• Tell Your Friends

My older sister September (yes, that’s her name despite the fact that she was born in January, long story but the gist of it is that my parents are nuts) has five amazing, albeit a bit rambunctious kids and a house that is holding on by a thread. Her husband is a principal at a local middle school, and because she has chosen to stay at home to raise the kids they’ve had to budget here and there where they can in terms of home improvement. Meaning, the cabinet doors in the kitchen are falling off, but at least the water heater is working!

Several weeks ago I stopped by her house to see how their basement renovation was coming along, and I’ll be honest. My first thought was, oh dear. This is going to take you guys ten years to finish. Because her husband was doing every single thing himself: from painting, to patching, to laying down every piece of tile:


And when I saw the arrangement of the tile my right eyebrow started to twitch and I began itching my neck uncontrollably. I mean, look at it. LOOK AT IT. That right there is a violation of every law of thermodynamics, am I right? No? I should up my meds? Point taken.

I guess everything I have ever learned from years and years of watching HGTV caused my nostrils to flare in agitation. I could see what an amazing space this could be and that it was headed in the opposite direction. So I said, Tember (that’s what we call her, you’re welcome to call her that, too), I’m going to take over and save you ten years of your life. In return, I only ask that you bow every time I enter the room. Fair trade.

And so began My Sister’s Basement Renovation. I asked around for recommendations on a contractor, and within a few days I had a tile guy staring at that tile with me in that basement, and I’m not even kidding, HIS RIGHT EYEBROW STARTED TO TWITCH. And then he started to point at some cracks in the concrete, and then the slope of the floor, and there goes my original budget!


Thankfully, we both agreed on a couple of design decisions 1) the tile needed to be bigger, and 2) it needed to be laid on the diagonal. HAHA! Look at me with the lingo! You know what that is? YEARS AND YEARS of worshipping Candice Olson.

What does that mean, on the diagonal? There is probably an official definition somewhere, but if I were explaining it to someone like me or my sister, I would simply say: think diamonds, not squares. Like this:


First, it’s a more interesting design, plain and simple. And second, I think it leads the eye more fluidly and elegantly than tiles laid in a square pattern. It immediately looks more intricate and expensive. Such a simple way to put a little dazzle into a design for no extra cost.

We also chose a bigger tile, mainly because we were going to be covering over 220 square feet of floor: one long hallway, one short hallway, the area in front of the wet bar, and a small bathroom. So I had my brother-in-law take back the stack of 12 X 12 inch porcelain tiles he’d purchased for the project and exchange them for a stack of ones that measured 18 X 18 inches. A bigger tile over that amount of square footage wouldn’t look nearly as crowded or bunched as something smaller.

You guys, look at me acting as if I have any idea what I’m talking about!

Seven days later the tile was in place and waiting to be grouted:



after3A few things:

1) Oh yes indeed, I had them remove that horrifying wet bar. I was not going to allow my sister to live with that atrocity any longer.

2) It’s still a work-in-progress, and all the trim work and errant holes and patches of paint will be fixed along the way.

Next up? Carpet. And a couch that seats a family of seven. Oh, and that one tiny request that my sister made before the whole thing began: a wall dedicated to BYU football. TALK ABOUT DESIGN DILEMMA. You can bet that it is going to be the best looking football wall in the history of football walls.


Design Inspiration

70 Responses

  1. @kellimarks says:

    Love it! We laid our tile on the diagonal and – call me silly- but our long hallway looks so elegant! It makes me smile.

  2. Jasmine Star says:

    I know NOTHING about design, but I really like you, Heather, and I'll read anything you write. Even if it's about tile or BYU football. F'real.

  3. Jenny says:

    We had the tile (12 x 12 inch) in our master bath and laundry room done in an offset layout (like brick) and we love it. Diagonal is way overused in my family, and we wanted to be different.

    Not sure we're pioneers, but, hey, we made my aunt jealous so WE WIN.

  4. @srising says:

    Way to go Heather! It's going to be awesome when you're done.

  5. Linda says:

    Ditto Justine re: brightening the room, plus I suspect that color tile is going to afford them a lot more options when it comes time to choose paint color for the walls. I'll be interested to learn what they decide rug-wise, as I need a rug for a comparably-sized space for very little $$$.

  6. It does look fabulous, but I think it's misleading to say it doesn't cost any extra to lay the tiles on the diagonal. I did it in my bathroom and it did up the costs – more tiles and more labour (you wouldn't believe the itty bitty pieces they had to cut and lay and grout around the edges). Just sayin'.

  7. fableq says:

    back when my parents *REALLY* needed a new kitchent floor, but could only afford that peal and stick laminant they put it on the diagonal, it looked much better even with the cheap, cheap stuff. This looks awesome!

  8. Bri says:

    Candice Olson ~ how divine! I love her show . Aren't you a sweetheart sister!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Why not keep the wet bar but replace the cabinetry? Was it just not useful to them or were there other issues (besides its ugliness)? The tile looks great and I look forward to seeing the completed look!

  10. Kim says:

    I've always heard that it does cost more to lay the tile on the diagonal, as it takes more time & therefore labor costs go up. Yes? No?

See What We’re Pinning

  • Holiday Craft Ideas from HGTV: Mossy gift centerpiece

  • Holiday Craft Ideas from HGTV: DIY No-Sew Tree Skirt

  • Holiday Craft Ideas from HGTV >>

  • Holiday Craft Ideas from HGTV >>