Tilin’ and Stylin’– Home Renovation

Tile 4

It starts like this: while cleaning the carpet, you run across a particularly stubborn thread which, after many minutes, won’t allow itself to be sucked up into the vacuum cleaner. You stop everything so that you can roll the thread into a ball, and while you’re in that bent-over position close to the carpet, you notice how awful it really is. Later that day, you snag your big toe on a section of parquet that has loosened itself from its gluey mooring. Still later, you notice nine million little slits and marks in the white kitchen linoleum that you swear weren’t there a few minutes ago.

We’d been talking about eventually tiling the entire house, a sort of back burner project, but then my sister Lois called from the tile place she works in. “Lissen, ya want tile? We got these specials goin’ and I can get ya a good price on a discontinued pattern. Call me.”

CLICK went the strings of my brain. But we needed to rationalize the main question: could we afford to tile the entire house? The deciding factors:

A. I’d spent ten days in Italy living on tile at my cousins’ houses, and walking across it in practically every church we visited. It was cool, earthy, and dramatic. That describes me to a T !

B. Allergens thrive in carpets and in parquet flooring; I am not a well person, being riddled with allergies,  and so I decided I need to be weller by adjusting my environment accordingly.

C. The President has encouraged me to stimulate the economy by buying anything I can.

~     ~     ~

So I called Lois. Then we spent some days prying old parquet from the cement slab, and cleaned everything as best as we could until the slab was as spotless as my soul. I’d placed the parquet myself years ago– nine million little six-inch squares laced with metal strips– but they came up easily with a ripper that Jon, our contractor, loaned me. RRRRRRRRRRRIP ! Parquet was flying while Kirk tried to watch Jeopardy. RRRRRRRRRRRIP! Pieces of wood ricocheted against the bathroom door while Kirk was showering and probably thinking that we were being raided. All that RRRRRRRRRRIPPPPPING is great exercise, and we ended up with hardly any blisters.

The tile arrived on two pallets which sat in the driveway for a day; when Kirk got home from work we brought them all into the house: 84 boxes, each weighing 55 pounds. We scattered them throughout the living room, and THEN eMailed Jon to tell him that the tile had arrived.

“Great!” he said. “Did you put it all on the back porch so that it’s out of our way?”

The next night the three of us moved all 84 boxes, weighing 55 pounds each, to the back porch so that it was out of our way. Carpet was ripped up and cut into manageable sections, so that the sanitation men shouldn’t have to work so hard God forbid, and then Jon started laying tile.

How impressed we were when he produced columns of figures resulting in measurements, ratios, and formulae! He determined the “keystone,” which is the first tile you place; it determines the direction and placement for all the other tiles. We had a little ceremony: Jon wrote our names and the date on the slab, spread adhesive, and then I laid the first tile. Then I went to work!

I tell you, he is such a professional– the care he puts into a project is incredible. It’s true what they say– contractors rule the world!

It’s amazing; he’s got the living room and dining area done,and soon we’ll be attacking the hallway and two of the bedrooms. It looks great, and he’s doing a fabulous job. The tiles aren’t fussy-looking; though they are new, made in Reggio nell’ Emilia, they have roughened edges and look as if they’ve been trod upon by monks and nuns for a thousand years, though it’s apparent that they removed their shoes first. They’re cool and clean and attractively stained, and they make me want to go into the kitchen and bake bread in the furnace oven. Who knew a floor could be so inspiring?

Then of course we have to paint, because the Creamsicle / blue combo that worked so well with the gray carpet just ain’t gonna work with terra cotta tile. Jon’s got piles of color samples that we’ve been happily wading though, trying to come up with a new combo– so far it looks like a tan and olive coupling, I think, because of the earth toned Herculon 1960 couch and chairs. And then the cabinets and appliances in the kitchen have to be removed so that tile can be laid throughout, which is a nice thing to do for the next people who live here– whoever they may one day be. And cabinets have to be raised a bit higher on the wall because the Frigidaire is going to be sitting a half inch higher on the tile,  therefore grazing the underside of the cabinet mounted above it… and that reminds us that we need nice new closet doors throughout, a new master shower, and some wallboard replacement.And we are still sorting and shredding and giving away things or listing them on eBay. So much to do; what possessed us to begin this during the Holidays ?

It’s nice that the President wants us to stimulate the economy… but do I have to do it all myself ?


7 responses

  1. Love It ! and when you replace the colors on the walls it’ll be like your in Italy! and trust me you will then feel the desire to get new furniture..I did..LOL

  2. Don’t stop! Keep going! Sprucing up the environment is good for the soul! I say this as someone who always stops about halfway! That causes problems! Keep going! Have I used enough exclamation points?! I guess remodeling stories do that to me! I always think I’m screaming over the whir of a circular saw! Good luck, it looks fabulous!

  3. I remember sleeping on that 1960 Herculon Burnt Orange Couch and being so hot I almost spontaneously combusted! I look forward to sleeping on the cool tiles. Like a dog. LOL! Can’t wait to see it in person. Someday.

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