above

How to get the look of graphic cement tile (for much less)

As promised, I’ll show you the steps for creating the look of graphic cement tile, for much less.

Off the entry of our house is a quiet living room. One thing we loved so much about this new house was the potential for impactful updates that didn’t cost a fortune. This room is a great example. With the help of paint, we’ve created an updated space that works with our modern/traditional style and sets the tone for the rest of the house.

The biggest impact in the room is undoubtedly the graphic fireplace tile.

We have long-terms plans to change up the whole facade of the fireplace, which left me with an almost risk-free freedom to try something completely crazy to give the fireplace a much-needed facelift. If it was a total flop, no big deal. We’ll likely pull it all out eventually anyway. Sometimes I just need creative license to try something new and the fireplace was the perfect canvas.

Before we get into the how-tos, let’s look at the before and after:

Ah, I love a good transformation!

The tile is a little crazy, I’ll admit. And yet, it feels so fresh and happy, and that makes it worth it.

If you have a space in your home (a fireplace surround, backsplash, floor) that needs an inexpensive update, perhaps this how-to will give you just the inspiration you need.

Gorgeous graphic cement tile has been a trend in home design for the past few years and it just keeps growing. While I could have just purchased tiles to replace the granite tile on our fireplace, I wasn’t excited about spending a bunch of money on an update that might not stay longterm. So rather than buy, I turned to my DIY ways and decided to just paint the surround to look like cement tile. And I’d say it worked!

To get started, I had to select a pattern. A quick search on Pinterest offered so many gorgeous examples. I looked through photos and tile companies until I found a pattern that I met my two criteria: 1. I could live with the pattern and 2. The pattern could be easily replicated and handpainted.

After narrowing it down to a couple of finalists, I decided on this pattern from a company called Tabarka Studio. I loved the simplicity, the handpainted feel and it seemed like a very simple pattern to paint.

The trickiest part was figuring out the math to make the pattern perfect.

The tiles on our fireplace are 12″ x 6″ rectangles, but I figured I could fake them into 6″ x 6″ tiles. I used a piece of grid paper, a ruler and pencil to find the correct proportions and then painted a few samples to give it a try.

DOWNLOAD MY TEMPLATE BELOW

With my pattern selected, I started in on the fireplace makeover.

STEP ONE | Clean the tile to remove any dirt, soot, etc.

I just used dish soap, an old scrub brush, and a magic eraser.

STEP TWO | Paint tile with primer

For the base coat, I used basic Zinsser Primer, taping off the carpet and around the mantle first.

With just that first coat of primer on there, I knew this was going to be a good choice. I taped up my paper samples just to make sure I loved the pattern, the scale, and figure out placement.

STEP THREE | Paint the base coat

I could have used two or three coats of primer, but the white was a bit stark for our house. Instead, I pulled out extra flat ceiling paint (Shoji White, by Benjamin Moore) which has a much creamier, warmer undertone.

STEP FOUR | Draw the pattern

Using a ruler and pencil, I first marked the tiles into 6″ squares (just drew a line in the center of each 12″ tile). On every tile I made small marks in equal increments along all sides and connected the lines, alternating the diagonal direction.

(That sounds super confusing. Sorry. I explain the pattern making process in the template pdf. Download below.

Penciling in the pattern was the most labor-intensive step. It took a few hours (maybe 4 or 5? split between a few evenings) and I just popped in my headphones and listened to a book or podcast.

STEP FIVE | Paint the pattern

Using a 1/2″ flat artist’s brush, paint between the lines. This part doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, one of the things I love the most about the inspiration tile is how imperfect and handpainted it looks.

For paint, I used black chalkboard paint. My main reason was that I was hoping to get that dusty, slightly aged look (see below for more on that) and didn’t want any sheen.

Painting was much faster than marking the pattern. The first coat took about 2 hours.

The tile would have been fine with one coat, but it was a little more transparent and the brush strokes were slightly more visible than I wanted, so I went back over with a second coat.

You can see the difference between one and two coats above, and the finished fireplace below.

FULL DISCLOSURE: 

Our chimney has a small water leak that has caused the paint to bubble. I started the project earlier this winter and only got so far as painting the base coat and marking the pattern. At that point, we were having carpet installed and everything from the upstairs was piled in the living room for several weeks. Once the carpet was done and furniture moved back up, I went back to work on the fireplace. We were experiencing the wettest winter ever and unfortunately, moisture had caused the paint to bubble.

My two options:

Sand down the paint and start over (knowing that until the chimney is completely fixed, water will likely leak and cause damage again).

Just keep going and embrace the bubbled paint.

Guess which option I chose :)

You can’t really see the texture unless you are up close and it honestly doesn’t bother me at all. It may cause the paint to wear more, so I’ll keep you posted if it all starts peeling off anytime soon.

