6 Tile Home Design Ideas that Wow

bathroom with tile around tub and on floorInspiration. Everyone needs it at times—especially when we’re staring at an outdated room, trying to find anything that inspires us. We stand there looking at a blank canvas thinking, “How do I want my new kitchen to look? What design would make my bathroom stand out? Where do I start?  What inspires me?”

If a bathroom or kitchen is your blank canvas, one of the easiest places is to find inspiration is the biggest part of the design: tile. There are so many fantastic tiles on the market today, and so many different ways to use them to make your bathroom or kitchen look like a unique work of art.

If you’re searching for tile inspiration, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of home tile design ideas that can get your creative process started—and end with a beautiful new room.

Neutral bling

stone backsplash in neutral tones with gloss

The term “neutral bling” may seem like an oxymoron, but today’s tiles come in a variety of neutral designs that are anything but boring.

Classic subway tile

kitchen back splash

If you’re looking for a look that’s as classic and clean, ask about classic subway tile. Today’s subway tiles come in different sizes with unique variations that give every bathroom and kitchen a one-of-a-kind look. To add a punch of color, ask about distinctive tile patterns or mosaic tiles that can be installed with your choice of subway tile.

Tile walls

bathroom mirror in front of tiled wall

What rule says you can’t install tile behind your mirror or from floor to ceiling? If you want to include a feature tile wall in your design, make sure you consult a designer or talk to an expert who can help you coordinate your floor and wall tile for a coordinated look.

Tile patterns

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile shower

Another trend that inspires (and frankly, is incredibly exciting!) is the new patterns that tiles are installed in—or the combination of patterns that set a bathroom or kitchen apart. For a new take on a classic tile, ask the tile pros about installing your floor or surround tiles in a chevron, diagonal, or stacked pattern for a bigger statement.

Classic Clean (and white!)

bathroom with tile floor that can handle water

When it comes to tile, white is the new black. It’s easy to see why: white tiles give any room a fresh, clean look. Depending on the look you’re going for, ask your tile pro about using a non-traditional color grout for a starker contrast or a classic grout color for a room with a traditional design.

Neutral statement

tile flooring in entryway with front table and lamp

No matter the color or design, tile makes a strong statement. This kind of flooring is also incredibly durable and water resistant, making it ideal for any room. Make your room feel welcoming by choosing a tile that gives the room a warm and cohesive look. If you’re completely lost on what tile fits those criteria, ask a designer for their recommendation.

Where do I start my remodeling project?

remodeled kitchen that adds valueRenovating the bathroom. Remodeling a kitchen. Finishing the basement. Updating the laundry room. New home remodeling projects are exciting. Just the thought of the finished room can give you goose bumps (and lots of oohs and ahs when the project is done!).

What your home renovation shouldn’t bring is buyer’s regret. Before you take your first sledge hammer swing, use these planning steps to make sure you’re happy with the finished project.

Decide what you want from your new room.

Before you look at flooring or choose a color for the walls, think about what you want from your new room. Do you need a more functional layout? Are there any things about your current room you really hate? What do you want out of the new room?

For example, if your bathroom is your next remodeling project, think about functionality. Do you need room for a bath tub? How many people are using the bathroom? Do you need a luxurious master bath? Or a more functional bathroom for your kids? Does your guest bathroom need lots of storage for your out-of-town guests?

Finishing a basement can come with even more questions. What do you need the space for: storage, rec room, media room, game room, man cave, craft room, bedroom?

Asking yourself these questions can help you as lay out the room and make decisions about materials for the room. If you are remodeling a bathroom for small children, look for materials that are durable and water resistant (for all those fun bath times and impromptu water fights!). For a basement media room, soundproofing is the theme as you sort through your options for insulation, flooring, and furniture.

Get ideas.

Don’t feel you have to wrack your brain for an original new layout or design. Look up ideas for your project on the internet (such as Houzz). Make a list of your favorite ideas or bookmark rooms that you like. If you want to find in-person inspiration, head into your local tile or flooring store to see materials. For advice from a pro, choose a store that has a designer on staff that can lend their expertise to your project.

Set a budget+.

