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Flooring on a Whim

Does anyone else ever go to Lowes with their mom to look at bathroom vanities, and randomly decide to redo their kitchen floors instead?  And then go home from Lowes and start smashing the crap out of their ugly brown tile floors?

No?  Just me?  Okay then.

Mom and I went to Lowes this weekend to gain some inspiration for my bathroom.  I primed the vanity many moons ago, and it’s been sitting there, badly primed, for months.  I kind of lost my inspiration for that project because we were working on so much other stuff.  I also realized that I don’t really even like that vanity, so I wanted to go to Lowes to see how much it would cost to just replace it.

As we’re walking through Lowes, Mom and I decided that it’s probably best to focus on one project area at a time, instead of a bunch of little things scattered all over everywhere that will lead to everything feeling only halfway done.  So we abandoned the bathroom vanity plan for the time being, and moved on to finishing our kitchen.

The open wall is amazing. AH-MAZING.  Our little house feels SO much bigger.  I still need to do the finishing touches to the wall in there (a little more texture on one corner where we had to patch the drywall a ton, touch up paint, trim on the bottom, paint the ledge), but those haven’t been done purely out of my own laziness.  I’ll probably do them sometime this week (maybe).  Mom and I compiled a list of kitchen projects to complete before we move onto another room:

  1. Get that damned garbage disposal installed, if it’s the last freaking thing I do. Electricians won’t call me back about a quote because it’s such a small job to put one light switch in a wall, but I am a master of harassment via telephone so they most certainly have not heard the last of me.  I’ll get you, my pretty wall switch for my garbage disposal, AND YOUR LITTLE DOG, TOO.
  2. Paint the cabinets.  Some people are into the natural wood look for cabinets, and that’s great for those people, but I am not one of them.  I do not love it, I don’t even like it, so I’m changing it!  This has to wait until the weather is a bit warmer and we can use the garage (right now it’s too cold and also my garage is a hot mess full of landscape timbers and other random crap that we need to get rid of before there’s any room to do anything in there), so maybe March or April?
  3. Add cabinet hardware.  For opening stuff, duh.
  4. Redo countertops (brownish-beigeish-orangeish laminate ain’t my jam)
  5. Backsplash: subway tile, you will be mine.
  6. Redo floors, because ugly brown tile is ugly.

Honestly, I hadn’t given much thought to the floors until this weekend.  I figured it would be a thing we had done way down the line, and I’d just live with the ugly brown tile for a couple years.  But that tile is EVERYWHERE in our house: the entryway, the kitchen floor, the kitchen backsplash (it’s a smaller version, but still ugly brown squares), the bathroom floor and the tub/shower surround.  10×10 brown squares of ugliness.  I do NOT like brown, I think it’s a frumpy color that sucks the light out of everything and I hate it.


You disappoint me.

I have really strong feelings about brown, I guess.

I may want to get a handle on my negative emotions regarding the color brown, I’m worrying myself.

Ahem. Anyway.

Mom and I were perusing the aisles at Lowes, trying to think of something we can do now that won’t cost a lot but will make a big impact on my love for my kitchen.  We turned the corner onto the tile aisle, and it hit us:

We can redo the kitchen floor.

We turned our heads slightly to the right and there it was: beautiful tile, new low price, it was love at first sight.  We both were enamored, and immediately went to find a person in a Red Vest to help us load them in the cart, because HEAVY. (Also, it’s remarkably difficult to find a person in a Red Vest at Lowes on a Saturday.  I kind of think they should work on that, because really…it’s Saturday.  It’s Project Day.  Get some more people, Lowes.)

The good news about having a small kitchen is that we don’t need very much tile to redo it.  The old tiles are square, the new ones are large and rectangular (and GORGEOUS), so Mom and I figured we’ll probably only need maybe 25 tiles at most.  This is good because at $1.99/sq. ft, we’ll be able to return the tiles we don’t use (or break) and get some money back, which I’m always a fan of.


Behold the beauty, surrounded by a bunch of crap on my kitchen table.

With the tile purchased, we went home and began our quest to learn how to remove tile and lay new tile, the old fashioned way: YouTube videos.  We found a couple that were pretty detailed and we’re very confident that we can figure this out, so my job for the week is to demolish all of the existing tile in the kitchen, and we’ll lay the new tile this Saturday.  I went to Ace Hardware to get the stuff I needed to demolish the tile floors, according to the guy in the YouTube video, and got to work.

The main tools needed for this project are a chisel and a hammer.  We already own a hammer, so I needed to find a chisel.  I bought one with a target guard on it, and holy hell am I glad that I did.  The target guard basically ensures that you don’t smash the crap out of your hands while trying to hit the chisel with the hammer, especially since you’ve got to hold the chisel at weird angles to get it under the tiles.  I bought the last one they had with a target guard on it, which was more expensive than the ones without but absolutely worth it.chisel

I also needed super thick contractor bags, knee pads (I forgot these and have been using a rolled up towel, works just fine), a face mask and safety goggles.

Getting started removing the tile was challenging until I realized that I needed to just smash at it like crazy with a hammer to get it cracked before I could start chiseling.  So I spent a good 10 minutes whacking at one of the tiles with a hammer and finally achieved these massively impressive results:


Ugh. It looked so easy on YouTube…

Once I got started, though, it got a lot easier and I was able to make some progress pretty quickly.  I did a bunch on Saturday evening, then some more on Sunday afternoon, and this is what my kitchen floor looks like currently:


Totally not safe to walk barefoot in here right now.

Clearly, I’m not done yet.  I need to finish the ones out in the open, then move the stove and the fridge to remove the tiles under there.  Then we need to scrape the quick set/mortar/whatever the hell this stuff is off the floor so it’s all nice and smooth for Saturday morning.  Also, it’s worth noting that I have done 100% of this labor myself: Anthony’s work schedule and mine pretty much never line up, so he worked all weekend while I stayed home and smashed the crap out of the kitchen floors like a maniac.  He’s got a couple weekdays off this week, so he’ll do some work while he’s home and I’m off at work.  But all the smashing and removing was done by yours truly! *Pats self on back, toots own horn, smiles at self in mirror, etc.*

Envision with me, if you will, how nice it’ll look when it’s all done and I have beautiful floors of beautifulness:floornew

Imagine the white is everywhere, and the ugly brown is gone forever.

I could not be more excited!  I love the white marble-look (no, it’s not real marble, it’s ceramic that looks an awful lot like marble), I think it will make the kitchen feel brighter and 100 times cleaner than yucky brown.  We may also replace the brown tile in the entryway with the same white tile, but we aren’t 100% sure about that yet.

So, that’s the plan.  Saturday morning, my mother and I are going to find out if we’re any good at laying tile.  I really hope we are, because if not…um.

I’m pretty confident we’ll be just fine, and my floors will be gorgeous.  But I’m gonna go watch some more YouTube videos, just in case.


1 thought on “Flooring on a Whim”

  1. Great and funny post Kelsey. My wife and I have done a number of DIY renovations so I can totally relate. I especially like: “…learn how to remove tile and lay new tile, the old fashioned way: YouTube videos.” Watching YouTube is how I usually determine if we can do the project, or call in the pros. As we are always on the lookout for post fodder, a number of our projects have made it into the blog. Search our blog for “Basecamp Gallivance.” This bar project turned out really well, but pushed the envelope. Best of luck laying your tile.


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