DIY Fireplace Makeover

My husband and I decided to redo the fireplace when we were putting in our new floors. This was our first tile project and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

Tile: The first step was to remove the hearth and surrounding beige tile. My husband used a sawzall to do this and was pretty proud of himself when the hearth came out in one piece. (Don’t mind the huge red wine stain on the carpet – I knocked over a full glass a couple of days before this photo was taken and decided to just leave it there since we were tearing out the carpet anyway)

One easy thing we did once Tommy took off the old tile was clean the fireplace glass! I just used windex. It’s crazy how much better this alone makes it look.

Next it was time to cut, measure and nail on the cement board. Tommy found the best way to cut cement board is to score it, then snap it. He used a diamond bit to drill through and then installed with flat head nails so the tile could go over smoothly. After the cement board was up, we measured and created a template of the fireplace using tape on the floor so we would know exactly where to cut each piece.

Then it was time to cut the tile! We used a large wet saw rented from a nearby rental equipment store (also took a break for a bomb lunch).

I used a lot of adhesive to put the tile on (probably too much but again, first time doing this). The tape around the fireplace helped ensure no glue got on and made for an easy clean up.

After a couple days, we applied a grout sealer/cleaner, let it dry then started grouting (applying the sealer before helped ensure the grout didn’t stick to the tile and makes it easier to clean off after). We made sure to use unsanded grout, since the lines are narrow and we didn’t want to scratch the tile.

Then after it dried for about 20 minutes, we cleaned it off and used the same sealer from before to seal the grout lines. Next it was time to tackle the hearth and fireplace surroundings.

Materials Used to Tile:

Hearth: We decided to do a large marble slab to match the herringbone tile for the fireplace hearth. We designed and cut the template ourselves to save money and had this custom piece made for our fireplace. We splurged on real marble but we love how it came out! Hearth Cost: $250

Materials: My husband built and painted the mantel surroundings using scrap trim pieces + paint we had on hand. We removed our top corner insert, gave it a fresh coat of paint and secured it back on.

Total cost for DIY Fireplace Makeover: $481

DIY Half Bath Makeover

This whole bathroom makeover idea started when my husband tore out our old carpet and replaced it with Luxury Vinyl Plank. We replaced the floors in the upstairs hallway, the stairs and the entire downstairs, including our small guest bathroom.

To install the vinyl plank flooring in the guest bathroom, my husband had to remove the toilet and the old pedestal sink. Once the sink was out, he was adamant about replacing it with something else, and kept saying it didn’t feel right to put back after we had finished installing the floors. So…bring on the half bath remodel!

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The first step was tile. I had always loved the classic look of white subway tile and decided this would be an inexpensive way to elevate and upgrade the entire space. Plus, I thought it would be a fun project to do while we were in quarantine and I was excited to learn a new skill. I ordered everything needed, watched this Youtube Video and went for it! I am thrilled with the results and want to share a few important elements that really helped with this project.

1. Ledger Board. A ledger board is used to support the primary row of tile at the base. This makes it very easy to start tiling and to make sure everything is even and level. My husband measured how high our baseboard would be and nailed in the ledger board there.

2. Tile Template. There is probably a simple math equation I could have used to determine where to cut the end tiles and ensure even spacing but I am a visual person. Instead, I created a template of three rows since I wanted the tiles staggered. I measured out the length of the wall then taped that length on the floor. From there I arranged the tiles out to both ends of the tape so I would know where to make the end cuts.

3. Right Size Tile Spacers. I ordered the Horseshoe Spacers and couldn’t recommend them enough. I went with a smaller grout line (1/16 in.) since the subway tile already has grooves on the sides and felt like this helped hide some imperfections.

4. Paper towels. A little obvious but having lots of paper towels available and ready helped tremendously when I accidentally spilled mortar (on the tile, floor, all over my hands) and I was able to quickly clean it up each time before it dried.

I definitely recommend tiling yourself for anyone who is interested in doing some home improvements (it’s not as hard or daunting as people say, plus you will save a bunch of $$$)! After the tile was dry, grouted, cleaned and sealed, it was time to put everything back and add the finishing touches. Below is a price breakdown of what was spent for this makeover.

Tile: Some of these products we already had on hand when we retiled our fireplace (will share a blog post on that later!).

Total cost for all tile + materials: $242

Flooring: As stated earlier, we decided to continue the vinyl floors in the bathroom to make it easier to install and to have the entry way flow. This also helped us save some money. We used LifeProof Tupelo Oak vinyl flooring.

Bathroom Accessories: Paintings – My husband lived in New Orleans for a couple months when we first started long distance dating about 7 years ago. He found these colorful painting at a street market and I thought this would be the perfect place to hang them

Bathroom Vanity + Faucet: I found a beautiful brand new monarch blue bathroom vanity on Offer Up for $200. You can find it on Wayfair (original price is around $530). I purchased the Glacier Bay Bathroom Faucet in Matte Gold to match the vanity, $60.

I couldn’t be happier with the way this half bath turn out! Beautiful, affordable, updated and fun to complete. Now, on to the next project. 🙂