The answers to your questions may guide your material decisions, but your budget has the final say. Decide how many funds you want to allocate to your project. Don’t shy away from your project if your budget is not overwhelming; little changes (such as painted cabinets, new flooring or tile) can make a big difference. If your room is large, such as a basement, ask your store about discounts for volume purchases. Be sure to include funds in the budget to pay for any surprises that can arise along the way, such as rewiring, plumbing, water damage, or anything else that could come up during the renovation.

DIY?

Decide whether you are going to tackle the project (or parts of the project) yourself. As you shop, ask about discounts for materials you can buy yourself (and use this list of floors you can install as a DIY project). If you are feeling less than handy, choose simpler projects that you can easily complete.

If just the term do-it-yourself makes you cringe, or you don’t have time, add ‘look for a local contractor’ to your to-do list. Ask your friends and family for recommendations, or look for a list of local contractors online. If they have a website or social media page, browse through their gallery, reviews, and testimonials to get an idea of the quality of their work. Vet your contractors carefully; you are trusting your home and funds to this person. Ask them these questions:

  • Do you have any past clients I can contact for testimonials? (Make sure you ask past clients for information about payments and if they are satisfied.)
  • How long you have you been a contractor?
  • Have you completed a project like mine before?
  • Will you get permits for the project?
  • What is the timeline for the project?
  • How do you handle payments? Do you require a down payment?
  • When can you get started?
  • Do you have any ideas for my project? (Don’t forget to ask this. Experienced contractors have seen it all and can give you great ideas for your project.)
  • When will I hear from you again? Do you need anything from me?

Finalize your plan.

Once you’ve done your research, finalize the plan for your new space (you’re on your way to the finished project!). If you haven’t done so yet, head into your local stores to choose flooring, cabinets, window treatments (or to ask a designer to find the right design that fits your needs and preferences). Most importantly, make sure your layout is set; making changes to the room layout can incur significant costs that can increase your budget. Once you’ve got all the details set, it’s time to dream of the final project and look forward to enjoying your finished space.

Ways to Save Money on Basement Flooring

family in basement media roomFinishing your basement involves a lot of steps: waterproofing, framing, drywalling, lighting, plumbing (if needed), flooring, furnishings. All those steps add up, both in terms of energy and funds (especially if you get expensive surprises along the way!). If you find those costs are adding up OR if you’re looking for ways to stretch those budget dollars, use these tips to save money on one key part of your basement project: flooring.

Invest in carpet remnants.

Carpet is one of the most common choices for basement flooring; it’s soft, affordable, and comes in a variety of piles and colors. Carpet also comes with a low-cost option: carpet remnants. Carpet remnants are what’s left of a roll of carpet and are usually sold at a discount at your local flooring store. The only draw back is that remnants usually are smaller and fit only in smaller rooms. However, carpet remnants are still perfect for smaller bedrooms, craft rooms, offices, or any other basement space. Ask your local flooring pros what size remnants they have available that fit in your basement.

Buy a DIY floor.

If you want to save on labor costs (and feel fairly handy), choose a flooring that you can install yourself. Wood floors should not be installed in basements (here’s why wood floors and basements should not mix), but engineered wood and luxury vinyl tile can be installed as a floating floor. Head into your local flooring store to ask them to show you DIY floor samples you can install yourself and fit your budget.

Look into carpet tiles.

Carpet tiles offer some of the same benefits of carpet, but with a do-it-yourself option. Carpet tiles are not installed with a padding which makes it less complicated than carpet installation. Another benefit of carpet tiles is that if one is damaged or stained, it can be replaced with another carpet tile. Carpet tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns, giving you plenty of options for a custom, unique flooring design. If you want to save money on more than installation, head into a local flooring store and ask about a discount for a volume purchase.

Waterproof, waterproof, waterproof.

When you finally complete a basement installation, it’s an accomplishment—especially if you finish under budget. Don’t expose yourself—or your budget—to the added expense of replacing the floor. Make sure your waterproofing job is complete. If you have any doubts, install a floor that is not easily damaged by flooding: vinyl (we’ve even seen vinyl flooring survive being submerged under flood waters in a basement). Ask your flooring salesperson to recommend vinyl floors that can hold up to water and look great, then sit back and enjoy your finished basement (done under budget!).

