Kitchen Backsplash: Subway Tile Edition

Our backsplash is done! Our backsplash is done!

Install a Kitchen Backsplash without Mortar!
Install a Kitchen Backsplash without Mortar!

We had intended on installing a backsplash soon after we moved in…almost four years ago. I’m glad we waited because we had originally planned for a mosaic tile backsplash. Sometimes laziness patience pays off and you end up finding a perfect fit for your kitchen.  I like mosaic backsplashes but I think the subway tile ended up being a better fit for our overall design style.  (I act like I know what I’m talking about because I write a blog with the word “Décor” in the title.)

Our ivory cabinets made finding the perfect tile a challenge.  We ended up choosing the Imperial Bone Gloss subway tile from The Tile Shop.  The employees in the Des Moines store were awesome to work with.  (Not a sponsored post, just the facts.) We used Delorian Grey Premixed Grout. Contrasting grout is a love it or hate it type of thing. We both loved the look of it so we went for it. Good choice.

Install a Kitchen Backsplash without Mortar!

Installing the tile was fairly easy.  We used the Tile Setting Mat from the Simple Mat in place of mortar. Cleaning the dark grout off of the ivory tiles was less easy.  We’ll share our thoughts on the Tile Setting Mat tomorrow. I think I will also share some things to think about when installing a backsplash in a later post. 

This project wasn’t the cheapest.  The tile for the entire kitchen cost us ~$280.  We also had $100 in supplies.  (Luckily we had a $100 gift card to the Home Depot from a previous blog thing.  We paid the Home Depot $0.11.  It was pretty awesome.)  The cost was worth it to class the joint up.

Install a Kitchen Backsplash without Mortar!

It kind of looks like grown ups live here.  Weird.

Install a Kitchen Backsplash without Mortar!
Install a backsplash.jpg

Did you think we would ever finish this project (darn old age!)?  What are your thoughts on contrasting grout?  Do you prefer subway or mosaic tile or do you have a love for both?


Stool Make-over

Do you all remember my mission to find stools?  Kitchen stools.  Beautiful kitchen stools.

Like these stools I found at a local consignment shop.


Beautiful, right? 

$10 a piece.  What a steal.  Nate was super excited about them but humored me anyways because the three stools combined were a third of the cost of all of the other stools I was looking at. 

I tore them apart, spray painted the bases and stained the tops.  I was afraid to bring them in the house for fear of hating them.  So they sat in the garage disassembled for 2 months.  It’s really hard being me.  And my husband.  And being a blogger that takes night photos on her cell phone.


The problem is that I’m debating if I like them.  I mean, I like them.  But do I like them in my kitchen?  I’m such a weirdo.  I always have to grow to love new things.  Even though I really like news things.  They look less JCPenney catalog than our saddle stools but I’m not sure about their size.


I’m a sneaky blogger too.  Kitchen backsplash reveal has to wait until next week.  I have an annoying non-matching outlet plate cover situation to deal with first.  Use your imagination.


So what are your thoughts?  Because you know what?  I’m not really sure what my thoughts are.  I just keep typing “stool” and laughing.

Behind the Couch Feelings

Do you have one of those rooms in your home that you just aren’t sure how to decorate?  Yeah, me too. 

That room is our office.  It continues to baffle me.  It’s the only room left on our main level that needs a loving decorating touch.

Here’s what it looks like currently…



Well, minus the curtains. They went to live with my parents because there was just too much ivory going on in the room. You live.  You learn.  The parents did give me life so it was only fair they get my hand me down curtains.

I think we are going to purchase the Karl sectional (the smallest version available) from Ikea.  My brother purchased it and it’s comfy.  This room doesn’t get a ton of use but we would like to use it a little more for lounging and a semi-inexpensive sectional seems like a good fit.

I think I’ve decided that I actually like the wall color.  My laziness may be working it’s magic on my brain too.  I can’t tell for sure.  How do you feel about it?

My biggest conundrum now is what to put behind the couch…or soon to be sectional.


I ponder this space while running 30 minutes three times per week.  I’ve got nothing.  That’s 90 minutes per week for the past 4 months and no ideas.  Okay, fine…probably more like 30 minutes of pondering per week. The other 60 minutes are focusing on not dying.  But still.  (I highly recommend decorating rooms while you run.  It’s amazing how fast the time flies.  Seriously.)

There’s art.  But what kind of art?  I like things to have a purpose.  A map would be an obvious choice but that seems a little themey to me.  I had pondered some kind of word art but word art can turn cheesy real quick like.  And what word?  I thought about shelves with photos but I want something a little unique. 

Maybe I just need to run more.

What are your thoughts?  What’s your go-to behind the couch solution? Help!  Share those genius ideas! 

Do you have a room that needs help that you would like Décor and the Dog readers to assist you with?  E-mail me at decorandthedog (at) 

Fall Mantel 2012 Edition

It’s that time again.  Time to decorate the mantel in its fall best.

