Home Improvement Project: Mixtiles

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Best Friend and I have wanted to display our travels and our foster pups for awhile now but couldn’t find a solution that fit our parameters.
Parameters being —
  • easy
  • quick
  • quality
  • relatively inexpensive
  • relatively DIY (don’t have to hire anyone now or down the road)
  • non-college dorm room’esque yet non-frame’esque
  • can add on without much hassle* and leave it in a “in progress” state
I’m sooooooo happy with the solution we found.
I was intrigued and skeptical when I learned, somewhere on the ‘net, about Mixtiles —

Five days?! Stick and unstick?! No damage to walls?!
Yep. Delivered in four days, actually. We’ve stuck and unstuck. No damage.

Order Confirmation

Overall, it’s definitely been a process

  • narrowing down photos
  • editing some out because who has billions of dollars to spend on your billions of FAVORITES & MUST-HAVES; initially we had about 20 more tiles we had planned on ordering but when we saw the total…
  • uploading to and editing within** the app
  • waiting for delivery
  • selecting the mounting locations
  • deciding on:
    • spacing (both from top/bottom/left/right of the space and in-between each tile)
    • labeling (yes? no? how? Stickers? Labels? On the image? Attached to the image?)
    • order (yes? no? how? “Look best next to each other”? “Chronological”? ???)

But in thinking about the time and money we could’ve spent, all worth it. And a 98.7% fun process.

The only real ARGHs! were —
1) Going through all the photos initially***, especially when you have multiple opinions to consider (hiiii Best Friend, love you!). Probably less painful though still painful if it’s just you and,
2) Uploading to the app. If you’re using photos you don’t have on your phone, you have to figure out how to get them on your phone. Email, Dropbox, Google Photos, all that jazz. This ol’ fuddy duddy wished I could’ve done it on my desktop where I have everything organized. KIDS AND THEIR PHONES THESE DAYS — GET OFF MY LAWN AND TURN DOWN THAT MUSIC AND BRING ME A CHAIR SO I CAN SIT DOWN, MY BACK SPASMS ARE FLARING UP AGAIN. Once you get over the initial Only on my phone?! blerg, it’s one of those time-consuming yet “can do while bingeing The Wire” activities. And again, this is only an issue if the pics aren’t on your phone. I asked customer service about this and they said they’re working on website functionality and on making app uploading easier.
Speaking of customer service, thumbs up! Though there was an initial lag when I messaged them via the app — it seems like my messages weren’t delivered — after we got that sorted out, response time and thoroughness was great.
When the tiles first arrived, I was so giddy I had to stop myself from ripping them open. Best Friend and I enjoyed opening them together and reliving our goodness. Admittedly, when we first saw that there was no patent-pending, PhD-required technology involved in Mixtile magic but simply drugstore adhesive squares we’ve all used to illegally post Bob Marley posters in our dorm rooms, we had a split second of, “We paid what for what?!” But that quickly faded as we eagerly jumped in and was never given another thought.
Once we settled on how we would display the tiles — chronological order — we played the “lay them all out and move them around” game.
Then we had to decide about labeling.
Initially I wanted to label every tile. The pups with their names and our travels with location and year. And I thought for ease sake that I’d use actual labels that I could print on and then stick on the image. But I thought the better of that, not wanting to cover up any of the image. Instead I decided to affix a homemade label to the outside of the tile. I had some leftover stationary scraps gifted by our wonderful wedding invitation creator, so played around with a few different types. Eventually I chose a translucent paper. I experimented with how to attach it, settled on thumbtacks, and made each label bigger than I actually wanted it, so I could fold over the extra and tack that to the bottom of the tile.
Though happy with the end result, I knew I didn’t want to do this for all the tiles. Plus Best Friend and I agreed that having labels on the travel photos would take away from the (say this in a snooty voice) aesthetic. Thus, puppies get labels and trips do not.
But I still wanted to somehow communicate where and when for our travels. We have a US map and a world map that we color in every time we journey, with a key that shows what the colors mean. Stealing from that idea, we created a Mixtiles key where onlookers have to do a little brain-flexing and match up wall placement with the applicable key box.
Then we got to work.
We are not a handy people, Best Friend and I. But we do enjoy home improvement projects. Well, the ones we can actually do and finish and not ruin our new abode. The path that brought us to buying this place was one of sadness (and eventually less sadness) so every act we can take to fill these rooms with joy is another step towards lemons into lemonade. Mixtiles allowed us to feel toolbelt’ish, interior design’y, and power couple’y. And we didn’t break anything or have to SOS our handygal.
Some folks might find it unsettling to have an unfinished look. One dangling tile all by its lonesome in a row. Four tiles way too far over to the left and not centered in a space. Though I’m super anal and perfectionist and OCD and symmetry-loving, I love the unfinished look. Cause that’s what our lives are. Unfinished. In progress. To be continued.
Sure, I’d like to weigh less, pocket more money, and fly first-class every flight not just ones we travel hack. But I’ve learned in getting to a place in life where, in general, I am fulfilled beyond measure, to leave behind expectations, not worry what others think, and invite goodness into life by being open and openly imperfect.
Living a Life of Yes℠ means living unfinished.
I can’t wait for future travels and puppies. We have a spot for ‘em.