What flooring can I install in my basement?

carpet in basement that can handle basement moistureFinishing your basement is an exciting project. There’s so much empty space and so many possibilities. From top to bottom, there’s a million decisions to make: paint color, furniture, trim color, flooring. The last item on the list, flooring, comes with a small twist.

That small twist is water. Because basements are below ground, moisture seeps through the walls and floors. Not all types of flooring can take the moisture, leaving you with damaged and stained floors that you need to replace within a few years.

We’ve divided your basement flooring options into two categories: DIY & installer (schedule an installer by contacting local professionals). The DIY basement flooring options allow you to save money by installing the floors yourself. You can find these floors at your local flooring stores (ask about a discount for buying in bulk). Use these tips to guarantee a successful basement floor installation.

DIY Options

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl can check off a lot of boxes for basement flooring: the product comes in planks that can be installed as a DIY project, isn’t affected by moisture, and comes in a variety of looks and colors. These floors come in long tiles that give the floor a modern look, wood that looks like genuine hardwoods, or in a stone pattern that looks like slate or porcelain.

Engineered Hardwood

To be clear, hardwood floors should not be installed in a basement because of moisture. Water seeps up through the basement slab, warping and damaging wood flooring. If you still want wood flooring in your basement, choose the next best thing: engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is made up of many layers, including the top layer which is 100% wood. Because of the construction, engineered wood is safe to install over a concrete slab. (Many engineered hardwood floors can also be installed as a floating floor.)

Tile

Porcelain and ceramic tile looks great in any basement, and are available in long slats, square tiles, colors, and patterns. Tiles are a natural conductor of heat, which make them a great flooring to install over radiant heating. Today’s tile products look like stone or wood and can be installed with or without grout lines.

Carpet tile

Carpet tile is an ideal option for basements. They offer the softness of carpeting, a custom design, and a unique way to clean-up. Depending on the carpet tile you choose, carpet tiles can be laid out in any pattern you want. If a carpet tile gets dirty, it can be cleaned or swapped out with another carpet tile. Carpet tiles are ideal for office spaces, rec rooms, day care spaces, and game rooms.

Installer Options

Carpet

For homeowners who don’t want to take on a do-it-yourself project, carpet is a great choice for basements. Carpet is soft, easy-to-care-for, and a warm barrier over a basement concrete slab. Today’s carpet comes in almost every color and style, and can fit any budget. If you’re worried about the latter, consider purchasing a carpet remnant. Carpet remnants are the “leftovers” from a roll; these pieces can be fairly large and are sold at a discounted rate. If you’re considering a remnant, visit your local flooring store to see what options are available for your basement.

Vinyl

Vinyl flooring can handle all the water in your basement; we’ve even seen some vinyl floors survive after being submerged under water (perfect for a basement that is prone to flooding-make sure you tell your flooring salesperson that your basement floods). Vinyl floors are typically glued down and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

How do I keep my hardwood floors looking new?

wood floors in home with grand piano and furnitureHardwood floors have been installed in homes, it seems, since the beginning of time. You can see why: they’re beautiful, stunning, a selling feature, and the source of many compliments. Hardwoods are also a considerable investment, which is why it should be the goal of every homeowner to keep their floors looking like the day they were installed.

Keep the grit and water away.

There are two enemies of hardwood floors: debris and water. Debris (think stones, gravel, and other debris that gets tracked in) can scratch your floor. Water can warp and leave permanent water stains (as well as doing long-term damage). If you want to keep your hardwoods from getting damaged from either of these culprits, prevent the damage before it occurs. Place rugs by all your exterior doors to catch all the debris and water that your pets, family, and guests track in.

If you would rather that your family and guests leave their shoes by the door, provide adequate space for their shoes in an organized mud room. Train your pets to stop inside the door so you can wipe off their paws before they run onto your hardwoods.

Regularly sweep and dry mop your floors.

