A Globally Inspired Home With Sarah Gallo

Welcome to another exciting episode of Tile Trends by Tile Club! Today, we're thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Sarah Gallo, famously known as the 'Five Foot Traveler.' Sarah is an accomplished social media influencer who has built her brand around lifestyle wellness, global travel, and most recently, crafting a globally inspired home.


A Globetrotting Lifestyle

Sarah is a globetrotter, having set foot in an impressive 117 countries to date. Her passion for exploring new places and imbibing different cultures is truly inspiring. It's a privilege to see young women like Sarah embracing the world with such gusto and positivity.

However, her journey to this point wasn't always smooth sailing. Sarah had a debilitating fear of flying for 10 years, which made travel a significant challenge. But a transformative study abroad experience in Florence, Italy, led her to confront this fear through hypnotherapy. Within three weeks of landing in Florence, she knew her life was destined for a course change.

Photo Courtesy Sarah Gallo, thefivefoottraveler.com

Birth of The Five Foot Traveler

This epiphany came to her during a train ride from Florence to Siena. It was then that she decided to make travel a central part of her life, even though she wasn't sure how she'd achieve it.

Inspired by her experience, Sarah decided to study abroad a second time in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She planned to graduate early and committed to maintaining a travel blog as part of her scholarship. That was the first iteration of the Five Foot Traveler, which was initially more personal and shared with NYU faculty and students.

Her time in Florence and Buenos Aires opened up a world of opportunities and experiences. It wasn't just about visiting different countries; it was about immersing herself in diverse cultures, understanding different languages, and allowing these experiences to shape her journey.

In our next installment, we'll delve deeper into how Sarah's love for travel has influenced her home décor decisions, specifically how she has used Tile Club's stone look porcelain tile collection to infuse her living spaces with a globally inspired aesthetic. Read on for more exciting insights from the Five Foot Traveler!

Homeward Bound: A Global Citizen Returns

Even with a decade of travel and a desire to buy property abroad, Sarah ended up purchasing a home next to her childhood house. This decision was influenced by her growing realization of the importance of family and the comforting familiarity of home. She has always known that if she was going to settle down, she wanted to incorporate elements from her global travels into her home design.

Sarah set out to design her home to reflect her experiences around the world. She sought to create a living space that embodied the same sense of peace and comfort that she found while traveling. Her goal was to strike a balance that allowed her to still travel without feeling like she had to give up on the brand she had built over the years. Her home needed to be a place where she could be content and at peace, yet still remind her of the many places she had visited.

Building a Globally Inspired Home: A Hands-On Experience

When it came to renovating her house, Sarah was involved in every aspect of the process. She was instrumental in designing rooms, selecting interior design aesthetics, choosing tiles, and deciding on hardware.

Check out the main bathroom reveal by clicking the photo above!

This was, in many ways, similar to her approach to traveling. She had a vision for the end result, an understanding of what she loved and disliked, and a keen eye for detail. These skills, which had been honed during her years of travel, served her well as she tackled the task of creating her globally inspired home.

Coastal Vibes: A Nod to Australia

When asked about the cultures or aesthetics that have influenced her home design, Sarah described her affinity for the coastal atmosphere. Despite not being a fan of sand, she found tranquility in the rhythmic crashing of waves against the shore, a sentiment that became ingrained in her during her stay in Australia.

She decided to bring this sense of calm into her home, opting for a coastal vibe in her interior design. However, finding the right color palette proved challenging. Sarah wanted to incorporate the color blue, reminiscent of the ocean, but struggled to find the perfect shade that wouldn't overwhelm her living space.

Her solution? Tile.

Sarah opted for our Emporio Green Onyx Stone Look tile paired with its porcelain mosaic version for the shower floor. This stunning green and blue porcelain tile is designed to mimic the luxurious aesthetics of stone and marble. Not only does the tile give her bathrooms a beautiful, wave-like appearance reminiscent of the beach, but the porcelain material is also easy to maintain and much more affordable than marble.

Channeling the Bermuda Beaches: Pink Sand Aesthetics

In another bathroom, Sarah took a bold step, choosing our Emporio Pink Onyx Porcelain tile. Despite her initial reservations about using pink and gold in her decor - colors she hadn't favored previously - she was intrigued by the potential of the tile and decided to give it a try. The pink sand aesthetic of the tile reminded her of a memorable trip to Bermuda, adding a personal touch to the design.

To balance the femininity of the pink tile, she paired it with a deep navy double vanity and matching mirrors. This combination resulted in a stunning coastal vibe that complemented the master bathroom while providing a unique ambiance.

This bathroom became their primary one for the first two months of living in their new home while their master bathroom was being completed. The experience of living in this "pink bathroom" turned out to be a pleasant surprise, reinforcing Sarah's belief in her interior design instincts.

