Building a new home: tile, flooring, countertops, and color

by Dana on April 4, 2014

It’s time for a new-house update!
And even though we’re now living in the home, I really want to document it all systematically.  So today we’re talking about flooring and tile.

If you’ve missed my other posts, our family is building a custom home in the Austin, TX area.  We’re not physically building it ourselves—we’ve hired a custom builder to do the hard part and we’re along for the decision-making ride.

Check out my previous posts documenting the whole process:
We’re building a new home!
Groundbreaking Party
From foundation to frame 
Stucco, shingles, and a pretty paint job 
Sheetrock, paint, and a double-decker deck
We moved!…and an ode to the old house

When we last visited the house it looked like this:

The cabinets had just gone in!
And, I love them.  I knew I wanted white cabinets from the very get-go…but I also knew that I wanted white stone countertops.  And I worried that it would be a lot of white (for anyone else in the house, who’s name is not Dana….because I would be perfectly content to live in a house dipped in marshmallow goo).

But.  As it all came together with the cabinets, counters, flooring, and pops of colored tile throughout the house,  I absolutely love it.  And Casey does too….so let me show you what we did.

First off, the wood floors.
Haah.
Okay. They’re not wood.  They’re tile!

And they’re really amazing.

Now before you scoff at the tile—like I may have done when our designer first showed it to me—let me tell you the pros and cons.

I really love wood floors.  In our old house we had very light wood maple floors made of engineered wood—which is the most common type of wood flooring these days.   Typically there’s an engineered wood like mdf on the bottom, and then a thin layer of real wood on the top, which you tongue + groove into place in large pre-pieced boards (or in individual planks like old fashioned wood floors).

So I had my heart set on wood floors again.  They’re just warm and inviting.  Yes, after 4 years in our old house the floors were scratched up in many places.   But nothing bad; just wear and tear.

So when I met with our designer to pick out flooring the first thing she said was, “I have a vision for your whole house…..and I found the perfect tile flooring that I think you’re going to love.”
I inwardly rolled my eyes.
(“I’m not doing tile”)

And then she pulled out this beautiful long 36×6 inch porcelain tile that had a really cool natural farm house look to it.  It wasn’t really brown…..it was like a warm gray/brown and matched my favorite boots perfectly.  And it had some
texture on the top that made it feel like wood, and the pieces were all varied so it wasn’t matchy matchy.  And then she showed me the flooring laid out in the showroom.

And, I was totally on-board.

It was really beautiful!  And the upside to using tile vs. wood is that we could use it throughout almost the entire house….which makes a home feel larger and more cohesive.  We could use it in the kitchen, laundry room, the bathrooms, everywhere! (although we planned to use carpet in the bedrooms).  Plus, the tile doesn’t scratch which is truly amazing.  Drag chairs around in the house, no prob.

We’ve been living on these tile floors for a month now and the only downside I see—compared to wood floors–is that it doesn’t have that same warmth as real wood.  I just gotta be honest about that.  Some winter days I miss that rich feeling of walking on wood.  But when summer hits, these tile floors are going to be my best friend.

So really, no complaints.

Now there’s a range of wood tile out there from pricey to inexpensive and some of it (in my opinion) can look a bit plasticy.  Wood tile is still on the early trend so I can only imagine that over the next 10 years there will be many more options to choose from….like bullnose tile pieces for the stairs (but we’ll get to that in a moment).

This particular tile is by Marazzi and the style is Cambridge Oak, Natural color.  Check out all sorts of flooring options on my pinterest board here.  The cost was the same as doing real wood floors, so it wasn’t cheap.  But I found that with home building you have to decide which big ticket items are important to you, and you cut back on the ones that aren’t (and plan on going over budget a bit…..which is just the reality.)

Our tile guys were awesome and worked hard, around the clock for a few weeks.  I was actually surprised at how long it took but was glad to know that there was a lot of precision work going into it.  They’d point out small inconsistencies to me and ask, “in order to make this all fit, I had to move this one tile over 1/8 of an inch.   Is that okay?”  The artist in me appreciated that attention to detail and pride in their own work.

Little by little, the stairs went from this:

to this (with the walls painted Repose Gray):

And deciding exactly HOW the tile should look on the stairs led to much discussion.

I knew I wanted “wood” tops with white risers.   But the problem with tile vs wood is that there wasn’t a bullnose piece to go on the stair edge.  And I didn’t want the tile to look cheap and small on top—I wanted it to be chunky like wood.  So the tile guys created a rounded edge on-site and placed a small tile piece on the stair front, and it totally worked.  I’m happy with the finished look.

