Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!


How to lay big hexagon tile!: Week 3 of the One Room Challenge

We are making big progress on this bathroom reno!! I have been sharing updates in my Instagram stories, but wanted to dive deeper into one of the major elements of the project.

One design element that was essential to my clients from day one was larger scale, dark hexagon tile. Almost all the bathrooms they were inspired by featured black or grey 5-8" hexagons!

I had never laid large hex tile before--I've done mosaic hexagon tile, big squares, and subway tile--but I knew we could do it! It took some extra math and design, but DIY installation for my clients' beautiful off-black hex tile was totally doable and not that much harder than laying square tiles!

I also have to say... I did some googling on this and it seems there is a serious lack of tutorials for how to lay large hexagon tiles! I apologize if I missed any, but it seems like this post is needed! A lot of the tutorials are for mosaic hex tile, which is a different (easier) animal. (We used 1" and 2" mosaic hexagon tiles in two bathrooms at our last house--you can see a video about how we did both at the same time HERE!) There are also some cool videos out there, including this time lapse of a previous ORC and this contractor's entire process with some similar tiles. But I'd like to share the steps we used to lay these hex tiles carefully!

How to lay big hexagon tile

This tutorial will show you how to lay individual hexagon tiles on a bathroom floor!

For preparation, like you would do for any floor tile application, prepare your surface with backer board or other tile base. We used Schluter®-DITRA instead of concrete backer board to keep the tile well under the door swing. We also replaced the subfloor with a lower profile subfloor. (Read about our preparation in this post.) In the past I've just laid concrete backer board over the old particle board subfloor and it has worked fine. Do some research into the tile base that will work best for you depending on your floor construction!

Once you have your tile surface ready...

You will need:


1. Lay out your design. We did this using Adobe Illustrator, but you can use any graphics program and create your own scale. We did this in a few steps:

  1. Using a hand-sketch of the bathroom layout, we created an Illustrator base that is to scale, so 63" by 80". One inch in the graphic = one inch in the bathroom. (No conversions!)
  2. Then we added the notch of the wall, and 4" separation for the floor vent, dimensions for the toilet distance, etc.
  3. Then we created our tiles (ours were 7"x8") and a row of tiles with 1/8" scaled spacers, and copied it over and over again to fill the room.
  4. Once the room was (over)filled, we could scootch the whole tile layout up and down to play with where the cuts would land at the edges, focusing on the bathtub and door threshold as prominent areas.

This step was SO useful because it allowed us to see the ripple effects of lining up the tiles at any of the sides. We wanted both the tub edge and flooring threshold to look the nicest, as they'll be most visible, and just because of the size of the room that meant it didn't work to line up a full tile at either side.

We also played around with direction, though--these tiles are not symmetrical like a square or circle and so it gives a totally different look (and math) to turn them 90 degrees. Take a look at our options!

Option 1 looks cool, but check out the cuts around the floor vent and toilet. Also, if we used the edge of the tiles at the tub, we had a very tiny (hard to cut) row at the door (shown in red).

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Landscape design interview with the pros

I would LOVE to get to improving our yard this year but there is so much I don't know!! On the Your Home Story podcast this year we want to bring in more experts to educate our listeners (and us!) on topics like this one--landscape and hardscape design, what you can DIY, when to do what improvements...

Plus, it's about the time of year when you may want to start planning exterior projects like deck/yard upgrades and landscaping. We called in some experts about landscape/hardscape design, Engelina and Erin from Gardening by Design, an Ottowa, Ontario, Canada firm, to run through it with us. Their mission includes strengthening connection to the outdoors by designing spaces that allow you to experience nature in a new way. Love that!

Here are some beautiful photos from their work. Inspiration for improving your connection to the outdoors in urban, wooded, or country settings!