Also, when I removed the tape, it pulled up a bit of the paint from the tile. I just went back over with my brush and touched up.

STEP SIX | Season the chalk paint

 

To get that more aged look, I rubbed chalk all over the black paint and lightly wiped it off.

You may remember I did the same thing with the painted lamps in my studio. This post explains the process a little more.


And it’s done!

The graphic pattern gives the otherwise traditional room a nice dose of energy and the classic black and white pattern still feels versatile.

Many have asked – on the living room reveal post and Instagram – if the paint holds up the heat of the fireplace. I would love to give a great answer … but the truth is, we haven’t had a fire in the fireplace since painting the tile. I think it will be just fine because the tile doesn’t get very hot, but I can’t guarantee it. Most interior latex paint is rated to withstand the heat of a fireplace surround (around 200*).

If you paint an area that gets much more wear and tear, be sure to use several coats of protective finish (like this) to seal. This post is a good one from another DIYer who shows how she painted her tile floors.

I put together a guide with my template and how-to instructions to make recreating this project a bit easier.

The download is free and can be found in THE ARCHIVE, my library of freebies. If you are already a JDC subscriber, just enter your email address; if you are new, pop in your email and you’ll be in!

If you do paint your tile, please let me know! I’d love to see how it turns out …

Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you asap.

continue reading | 14 comments

Weekend Update | It’s finally sunny in Seattle!

Well, friends, I’m happy to report that we finally have sunny weather here in the Pacific Northwest.

This may not be a big deal to you if you live in some gloriously sunny place like California or Georgia, but I will just say that this winter and early spring has been the absolute rainiest/grayest that Seattle has seen in over 100 years. Think 145 days of rain from October through May with only 5 dry days in the entire month of April. It sounds like I’m whining, and I sort of am. It was no fun.

But now – hooray! – we have had a gorgeous sunny weekend with no rain in the foreseeable future.

Seattleites are pretty funny. When the first spring sun comes out (even if it’s only 72*), we’re putting on our shorts and summer dresses and letting our pale, winter skin absorb as much vitamin d as possible.

Also, it makes everyone want to garden.

I finally planted our front pots with my favorites: sweet potato vine, black mondo grass, white bacopa. I planted in these tall concrete pots.

The kids gave me ferns for the front porch for Mother’s Day, which feel so southern and pretty.

Speaking of the front porch … on Friday we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday with a family dinner at our house. After dinner, while the boys played some crazy game on the trampoline with their super fun uncle, we had girl time on the porch swing.

That’s me holding my adorable niece. I can’t get enough of that sweet thing.

On Saturday, I basically had my best day ever. It started with sleeping in, naturally. Then my friend came over and we did a barre workout together in my studio. I ate apple pie for breakfast (oops), then we left all the kids with Ryan and pampered ourselves with a fresh pedicure (because it’s sunny!).

Later, we ventured out on their boat for tubing, anchored in a bay to let the kids swim (ps. do you know how cold the Puget Sound is right now? I don’t know how those kids do it), then stopped for dinner at the funkiest/most charming marina.

While we waited for our dinner, the kids poked around at the sea-creature covered pilings.

There were muscles, barnacles, spider crabs, so many anemones, giant sea stars. It was like our own aquarium field trip.

On our way home from the marina, we stopped in the middle of the water, with no other boat in sight, and watched the sun set. One of the most wonderful parts of summer in the Pacific Northwest is that the sun sets so late (this weekend was 8:45, by mid summer, it will be after 9!).

For the first time in my life, I saw a dolphin in these waters. Actually, we saw many, many dolphins (see that little black back to the right of the sunset reflection? That’s one of them). Fun fact: marine porpuses left the area in the 1970’s and only since 2007 have they been spotted again in the Puget Sound.

Have I ever told you that I’m a total marine mammal lover? I have always loved seals and dolphins and whales. When I was a teenager, I wanted to get a line of jumping dolphins tattooed around my ankle. Thank the Lord that did not happen. But I still do love them and seeing them in our waters was so cool. Our friends were out whale watching two weekends ago and found our local pod of Orcas (her instagram account might be private, but if not, watch this video).

On a night like this, I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of this area. Sure, we have to deal with massive amounts of rain and day after day of gray skies, but when the sun is shining and the mountains are out, it is just breathtaking.

Sunday we did church, enjoyed more sun, the kids played in hose water (again, do they realize how cold that is?!), I cleaned and puttered around the house, Ryan tackled our wooded property with his chainsaw and Atlas and the chickens spent half the day running around the yard and half sunning themselves on the patio.