Sick of talking about tile yet?
Well let’s make it more colorful!

The great room once looked like this:

And now it looks like this!

For the fireplace I selected a 1×1 tile by Daltile, color: Spa Blue.

I’m so in love with this shade.  It’s soothing and subtle.

And the look is pretty close to the photo I used as inspiration.

Definitely a more finished look from our Christmas card photos.

For more ideas check out my fireplace board here.

In two of the bathrooms, we went with a neutral gray color on the floors, in large 12 x 24 tiles


And then on the walls we threw in the color.
Green!

I never used green in our old house but with this house I’m bringing it in….starting with the Master Bath and the front door.
Did mention it was green?
I love it.

I guess the tile guy wanted to fit in too because he brought a green apple to work every day and placed it right there on the shower ledge.  Made me smile.

One day I asked what he thought of the bright green tile and he said, “well, it’s going to give you lots of energy in the morning!”  I like that perspective—it’s the energy shower!

For most of the showers we used Interceramic tiles in Bold Tones, size 6×6, in a broken joint pattern.  This color is: Limelight.

We selected white 2×2 tiles for the floor of the shower and the tub splash.

And it finally came together!

ENERGY:

For the downstairs bathroom we used Dark Gray from the same tile series.


We added an exterior door to this bathroom in case we build pool, for outside access.

Upstairs we used Gulf Blue.

And the shower went from this:

to this! (more photos in the Dropcloth Shower curtain post)

All the bedrooms got a pretty layer of carpet:


In the Master bedroom all three flooring types come together.

And on the upper deck we selected tile over wood so it would be waterproof for the deck below.


We continued a small patch of the same tile into the playroom and guest room–which both open to the upper deck–to keep the carpet from getting dirty near the doors.

Phew.
Still with me?
The flooring is done!
Just one final bit to share: the kitchen counter and backsplash.

It’s fun to watch your house being built, but, it can also give you anxiety….like the day I pulled up in pouring rain and three guys jimmied that heavy slab of Silestone into the house.

(“please don’t drop it, please don’t drop it”)

They got it in place!  Now the tile guys could finish the backsplash.

We used American Olean Legacy Brick Subway, color: LG02 Hazel and it makes the room so cheery!

I really love this shade of blue.

And that my friends, is one BIG long blog post.
Thanks for reading.
And have a great weekend!
Next time I’ll show you some pretty interior details.

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wesley at Library Educated April 4, 2014 at 9:39 am

I LOVE all of your tiles choices! Beautiful!

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2 Samina April 4, 2014 at 9:59 am

How could you not wake up happy, looking at tile colors like that?

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3 Julie R April 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

Your choices are absolutely gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the rest of the house!

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4 Mary Claire April 4, 2014 at 11:01 am

Beautiful! Can’t wait to see more!!

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5 Dana April 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

Oh good! I felt like that post was the longest piece of tile in history….so I’m glad you still want to see more! There’s definitely more to share :)

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6 Sarah! April 4, 2014 at 11:05 am

I *love* “hearing” (and seeing) all the details! Thank you!

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7 Marilyn April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

Everything looks beautiful. Love it!

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8 LiEr April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

Oh, Dana, it’s coming together so beautifully! And I love how adventurous you are with color. Our home is still ivory. We haven’t taken the time to paint the walls, for so many reasons (but mostly laziness). It’s absolutely delightful looking at yours!

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9 Dana April 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

Thanks LiEr! It felt risky when I made the colored tile decisions…but now I love it! I may be ready for change in 10 years…but then I’ll just have to rip it out and start over :)
Fun to hear from you!
Have a great weekend :)

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10 Silvia April 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

long post because you have lot to share, in a pretty lovely way.
love the apple, love the tile… and love learning from you – living in texas – that the Marazzi got those tiles.
i chose wood, because here – northern italy – we have some really freezing winters ;-) but i live 20km away from their firm, so maybe next time i’ll consider tiles ;-)

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11 Tara April 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

thanks for sharing with us! All the pictures are gorgeous!

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12 Jackie April 4, 2014 at 11:29 am

Love the yellow pendant lights in the kitchen as well the blue tile backsplash! The green tile in the bathroom is pretty cool, too.

