The Project House – Tile update part 1

January 23rd, 2014

Usually when you build a house, you don’t source your own tile – you go through your contractor or builder. And if you want anything custom-looking, you pay way more than you should. However, we are doing our home build as a “Cost-Plus” build. This basically means that we pay our builder/contractor a flat rate to build/subcontract the house, and then all the bills/invoices are paid by us without any sort of mark-up. This has several benefits, one of which is that we can provide anything (or any subcontractors) that we want for the house and at the end of the day there isn’t any sort of credit/allowance issues that we have to deal with. It basically gives us complete artistic freedom to do anything to the house and any changes/upgrades etc without having to deal with logistical issues. For us creatives, it’s the perfect way to build a house. We have total control over the spending, materials, and subcontractors, but we don’t have to actually manage the build, pay invoices, or make sure people show up. It also allows us to do some serious budget shopping to save money in areas where people normally spend the most.

Anyway, back to the tile… When we were in the design phase of the build, we visited a local tile design center. We happily looked through tile samples and found 3 that we liked a lot for the kitchen backsplash. The sales associate looked up the price on her computer, and the tile that we liked best was $93.00/sq. ft. No misplaced decimals… 93 bones! It was fabulous tile, but not even remotely close to our budget. I knew I could find something else that worked just as well for a fraction of the price. I started searching online, and went to several online tile retailers to see what the prices and selection was available.

It’s interesting buying something like tile online. Unlike things like 2x4s and drywall, finishes for a home are an emotional/design purchase. You want to connect in someway with the surfaces that you are going to interact with on a daily basis. As a creative person I’m completely picky about my environment, so I have to be 100% happy with the products going into my home. I was a little nervous about the prospect of buying my tile online, but I figured if I could look at sample tiles, and save a lot of money, it was worth the risk of possibly being dissatisfied and having to look elsewhere. I’ll tell you right now, that I have been so incredibly impressed with the style and quality of every tile product that I ordered. Even Mr. Project, who is very hard to impress, has commented numerous times on the quality of the tile that we ordered from BuildDirect.

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When I came across BuildDirect.com I found exactly what I was looking for. They had a great selection of 12×24 floor tile that I wanted for several areas of the house. They also had white subway tile, glass subway tile, and even 12×24 sheets of white marble – all the classic items I was wanting to put in my home. And the best part was that the prices were better than I’d seen at the other online stores (in most cases by a lot). I ordered some free samples (first 5 are free including shipping!) and I was so impressed with their tile samples, and customer service that I knew they were a perfect fit for our build. Knowing that their product was perfect for the look and style of our home, I took a chance and contacted them about being a blog sponsor.  They were excited to see a big project like our Project House unfold in real time, and we worked out some details to make it all happen. Throughout the whole tile process (ordering, receiving, ordering more last minute, quick shipments, and installation etc), I’ve been impressed over and over again by their great customer service, and quality of product. I really could not recommend them more, and not just because they were kind enough to sponsor my blog, but also because I know that if you order tile from them, you will have a great experience.

Okay so really, onto the (drool-worthy) tile.

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About a week after ordering my tile, I started to get boxes… and palettes (I ordered a lot of tile). Getting your first box is always the most exciting, and my first was this GORGEOUS ice mist 3×6 glass subway tile. I was really nervous about this color – I decided on this tile at the last minute and didn’t have time to get a sample. So I was just crossing my fingers that the color was correct. The color that the BuildDirect website shows was a little more green then I was hoping for, but I decided to just go with it and hope for the best. When I got the box and opened it, I jumped with joy because the color was absolutely PERFECT. Seriously perfect. And for a designer to say a color is perfect means a lot. If you’re looking for a great ice-aqua color glass tile, this is the tile for you. I also ended up ordering the same tile but in 4×12 for the boy’s shower/toilet room. I haven’t received it yet, but it should be here in a few days.

The next day I received this beautiful Marble Basket-weave tile. This tile is so beautiful in person. I love mosaic tile, and really love how the basket weave mixes just a little contrasting black into the pattern. I also was excited to find a basket-weave in marble as most of the ones I’ve seen are porcelain.

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Maybe an hour after receiving the basket-weave tile, a truck pulled up with 2 palettes of tile… thats a lot of tile. Nearly 3000 lbs!

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I could hardly wait to open it and see what it all was. It was seriously like Christmas!

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After carting (literally using a hand cart – well not me – but the very  nice neighbor) a few boxes in the house, I opened up this glorious 12×24 white marble tile. So pretty and so heavy. I ordered a lot of it too – for the master shower, floor, and tub surround.

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The Project House – Mr. Project’s Built-in Window Seat with bookshelves

January 21st, 2014

Okay… I haven’t updated on the house in a few weeks. So much has happened… so much is happening right now. It’s really kind of overwhelming to keep up with it all, and take pictures, and blog and whatnot. And so pictures were kind of piling up and I knew I needed to get to an update, but then I went out of town on business for several days, and pictures really started piling up, and the whole idea of updating on the build seemed really overwhelming.

So finally I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer, and started flagging images. Well there were more than 60 images that I want to share… and really, I couldn’t do that in one mega post,  so I decided to catch up a bit by showing projects/categories for a few quick posts. This way I can get a bunch of little posts done and get all my updates posted, without feeling overwhelmed.