For any grit and water that slips past your rugs, follow a regular schedule of sweeping and dry mopping your floors. If you see a water spill, dry it up immediately; never leave water sitting on your hardwoods, which can warp or stain the wood.

If you want to use a vacuum cleaner, stop in at your local flooring store and ask for recommendations for a vacuum cleaner that won’t damage the floor or void the warranty. Some flooring manufacturers won’t honor the warranty if you don’t use a vacuum they recommend.

Be careful with a steam cleaner.

Steam cleaners may seem like the answer to your hardwood deep cleaning, but proceed with caution. Because steam cleaners use steam (water!) to clean the floors, they can cause unforeseen damage to the wood. Any damage from a steam cleaner is usually not covered under the warranty by the flooring manufacturer.

Schedule a regular deep cleaning for your hardwoods.

Even with the most consistent hardwood floor cleaning and maintenance, hardwood floors can still develop a coating of dirt and grime. You may not even notice it, but it still needs to be removed for the long-term health of your floors. Schedule a regular hardwood floor deep cleaning to remove any dirt, allergens, or residue. Deep cleaning your hardwood floors can also restore the shine of your floors and make them look brand new again—just like the day your floors were installed.

Floor Cleaning Tips that Get You Through the Holidays

holiday tree, fireplace with stockings in homeThe holidays are time of holiday gatherings, decorating for get-togethers, and cleaning for holiday parties. Add in our winter weather, and you can see that the holidays are really hard on our floors. That’s why we’ve put together these floor cleaning tips that get your flooring through the holidays without looking like it was trampled on by Santa and all his reindeer.

Protect your floors from your Christmas tree.

A real Christmas tree can be a beautiful holiday decoration, but the water in the stand can be hazardous for your floors. Before you put up your Christmas tree, put a tray under the stand to ensure that water does not spill and damage or stain your floor.

Don’t skimp on the rugs.

Everyone tracking snow and water in and out of your home may be part of fun holiday gathering, but it can do real damage to your floors. Put down rugs by every door to catch anything your guests track in. If you want everyone to leave their shoes by the door, organize an area for your guests so they can easily leave and find their shoes when all the fun is over.

Make sure you are protected from scratches with felt pads.

One of the best ways to protect your wood and laminate floors is by putting felt pads on the bottom of your furniture (couches, table, chairs, etc.) Felt pads do wear down, so make sure you replace the felt pads with new ones from time to time.

Be careful using a steam cleaner on wood floors.

Steam cleaners can be tempting when you’re trying to give your floor a deep clean for your holiday gatherings, but be careful. Steam cleaners can damage wood floors, and many of the top wood floor manufacturers do not recommend using a steam cleaner on wood flooring. The manufacturer’s warranty can also be voided if you clean a wood floor with a steam cleaner.

Keep a cleaner and rag close at hand.

Water spills (like melted snow) can damage laminate and wood floors. Soda and wine spills can leave a permanent mark on your carpeting. Be ready to clean up those flooring stains with a soft rag and cleaner that you can grab quickly every time you see a spill (and make sure you blot, don’t scrub, at the spill).

Don’t test out your floor cleaner for the first time over the holidays.

To avoid carpet discoloration and damage, make sure you test out your cleaner on an area that’s not visible to your guests. Test your cleaner in a closet or corner so you can be confident in your cleaner every time you clean your carpet. If you want a floor cleaner that the pros would recommend, stop in at your local flooring store.

Make sure you include vacuuming and dry moping in your holiday clean-up.

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your floors look like new (and can be invaluable if you have to file a warranty claim). When all the holiday fun is over, make sure you vacuum and dry mop so your floors look like the day they were installed.

Schedule a post-holiday carpet clean.

After all the holiday gatherings are over, have your floors professionally carpet cleaned to rid your floors of any dirt that came from an entertaining holiday season. A professional carpet clean can also remove allergens, giving you and your family a fun winter even after the holidays are done.

Questions to Ask Before Buying New Carpet

bedroom with new carpet and fresh home decor ideasThere are many different kinds of carpet on the market (and we don’t just mean different colors!). It can be challenging to choose the right carpet for your home—and, if you’re like most people, it’s not a decision you take lightly. No one wants to invest their time and effort into buying new carpeting only to replace it within a short time.