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13 Anna April 4, 2014 at 11:33 am

totally stunning, all of it. And the tile will feel so good in the heat!! I’m super jealous of the silestone, it’s my dream countertop. :) Someday…

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14 Lori April 4, 2014 at 11:53 am

Absolutely beautiful!

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15 Melanie April 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I LOVE it! Bright blues and greens are my favorite to throw around the house so I am a huge fan of how boldly you used the colors in the tile. I have serious house envy ;) I can’t imagine having a bad mood stick around when I am surrounded by such cheerfulness. I’m so excited for you that everything is turning out so beautifully!

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16 Rae April 4, 2014 at 12:08 pm

love this!!!! it’s so fun to see the house come together! :)

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17 Leah K April 4, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Love it all! We are buying a house this summer and I am going to change whatever kitchen we have to white and aqua too :) i have been in love with kitchens with those colors for years now. I think I’m going with white, aqua, and bronze/copper.

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18 Marion April 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Your new house is beautiful! You could go on and on, love reading about your adventure :)

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19 ellen April 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm

We are in the thick of our home build, and I keep coming back to you house posts. You gave me the guts to go with a exterior color other than BROWN. We went with Serious Gray and I love the blue-gray-ness of it! And incidentally, I picked the same wood look tiles but in a different shade. No worrying about soccer cleats or water leaks? Sign me up!

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20 Marni @ Haberdashery Fun April 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Umm. Hello.. You are building my dream house.. Looks wonderful! Love the floors and colors. :)

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21 Melissa Shultz April 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

If I ever have the opportunity to build my dream house I am hiring you to design it. I love everything! The wood tile floor is soooooo cool!!! And the bright green tile in the shower is awesome. I would probably spend an extra 10 minutes in the shower just to admire the color. LOL! I love all the rest too. Just gorgeous! I love your style Dana!

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22 Diane Jostes April 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Thank you for all the info. We too are building a home and I am right now at the point of picking the flooring. I am thinking real wood floors but after seeing your pics and your info about tile I might rethink my choice. Thanks, love seeing that other people are feeling anxiety over decisions & for us the very last time we do this and we want it right and forever.

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23 Heidi L April 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm

As always, I can’t wait to see more! The tile colors are so modern and fun, exactly the colors I would want in my own house. Those last pictures of the kitchen look exactly like the house I would imagine you designing!

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24 Christina April 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Beautiful!!! We are remodeling our entire kitchen and I love the all white with the blue tile. I’ve been looking at tons of samples! Thanks for adding the exact item #’s. Our current design style is so very plain and I’d like to kick up the color. Now if I can convince my husband by showing him your photos :)

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25 bleu April 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

WOW tile on the stairs and it looks great!

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26 Mikea April 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I really love the color of the flooring and that its tile! Also all the tile in the bathrooms and kitchen. Gorgeous!! Looking forward to the next post

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27 Tessie April 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Love love love it! It has the perfect combo of crisp white with splashes of color! Can’t wait to see the rest!

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28 Lynet April 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm

oh i’m so glad i saw this post! i was just at home depot like 6 hrs ago and i had JUST spotted the wood tile and i totally loved it! we are beginning our first house hunt and i am just so giddy inside to be spending a lot of time at home depot/lowes to remodel our to-be house! your house is SO lovely! i love every single post no matter how long! <3

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29 Haley Grossman April 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm

BEAUTIFUL! I am loving a white kitchen right now…with a pop of color on the backsplash. It is gorgeous. It is funny to hear you talk about the dilemma of deciding how the stairs should look. My hubby has a flooring business, and he does the installs for a living. He talks about work all the time and he is always talking about stairs. I think it must be a common topic of discussion, and also hard work to get exactly what the client wants. I love how it turned out…and I am going to show my husband the stair pictures! I think he will appreciate the amount of work that went into them.

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30 julis April 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Simply gorgeous…love the choice of color!

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31 BuxomBlue April 4, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Your house is gorgeous! I love the bright white with pops of colour! And, the materials and colours you chose for them are just wonderful! And, that green tile bathroom! And, — haha, I am gushing. :)

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32 Kasey April 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I love seeing the “process” of building a home. It’s absolutely beautiful!

I only write this for anyone considering the tile floors, but keep in mind I have 13 children! My husband installs flooring for a living and he talked me into installing porcelain floors in our kitchen, dining room, and family room. It looked great, however, if glass was dropped it shattered into a million pieces. If it wasn’t for that, I would consider tile/porcelain again.
Congrats on your house, love it and your blog.

