About catherine
Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
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Before & After

The Blonde Vic: Our Favorite Flooring and Tile Selections

The Blonde Vic

Thank you to Floor & Decor for sponsoring this post and for supporting our work at Beginning in the Middle.

This month, it’ll be two years since we purchased our Blonde Vic (holy moly).  It’s been our largest and longest and most challenging and most expensive project, by far.  But it’s also been our most rewarding and most educational project.  It always seems to happen like that, right?  The hardest ones are the best?

We’ve been sharing peaks of our progress and a few of the rooms on Instagram (if you missed them, you can check out #theblondevic hashtag and our Blonde Vic story highlight, too).  Whenever we share photos, we receive lots of questions from you guys about where we sourced our flooring and tile.  We tend to source from a bunch of different places, depending on what we find that best fits each space we work on, but one of our biggest go-to spots since we first started doing renovations is Floor & Decor.  I’m pretty sure we’ve used F&D tile or flooring on every project we’ve done since moving to Columbus, and we’re excited to be teaming up with them to share info on some of our favorite materials we used at the Vic (warning: there’s a lot!)

The Store

If you’ve never been to Floor & Decor, do yourself a favor and stop in.  They’ve been open in Columbus since we moved here from NY six years ago and have locations across the country.  They have really competitive pricing, a great variety of products (wood, vinyl & laminate flooring and wall/floor tile especially) and are always adding to their selection  Here’s a few snaps from our last visit — there’s aisles & aisles like this!

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1 // 2

our “new” Hardwood Floors (that fool everyone)

In the Vic, we refinished the original hardwood floors on the first floor of the home, but had to replace the floors on the 2nd and 3rd levels.  There were too many areas that needed to be patched and replaced, and on top of that, they were really squeaky.  So, we went on a hunt to find new hardwood floors that (1) we could match to the stain on the original floors on the main level, (2) look old without a shiny finish, and (3) were reasonably priced.  We landed on the Antique Oak Hand Scraped Solid Hardwood floors and are so happy with the way they turned out.

We bought a floor nailer and installed them ourselves to save money.  The best part: no one knows they’re brand new, which makes us very happy.

Here’s what they look like in one of the bedrooms in the home (much better, right?).  They’re very, very beautiful and got rid of most of the creaks on both floors!

Floor Tile

There are 3 full bathrooms at The Vic.  We wanted to give each one its own personality while remaining consistent with a black & white palette.  Our favorite project is one of the guest bathrooms, where we designed & installed a custom hexagon pattern on the floor.  We purchased a mix of black & white hexagon 12×12 sheets, separated all of the blacks and whites before we installed them, and then filled in the pattern one piece at a time.  We chose Mapei White unsanded grout to highlight the pattern, and sealed it to prevent it from getting stained.

Yes, it was as challenging and time consuming as it looks… but it’s unique and beautiful, and I’m so happy we did it!

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Psst – we also used this square 4×4 subway tile in the above bathroom from Floor & Decor, which we loved as a fun alternative to traditional 3×6 subway tile, and paired it with Mapei Charcoal grout.


In the master bathroom, we went full on marble in the shower and on the floors to make the space feel classic & luxe.  In the shower, we installed 12×24 marble tile vertically on the walls.  Floor & Decor has tons of marble options, but we ultimately chose the Maravilla Bianco Orion Polished Marble Tile because we loved the pronounced veins and white space.  It also has some gold in it, which pairs really nicely with our brass fixtures.

Our secret to getting the veins to flow so well was spending a lot of time BEFORE install lining up each tile so that the veins looked connected.  We went through each box and hand picked each tile that went up on the wall.  (People at the store probably thought we were crazy – ha!)  With almost all natural stone, there are batches that have more of one color or pattern than others, so it’s important to go through them before you install to make sure the variations are spread out.  We returned any pieces that didn’t have the right coloring (some are more green / brown than grey / white) or veining placement.

Our inspiration for the shower was a seamless marble slab look.  By lining up the veins, making sure they were all flowing vertically instead of a combo of vertical/horizontal, and making the grout spacing minimal made all the difference in creating the look.  It also saved us thousands of dollars over the marble slab route!

With this marble, we used Mapei Avalanche unsanded grout, which is an off-white with a grey tint to it.  We wanted the grout to be as invisible as possible, and this one fit the bill.

Fireplace Surrounds

We have 5 fireplaces at the Vic — 3 on the first floor and 2 on the 2nd floor.  We chose this honed granite tile as a surround for two of them because we wanted to add some contrast to all of the white walls, molding and curtains.

It came out looking so good! Similar to the master, we hand picked each tile and lined them up before install to make sure the veining flowed from tile to tile.  We really wanted it to look more like a slab than individual tiles, and doing this made all the difference.  By tiling ourselves vs hiring out a company to install a slab, we saved over $60 per square foot and were able to still get the look we wanted.


We designed the kitchen at the Vic to have an understated classic/modern palette.  When it came to selecting a backsplash, we knew we wanted something that would add texture but would also look clean & seamless & wouldn’t take over the space.  We landed on this 2×9 ivory brick ceramic tile that has a super glossy finish and lots of texture.  It shines from certain angles and blends right into the wall from others.  We chose the same Avalanche unsanded grout as the master because we wanted the lines to blur into the tile for a clean, minimal look.

We can’t wait to share more of each of these spaces, and the rest of the home, in the coming months!!  Be sure to follow us on Instagram @beginninginthemiddle for more peaks until then!

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  1. Alicia F Kahle says:

    what color grout did you use in the kitchen?

  2. Anna says:

    I’ve been looking for that black ceiling fixture everywhere! Could you share the source? Thank you! 🙂

  3. Carrie Tracy says:

    Hi! First, everything you touch turns to gold so thank you for buckets and buckets of inspiration. We just purchased a spacious 1905 home and I immediately thought of your blog when I started to brainstorm ideas to bring her back to life.

    My actual question is: the granite for the fireplace surround says it is polished on the website, while you appear to have used honed. Is the honed just no longer available? I really love the look of the granite and I think the honed finish is perfect. Any thoughts?

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you, Carrie! We did use honed on our fireplace and LOVE it, so I’m wondering if they’ve changed up their product listings. You may want to email the folks at Floor & Decor to get the latest info on what’s in stock!

  4. Kathleen Kinkella says:

    I love the pattern you created with the hexagonal tile in the bathroom! That was ingenious! How did you come up with it?

  5. I love the example you made with the hexagonal tile in the restroom! That was smart! How could you think of it?

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Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.



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I grew up in New Jersey and always had a dream of living in New York.  There was something about the energy of the city that drew me inOur journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

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