s November 2012 - The Kim Six Fix
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Master Bathroom Week 8: Tile Sealing And Grout Color Test

I am in the home stretch of the tile, and since the glass door has been ordered I have to hustle and get the tile sealed and grouted. Therefore, I have to decide on which color grout I want to use.   These may seem like really small steps, but depending on the products you choose it can dramatically change the look of tile. 

I personally like the 'chalky' light look of the tumbled tile and so I wanted to go with a sealer that would keep the stone looking as close to how it looks right now.  I settled on 511 Impregnator Sealer from Miracle Sealants.  It is a penetrating sealer without an enchancer (which will change the color of your stone.)  It isn't cheap ($35/bottle), but it is worth the extra expense to get a good product.  Since I am using natural stone I have decided to seal it both before it is grouted as well as seal it a second time, along with the grout, once the walls are completely finished. Better safe than sorry.

When it goes on it does darken the color of the tile, but it will dry clear.  You just need to paint it on, and then 5 minutes later wipe off any excess so you don't get any swirl marks or cloudiness.

It took me about 1/3 of the bottle to do the entire bath and tub surround area, which leaves me plenty for my second coat after grouting. 

The next big decision was choosing my grout color.  I made up a couple of test boards out of old scraps of tile so I could see what the colors would actually look like once it was pushed into all the nooks and crannies of the tiles:

I didn't want to buy a bunch of grout bags to test, but I did have a little on hand in two color families I was considering.  The first was the white color I used on my kitchen backsplash.
I figured since I am using the same the pencil tile, and I liked how it looked in the kitchen, this was a good choice to start with.

I also thought I would test out the grout leftover from when I repaired the damaged floor tile in front of the shower.  It was much darker and had a brown tint.

Here is what those colors looked like on my test boards:

I didn't love how the dark grout accentuated the holes in the tile (and really made it obvious when grout lines weren't even.)  On the other hand, the light grout color really masks any imperfections in the grout.  I LOVED that. 

It is always important to look at your test colors in the actual room you will be using them, so I carried my boards upstairs and leaned them against the shower walls to get a better feel for the final product:

After stepping back and thinking about it for a while I decided the light color was almost perfect.  I did want the tiles to stand out a little more so I settled on one shade darker, but nowhere near as dark as my second sample color.   Fingers crossed! 
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Budget for this part of the remodel: $32.27
511 Impregnantor: $32.27
Grout for color test: $0
Renovation Total to Date: $1175.15

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

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For Thanksgiving this year I thought I would try out a couple new recipes I found on Pinterest.  The first was Paula Deen's Pumpkin Cheesecake off Food Network.  It came out pretty good.  It was really rich (but what else would you expect from cheesecake?) and the spices really it gave it some kick.

I followed the recipe pretty closely with the following small tweaks:


  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I made my own by crushing them in the blender)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted salted butter
Combine ingredients and press down flat into a 12-inch springform pan.  (I only coated the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the side of the pan)


  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (Cream in mixer until smooth)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.

To smoothed cream cheese add remaining ingredients and beat together until well combined. Pour into crust.  Pour into crust and bake for 1 hour (or until center is set). Remove from the oven and let sit for  at least 15 minutes before refrigerating.
I am the only one in the house that eats pumpkin, so I will be enjoying the rest of this for a couple more days!

Master Bathroom Week 7: Tub Surrond Tiling

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.   Ours was pretty low key, but I enjoyed trying a few Pinterest recipes off my 'food' board and I'll share some of the highlights with you shortly.  

I also made a decent amount of progress on the bathroom tiling.  I had the glass company come out and measure for my frameless door (you can have them measure as soon as the tile is set, you don't need to have grouted or sealed it.)  I did take quite a few days off from working on the remodel since I was pretty busy with the holidays and I was burning out.  To say 'I am sick of tiling' is an understatement. 

I also finally finished up the bathtub surround.  Again I continued with the same tumbled travertine from the shower, with an accent stripe of pencil tile. 

I had to set the accent stripe pretty low in order to allow it to continue around the knee wall, but I don't mind how it came out:

You can see I still have to put a new front on the roman tub as well as tile the wall next to the vanity. I am holding off on that final tiling because I am getting new countertops and I will need to cut the tile out around them.

It is looking pretty good.  My vision is coming together.  I now need to consider what I want for a new wall color, but I need to also consider the new vanity and countertop colors.. decisions decisions. 

I didn't spend any additional money on this part of the project.
Renovation total to date: $1142.88

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Master Bathroom Week 6: Tiling Shower Floor, Curb and Knee Wall

A little update on the progress I am making on the tiling.  At this point I am in the home stretch.  I finally got around to the part of the tiling job I dreaded the most: THE SHOWER FLOOR.  Because of the slope and round drain I was nervous about how the tile would come out.
I decided to go with 2x2 honed travertine for the floor.  The smaller tile size is much easier to work with, especially on the slope, and the honed, smooth finish would stand up to the grime of the shower floor better than the porous tumbled type I used on the walls.   This wasn't a budget friendly decision, since unlike my wall tile, one square foot sheets of the 2x2 tiles were $10 each.