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33 Amy April 4, 2014 at 7:11 pm

I am totally an “old house person” but I love your house so much!

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34 Kiersten April 4, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I love it! I love the wood tiles. My in-laws lived in a house with a lot of tile. I was always freezing in the winter, but it really did help the house stay cool in the summer.

And I totally understand your anxiety with the slab of counter top. We recently replaced 3 sliding glass doors (2 upstairs). The workers dragged one of them up the stairs and the other one they handed up to the balcony. I was sure they would be broken!

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35 Kate April 4, 2014 at 8:06 pm

I searched and searched but could not locate the button for the application I need to fill out to move in with you guys! I am in love with absolutely everything about this house. When we tiled a kitchen counter in a previous home, we used epoxy grout. Did you use traditional sanded grout in your showers, or go with something more durable like epoxy (but more expensive upfront and a heck of a lot more challenging to apply)? I’m not sure I would be willing to tackle epoxy on a large scale project, but maybe the pros are braver than I!

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36 Petra April 4, 2014 at 9:21 pm

You’ve got fabulous taste – those are my colours too :-) I’m looking forward to more house posts!

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37 Jean April 5, 2014 at 12:29 am

I love the tile choice. We have satillo and it is a nightmare and depressing to look at each day. Someday I hope to change it as it would brighten up the entire house. Since we live in Tucson it fits in and everyone says it’s so “rustic”, but I think they are just trying to be nice! :)

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38 Francisco April 5, 2014 at 2:53 am

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39 Jennie April 5, 2014 at 3:19 am

Love, love, love all your choices but the kitchen definitely has the wow factor! Can’t wait to see more.

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40 Saartje April 5, 2014 at 4:01 am

This is gonna be such a beautiful home! I’m also looking forward to the next pictures!

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41 erica April 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

thank you for sharing!! we are at the beginning phase of building a custom home and i was hoping you would do a post on your flooring and tile pictures before we had to make decisions. i love everything you picked, thank you for the post!!

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42 Erin M April 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Thanks for sharing, it is seriously GORGEOUS! Love the tile choices. You have the best taste. :)

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43 susan April 5, 2014 at 5:28 pm

most excellent post! Thanks for sharing your “build” with us. The design decisions, all those choices, it’s all wonderful!

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44 Emily April 5, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Oh my goodness I love your home! And love the wood look tile- we are seriously considering it when we have to replace our flooring. I ♡ white kitchens and your fun bathtub tile!

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45 becca April 7, 2014 at 1:42 am

i love the house tour! can’t wait to see more. I love all shades of blue too so all your pics are so up my alley! I love all your tile choices. your home is beautiful. love your pops of color and style.

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46 Andrea April 7, 2014 at 3:13 am

Yay! Love your new place! Congrats!

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47 Becky Thompson April 7, 2014 at 6:17 am

Thank you SO much for including the paint and tile colors & links. The tenants just moved out and we’ve claimed the wheel-estate in Port O’Connor. That blue tile is going in my kitchen! LoveLoveLove… And I’d never even heard of wood looking tile. There’s a monster flooring depot place here in San Antonio over on the west side and I’m going there this week to explore options. The existing carpet & linoleum are out and I need something to withstand coastal moisture. The tile might just be the thing and a happy medium to wood floors. I don’t want to put a ton of money into it in case it all blows away in a hurricane, but I do want something to withstand furniture moves and fisherman’s boots.

Thanks Dana. I so admire your style so you may have a baby-sister house in Port O’Connor who copycats her big sister in Austin. She sits on a 1/4 acre corner lot, 1 block from the water, across from a house with wet slips that just sold for $1.4M so I don’t want her to remain the place that neighbors roll their eyes at. Wheel-estate yes, but she can still be pretty inside and out thanks to you and my aching back.

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48 Melanie P April 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm

I’ve been waiting for some more details, yay!!! Not too long at all! I can’t wait for more. I am so intrigued with the wood tiles. We have hardwoods (Maple) and they were sooooo beautiful when we first moved in, but they are so scratched up now :( They probably look okay to a visitor who doesn’t know better, but I can see it!

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49 Fay April 7, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I love all the work you have done for your house!!! One thing in particular I have a question about is can you tell me the square footage for your master bath? It is the perfect layout for what I am thinking I want in my master (we are getting ready to remodel). I want to make sure I have some room for it. Thanks so much and great job!!!!!!

