamed of this pretty hexagon tile from Lowes in the space:

white hexagon tile

I wanted something a bit different, something that was fun, but wouldn’t break the bank. And this stuff was perfect. (It’s called American Olean Sausalito tile.) But as time went on (and it was closer to the time of installing it), I got cold feet.

The tile is really thin, and I thought it was supposed to be used only on a backsplash. Even the guys who have been working on the basement were worried about using it.

I was so bummed, because I had planned on this stuff for half a year. :) So I did two things – asked some bloggy friends if they had used it, and went to Lowes to find out more about it.

The first bit of info I learned was from my friend Cassity at Remodelaholic. She told me that typically tile that is made for wall applications (like a backsplash) is white or cream on the back. Tile that is made for the floor is dark or clay colored on the back. Mine was dark on the back!

I had no idea! Good to know, eh?

Then Lowe’s guy showed me indicators on the tile box that helped a ton:

how to pick out tile

It was a wealth of information! I looked up what the codes mean and found this helpful pdf from Home Depot.

First up – the grade for this tile is a one (the highest quality) and you want to use grade one or two for floors, a three for floors.

The PEI (stands for Porcelain Enamel Institute) is a three – this indicates the tile’s resistance to abrasion. This one is fine for moderate wear and suitable for home use.

The little umbrella icon is for water absorption, which is something you want to think about for a spot like a laundry room! This one falls between low and moderate absorption so it was fine for this space.

Finally, one I didn’t even consider but is nice to know – the C.O.F., which is basically the slip factor. My tile was rated at .65, and anything above .60 exceeds ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines – which means it’s too not slippery.

I was honestly surprised to see that my pretty little tile passed every test with flying colors!

SOLD! :)

Because I have limited experience with tile, and because the mortar had to be spread as thin as possible to avoid it seeping through all of those grout lines, I didn’t DIY this project.

The room had turned into a second storage room over the past few months, so I did clean it out and get the floors cleaned up:

I went back and forth on an underlayment in here, since the tile was going directly on cement floors. I talked to about four contractor-type peeps and every single one of them said it wasn’t needed. So I didn’t do it, but I’ll let you know in time if that was a good idea or not. ;)

Because I didn’t want to worry about keeping bright white grout lines clean, I used a light gray grout color:

warm grey sanded grout

This is the product I picked out (from Lowes) and it’s a sanded grout called warm gray. I love it!!

One thing to consider – one bag was more than enough for the square footage of this room, but obviously those tiles have more than average grout lines. So we needed two bags of the grout to get ‘er done.

I am SO thrilled with the result:white tile gray grout

The gray grout will be easier to take care of, and I LOVE how it actually shows off the pretty shapes of the tile. They would be lost with white grout!

After it was grouted and wiped down, I cleaned it well one more time, let it dry for an hour, and used this sealer the guys recommend:

one hour spray grout sealer

Other sealers I’ve used in the past can’t be applied till about three days after the grout is done. This one can be applied after just an hour. It was the easiest sealant I’ve ever used – I just sprayed it down on the tile, working my way across the room.

The floor will be super wet when you’re done, so work your way out of the room. Let it sit five to ten minutes then just wipe it clean! I got down on my hands and knees with two rags and wiped as I went through the room. It says you can do a second coat 30 minutes later, but I soaked this floor so I didn’t think it was needed:

white tile gray grout

Isn’t it pretty? It turned out just as I envisioned.

Here’s the after with the tile:

white tile gray grout hexagon

This room already looks SO much different now! I’ve been busy in here and I can’t wait to show you more!

Now I’m psyched to get the bathroom tiled and I think I might try my hand at it. I think. :) I’ve never done floor tile and I’m nervous. I was planning on going light on the floors in there too, but now I’m thinking dark, which I’ll explain soon.

This tile cost more than basic ceramic tile, but I thought for the unique look it wasn’t too bad – the whole room was less than $140. I’ve seen this look for WAY more so I’m thrilled with it!

Have you tried this pretty hexagon tile in your home? Have you ever tiled a floor? Any tips?

P.S. I think I said “grout” 55 times.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Laundry room to mud room (Oh yeah)

Hello there! Hope you had a wonderful weekend! We had a great one – I got some DIY time in, some quality kiddo time and even a date with the hubs! And it wasn’t 101 degrees – bonus! :)

I’m sharing a before and after today that’s been a loooong time coming. I’m giddy about it. Grinning like mad. Elaine Benes dance happy. It’s not anything Pinterest worthy, but let me tell you…it’s BIG. (To me.)

This weekend was momentous – the former laundry/mud room is now just a MUD ROOM.

Can I get an AMEN??

I took this picture minutes before the waster and dryer were moved out:

yes, this is real

It looked like that all. the. time. Every time thought to myself, “Self, are you sure you want to move the washer and dryer downstairs?” I would walk back into this room.

Yep, yep I do.

I tried. Tried to make it work, tried to keep it organized. It was not within my realm of…well…anything. I couldn’t do it.

This room has a long road ahead of it, and all I’ve done so far is move everything that was on the left over to the right (where the washer and dryer were), and it’s made all the difference in the world:

You can now see when I painted this room I didn’t bother to move the W/D – I just painted around them. ;) No one could tell. Till now.

