Q+A with Monica Chavez

Posted February 16, 2022

As part of our Meet the Designer Series we sat down with Monica Chavez from House of Esperanza, and had such a positively overwhelming response that we couldn’t get to all your questions. So, we’re doing a second act to answer all your burning questions.

Check out what insights and advice Monica has for some audience questions.

Sherri Madolid asks: What is the best way to pick the size of tile to fit the scale of a room?

A: Some things to consider are 1) budget 2) type of room 3) who will be installing.  The larger the tile, typically the higher the price point for the material and installation.  Large format tiles can require a minimum of intermediate skill level to install, thus making it a challenge for beginners and might require hiring out.  If budget is a secondary concern, I would focus on the type of space being designed and what features want to be highlighted. An intricate penny tile floor in an entry will draw attention to the detail in the flooring as one enters whereas a large format marble in a bathroom suite will feel grand and blend in and draw attention elsewhere.


Ayesha Huda asked: Can you use tile for outdoor flooring (covered patio)? Is it a bad idea? Should you just use pavers?

A: Hi Ayesha. Yes, you can use tile for outdoor spaces you just want to make sure that it is rated for that use.  Porcelain and natural stone tiles are most ideal because of their strength and their ability to withstand the weather.


Dee Ann Metzger noted: I have glazed (pale yellow) brick in my little 1950 MSM bathroom that I want to cover. Can I tile over it?

A: It is crucial to have a structurally sound and level surface when installing tile.  Because of that, I do not recommend adhering tile directly to porous/bumpy brick.  Two options are to either remove the brick and start with a clean stable layer or secure a layer of cement board over the top of the brick using masonry screws and construction adhesive.


Morgan Nelson asks: Monica, during the recreation of your home, what have you found to be the most rewarding DIY experience for you?

A: Hi Morgan! The most rewarding projects in my home turn out the be the spaces where I spend the most time.  For instance, my home library is a room I walk into every single day, and seeing what we were able to create with our hands blows me away every time.


Patti Navarro: When putting tile on a wall and the tile needs to be cut, should you cut the top row or bottom row?

A: Patti, the handful of instances where I’ve had this happen, I’ve based my decision on what portion of the tiled wall will be more visible.  If the bottom row of tile will be blocked by furniture or a baseboard, then I cut the bottom row so that the top, more visible row, remains intact.  If the bottom row will be highlighted or visible in any way, say perhaps on a feature wall, then I consider cutting the top most row of tile.


Sherri Madolid: Does your husband disagree with your designs sometimes? If so… how do you convince him to love your design?

A: Hi Sherri. My husband can be outspoken about my design choices, mostly because he has a difficult time visualizing the designs I describe to him.  I have found that creating mood boards and visual representations of the design concept helps drive my point home. In the end, I remind him that of the two of us, I am the designer and know what I am doing =).


Becky Blanco:  Do you prefer to use grout that juxtaposes or blends into the tile?

A: It depends on the overall design and desired outcome.  Contrasting grout can be used to highlight and feature the shape/size of the tile.  While grout that blends into the tile can be used to let the features of the tile stand alone.


Heather Fronek asked: Do you have a tip or certain tool you like to use for drilling through tile?

A: Hi Heather! It’s imperative to use a drill bit that is strong enough to penetrate a tile’s surface without cracking it.  This can be done using a carbide or diamond-tipped drill bit at a slow speed using your drill of choice.  Locate where you want to drill and mark with a piece of painter’s or masking tape.  Now start drilling using the slowest speed on the drill.  About every 30 seconds cool off the drill bit by spraying it with cold water.  Keep going until the hole is drilled through.

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