It all started with a few boxes of subway tiles. Crisp glossy white subway tiles.
There is just something about that classic simple look that always speaks to me. We had subway tile in the kitchen for a while- and we have it in the laundry room right now. It is something that definitely fits this 1940’s cottage well- and it fits the little cottage even better.
If you aren’t familiar with the little cottage- it is a guest cottage on our property. It is about 1000 sq ft and has old concrete floors, peaked open rafter ceilings and knotty pine walls. It is far more rustic than the main house- leaning more towards a masculine feeling. So I usually go in a more masculine decorating direction unless I am styling it for something special.
Last year, I painted the bookcase wall a rich charcoal color to match my moodier than usual mood- haha. And currently- we are working on redoing the kitchen and the bathroom to get ready for guests to stay with us this spring and also for some future plans we have for out here.
Disclaimer: This is just a sneak peek of how those walls are turning out- Not the bathroom reveal. I have had a lot of requests to show more of the ‘in process’ in projects and renovations along with the reveals. I always thought maybe those were a tad boring since there was no bit ‘Ta-Da’ moment showing the finished project- but I hear you and I am going to start sharing more of the behind the scenes and in betweens on those here.
So back to where it started. Those boxes of subway tile. We tiled the shower walls and since the ceiling is peaked on one side- we went allllll the way up to the top. I love floor to ceiling anything- wallpaper, boards, tile – you name it. And after we finished the shower walls? We kept on going on the rest of the bathroom.
So where are we currently with this bathroom? Well, since we bought all of the tile that was in stock at 2 stores- we are waiting on a few more boxes before we can get the last wall and trims finished. And the vanity is changing. It was damaged when we removed it to redo the flooring- and combined with a major craigslist score – it is an opportunity to update. Pretty excited to get this wrapped up- and then it is on to finishing the kitchen renovations.
Wall Tiling Tips
There are a few things I have learned (a lot of them the hard way) when it comes to tiling a wall. I am not a professional by any means- but here are a few things that have made it easier for me to tackle tiling a wall without having too many issues. (there are always issues with DIY jobs haha)
Know your grout
Sanded or unsanded? That is the question. The most simple explanation for this is to think of it this way: Unsanded grout is easier on the skin and easier on the tile. Sanded grout is like sandpaper and is better for larger grout lines (more than 1/8th of an inch) and floor tiles- it is more resistant to cracking and shrinking. Unsanded grout is better for walls & also used for smaller tile lines (less than 1/8th of an inch) and also for softer tiles such as marble so that you don’t scratch it all up while grouting.
Level, level, level
Start at the bottom with a LEVEL base and check the level of each sheet of tile you put up. The main issue I have run into before is that those tiles start to ever so slightly slip or drop and one here and there won’t completely ruin the wall- but a whole row will not be pretty and cause the whole rest of the wall to be off.
Use grout to make a statement- Or not
This was a bit of a struggle for me as it has been both times I have done subway tile before. Match the grout color with the tile- or go bold. Personally I love both looks. Those dark grout lines are so pretty! But- each time after debating I have gone with less busy visually -think of it as more ‘Paris Subway‘ than ‘New York Subway’ look.
For this bathroom- I did decide to go a tad wild. We are not going with white on white. We are going with a grout that is a shade of white with a touch of gray to create a color that was visually less busy but also allow for the grout lines to play a bit in the design. Stay tuned for the finished look.
The biggest benefit to keeping the grout the same color is that any oops you have while working blends in much better than it would with a contrast color- which will glare at you. And when working with an older house like we are- those walls that are not plum or level really will show all the inconsistencies if using a rich dark grout. And these walls? A LOT of not level, leaning as it goes and definitely not plumb issues out here.
Clean the lines as you work
Ohh the mistake I have made with that one before! I tell you- that mortar is not fun to chip out of the grout areas- so while you are working- make sure those lines stay nice and clean to save yourself a whole lot of work when it dries. We also used this adhesive for the walls this time and it was a game changer. Such a great grip-I was able to roll through all the bottom and lay the next several layers of tile without any slippage.
So what about that reveal?
Though I am champing and the bit to get this space completely wrapped up- as I mentioned- we are waiting on the store to get more of the tile in to finish. As well that new sink is going in. We are also waiting on the shower wall to arrive before that can be completely wrapped up as well. Then it is onto trim, lighting and everything else.
Stay tuned for the full reveal soon.
What do you think of subway tile? Are you a fan? Or not so much?