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Q&A with Renovation Challenge Winner Nicole Pankopp

Posted December 11, 2019

We sat down with Season 4 winner of the Renovation Challenge, Nicole Pankopp to hear more on her winning design. From a hesitant applicant to mastering a six-week challenge Nicole dishes on all the action from this season. 

Check out our Q&A with Nicole as we dive into all the details of her new mudroom. 

Q: What made you decide to apply for the Renovation Challenge after hearing about it at the Haven Conference? 

A: The Challenge sounded so exciting and I had heard more about it from past participants and kept seeing the flyer at Haven and decided to apply, even that I didn’t expect to be chosen for the competition. I’ve been wanting to create a mudroom in my home for so long and thought this was a great way to light some fire under me to get it done. 

Q: Can you share more on where you started in your process. Was it paint first, tile, design? 

A: I picked the tile first to help lead my design. I knew I wanted a darker tile for the mudroom so it didn’t show as much wear and tear given the purpose for the space.

Nicole's Mood Board Inspiration

Q: Tell us more about your tile selection, how did you land on the Basalt Herringbone mosaic?

A:  I was actually looking for a large format tile to stencil and realized with how large my space was that wasn’t going to work. Instead, I went over to Home Depot to check out some samples of Jeffrey Court tile and found the Basalt Herringbone with a light grout and I just fell in love with it! I knew that was the one in an instant.

Q: Your install process was mostly traditional and some with an adhesive — tell us about why you opted for the install you did in the mudroom. 

A: I knew time was of the essence and needed to lay the tile and grout traditionally and found an effective way to save time and have an easier install with the trim pieces. It was a commercial-grade adhesive that I knew would last a long time on an item that wouldn’t get as much wear as the floor tile itself. It was a perfect compliment. 

Even with a successful transformation, it wasn’t without a few challenges of her own that Nicole overcame to end up with a result she and her family were happy with. 

While Nicole was so excited about installing her new tile, she jumped into grouting and found a hick-up on the other side of that. 

“I knew better than to jump to grouting before I sealed the tile, with white grout nonetheless. I messed up everything so I had to go back seal everything and then grout. I’m so glad I went back to do it correctly, I love the way it turned out.”

Q: What is the number one thing you learned from the Renovation Challenge?

A: I learned that even if you think a project is too big, but you take it task by task, you can accomplish it. Sometimes it can seem debilitating but you can do it. I had those moments and when I refocused and crossed off tasks I found I made more progress. 

Q: Any advice you’d give to first-time tilers and to future Renovation Challenge participants?

A: For first timers, don’t be afraid of a tile saw. I know that sounds funny but I was afraid and totally shouldn’t have been. They are very safe and easy to use and now I love it and wish I started using much earlier, it is so much faster. I’m glad I learned how to use it for this much larger project. 

For all the future Renovation Challenge participants I’d say don’t compare yourself to others. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Your space is unique and custom to you. It’s not about them. I love my space and use it all the time and it’s all mine and it’s ok if it’s not someone’s style, because it’s mine. 

We couldn’t agree more with Nicole, it’s not about anything else than your style and personality, and we are thankful to have been a part of your design. With another season in the books we can’t wait to do all again in the Spring for Season 5, so stay tuned. 

To apply for next season click here.

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