The first step to buying the right carpet is to find floor experts to help you with the decision. Talk to local pros to find out what carpet is right for your home. Give them information like what room you want the carpet for, if it’s a high traffic area (that gets a lot of foot and paw traffic), estimated size of your room, and any other information that would play into your decision. Once you start looking at carpet samples, ask your carpet salesman:

Is the carpet water-resistant?

This is a question you should ask if your carpet is near an exterior doorway or bathroom. Water-resistant carpet can also come in handy if you have to deal with frequent spills and accidents.

Is this product meant for high traffic areas? Does this carpet have any built-in protection for stains?

If you have a busy household, this question is a must. Some carpets are produced specifically for high-traffic households. Look for carpets that have durability features, such as water-resistant or air-freshening. Unfortunately, you may have to steer away from shag carpets which do not always hold up the best in high-traffic households.

What kind of upkeep does this carpet require? What is the warranty?

No one wants to think about their new carpet under-performing, but this question can save you from a lot of stress later. Evaluate how much upkeep you can provide (vacuuming and carpet cleaning), and choose a carpet that matches your time and effort. For example, if you want carpet for a playroom but don’t have a lot of time for maintenance, ask about carpet tiles that you can pull up and replace when they get damaged or stained.

To prevent any damage, also ask your salesman about your vacuum cleaner to ensure that your appliance won’t damage your new carpet. The type of vacuum cleaner you use may also come into question if you need to use the warranty.

Don’t hesitate to ask your carpet salesman for a carpet they’ve seen work in other local homes. A good carpet retailer can tell you has worked and hasn’t worked at other customer’s homes.

What is the total cost (with installation, carpet pad, etc.)?

If you’re on a tight budget, ask your salesman to give you an idea of the total cost. Remember, this is only an estimate; you’ll get a better idea when an estimator comes to your home and measures the room. Your estimator can also give you an idea of any additional costs, such as doors that need to be modified or thresholds that need to be replaced.

There are other questions that you can ask your salesman, such as asking about a softer carpet recommendation or a carpet that can be made into an area rug. Once your new carpet is installed, you can relax and be grateful you asked all those questions.

Touches that Make Every Room Look Finished

The touches that make a room look finished are, well, small—but this is a case where size doesn’t mean everything. From the smallest room to the most expansive, these finishing touches can make every room in your home go from just “okay” to “wow” and your home go from “it just needs something” to “it’s perfect.”

Living Room

living room with blinds

Courtesy: Kathy Ireland Home by Alta

  • Window treatments. Unfinished windows can look naked and the room like a set of individual pieces (flooring, furniture, lighting) that don’t have that one element that pulls it all together. Use these tips to choose the perfect window treatment that checks off all the boxes: function, form, and finish. Or, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, lean on a designer to help you take that final design step.
  • Crown molding. In a traditional home, crown molding can make all the difference—and there are a lot of options to choose from. Select the right crown molding that works for you, and
  • Area Rug. An area rug can tie all the details of your room together and make your room look coordinated. To find the right area rug that fits your home, order a custom rug that is right for your space (if you need help, contact a designer that can assist you).

Bathroom

Kitchen

  • Backsplash. A backsplash makes a kitchen look finished and synchronized. The right backsplash can bring all the elements together, from the appliances to the cabinets to the floor. For a full kitchen remodel, coordinate the backsplash with the flooring, countertops, appliances, and cabinets. If you are adding a backsplash, try to take samples of other elements with you to the flooring store so you can find the right tile that pulls it all together.

Bedroom

  • bedroom with area rug

    Courtesy: Armstrong Flooring

    Blinds. Adding blinds to a bedroom not only adds an aesthetic element, but it also serves a functional role. Blinds can serve as a light blocker, can block unpleasant views, and increase privacy. The right blinds also make your bedroom look complete, with the flooring, bedspread, and window treatments look well-thought through and complete.

  • Area rug. If you have hard floors in the bedroom, this finishing touch warms your toes and make your room look synchronized. Make sure you put protection under the rug to protect the floor and give your room a polished look.

