Tile! We Have Tile!

We started this work week with aching backs, sore shoulders and stiff knees, but you know what? The payoff was worth all that pain (so this is what your thirties feels like!), because you guys, we have a tiled entryway! We have a floor that’s actually level – a floor that feels smooth underfoot; no more splinters for these two (er, five):

After our dry fit the prior weekend, we took one night last week to label all of our tiles with a letter and corresponding number. For example, by the door, we marked them as D1, D2 and D3, and for the larger areas, we separated them into a few zones: A, B and C (which just happened to coincide with the Closet). Before we piled them back up, I snapped several photos with my phone that we could reference when it came time to really lay them down, which worked out perfectly.

It took us the whole weekend to complete the project, starting by mixing up our mortar and placing the tiles down on Saturday. Never having tiled before, we quickly watched an instructional video that The Tile Shop passed along (we also worked directly with Jeff at the Schaumburg location, and not only did he happily put up with my list of questions, but he reassured us, you can do this!), and we made mental notes on what to do: holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle, working on small sections at a time (or as much as you can accomplish in about 20-30 minutes so the mortar doesn’t dry out).

(On a side note, was the mortaring as fun as I hoped it would be? Eh. I was in the zone while Scott passed me our labeled tiles, so while I wouldn’t say I had the time of my life, it was a great feeling to know that I did it! I can tile now!)

We allowed everything to set overnight, and we grouted the tiles and wrapped up by late Sunday afternoon. As far as mixing the water with the thinset mortar and the admixture to the grout (the milky, watery component to get our grout to the right consistency), we just followed the instructions on the back of each bag, respectively. The biggest thing we learned was to always add the mortar/grout to the water/admixture – never the other way around.

Grouting – although extremely messy! – was especially satisfying; the look of our tiles changed immediately! We fell into a groove where I used the float to fill in our tile, then Scott followed closely behind with a rotating crew of fresh water and sponges. We used a charcoal colored grout, so while it felt a little terrifying to see such a mess at first, it was pretty fun to watch the transformation unfold with every swipe of the sponge. Wipe, rinse and wipe; wipe, rinse and wipe (again and again and again).

While the grout was still wet, it looked jet black (which we actually didn’t mind), but it dried to a gorgeous, truly medium shade of gray. An hour after everything was grouted and wiped clean, we did go back over the tile with a handful of damp microfiber cloths, starting in the corner and buffing our way out of the entryway. This completely got rid of any hazy residue that was leftover, and we spent the remainder of the night staring at the finished foyer. We couldn’t. Stop. Staring. We did it! And we love it!

It’s crazy to see how far this little space has come (a toast for every victory!), but there’s still much more to do (in addition to sealing the tiles some night this week) – baseboards, lighting, painting the stair treads, painting the front door and installing hardwood on the second floor landing… to name a few. We’re looking forward to all of those things, but to avoid burn out, we’ve been tossing around ideas for other rooms, too! (The nook? The studio? The storage room?)

Oh, new house, there’s so much ahead for you.

This post is in partnership with The Tile Shop. We used Hampton Niles 12×12 tile with Charcoal sanded pro-grout; Opinions, body aches and creepy stare-downs are all ours.

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  • Ah, looks great! Progress feels so good :)ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse]1.14.14 - 8:06 AM

    It’s absolutely gorgeous! We’ve been on the fence about doing our bathrooms [since we’re moving soon]. And this is not making the decision any easier. BeautifulReplyCancel

  • Lindsey d.1.14.14 - 8:12 AM


  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia]1.14.14 - 8:35 AM

    That view looking down your freshly painted stairs is the money shot! MMMmm, that tile is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square1.14.14 - 8:40 AM

    I love it! Did you lay down and caress it with your cheek and admire it endlessly? That’s what I would have done. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.14.14 - 8:43 AM

    Laura, YES. (Well, maybe not the cheek caressing, but the endless admiring.) We walked from the couch to the entry about 10 times the night we finished (for every Golden Globe commercial break!), sighed with happiness, then returned to the couch. Exhausted.ReplyCancel

  • Susan @ Jubilee Furniture1.14.14 - 9:01 AM

    Wow – the entry looks amazing! LOVE the tile. Nice job! I’m super impressed.ReplyCancel

  • Kristen1.14.14 - 9:22 AM

    LOVE the tiles you chose! The entryway is looking awesome!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl1.14.14 - 9:35 AM