Onto the first project… The built-in window seat in the Guest Room. This is one of those projects that I just didn’t think we’d get to until after we moved in. Mr. Project was feeling motivated, and asked what I was planning and said that maybe he could get it done… well if you know my husband, you know that when he says that, he is about 5 minutes away from diving in head first and getting said project started and finished in record time.

Here is the window wall of the room. I really wanted double or triple windows in all the rooms instead of one big slider window. I just think it looks so quaint and designed.

built-in-window-seat-before

I planned for this room to have a window seat with shelving on the sides, so I had the framers keep the ceiling lower over this one part of the room, and then raise it up higher for the rest of the room. I basically wanted it to feel like a more enclosed space.

When Mr. Project asked what I wanted the space to look like, I drew this (awesome) picture on the wall:

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Apparently I need to brush up on my perspective drawing… I drew a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf on each side of the windows, and then a bench area between. Then detailed the paneling on the inside of the seating area, and the front of the bench. We made a few measurement decisions – how deep, how wide etc. and then Mr. Project got to work!

First he made bases for everything to sit on. He said that this was the most important part of the job because if the bases were off, then everything else would be off. So he spent a long time putting these in and making them completely level and plumb.

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Once he had the bases in, he built each bookshelf in two pieces (because they are so tall). I don’t have any during pictures of this process because I had to go home and be a mom/get work done. But Mr. Project stayed late that first night assembling the shelving and router-ing the v-groove paneling for the shelve backing. The next day when I came by again, it looked like this:

built-in-window-seat-during2

That’s a lot of progress for less than 24 hours. That Mr. Project, he’s pretty amazing. The second night he stayed late again and paneled out the window and created the face frame (from poplar wood) for the shelving, and the paneling on the inside.

built-in-window-seat-during

So the next morning when I came to the house… this Is what I saw!

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So amazingly gorgeous, and absolutely perfect. Less than 48 hours from Mr. Project just asking what I wanted it to look like – to – being all done except the baseboard, front trim, and liftable-seat. He really is amazing!

Here’s the simple v-groove detail in the back:built-in-window-seat-vgroove

And the inside paneling:

built-in-window-seat-detail2  The crown and face frame detail.

built-in-window-seat-detail

If you want to know more about HOW he created this, I can see if Mr. Project will write a how-to with some additional images and notes. Just let me know in the comments/ instagram/facebook, and if I get enough interest, I can convince him to write a post all about building a built-in window seat with bookshelves.

Stay tuned to my blog for a lot more house projects and mini-update posts the next few weeks. We’re less than a month out (cross my fingers), so things are really picking up!

As always – for daily updates subscribe to my Instagram or Facebook feeds.

How To: Sew a Diagonal Strip Quilt

January 18th, 2014

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Strip quilting with the Quilt As You Go method is pretty much the only way I can quilt these days. It’s such a quick and easy way to make a simple quilt, and be done with it in a matter of hours. I call it my 2-nap quilt, as I really can only quilt when my boys are napping, and a strip quilt takes about 2 nap times to get done start to finish. And lets be honest… I haven’t had much time to practice extensive quilting techniques, so this is pretty much as good as it gets for me right now.

Here’s a quick tutorial on my diagonal strip quilt, it’s a little bit more tricky than a standard strip quilt. First step is super easy – I cut 5″ strips out of all of my fabrics – You can do this with any size strip – a jelly roll would save you time on the cutting, but take more time on the sewing. I like the 5″ because I can cut all the left-over strips in half and use the 2.5″ for binding strips.

All the fabric is from my new line with Riley Blake Fabric - Lost & Found 2.
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I laid them out in an order that I liked, and then moved onto the batting and backing. You want to cut your backing to your final quilt size (give or take for squaring up). For this quilt, I used the whole width of the fabric – so like 44″ and for the length I went about 64″ Then I cut the batting to match. I use a 100% cotton backing because it has a nice tack to it and sticks with the cotton fabric without any shifting. I iron the backing to the fabric with a hot iron to make the two pieces stick better to each other, and to remove any wrinkles. And I’m laughing as I look at this really wrinkly picture! I must have ironed it after this!

I wanted to make a diagonal strip quilt (never done this before), and thought it would be cool if I started at one corner, and then reversed the diagonal. So first step was to make a base-line to end my first set of strips.

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I used my fussy cutter, to get a good straight edge from my fabric. I used my long ruler to follow that line and draw directly on the batting.

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Okay so I don’t have a photo of the next step, but basically I laid out all my strips FACE-UP on the batting, starting on the baseline I just drew, and trimmed the ends about an inch longer than the end of the quilt.

Then all you do is start sewing. I rolled up the majority of the quilt so it would fit in my machine arm, laid down my first strip and sewed it down right-side-up. I just use a standard sewing foot and keep my feet in a normal position.

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I took my second strip, and placed it right-side to right-side – matching up the seams, and sewed down. quilt_sew2_theprojectgirl

Flip the strip over – exposing the right-side. I recommend pressing this down to keep all your seams nice and flat. Then you take the next strip and again place it right-side to right-side – match up the seams, and sew.

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