I also didn’t move them to install the beadboard, so that’s coming soon. For now I moved the shelf up about a foot and took the hooks that were on the long wall on the left and hung them underneath:

in between mud room

My goal was to make this room functional before the Bub starts school in a few weeks. (Kindergarten. Sniff. No, I don’t want to talk about it.)

I feel a meeeeellion times more organized already. I feel like we can breath when we walk in and out of our house:

Doesn’t it look AMAZING????? OK, I know it’s kind of a mess still, but I have rose-colored-mud-room glasses on and I think it’s stinkin’ beautiful. ;) I am so thrilled to have such a large, open space as a mud room. (It feels HUGE to me now.)

I have big plans for this room, of course. Beadboard, paint, new trim (casing, baseboards and crown), maybe new lighting, a bench, coat storage and cabinets and storage up to the ceiling in that cubby area.

Oh, and I can take that vinyl down cause it’s not a laundry room anymore:

yellow and black laundry room


Best day ever!! All weekend we noticed the little things – like we can walk out of the house as a family instead of lining up single file. It’s fantastic. :)

I’ve been trying to decide on a wall color for months and I think I found it this weekend. Right now I’m just really excited to put baseboards back in here. See, the little things – it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Do you have a dedicated mud room? Do you love it? If you don’t have one, have you figured out a way to make your main entry more organized? Do tell!


**You can see how I changed out the ugly metal utility doors here and how I installed the peel and stick tile here. And if you’d like to see how this room looked after it’s first redo, check out this post from way back when. ;)


Quote of the day:  "Wow!  We ONLY have a six hour drive today?  That's all?"

We had a wonderful time visiting our son and his wife.  No baby yet!  C. looks way to good to be giving birth anytime soon!  We all enjoyed a nice dinner together last night (C.'s mom is also here).

We enjoyed a nice hike with Will yesterday.  Hot, but fun.

Everyone has loved being together.  Today we are off to see Lan Lan's foster sister from China.  To say Lan Lan is excited is the understatement of the year. 

The kids are starting to get antsy to get back home.  Things are going well, but Yellowstone has been cut out of the drive.  One more week to go!

Yee-haw off we go again!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The new laundry chute!

Hey hey! How are YOU? And you? :)

I’m back with a project I’m SO SO SO excited about!! You may remember that as a part of our basement finishing process, we decided to move the washer and dryer to the basement.

I know, some people think I’m a little cray cray for doing it. I get it. I talked about our reasoning here. And let me tell you, I am counting down the DAYS till it gets moved down there. It will be the best. day. ever.

Anyhoo, one thing I wanted to do if we were moving the washer and dryer down a level was to install a laundry chute -- we made that part of the “finishing plan.” Laundry chutes are kind of like basements for me – I just think they are the coolest. At first I thought there was no way we could do one in our house, but when we decided to finish the basement, I started to really think about where we could put one.

I did some sleuthing for a few weeks – a lot of walking up and down the steps, taking measurements, figuring our where things were. At first I thought we could put a chute down from the floor in our master closet. Then it was the upstairs bathroom linen closet, but I realized a while later that I was waaay off in my measurements.

So I sat on it some more and finally figured it out. The idea only came to me because a former decorating client of mine did just the same thing – she had a chute installed in the bottom of a bathroom vanity.

And the day I figured out we could do the same, I did a happy happy dance of JOY! JOY! (Name that cartoon.) The start of our laundry chute is at the very right, under the vanity in our bathroom:

maple bathroom cabinets

I didn’t get a pic of the inside because I ran out of daylight and our bathroom has horrible lighting. Anyway, that’s where it starts.

It goes down through our powder room closet, and then into the basement. Now I thought about doing this myself, but I’ve never cut through floors before (egads!) and didn’t have the tools to do so. I was also scared to death of cutting into something major, like electrical, plumbing, whatever.

So I asked the guys who have done all our basement work if they were interested and if they thought they could do it. They were all into it and then came up with a brilliant plan to make it happen.

I have to say, these guys have been around a ton over the past seven months and we get along awesome. It was SO fun to see them so excited about this project. They were practically giddy with their idea.

And that idea was, instead of framing out a chute and then building it up with walls (that would have to be ultra smooth – metal or sheeting or laminate, but nothing that has any rough edges so it would grab clothes – they were going to use PVC pipe.

Like this:

Thing is, the original plan I had thought up was going to require them to rebuild our linen closet in the powder room off to the side (long story, but the chute was going to take up a ton of room). This idea made it so they could run it through the closet, build new shelves around it and we’d save the cost of building a new linen closet.

The pipe is not cheap – I think it was $20 a foot? So we paid a bit more in materials, but a lot less in labor. Especially since no new closet was needed.

We ran into a snag going up in the bathroom upstairs (hit a water pipe) that they had to rework, and then going down, we were too far over into the basement. The clothes would have landed on a cement wall and studs in the basement.