I finally finished up answering all the Q + A questions. That was so much fun! Thank you to all who asked and for the many, many kind words. You all are so nice to me. Thanks for that. It’s pretty fun to read through the questions and answers, so if you have a few minutes to fill, click over here to browse.

Coming up this week:

The Fireplace Tile DIY, details about my go-to exercise routine and (hopefully!) a new Coffee Chat.

Cheers to a great week!

continue reading | 18 comments

Q + A day | In which you can ask any and every question

 

It’s been a super long time (like two years!) since I have done my annual Q+A day.

Here’s how this works:

Since I chat at you post after post, sometimes it’s fun to switch things up and find out what you want to talk about.

For the next few days, I’ll be hanging out on comments answering your questions.

Any topic is open for discussion: family and life, faith, random things that you’ve wanted to ask but haven’t, decorating, blogging, business curiosities – any of it – I want to know what you’re wondering about.

I wish we could all sit together and chat in real life and actually have a conversation (by the water, perhaps?), but this Q+A is the next best thing for us online friends.

So go ahead and ask me anything in the comments and I’ll reply back as best I can.  Feel free to chime in and join the conversation as well! No topic is off limits and I’m a fairly open and honest girl … so … ask away!

continue reading | 232 comments

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! We’re in Magnolia Journal

The summer issue of The Magnolia Journal is hot off the press with our darling Joanna gracing the cover. Isn’t she just the prettiest? I think all of America wants to be her best friend (my hand is raised, too).

We are pretty excited over here to have a feature in this issue of the magazine.

Last year, we pulled our kids from school and set off on a nearly 4 month journey around the country. It was a long-time bucket list item and we still look at each other sometimes saying did we really do that?!

Throughout our whole trip, we posted to instagram (#jdcroadtrip) and I posted updates on the blog after every-ish stop (here’s the roadtrip page with all of the posts).

We didn’t do the trip for any other reason than to be together as just us six and experience the best this country has to offer.

What happened was life-changing and bonding with memories that will last a lifetime.

The trip ended on a Sunday at the end of August and the next day we bought our new house. The kids started school in our new school district the following week. So basically, we jumped from one pretty incredible experience to another and never took the time to truly process, collect our memories and put a big bow on the whole thing.

Now that we are a year out, we are getting nostalgic about the whole thing. Memories are coming up more often, stories from the trip make their way into more conversations, the kids are asking to visit friends they met or go back to cities again and quite often we think about the restaurants we dined at and remember an amazing meal or latte or cool atmosphere.

Just last night, while driving home from my sister’s house, we had a great conversation with Brady, our 11 year old. It was late and they were supposed to be trying to fall asleep, but instead Brady asked a question that turned into answers and more questions and a great conversation. Once the car grew quiet again, Ryan and I agreed that we miss those uninterrupted opportunities for conversation we had while on the trip – because when you are stuck in a car for 4 hours and you already watched two movies yesterday, you talk. It takes an intentional slowing down to build this into our regular life and that just gets harder and harder as the kids get older, life gets fuller, responsibility looks you in the face.

 When removed from all of life’s regular routine and distractions, you have time for meaningful conversation and simple forms of entertainment – books, drawing, pocket knives, playing dice. At home we have things like school, work, tv, unlimited wifi, friends, sports, meetings, errands. None of these are bad; all our welcomely invited into our lives. It just makes us sentimental about the time we had traveling all those miles, seeing all those incredible sites, just us six.

Ethan, our oldest, grew from boy to young man during those four months right before our eyes. The deep faith questions he wrestled with and the physical transformation he went through – none of it was missed by us. We were together all day, every day to witness and question and wrestle together.

Brady was curious and engaged everywhere we went. He was the first to ask a question to a tour guide or ranger. His natural inquisitiveness and thoughtfulness was so cool to see.

History came alive to Mason as we stood where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream speech, or walked the battlefield at Gettysburg. He was all about the big cities and the most famous of sites. I can’t wait to see what this trip inspires in him as he grows – will he study history? Architecture? Politics?

Audrey walked miles each day. Miles! And hardly complained. She kept up with her big brothers, she was pushed in her food preferences, she listened to books in the car beyond her kindergarten interests, and yet she kept her sweet smile and adorable sense of humor the whole time.

What an enormous privilege as parents to have these moments.

And for me and Ryan to have had four months to connect, dream, work through hard things, laugh, make decisions, be a team … this is the best part of it all.

We said when we were planning the trip that we felt like life was going so fast we needed to just stop and reset. That’s what this trip was. It was a chance to pull back from regular life, take a deep breath, create unforgettable memories and then make adjustments as we reentered.

 I didn’t mean to write all of that. Mainly I just wanted to tell you about the article in the magazine :)

It is a great article with snippets of our story, photos and cute artwork, some itinerary highlights and tips for planning your summer adventures this year.