DecorandtheDog Mantel 2012-1



This year I went with a sexy librarian/quirky owl theme.  Or old lady clutter.  Either way.  I like it.


I stole books (in fall colors) from our office.  Hooray for in home shopping.  The owl on the left is from TJMaxx (last season).  (I used it last year's fall mantel.)  The owl on the right is from Menard’s.  The clock was also stolen from the office.  It was originally purchased from an antique store. 


Is your house ready for fall?  Have you turned the heat on yet?  We were tempted this week-end but toughed it out.  Are you digging the sexy librarian/quirky owl theme?  I need to trademark that one.  A Décor and the Dog original.

Linking up to: Centsational Girl, The Inspired Room

Fall 2012 Tablescape

I have officially gone to the dark side of blogging.   I totally drank the blogger Kool-Aid.


I decorated my table for a fake dinner party.  And I had fun doing it.  Like a lot of fun.  Nate was equally as impressed when he came home to a beautifully decorated table but no supper to eat.  I only have so much time in my day dear husband.



For those of you that aren’t bloggers, bloggers have these things called “link parties”.  Usually these parties have a theme.  Today’s theme is “Fall Tablescapes".  I just realized explaining this is like explaining to your childhood friend that you are spending the night at a person’s house that you met off of the internet.  Blogging is strange.

I picked up most of the items from thrifts stores or clearance racks throughout the past couple of months.  I knew that fall and the holidays were big for table decorating in blogland and I thought I’d try it out.  Seriously a ton of fun.  I can’t wait to host more fake parties for Ike and I.  Or I could invite real friends over but that’d just be weird.  And I’d have to do dishes.




Overall, I’m digging the relaxed yet fancy vibe this little fall tablescape of mine has going on.



Sources: The greenery in the center was purchased at Michael’s for $1.99.  Lucky find.  The chargers were found at Goodwill for $0.50 a piece.   The “china” was also from Goodwill.  Marked $6.38 for a set of 12…and it was 50% off.  The “napkin rings” are acorn ornaments found at the Salvation Army for $1.00.  The pumpkins and napkins I purchased a few years ago from Joann’s.  As well as the fabric for the table runner. The glasses are the Libbey Country Fair Drinking Jars that we use on a daily basis. We built the table (read about it here).

Decorated for any fake dinner parties lately?  What’s your favorite fall recipe that I should eat at this lovely little fall table?

Linking up to: The Lettered Cottage, Ten June

Wood Floor Questions Answered

Some of the most often asked questions I receive are about our wood floors.



I’ll be a good blogger and answer some of those questions today.

What is the type of wood floors do you have?  They are BR111's Brazillian Cherry (Solid Wood).

Do you like your floors?  We love them!  We love how the color has changed over time. They started light and have darkened over time.  We would definitely install them again.  Brazilian Cherry is a hard wood and it has held up great for the almost 4 years that we have lived in the house.

I like the look of wood floors but I’m afraid my dog would scratch them to pieces.  How have they held up against Ike?  Ike is a little dog (24 lbs) but he’s also crazy.  He tears across them when we get home at night or whenever we have company.  We are starting to notice a little wear at the bottom of the stairs and around some corners.  The wear is all the dog.  The scratches aren’t extremely visible though.  I only notice them when I am cleaning them.

Your wood floors always look so clean.  How do you clean them?  First, they aren’t always clean.  I’m just slowly learning to not put disgusting pictures on the blog.  The gross ones always end up on Pinterest.  We generally have a clean house but I can only clean these floors so many times in a week.  My time is better spent…blogging.  The summer is the worst.  Sweaty man feet and dog drool could keep me busy for days.  I try to relax a little more during the summer.  We are outside more.  We use the deck more.  My husband sweats more.  The dog drools more.  Life happens.  It just means I bust out the mop and Bruce’s floor cleaner a little more often. (We purchase the floor cleaner at Lowe’s.)


Look directly right of this photo….running dog prints.  Pinning the following photo will result in bad karma.


Any other wood floor related questions?  Are you a wood floor fan or do you prefer fluffy carpet or tile?  Anyone else struggle to keep the house clean with a sweaty life partner and drooling furry friend?

Tile Search

Do you know how hard it is to find off-white subway tile in Iowa?  Well, let me tell you.  It’s pretty darn hard.  Or at least Nate and I were making it hard.

Our cabinets are not quite white and not quite ivory.  They are whitevory.


I think we have finally ended our multiple week search.  The Imperial Bone Gloss tile from The Tile Shop appears to be the winner.   Unfortunately the closest location is in Des Moines. We ordered a sample and it’s quite perfect. I keep petting it every time I enter the kitchen…to watch Nate cook. Now we just need to head west to make the purchase.  (Darn expensive shipping.)


We were really hoping the cheapo white tile from Menards would cut it but no such luck.