But they guys came up with a solution, and that was to get fittings that curved the pipe, so it landed in an open spot into the basement. It was only a few inches over but it was PERFECT:

DIY laundry chute laundry chute pvc pipe

You can see that they were able to rebuild the shelving in there (done the same way I built the new shelves for the pantry) so I am still able to get necessities into that closet:

pvc pipe laundry chute

I did a bit of a purge, so even though I lost about half of the storage, I still only had to move a couple baskets down to the basement. And eventually we’ll have mud room storage, so I’ll be able to use that if I want to keep the stuff upstairs.

I still need to fill holes in the closet walls (from the old wire shelves), paint the wood shelves, and I may even paint the pipe. I wonder if paint would stick? How funny would it be to make it a fun color or something?

I think it is hilarious when I open this door now and see this huge sewer pipe. HILARIOUS. It just make me giggle uncontrollably. Seriously.

The chute ends in the basement and the guys made a little box with a door:

I’ll fill the holes, caulk and paint it and you won’t even notice it!

They used latches to keep the door secure:

And it works! The pipe is wide enough I can send towels or even throw rugs down no problem. The great thing is the inside is a smooth as a babes bottom, so everything sails right through, even with the little angle. Nothing for anything to get caught on!

There’s a few things I want to add, just for safety reasons. Some consider laundry chutes to be a safety concern when it comes to fires – if a fire started in the basement, it would have a straight shot upstairs. But from my research online and talking to folks, the same could be said for staircases, so opinions vary on that.

To be safe, I’m going to order a fire safe metal door to go in the basement (instead of the wood door). I’m also considering using some of the leftover PVC pipe and extending the chute down a bit more into room, then framing that out, so it’s closer to the floor.

If you have young kids, there’s things to think about, obviously. I’ve heard some stories about things and people (??) heading down chutes! Our kiddo is too big to fit in this of course, and he’s just not the type that would try to actually go down the thing. But just to be safe (with smaller kids in the house occasionally) I plan to put a child lock on that bathroom vanity door. The guys made a lid for the chute, and I’m going to install a lock on it so only we can get the lid off.

I cannot tell you how WICKED COOL this thing is!! We are just tickled by it. :) It’s got me soooo ready to get that laundry room going – so hopefully I’ll have more to share on that soon!!

So did you have a laundry chute growing up? Or have one now? Any fun stories to tell? :) My grandparents have one and I always thought it was just the coolest thing. I would open it up just to look down into the basement every chance I got – just because I could. ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

Currently, we are in Austin, Texas.  The kids have been having a BLAST visiting their cousins!  It has been nice to relax, regroup, and swim, swim, swim! 

We were also able to meet up with other adoptive families who adopted cribmates/orphanage friends of our children--what a blessing!

Tomorrow we leave for Arkansas.  Back in the car for a good part of the day.

Surprisingly, the drives have not been bad.  True, I'm the only driver, but my kids are at good ages to travel long distances.

We do stop every couple of hours.  Potty stops are quite frequent, even with older kids.  We also pull off on historic highways if we feel so led--and because we love the movie Cars.

And we sometimes take the road less-traveled through beautiful places like Sedona--then become corny tourists who not only buy Arizona Tea, but proceed to take pictures with it.

We eat out of the cooler at least once a day. 

The GPS is my VERY best friend.  How did we survive before this great invention?  And yet, I still like real, paper maps--to give the big picture in a tactile way.

Electronics in the car is also supreme--you name it, we got it--including a Game Cube that hooks up to the video player:

I do force mandatory times where the kids have to look out the window.  Mean mother tho I am.  And recorded books have been divine--unless of course you ask my teens. 

I was very careful about allowing only four extra outfits for each child, plus a jacket and swimming suit.

Unfortunately I forgot to limit all the other junk they tend to tote on trips.

The blankets, and pillows, and stuffed animals, and pillow pets, and activity bags. 

To prove this point, I will share the following pictures.

The following photos are NOT a dramatization.  They are real, live pictures, from our real, live trip. 
No animals or people were harmed in the creation of these photos.

HOWEVER, if you are my husband please believe that the following photos ARE a dramatization.  I did NOT really allow the kids to open a restaurant in your car, drink pop, chew gum, or go to the beach and bring half of Malibu home.  Your car is as clean as the day you purchased it.  Sort of.  Stuffed animals and people may have been harmed in the creation of these photos. 

It ain't pretty.  And Honey, I'm sorry if I just scarred you for life!

We did clean the car today.  For real.  Honey, this IS NOT a dramatization.  Promise.

Just in time to traumatize it all over again.  Yee-haw!  Powdy River!


Our trip is flying by and the days are so full of fun (and/or driving), I am missing out on posting.  And since my blog creates our family photo album, I truly need to catch up. 

If you are not into looking at other people's family vacation photos, you will want to exit right now.

If you are my mom or my husband, you will appreciate the next few posts.

More highlights from California--is there anything as wonderful as Malibu beach with family and friends?

Another highlight was Knott's Berry Farm--definitely worth the on-line price--MUCH cheaper than Disney.  Two of my sisters and their kids joined in the fun.  If you go invest in the $13 free-refills-all-day souvenir bottle--we had gallons of lemonade on a hot day!