Just Tell Me What I Want

I have a love-hate relationship with options. Always have. I deeply long for choices and want to have the power of making the decision myself. And yet I’m terrified of making the wrong decision, regretting my choice, and am paralyzed by the actual act itself. The warning signs for me on this issue presented themselves early. When I was around 3 or 4, the nightly task of getting on pajamas was a painful ordeal. The drawer had to be fully emptied with each choice laid out fully on my bedroom floor. Then I would weigh out the various factors: my mood (sometimes you just aren’t feeling a nightgown), the temperature (heaven forbid you choose the onesie and the temp rises), and the proper rotation process (didn’t want to neglect any). Usually it went on for such a ridiculous time that my mom would come in and rush the whole process -which only made it more stressful (deadlines!!). And then finally all of the rejects had to be refolded and ordered in an organized fashion. Probably should have had therapy then and there, cause now my decisions are a lot more meaningful than pajamas, far more costly and permanent, but I’m not sure I’ve grown much in this department over time. But I do know it’s easier with fewer choices that are more tailored to my style.

When Ronny and I got married in early 2010, Pinterest was just a few months from being launched. And I’m so thankful I didn’t have that resource at my fingertips because planning a wedding is challenging enough, let alone seeing every amazing idea and creation that people far more talented and wealthy than yourself pulled off. It’s entirely overwhelming! And this is definitely true for renovating a home as well. There are so many good ideas and so many options. What I really want, is for someone to just tell me what I want. Before starting this project, I had virtually no knowledge of tile and very few opinions about it. I knew I didn’t like the way a lot of tile feels underfoot, I knew I don’t enjoy scrubbing grout, and I have never cared for simple repeating square patterns. Fast forward one week on Pinterest and my eyes were opened to the world of tile. And what a big world it is. I now have a lot of opinions. And unfortunately, it turns out I like very expensive tile. I fell in love with this one gorgeous terra cotta hexagon I was seeing; no dramas, it’s just ancient reclaimed tiles shipped from Spain (i.e. exorbitantly expensive). And there were a few more stunning choices where I realized the cost wasn’t per square foot but per tiny tile. The more I researched the more overwhelmed I became and lost as to the right choice. We ended up finding a flooring business just down the street from us and they have a really impressive tile selection. After explaining a little about what I envisioned for our girl’s bathroom and having her look at the space, she pulled out a white mid-sized hexagon with gray marbling running through it. When the pattern is laid out, there is really nice variation from tile to tile giving it a lot of character and depth while staying really neutral and understated. It won’t show dirt easily and it cleans up really well. It goes well with lots of different colors and styles allowing us to be flexible with decor as the girls grow older.

5” porcelain hexagon

The issue we ran into with the tile was that after they laid the waterproofing ditra, they found the floor to be really unlevel. We had already replaced all of the subfloor and quite a few of the floor joists in this bathroom which were in horrible shape, so we had assumed the flooring guys had leveled it properly. But..we were wrong. The easiest answer at this point was pouring self leveler – pretty much cement. Since we were having the tile done professionally, I was messing with other stuff (namely my kids) and I was actually not micromanaging. Till I went into the bathroom downstairs and found cement pouring through the celling. Literally. Thankfully this bathroom is ugly and hasn’t been redone yet. The leveler also poured down into the entry way on our lovely green linoleum and they didn’t even pretend to try to clean that up…I mean, why would you..

well this is fun…

After cleaning cement off all our bathroom items and tossing some towels, the worst was over. The tile was laid in just a few hours and the next day it was grouted with bright white mold-resistant stuff. I think it came out beautifully. There is something really classic and timeless about hexagon tile in my opinion. Coming soon is paint, wainscot, trim, and then installing the fixtures and bath! (soon meaning…2025?)

Even though I didn’t personally lay this tile, I learned a ton! We have two more bathrooms to tile and the laundry area at some point, and I hope to try my hand at it in the future. But just from this first experience, I already got a few takeaways:

  1. It can be pretty overwhelming to choose tile. The decision became much easier when I found the right person who has been doing this for a long time and also has a good sense of style herself. If you don’t trust the style of the person selling you the tile, you need to find someone else. The right person can take into consideration the various things you want and offer a proper recommendation based on your budget.
  2. Tile is expensive and permanent. You can of course change it, but it’s a costly ordeal. And if laid right, you shouldn’t have to ever really..at least not for a long time. The only reasons to change tile in the future would be because a problem develops in the floor below, it was laid poorly, or style changed and it is now outdated or ugly. Go to extra lengths to make sure everything under the floor is good to go beforehand – joists, subfloor, pipes..all of it. While styles will change and everything goes out eventually, some come back and some don’t. And some are much easier to work around with changes to your style and fixtures over time. Aim to choose something that is as close to timeless and classic as possible. While there are some gorgeous colored and extravagant styles out there, be wary of peacocking here (unless your home lends itself to a Moroccan vibe, then deck it out in all the glory for sure!!). By doing so you will limit your other decor options, you could likely turn off future buyers, and you run the risk of it becoming outdated sooner.
  3. There are two pieces to consider in your bathroom: the tile, and everything else. If you want a bold or brightly colored tile in the end, make sure you will allow for it to be the center of attention and everything else can take the backseat. If you are incorporating a lot of other visually prominent features or patterns (think wallpaper, brightly colored decor, striking furniture) a busy pattern or flashy tile choice can make the room really busy. The tile needs to compliment everything else, or everything else needs to compliment the tile. For us, we strangely chose the kid’s sink first, and worked backwards to the tile. In our next bathroom I’m going to try it in reverse and see how that fares – choosing the tile first!
this is now officially the nicest room of the house

Things overall are coming along quite slowly upstairs and I’ve recently just began accepting it. We went in with an ignorantly ambitious timeline up there and to be honest, we got completely overwhelmed with decisions, the proper and necessary order of events, and the fact that we want to and CAN do a lot of it ourselves, but the only stretches of time to tackle things are between 9pm and 2am (which isn’t working out so well for our sanity). So we have just slowed the whole thing down and are being less aggressive about it. The projects will always be there and we are strangely getting quite used to our bedroom in the living room and sharing one bathroom as a family! The truth is that what we thought we were tackling this summer has greatly changed…as it has for everyone I know. As a planner and a worrier this is tough on me. Stress and anxiety run high these days for us all as we navigate the hurdles, trying to make the best decisions in the crazy present while missing many of the normalcies we took for granted. As I’m gearing up to homeschool this fall, (something I never planned on doing!), projects that I thought I would be doing on the house and in my personal life have had to be put on hold indefinitely. I feel nothing like Joanna Gaines, but rather am looking and acting more like Yzma from Emperor’s New Groove with every day that goes by. I’ve never been a homebody but of course, that has changed! When we moved into this house, I had no idea just how much time here we would be spending. I’m thankful that we have a little space for the girls to roam during these isolated times (although I still do very much wish the frogs would vacate the premises). As I’ve been dealing with my disappointment for my daughter’s Kindergarten year, my postponed and stagnant projects, my reduced goals and expectations and the frustration bundled up with it all, I keep coming back to this:

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” -Mother Teresa

Saylor’s first frosting experience

Hang in there – you’re probably doing much better than you even know. And if you need a complete diversion, dive into the amazing world of tile on Pinterest and start dreaming and planning your bathroom redo! I’d love to see what beautiful tiles you discover (don’t share them with me if they are obscenely expensive cause I will want them!)

2 thoughts on “Just Tell Me What I Want

  1. I love your tile choice! I love even more your mothers heart! What a great quote by mother Teresa, what a lovely metaphor restoring a home is for our lives. This post is perfection!


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