We learned so much in this episode and you will, too!
  • Why you should consider updating your landscaping/hardscaping
  • What the limits are for a DIYer (both design and installation)
  • Whether you’re trying to sell soon, or just want a quick update--key areas to focus on for resale (including a super simple DIY you can do to existing landscape beds to make your yard look more maintained and fresh!).
  • Which types of exterior improvements to do when/per season
  • Trends in plant materials and hardscaping for residential landscape design including some easy, inexpensive materials
  • Where to start when making a landscape plan for your yard
  • Plants to consider for interest and color for every season even in colder climates

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:

Listen here or in your favorite podcast player!
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Serious demo, and bronze vs. black fixtures: Week 2 of the One Room Challenge

As I shared last week... we will be making over a dated bathroom in just 6 weeks! We're midway through week 2 now, in the "it gets worse before it gets better" stage hands-down. MAJOR progress has occurred over the past week, including all the demo and looking at a ton of drawer pulls and faucets! We are having a hard time choosing black or brass fixtures, read on for that...

Plus, one of the issues that came up in this reno shows an example of how sometimes, the newbie DIYer route actually results in a higher quality project!

All the posts about this One Room Challenge:

My clients have a contractor coming in later this week to replace the window and plumbing, drywall, and tile around the shower. First, they had to demo that area, and we had originally planned to get going on the floor tile.

The first step was removing the vinyl flooring--not only to get it out of the way but also to see what was under it. Removing it was pretty easy. (Note: we know that the previous owners installed this flooring in the past 10 years, so we did not have to test it for asbestos.)

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Behind the scenes: our dining room makeover

Want to hear the details and story behind our dining room makeover? (GOOD before/afters coming at you here!)

As I shared in this post, we just finished renovating our dining room. This wasn't the same as redoing a kitchen or moving walls around, but made a huge difference. Paint, decor, and important details can make over a room on a small budget and quick timeline (if you can decide on decor faster than I can, that is!)

Ashley grilled me on the changes in this week's episode of the Your Home Story podcast. Kidding, she just asked me questions... but it was good to talk about it in an interview versus just writing the blog post!

Sneak peek...

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1961 pink and red bathroom makeover!: Week 1 of the One Room Challenge

Today's a big day!!!!! Announcing a big project--I'm going to make over another room in just 6 weeks for the spring 2019 One Room Challenge! It's the 1961 pink and red main bathroom of my good friends Gabriela and Matt. Their home is clean, freshly painted, and well-maintained... but this bathroom still has the original PINK sink, tub, and toilet!! And needs a window replaced and some plumbing fixes as well. We are going to turn it into the modern midcentury-leaning space of their dreams!!

Read on to see the "before" pictures, inspirations, and design plan!

First, some eye candy. Gabriela and Matt are drawn to the warm woods of midcentury modern design, but lots of black and white. Below are some of their favorite inspiration rooms for this project. Note the dark hex floors, brass and black fixtures and mirrors, and teak-ey/walnut-ey vanities.

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FREE ways to update & improve your home!

Lately I've been feeling super overwhelmed by all the projects we have planned (or need to plan) at this house. It's an old house, we knew it was a fixer-upper, and it has great potential... but we need to spend money and time improving it. Plus, I get really hung up choosing exactly the right thing for any little decor purchase!

However, there are plenty of really beneficial projects/improvements that don't cost any money at all (some not even that much time!) and yet make a huge difference on how we feel about our homes. Read on and listen in for a ton of great ideas! (This is a lot more than the basics like moving art around!!)
There are TWO big free improvements featured in this pic of my dining room!

This week on the Your Home Story podcast Ashley and I rounded up a bunch of free ways to update and improve your home. Deep cleaning, decor/style, and home improvement--there are tons of ways to change and better your home without spending anything. Some of these are high-impact DIY projects you can do with materials you already have!

Links to images for some of the free projects we talked about:

  1. Stems I cut from a large shrub outside
  2. Ashley’s post on trimming back boxwoods and removing shutters
  3. When I removed a fireplace screen (before/after)
  4. My post about for painting a fireplace screen
  5. Angela from Restoring Home’s fireplace makeover
  6. Ashley’s update to modernize stair railing
  7. Ashley’s update to ornate woodwork

Please follow along with each of us on Instagram:

And join our Facebook group here--ask questions, share photos of problem spaces in your home, and connect with us and other listeners!

Listen to episode 64 here or in your podcast player!
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