Tips for a Faster Clean-Up After the Holidays

festive table that needs to be cleaned up after holiday celebrationAfter a wonderful holiday get together, your guests are gone…and so is the wonderful feeling of the holidays. Instead, you’re surrounded by all the dirty dishes, tables, and floors that come with hosting a holiday with your family and friends. To help you out (and make you want to host another family holiday), we’ve compiled these tips to make your holiday clean-up faster and better.

Don’t let food debris dry on your dishes.

Be proactive about your cleaning now so you don’t add to the checklist later. Let your dishes soak so you don’t have to scrub off dried food. For the dishes that can go through the dishwasher, start the loads now so you can get your dishes started and finished (with newer dishes, skip the unnecessary pre-rinse). Clean off the dining room table and do a quick wipe-down to rid your table of the hardened leftovers from your delicious dinner.

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.

Once you’ve got your hard surfaces wiped down (and any debris on your floors), do a thorough vacuuming of your entire home. Make sure you use a vacuum that won’t void your warranty (use these tips to choose the right vacuum or contact your local flooring store to get more info on vacuum cleaners).

Call in the pros to get out the stains.

It happens: spilled wine, a dropped plate full of food, an “oops!” with a can of soda. If you have a stain on your carpet, use these tips to clean it up now. The next step is a deeper cleaner: schedule a professional carpet clean to get out the stain permanently—from your carpet and padding.

Carry all the cleaning tools with you.

When you tackle the post-holiday clean-up, gather all your supplies before the cleaning begins. If you do so, you won’t have to stop your cleaning to go after another bottle of cleaner. You can just keep moving from room to room, cleaning as you go—and getting done sooner.

Don’t get distracted.

Stay focused. Divide and conquer if possible: make a list and split up the cleaning tasks so you can get your house back to normal. Be efficient with your time so you can get back that wonderful feel of the holidays and enjoy a nice, clean home.

Ways to Stay Ahead of Your Home’s Indoor Allergens

woman with kleenex dealing with indoor allergiesIndoor allergies. You don’t want people avoiding your home because a simple visit makes them sneeze (and wheeze and deal with a runny nose and…). You certainly don’t want to live in a home that brings out your worst allergy symptoms. The good news is you don’t have to (and you can make sure that your guests don’t experience indoor allergy symptoms in your house either) if you follow these tips that keep you ahead of the allergens that invade your home.

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.

Whether you have carpet or hard floor, a regular vacuuming can remove the allergens from your home especially if you have the right vacuum cleaner. Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a double bag to ensure that you can contain the allergens (other tips for choosing the right vacuum here). If you experience any symptoms while vacuuming, try wearing a mask so you can rid your home of allergens without having an allergy attack.

Deep clean your carpets.

To completely remove allergens, take the next step. Schedule a professional carpet cleaning to remove all the allergens that could get trapped deep in the carpet fibers. A professional carpet cleaning not only removes visible stains but also gets the allergens that trigger your allergies.

Have your ducts cleaned.

When the temperatures drop, we spend more and more time indoors. As we sit in our home, indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold circulate in the air around us every time the furnace or air conditioner runs. To get the indoor allergies out of your air and your home, schedule a professional duct cleaning that can remove the allergens from your vents.

Get a better furnace filter.

Allergens enter your home on your clothes every day (including pet dander, which has been found even in pet-free homes). Furnace filters are your next line of defense; furnace filters catch allergens that circulate through your HVAC system every day—if you use a furnace filter with a strong Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) do not allow finer particles to pass, effectively removing allergens from the air. Be careful about buying a filter with a high MERV though; filters with high MERVs (the max is 16) can put too much pressure on your furnace fan and possibly damage your furnace. If you are considering a filter with a high MERV, make sure to consult a HVAC technician to make adjustments that can accommodate a high MERV filter.

Monitor your home’s humidity.

An excessive air moisture level in your home can breed mold, mildew, and dust mites. Keep an eye on your home’s humidity level with a monitor. If the moisture level is high, use dehumidifiers to keep the humidity level below 50 percent—and keep indoor allergens at bay.