It’s just a shade off but that shade makes all of the difference.


I don’t think we’ll be able to tackle this project until the end of September or beginning of October…and it’s killing me.  At least the tile search is over!  Phew.

New Living Room Rug

I did it.  I opened my new rug.  And I like it.  No more hating Overstock.  Woo hoo.

Some of you may be a bit disappointed after having read my navy rug post.  I went boring.  But hear me out.  Boring is good.  Boring is me.  I have this problem lately of wanting everything pretty that I see.  Unfortunately, I am unable to surround myself with everything pretty.  And just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean that it fits the style of our house.  Does that make sense?

And Ike.  Ike LOVES the new rug!


I went with a jute and hemp rug from Overstock.  I decided that I wanted a neutral rug.  I like neutrals. Neutrals relax me.  A neutral rug allows me to change pillows. I like to change things. Pillows are easier/cheaper to change than rugs.  The price was right for the size.  The rug added some much needed texture to the room.  Sold.





The only thing we aren’t super happy with is the smell. To quote Nate, “It smells like a rodeo.” A day with the windows open definitely helped air it out.

The rug is jute and hemp so it’s not one that’s super soft and squishy on the feet…which may not be for everyone.  We don’t spend very much time on the floor so it’s not a concern of mine.  Ike is the only one who rolls around on the floor and he tells me it’s cool.


Are you a neutral fan or a bold color fan?  Why are rugs so stinking expensive?  Any fellow jute fans?  Can you believe that all of these Ike photos were taken without treats?  Seriously.  Me either.

Antique Goodness

Dear Little Brother,

I apologize for today’s post.  Yes, I do realize I should file it under the label “Lame It.”  I appreciate your blog critique.  I was, however, unable to put together our console table how-to because I was helping you celebrate your birthday in the land of slow internet.

Please enjoy the following photos from our shopping trip.  I will refrain from posting the photo of you riding a saddle in a steak house.  That is love.


Your Sister

My brother is now my blog reviewer.  He informs when me when posts are lame or when I’m selling my blog’s soul.  He’s super helpful.  (And Single.  Have I mentioned that?) 

We enjoyed a morning of junk/antique shopping this week-end. His choice.  I think our love of junk may be the only thing that we actually agree on. 

Here are some photos for you all of one of my newest favorite stores.  I want to move in.


I would have made the following stainless steel table mine if it wasn’t too large for our dining room.  I was kicked out for repeatedly petting the table.  Something about scaring other customers.


This tub was magnificent.  The cell phone photo is not.


The place was full of lockers in every color.  I liked the orange.  Must mean I’m wanting fall to arrive.


Old stools and chippy cabinets.  Be still my heart.


There were maps everywhere.  This store is pretty trendy which is surprising since it is in middle of nowhere Iowa.  Iowa and trendy are generally not in the same sentence together…unless there is a “not” in there.


I loved this numbered set up.  I think I need a second home to decorate with junk stuff….and pink stuff.  I should run this by my accountant husband.  I’m sure he’ll go for it.


This store is the Broad Street Market in Story City, Iowa.  I think it’s pretty obvious that this post was in no way sponsored by them.  I just want to move into their store.  That is all.

Do you have a family member that likes to critique your blog?  Are you a fan of junk shopping or is HomeGoods/TJMaxx more your style?  What would you have taken home from the above photos?

DIY Console Table Reveal

Ooooo, it’s time for me to reveal our top secret project that I mentioned on Monday.  (Even though my SEO friendly title already ruined it).

Today Ike and I would like to introduce you to our pretty new console table.

DIY Console Table
DIY Console Table
DIY Console Table

I’ll share the tutorial with you next week but we made the top out of 1x10’s that we beat with a hammer, crow bar, screw driver, etc to give it that reclaimed wood look. The legs are made from copper grounding rods.  Copper is a hip metal these days.  Hipsters.  The total cost was ~$40.

DIY Console Table
DIY Console Table

I was originally inspired by some hairpin leg tables that I had seen floating around.  I wasn’t a fan of the $300+ price tags.  I then looked into the hairpin legs which were still $20 a piece. Four $20 legs plus wood for the top equals too much dinero.  That’s when I conspired with my partner in crime and we saw the copper grounding rod while wandering Lowe’s.  It was a major experiment on our part because we weren’t even sure we could get something to like this to stand.  Somehow we did.  And we’re in love.  Both of us.  Nate is less into furniture PDA than I am.  But trust me, he’s in furniture love.

It’s like the table was made for this spot.  Oh wait, it was. Never mind.

DIY Console Table

Our farmhouse table now has a mini-friend.  (Don’t mind the tv in the mirror.  I do like how the owl appears to be waving though.  It’s the little things in life.)

DIY Console Table

Are you digging copper these days?  What about that brassy/old lady decorating scheme I have going on?  Is a console table on your DIY list?  Who’s excited for the tutorial? 

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