See how this bathroom went from drab to fab by clicking the photo above!

Interestingly, this bathroom transformation was ignited by a casual suggestion from a contractor. This unforeseen yet inspiring change in plans resulted in a guest bathroom that Sarah is proud to share with visitors. The guest bathroom exudes a sense of luxury and comfort, reminiscent of bathrooms found in the world's most high-end hotels. Sarah was keen to integrate the luxurious elements she appreciated from her global travels into this space. She is notably proud of the quality and appeal of the tiles that were used, which she believes surpasses those found in many renowned establishments.

As fascinating as the outcome may be, Sarah also shared the gritty reality of the renovation process, illustrating the 'good, the bad, and the ugly'. Contrary to her initial belief that she would be an exception, she experienced the common challenges of renovation, regardless of her detailed planning and continuous onsite presence.

The project commenced smoothly with straightforward demolition and framing stages. Unfortunately, that was the end of the easy phase. From there on, Sarah faced multiple obstacles that tested her patience and adaptability.

Lessons in Hiring Contractors: Quality Checks and Supervision

Sarah stressed the importance of thoroughly vetting contractors before signing them up for any project. She shared her own unfortunate experience where she was presented with one person at the time of contract signing only to later find out that the actual work was being done by an entirely different company.

Miscommunications and oversights led to several setbacks in her project. Notably, the plumbers forgot to run water lines to the new toilet room and also messed up the height of the plumbing for all the vanities across three bathrooms. On the day the vanities were supposed to be installed, all the walls had to be reopened and the plumbing adjusted, adding unnecessary stress and delays to the project.

The Perils of Tiling: Uneven Layout and Broken Tiles

The challenges didn't end there. During the tile installation, some tiles were broken and others were laid unevenly. Despite the contractors covering the costs of the broken tiles, these incidents still caused significant delays.

Sarah, being detail-oriented and timeline-focused, found these delays and the constant need for adjustments quite frustrating. She finally decided to move into the house by the end of March, despite it still being a construction zone.

The final hurdles were improper installation of the shower door glass and issues with the grout. Yet, despite the numerous challenges and frustrations, Sarah emphasized the importance of staying diligent, asking questions, and pointing out issues.

Even with all the frustrations, Sarah assures that the end result was absolutely worth the ordeal. The final product was everything she envisioned, albeit with a few minor adjustments still needed. Despite the ongoing tweaks and fixes, she derives joy from her space every day. She celebrates the fact that the final product reflects her personality and travel experiences, making it her globally-inspired home.

The journey wasn't smooth, but it taught her valuable lessons about the reality of renovation projects.

Reflections and Lessons: DIY Versus Hiring Contractors

As they delved deeper into the conversation, Lindsay asked Sarah if, given her experiences, she would have chosen a more DIY approach had she to do it all over again. Or was she ultimately glad that she chose to work with contractors, despite the ensuing chaos?

Sarah emphasized that they had undertaken a large project, for which she felt grateful to have contractors, regardless of the complications and hurdles that came along.

Interestingly, Sarah and her family did handle a substantial part of the project themselves – the demolition. They managed to remove the old built-in tub, the shower, and the old vanities on their own. This initiative not only saved them time but also reduced the cost of the project.

Sarah and her fiancée, Mark, are excited about this powder bath renovation featuring our Emporio White Onyx Gemstone Porcelain Tiles! Check out the start to finish process by clicking the photo above.

However, when it came to more technical aspects like framing, creating a double shower, a toilet room, and installing new vanities, Sarah felt relieved to have hired professionals. They also had to alter the plumbing significantly. The decision to hire contractors wasn't only about the technicalities of these tasks but also about balancing the cost and time it would take to learn and do these things themselves versus having them done by professionals.

Finding the Balance: Recognizing DIY Limits

Sarah pointed out that while they do take on DIY projects where they can, they're also aware of their limits. Despite the complex renovation project, they aren't scared to try new things. In fact, Sarah's fiancé feels inspired to learn tiling and grouting after this experience.

Even though a significant renovation project can be quite challenging, Sarah is glad she hired professionals to handle the major aspects of the job. However, she emphasized the importance of being on-site throughout the project to monitor progress and manage any issues that may arise.

Sarah Gallo's global-inspired home truly embodies the essence of her remarkable travels. It's a testimony to how one's experiences around the world can translate into a beautifully curated living space. From the ocean-inspired porcelain tiles to the cherished souvenirs strategically placed, each element tells a story. But remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg! If you're eager to dive deeper into Gallo's journey, the design choices she made, and how she's fused her adventures into her home decor, you should definitely tune in to our full podcast.  Click here to listen to the podcast now and embark on a fascinating journey through a globally inspired home.

Collaborator: Sarah Gallo, The Five Foot Traveler

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