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50 Marisa April 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm

A friend of mine got a similar “wood” tile in her house and I about died when I saw it. I love, love, love it!!! I’ve been trying to convince my husband to use it and he doesn’t see my vision. Now I can show him this post and prove that it’s a great decision. My wood flooring has been great, but I can’t seem to get it as clean as tile and I want to switch. Your color choices are all things happy and I’m oozing with envy! It’s gorgeous!

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51 Krista Hansen April 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I love everything about your house!! I bet you didn’t know you would be building MY dream house, did you? I’m so tired of my brown/beige house but it’s only 4 years old, so nothing really needs replacing. But after almost 2 years here, I want some color!! I’m glad I can get my fix by seeing your beautiful house. Keep the house posts coming!

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52 Karyn April 8, 2014 at 3:03 am

Beautiful! I don’t imagine winter lasts long in AZ for the tiles to be too much of a worry in winter.

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53 Danielle Malaska April 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

I love your new home!! And now I know what we are gonna be doing for our new floors..wood tile..Amazing!! You can find me over at http://www.mommawhatchadoin.com/

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54 Leslie @ Oh, the Fun of It April 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

LOVE the color choice on the back splash! I also love that you took a chance with the green in the bathroom- wow, it looks amazing!!

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55 Kelley April 9, 2014 at 9:14 am

What type of counter top did you use in the kitchen – marble, granite? It looks beautiful.

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56 Meagan Briggs April 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm

More pictures! Seriously, I want to move into your new house! And can you design my first home? No, seriously… Love the tile color choices. You have such an eye for color and I love it. I need to take more risks!

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57 Abby April 10, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I love so much about it all, Dana! The tile in the kitchen is so gorgeous! And I love the idea of the “wood” tile – it looks fabulous too!

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58 Kimberly R April 10, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Every inch of color in your house makes me happy! Such inspiration!!!

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59 eirian johnson April 10, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Sensational work Dana! Haven’t loved anything besides our house build as much as that and it’s fun to re-live it through you.

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60 Días de inspiración April 11, 2014 at 4:12 am

What a lovely house and lovely views!
I live in Spain on an island in the Mediterranean Sea and our houses are not so big.

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61 Marjolein April 24, 2014 at 7:08 am

Stunning! we live in white (walls) and grey (concrete look tile floor) and every bit of colour via accessoiries (?? excuse my english :s) really jumps out

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62 KellyS April 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm

We recently decided to put wood look tile into our kitchen. So happy to see you do a review of it! I want to put it in through the entire living space but my husband thinks it won’t work. I can’t wait to show him your post! Thanks!!

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63 Esmée - Essusweetslife May 1, 2014 at 11:36 am

Wow Dana, this is just plain awesome. I love your home/house. Building such a beautiful house would be impossible for normal people here in the Netherlands.

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64 Jessica @ Running With Scissors May 2, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Love that we got to see more of your house project! I love your tile choices, I am such a wimp to commit to color with tile! But I think it looks amazing! Maybe I can get the guts to do something fun rather than…white basic. LOVE the wood look stair treads as well. I hate carpet to take care of carpet on stairs!

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65 AP May 3, 2014 at 12:44 am

I love your kitchen! We redid our kitchen a few years ago we picked very similar cabinets, hardware and tile!

http://nailpolishandpaint.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/kitchen-renovation-finished/

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67 Justin Walters July 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm

This project looks great! For those interested, all of the tile featured in this post can be found at SouthCypress.com. We would love to help you get the materials for your next renovation! 1-800-891-2623

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69 Mary September 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm

So beautiful!! I have a question for you: are you finding the tile on the stairs a bit slippery? We’ve been waffling between real wood and wood tile for a while, and my only concern is that I’ve heard that the tile on the stairs is slick. I have three little, little kids and don’t want anyone cracking their noggins. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!!

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70 Ann October 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Are the Cambridge Oak tiles hard to clean? I ‘m wondering if you are still happy with them. Do the authentic grooves gather dirt?

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71 Dana October 24, 2014 at 1:15 am

Yea. I think they stay pretty clean…at least they look clean to the eye :)
I’ve been really happy with the flooring. I love it!

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72 Tiffany December 4, 2014 at 1:11 am

What a beautiful home! We just purchased the same wood look tile and I’m having a hard time choosing a grout color. Would you mind sharing the color and brand of grout you chose? It’s not easy to find one that blends when there are so many colors throughout the “grain” and you have such a small sample piece to work with in the store. Your choice looks great! Thanks and take care! =)

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