But I guess I also want you to know that while it was just a road trip, I’ll always see it as so much more. It took months of planning and years of saving and many sacrifices along the way and every bit of it was entirely worth it.

If you find yourself or your family in a spot where things are moving at such a fast pace and you’re not sure you love who you are or where you’re headed, may I gently encourage you to find a way to stop, take a breath, and make changes as you reenter.

It might be a road trip or a job change or an afternoon spent quietly thinking and my hope is that it will be life-changing for you as well.


You can find a copy of the summer issue of Magnolia Journal on news stands now, or order a subscription here.

continue reading | 40 comments

The Moody Living Room Makeover Reveal

As you enter our house from the front door, to the left sits a formal living room with fireplace and three big windows.

We’ve never had a formal living room before – never wanted one, actually – until this house. Now that the kids are older, I very much like the idea of having a quiet room separate from the casual family room for reading or sitting by the fire. We imagine this room will be where we visit with adults or host bible study or just come to get a little alone time.

Funny fact: our 9 year old calls this “the lonely room” and the name has stuck.

Over the past several months, we’ve done a few small updates that make a huge difference and I can’t wait to show you how the moody living room is coming along.

I was chatting with my friends Emily + Myquillyn earlier this week about how updating this house has been a baby-step process. I get antsy to make all the changes, but it is actually quite nice (and perhaps a bit more real-life) to just make little improvements as we can and let the rooms come together over time.

This is absolutely the case with the living room. We’ll call this the Phase One living room makeover.

Let’s go back and I’ll remind you of what it looked like when we moved in:

The shell of the room was great; it was just the finishes that felt dated. Our longterm plans include replacing the carpet with wood floors, removing the half-moon window and pushing the windows up, adding wide baseboards, putting in vintage french doors from the entry into the living room and walling off the passthrough to the dining room. Whew.

Since I’m all about making small changes today that make the space feel more like us, I have been doing projects here and there to transform the dated living room into a moody space that we actually want to hang out in.

This room doesn’t get a lot of natural light and while the temptation would be to go light, we decided to embrace the cozy feel and make it even moodier with a deep gray/green/blue on the walls. The trim and fireplace mantle got a coat of the same charcoal color we used in the kitchen and entry, and the ceiling was freshened up with white. Just switching out the paint made a BIG difference in the feel of the room.

Let’s talk about the biggest change in the room, shall we?

I am so crazy excited about the fireplace.

We love having a wood-burning fireplace in here, but the original finishes were not right for our style (scroll up to refresh your memory).

My long-term vision is to pull off the over-scaled mantle, remove the granite tiles and run a flat concrete facade all the way to the ceiling (something sort of like this) for a more minimal and modern look.

In the meantime, I figured there was no harm in trying out something totally different with the fireplace and gave it a complete makeover with paint, a ruler and a steady hand.

Yep, I painted over the granite tiles. And I’m so smitten with it.

I have lots of pictures of the process so I’ll post a full tutorial with details. But for now, let’s just say faux cement tiles in a graphic pattern is such a crazy stretch for my style and yet every time I walk by the room, I smile.

The windows have been bare since we moved in and I considered letting the walls and trim be the feature, but I’m such a curtain girl that I had to add some in here. As hard as I try to go more masculine with this house, I still love adding in some softer, feminine details. Simple white curtains on brass rings help to add balance and pull the room together.

And of course a room wouldn’t be complete without fresh flowers and greenery.

I put this arrangement together using clippings from our yard and gorgeous spring peonies. My mother-in-law makes the prettiest garden arrangements and this was my attempt to follow her lead.

I also clipped a few branches from outside and let them do their organic, perfectly charming thing up on the mantle.

This spot is so hard to get a good picture of because the lighting is super dark, but take my word for it that the bright leaves and branches look so great against the dark walls. I’m thankful that we’re surrounded by trees so I can clip, clip, clip to my heart’s delight.

Well, my friends, Phase One of our moody living room makeover is complete! More changes will come, but for now, it is such a cozy, inviting space and a big improvement from where we started.

Once again, here’s the before and after – because nothing is better than a great before and after!

SOURCES

Rug | Sofa | Coffee Table (similar) | Round Tray | Gold Vase | Floor Lamps (similar) | Stripe Blanket | Fur Pillow | Leather Pillow | Linen Pillow | Ikat Pillow | Curtains | Curtain Rods | Curtain RingsTable Lamp | Terracotta Pot | Green Moss Candle

Wall Color: Ancestral by Behr
Trim Color: Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams
Ceiling Color: Shoji White by Sherwin Williams

continue reading | 45 comments

Send this to a friend