Mixtile Tips

  • Check out Pinterest and Instagram for ideas of what images to choose, and how to space and where to mount your tiles
  • YouTube has tons of Mixtile videos
  • Before you select your photos:
    • Put thought into the type of photo you choose — close-up, detail heavy, distance shot, etc. We purposefully mixed it up but could also be fun to do all of one type
    • Put thought into how they’ll look next to each other. We lucked out that our types of photo subjects were spread out, e.g. not all the food photos were in 2012 and not all the nature photos were in 2015. That would’ve bothered me.
  • Be careful with the tiles. Besides using a cloth or paper towel to press them into the wall to avoid fingerprints, when handling, be gentle. I accidentally dented one tile and can see how “chipping” an image, especially the corners, could easily happen.
  • Before you mount your tiles, put thought into how far a part they’ll be. It makes a huge visual and experiential difference. We went with about an inch in-between our travel tiles and two inches in-between our pup tiles.
  • It’s helpful to have a tool and/or another pair of eyes to ensure your tiles are straight.
  • If you’re mounting a lot of them, stop every few and stand back to make sure you like the display and that the tiles are straight. We had a few we had to fix along the way.
  • With all this straight talk, consider not being straight at all! Get creative and funky. I saw some cool purposefully uneven designs online.
  • Three tiles are $49, every additional tiles is $9. So it behoves you to order more than three at a time. One of the reasons we ordered so many and didn’t do the “let’s wait and see if we like them” game.
  • There are so many fun grouping ideas besides what we settled on —
    • wedding
    • children and pets as they age
    • family or college reunion
    • employee – student – whomever of the month
    • hobbies and interests: flowers, architecture, food, bicycles, cars…
    • what else?! If you have an idea, I’d love to hear it in the comments
  • *TIP: once mounted, don’t press really hard to ensure they’re stuck. They’re stuck. We learned the hard way that if you really press them onto the wall, they’re difficult to move. If you lightly press, not only are they relatively easy to remove, they’ll stay up.
  • **TIP: make sure you do this step. The way the app is set up, you can easily place your order without realizing you had the option to edit. And because the finished product is a square and most of your photos won’t be perfectly square, you may not like the default crop. It’s very easy to crop, you just have to make sure you do the edit step before confirming your order.
  • ***TIP: on your way home from a trip, edit your photos from said trip. And if you’re doing something like this project, choose a fave or five and drop em in a “to be printed” or the like folder. Don’t wait for weeks, months, years and then have to comb through hundreds. Sooooo much easier to get it done in the moment, while the images are still fresh. Also, LABEL ‘EM. Location and date. So you don’t have to look up that info down the road.

Project Numbers

Number of Tiles
Days Till Delivery
Cost (we took advantage of a Memorial Day sale)
Value (you know I had to do this)

Interested in your own 8×8 goodness?

For yourself or to gift? (What a fun Surprise! idea) The code CHEESEIT gets you 15% off orders. Expires August 6th. Choose “add promo code” in app. UPDATE: referral link.
If you end up creating a display of memories, tag me on social, I’d love to see it! (If you use #mixtiles, they may feature you — if being “featured” is your jam) I’m on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest.
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