 You can see I also decided to carry the smaller tiles up and over the top of the curb.  This was really a decision based on the dimensions of the curb.  Using the 2x4 tiles would require a lot of really thin cuts that would have been really obvious, but using the 2x2 tiles let me use nearly whole tiles across the whole surface.

On the knee wall I stuck with the tumbled travertine 2x4s.  I have been saving the absolute BEST tiles for the top of the knee wall.  The ones with the smoothest finish that were most matched.  Because this surface will get hit with a LOT of water I wanted tiles without any nooks and crannies for stuff to get stuck.

You can also see how I decided to not break the running pattern between the tub area and the shower.  I just continued three rows of tiles above the bathtub at the exact same height and will end up having to cut the tile closest to the tub.   I will also use a row of accent pencil tile around the entire tub, and decided to locate the stripe based on where it could run as a continuous line including along the knee wall.

Now I only have the tub area to finish up. I still have to put the front back on the roman tub but at this point I can order the glass for the shower doors and walls!  


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Budget for this part of the remodel: $121.94
2x2 Travertine (13 sq. ft. @$9.38/each): $121.94
Renovation total to date: $1142.88

How NOT to Install Undercabinet Lighting

I'm taking a break from the master bathroom renovation to share a little project I attempted that could only be classified as a total FAIL.  If any DIY'r tells you they have never had a disaster project they are lying.  This is just one of many I have had, and I thought I would share it with you since I don't want anyone to think that everything always goes smoothly.

The last project I had lined up for my kitchen makeover was to install undercabinet lighting.  I really wanted to do this because I wanted to accent the pencil tile backsplash I did all that work installing.

This is how the backslash looks with just the overhead lighting from the recessed LED and pendant fixtures I installed:

It wasn't horrible, but a little task lighting would be nice.  When I ran across these guys at Costco for only 29$ I thought I had found answer.  No wiring, and they were motion activated.  Perfect:

Unfortunately when I installed them I HATED how they looked.  The light was really blue and made the cabinets look yellow and the backsplash look a sickly shade of green:

The other problem was the motion sensor was USELESS.  You could jump up and down in front of the cabinets and they wouldn't go off, but if the cat rolled over from the other side of the room, and they would light up out of the blue.  I could turn them off and on with the little switch on each unit, but to light up my whole countertop that would require hitting 8-10 little switches.  Not exactly practical.
Thank goodness Costco has a great return policy because I took them down and took them back.  I decided to go with my original plan to use Kelly's (from View Along the Way) LED reel lights.  I have ordered all the supplies and will be installing them soon, using the extra outlet above my microwave.

Live and learn!  Hopefully the next attempt will be much smoother!
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Master Bathroom Week 5: Installing Shower Shelves (The Cheap Way)

Slowly, slowly the dream shower is coming along.  I realized I forgot to install the shelves in the shower last week, so I had a little set back.  If you remember the shelves when you were tiling the walls, it would be a lot better than my method! 

Anyhow.. I decided I wanted 2 corner shelves, and originally was going to use these prefab ones but with a $50 pricetag, that wasn't happening.  For $100 I knew I could come up with something else.  

First I had to fix my mistake by taking down a couple tiles from the corner where I wanted to place the shelves.  In my case I had to chip out all the old thinset so it was a giant pain in the butt.. You now understand why installing them as you are originally laying the tiles is a much brighter idea. 

Then I went to the big box store and bought two 18x18 inch travertine tiles (for less than $5) and cut them into triangles. Since I removed 1 full and 1 half tile I knew the short side of the triangle needed to be 6 inches (plus 1/8 inch for the spacer)

Using simple geometry I calculated the finished size of my shelves and was able to cut a triangle from the larger tile.

I used a palm sander and 60 grit sandpaper to bullnose the cut edge.  (This will only work on natural stone tile, you couldn't use ceramic tile since the edges wouldn't be finished, nor would you be able to round them over without the porcelain showing through):

Remember when installing the shelves, you want them to slope down so water won't collect on them.  I did this by doubling up my spacers near the corner and only using a single spacer farther down the wall:

I then cut down the tiles that will go above the shelf the thickness of the shelf itself, plus 1/4 inch (taking into account the gap for grout.)  By measuring the triangle and having it end exactly at the end of a full tile, you avoid having to cut any notches:

Not bad for $5 right? And I could have probably only used one 18 inch tile if I had been more careful cutting the triangles.   Totally worth the $98 savings!

As you could see from my first photo, I also completed the rest of the shower walls, including adding pencil tile which was leftover from my kitchen backsplash.  Why not right? I had the tile sitting around, and by using it up in my master shower it unites the first floor and second.

