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Choosing vintage style hex tile…

Diving right back into the bathroom reno posts…..

This was (by far) my favorite part of the project….although probably the most time consuming and physically demanding.  After searching around on Houzz for months and months and watching my favorite TV show (Rehab Addict), I knew I wanted small hex tile.  It’s so classic, it’s beautiful, and it won’t go out of style because it’s not the tile of the month. Mosaic tile has been around since Pompeii, since Rome, since forever.  Here is an amazing reference site for choosing your floor patterns and color.  Lots of beautiful ideas… check out some of these beautiful hex floors:

Vintage Hex Tile Bathroom

Image courtesy of

Note: The floor we demoed in our bathroom was actually already a form of hex tile with squares in between.   Still classic and lovely (just in our case very poorly installed).  I would have kept it in a heart beat if it had been an original bath and had there been any way to save it.  It wasn’t and there wasn’t.  

I took these ideas and applied them to our tiny bathroom.  It wasn’t practical nor did it fit with the design of the bathroom to have large patterns throughout the space.  I wanted something simple.

I ordered hex tile from Home Depot and ordered cases of solid white and also solid black.  They do have some available that already have the flower pattern but I knew I wanted to create my own pattern.  Figuring this out took a long time – It was tedious and knee-pain inducing being stuck on the floor for hours arranging and rearranging tiny little pieces of tile.  These do come in sheets (not quite 12×12″) but don’t let that fool you.  It’s still very time consuming to evenly space and arrange.  It took me about a day to dry fit my pattern.  You can see in the pics below how I split the black pieces into a border.  At first I wanted a larger border but realized I hadn’t ordered enough to do this AND do a pattern in the middle.  I was not about to order another box of tile and wait a couple of weeks for it to come in so I just made my border thinner and also nixed the idea of putting an inset border (top right pic below) around the entire bathroom.  It just felt busy (and, as my sister said, “do you really want to frame the toilet?”)

Here you can see how I decided to make an oval “rug” in the center of the vanity (not pictured) and in front of the bathtub.  I wanted to add a special touch to the floor, since most hex tile patterns have an inset of contrasting color.  I decided against framing the toilet (thanks, sis!).  You can see in the pics below there are a couple of popped out pieces.  The tile is actually adhered to a thin fiber mesh.  To create the pattern, I laid the tile down.  I then took separate black individual pieces and put them directly on top of the white pieces below.  Once I had a pattern I was happy with, I popped the white pieces off of the fiber mesh using my fingers and put the black pieces in their place.   I mostly eyed my arrangement.  The bathroom wasn’t even and equally spaced so there was no way to have an exact number of tiles on one side and the other.  You’ll notice the toilet flange (below top right) isn’t quite centered in that space.  When I played with a tile inset on that side, the inset border made that fact so much more obvious.

Is thinsetted a word?  Don’t know.  But that’s the next step and it took literally FOREVER.  Once I had dry fit and set my pattern, I absolutely didn’t want to pull it all out to apply a big swath of thin set.  Thinset is STICKY and NASTY and gets on everything and squishes up and makes you question your existence annoys you.  It took me a solid 15 hour day down on my knees, listening to Pandora, mixing up small batch after small batch of thin set, and lifting up each individual sheet/piece of tile and putting it exactly back down where it had been set.  This doesn’t sound that bad.  But it was difficult.  I worked so very hard to avoid the same obvious lines and uneven spacing of the tile we had taken out.  I wanted my floor to look less  “these hex tiles come in 12 x 12 sheets” and like one solid floor.  It is definitely not perfect, but I am in love with the results and it’s something I will forever be proud of having accomplished myself.

After waiting around 36 hours to make sure the thin set was completely dry, it was time to grout.  I did have to clean up some spaces between the hex where thin set squished up and out onto the tops of the tile.  I just took a small paper piercing tool and a flat head screwdriver and scraped and scraped.  Insert more Pandora listening here.  This is a crucial step before grouting and although not fun, not hard.  Just scrape all those lines and make sure the thin set is well below the top edge of the tile.  If it’s not, it will show through your grout and mess with the clean lines you’ve worked so hard to create!

When we redid our kitchen backsplash (with small white subway tiles), we chose a grout product from (where else?) Home Depot in Oyster Gray.  I love it!  It highlights the pattern of the tile and really makes it stand out.  Plus, it doesn’t show dirt as much and even though we would be sealing the tile, it doesn’t hurt to protect yourself from grime (hello, I have three children and they are GROSS).

And here it is!  These two pics were taken in the exact same spot only weeks apart.  What a difference!!  So happy with the results…

Update:  I have to say, Colin walked in the bathroom after I finished and said “Hey, that looks like a Nicole Curtis floor.”  I had taken the above pic and linked it and tweeted it at her on her twitter handle and SHE TOTALLY TWEETED BACK AT ME.  It was pretty awesome.  I had like 2 seconds of fame right there. 

Next up?  I only thought I was done with demolition….my mom texts me a great idea and I’m back at the bathroom with a sledgehammer.  🙂



By | 2017-02-06T10:56:31+00:00 May 6th, 2014|


  1. Jana DeArmond May 6, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Bethany, this is g o r g e o u s!!! What an amazing amount of work you’ve done and it looks fabulous. I love Nicole Curtis and the work she does, too… how awesome that she replied to you! 🙂

  2. admin May 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Thank you Jana! It’s been a rewarding project for sure!! 🙂

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