» The French Cottage: Renovation Series

I have been obsessed with this idea of living in a cottage or a bungalow for quite some time. I think that obsession is what fueled the desire to downsize into a cozier home. That… and the desire to not spend my life cleaning square footage. Our new home has a cozy kitchen that I initially dubbed too small, but after ripping our flooring out and pondering and staring at it, and staring at it some more… a few very warm and comforting feelings have come over me. Maybe it’s a good thing to have a just-big-enough kitchen where you bump into each other as you brush past to unload the dishwasher or boil the pasta water. And so, I have embraced those intimate cottage feelings and now have a direction for the low-key styling and renovation of this home. It started with the cement tiles I laid in the entryway after work this week. My kids were all at camp for three days and it seemed like the best project to knock out. I didn’t want to fuss at them if they accidentally stepped on it before all was dry and set. Thankfully Lowes now has a pretty good selection of tile, and I made a decision quickly. Click here if you want to connect with that exact tile yourself. The Lowes website classifies the tile as “bathroom tile” but I envisioned our entryway, which is small, shouting a big hello. This tile certainly does that. I think this would look awesome in a hallway or laundry room as well. In fact… someone please put this in a laundry room, it would be amazing.

Back to the subject. I tiled. And I was super nervous because although I have tiled a backsplash or two, this was different. It was a bit daunting to know that we would walk on top of it for years to come. For this reason I was extra careful and meticulous with the job. First I laid the hardy backer and screwed it in, with probably more screws than I needed, and then I carefully laid out each tile with spacers and made all the cuts I would need in advance. I used a little tile cutter and a wet saw.

Once I had the pattern laid out and cuts made I took the bravest step and used thin set to spread out on the floor and lay the tiles. I am certain that no one is messier than me when working with these materials. I was covered in thin set by the time I finished. We have some awesome guys working to put a covered porch out back and they looked a little astonished when I came out to get some air. They were busting concrete and digging up dirt and were cleaner than I.

After the tiles had time to cure on the thin set (is that even the right phrase? I don’t know) I added the dark gray grout. I just love it. I never in my life, ever, want to clean white grout. Even if it was the inest thing to ever be in. I will always choose dark grout. After the grout had time to harden and do its thing I cleaned the tile off and sealed everything up with a spray sealer. And Ta-Da! This is what 4.5 hours gets you. My knees and back are definitely feeling it today!

So what’s next for our faux-French cottage? Definitely some flooring for the rest of the house. We went wild and pulled everything up, because we really needed to, and are currently walking on subfloor. I am hopeful that the rest of the flooring will be decided upon and installed this week. Additionally, as I mentioned, an amazing porch is being added behind the kitchen and my heart is just so full when I envision that space and the people that will hopefully fill it for cook outs. I am also planning what I call a “kitchen refresh.” This will include adding some bottom cabinetry to what already exists, floating shelves and possibly some IKEA butcher block. But… first floors.

About the author

Erica

Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.

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