Now I just have the curb, knee wall and floors to tile.. and then onto the bathtub.   Sigh.  At least it is amazing to see how far we have come. 

Budget for this part of the remodel: $4.78
Two 18-inch travertine tiles ($2.39/each)

Renovation total to date: $1020.94
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Master Bathroom Week 4: Updating Shower Fixtures

Now that the tile is finally going up it is time to make sure my new fixtures are going to work out. Bye-bye brass and plastic "krystal" knobs.

My original bathroom hardware was all Price Pfister brand, and so to avoid having to change the valve stems I thought I would just use more Pfister fixtures.  Unfortunately I was out of luck.  The valve designs I had were considered "obsolete" so none of the new trim kits I bought for the shower and roman tub would fit. 
Luckily for the shower I was able to find a retrofit kit which changed the shape of the valve body without having to change the actual valve itself.  I was thrilled when I was able to attach the new chrome trim kit to the old valve and it only cost me about $25 for the conversion kit! 
I made sure the new trim kit was able to accommodate the thickness of the tile and luckily it all fit perfectly:
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To deal with the roman tub I took a different approach. There was no conversion kit so I decided to replace the entire set of rough-in valves and go with a different brand entirely.  In this case I settled on Danze fixtures (I will also be using Danze sink faucets) since they looked a lot like the Price Pfister shower kit and they fit my budget.  (Not a lot of companies make roman tub faucets.. whoda' thunk it?) 

I tore off the entire section of green board that was in front of the tub, and I will replace it with cement board.. may as well do it right if I am going to do it.

I had to tear out the old valves and insert new ones.  This was a pain because they use copper connections. 
I won't install the actual faucet until after the tub surround is tiled, but I wanted to make sure all my ducks were in a row before I sealed up the front of the tub, since once I start tiling that area, there isn't any going back.
Phew! Problem solved.  Now just to finish tiling the walls, floor and curb. That is no small feat.

Budget for this part of the remodel: $279.66
Price Pfister Shower Retrofit Kit: $24.18
Price Pfister Shower Trim Kit: $47.51
Danze Roman Tub Rough In Valve Set: $66.97
Danze Roman Tub Trim Kit: $141.00
Renovation total to date: $1016.16 
 (YIKES! I broke the thousand dollar mark already!!) 

Master Bathroom Week 3: Tiling The Shower Walls

The past weeks have been crazy busy at my house.  Not only were we in the midst of Halloween, but we also had out of town guests staying with us.  Needless to say, not a lot of progress was made on the bathroom remodel.

The exciting part is that I did start tiling the walls!  Like I showed in my inspiration post, I went with a 3x6 tumbled travertine marble.  I decided to set them in a subway pattern.  

What I didn't realize was just how labor intensive working with tiny tiles like this was going to be. Because they are individual hand laid tiles, each requiring spacers, it is a LOT of work.  To put it in perspective, just doing this small, square section (less than 10 square feet) of wall took me a little less than 4 hours:
By the end of day one I was starting to get an idea of just how long this was really going to take:

The way I tackled the tiling was that I left a space large enough for 2 rows of tile along the bottom of the shower wall.  You don't want to start right at the floor since the floor isn't level.  Instead I will cut the angle of the floor into the bottom row of tiles where it will be less noticeable.  By starting 2 rows up, I was able to make sure the rows were level (I used a few boxes of tile and a board to set my first row of tile, making sure it was level.) DON'T ATTACH THE BOARD DIRECTLY TO THE WALL OR YOU WILL PUT HOLES IN YOUR WATERPROOFING!! 

 Days 2 and 3 was more of the same and I finished with this much complete (at least it looks better as the red is covered up):

 And by the end of week 1 this is as far as I had gotten.

Some specifics about this tile.  It is chiaro tumbled Turkish Travertine marble.  I ended up getting it at Lowe's because even though it was about 60 cents per square foot more than the tile shop (I paid $4.26/sqft), but I will be able to return any that is unused. I also didn't have to pay any shipping or handling and could buy it by the individual square foot.  I knew that would be important because the individual tiles are very VERY different. I wanted to make sure I could pick out the best tiles without huge imperfections, holes and cracks.  I originally purchased almost 33% more tile then I needed, knowing I would return a lot of it.  

I used 1/8th inch spacers since the variation in tile size was quite large.  I originally wanted to use 1/16 spacers (the smallest you can reasonably use) but I knew with the rough edges of the tile it wouldn't work out. 

To set the tile I used the same mortar I used to patch the walls, which is specifically designed for travertine. 

Budget for this part of the remodel:
Travertine 3x6 tiles (102 sq.ft. at $4.26): $434.52** 

Renovation total to date: $736.50

**I will probably only need approximately 70 sq.ft. so this is an overestimate of costs
UPDATED 12/16: I was able to return $119.56 worth of tile after completing the shower and tub.  This credit is reflected in the budget in this post. 
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