    This looks FANTASTIC!ReplyCancel

  • Claudie1.14.14 - 10:01 AM

    Love it! It’s gorgeous and I’m sure I would probably just sit on the stairs looking down at it all of the time if it was my place!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel1.14.14 - 10:15 AM

    Wow! How gorgeous! I love the tile so much and my favorite shots are the last two – the white steps and tile just look so amazing together in your entry. And the pic of Jack’s little feet- adorable. I think I might wanna tile something… hahaReplyCancel

  • Katherine1.14.14 - 11:00 AM

    This is just beyond gorgeous tile. Just the absolute perfect choice for the space!
    Can’t wait to see how you outfit the rest of your entryway!
    Whee for living vicariously. I would Lurve to tile our kitchen backsplash…..ReplyCancel

  • oH MY GOSH….. I love it. Love the tile, the grout… the dog toes.


  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY1.14.14 - 12:52 PM

    It’s fabulous! It’s perfect!! Well done =)ReplyCancel

  • Jill1.14.14 - 1:11 PM

    I’m loving it so much! And yes, I’d be staring at that entryway more than the Globes. I wanted more Tina and Amy. Hmph! And some of those gowns were so underwhelming. But Jared Leto?!?! WOOWEE! Gimme some of that man-bun! Has hair like that ever looked hotter?!ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.14.14 - 1:15 PM

    Thanks, everyone!

    Jill – I KNOW. I kept asking, where’s Tina and Amy? And don’t even get me started on Jordan Catalano… yum.ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design1.14.14 - 2:25 PM

    Love the shot of the paws on the gorgeous tiles!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams1.14.14 - 5:00 PM

    I love the picture of the puppy paws on the new tile. Too cute! And the tile looks great too.ReplyCancel

  • blair {at} the fox and she1.14.14 - 10:05 PM

    wow! it looks so amazing! great choice and this makes me more tempted to try it on my own sometime!ReplyCancel

  • The tile looks amazing! The pattern and grout are perfect for your entryway. It’s nice to know that there are other tile novices out there. We don’t have any tile projects in the immediate future, but it’s good to know with a little expert guidance and some YouTub videos we can be well on our way.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel P1.21.14 - 1:06 PM

    I LOVE that tile choice! Ahhh, everything looks so amazing!!! Also still in love with that transom window over your door…ReplyCancel

  • Jessica5.31.14 - 11:49 AM

    Found your blog through Domino and I have to say I’m sooooo addicted! Amazing work :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.2.14 - 9:38 AM

      I’m so happy you found us – and thank you!ReplyCancel

  • tricia3.22.15 - 7:32 PM

    hello! what a beautiful and professional looking job you’ve done! I was actually thinking of using this tile in for our kitchen but was advised against as the tile is small and apparently this can cause faster damage. now that it’s been almost a year since the install, have you found that the tile has lived up to the wear and tear of the entry way? thanks in advance!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.23.15 - 9:52 AM

      Hi Tricia, thanks for the thoughts on this! It is in the main entry to our home, which both of us and our 2 massive crazy dogs use daily. I think one tile by the stairs has a little chip on the corner (the place where the pups like to launch themselves off the stairs), but aside from that, it’s been great! We love this tile so much, and we get compliments on this more than almost any other thing we’ve done to our home. For a high traffic area, I’d be sure to use a dark grout though.ReplyCancel

      • tricia3.27.15 - 9:46 PM

        thank you so much, Kim! What a big help this has been and encouraging. I look forward to your posts!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Goldman3.14.16 - 6:46 AM

    Hey, Kim! We’re preparing to put down some marble hex tile in our bathroom and I’m stumped as to what sealer to use. Are you pleased with what you chose from the tile shop? I’ve had mixed reviews on the sealer from Home Depot… Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.14.16 - 8:59 AM

      Hi Kelly! Oh, sealer. It always feels like such a confusing thing, right?! I remember sealing the entry way back in the day, and over time, we still love the way the floor looks. The grout has seen some wear (considering it’s the main entry point to our home!), and some of the tiles in the highest traffic area – from the door to the living room – aren’t as glossy as they used to be. That said, we personally LOVE the way marble wears. It might not be perfect, but it looks so warm and inviting all the same. I think that’s what we love about marble so much – it always looks classic, and when broken in, it looks even more beautiful! In short, yes, we’re happy with the sealer from the Tile Shop. I hope that helps a little – I think no matter what you choose, you shouldn’t have as much ‘wear’ in a bathroom, since that’s a room that you’re not walking through with muddy sneakers and rain boots. :)ReplyCancel


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