Friday, March 03, 2006

FWIW: tiles, grout, paint, colors, whatever makes you happy!

Felicia over at The WebSorceress Cooks posted this interesting article about her new kitchen and her desire to add some color to it. The article has a series of pics of her house when it was empty, and it looks to have some very nice space! I don't consider myself a design professional by any stretch of the imagination, but my interest was piqued when I noticed that the tiles on her backsplash look a lot like the colors of the tiles in one of my bathrooms.

Our house was built by a builder for himself and his wife. It has a lot of lovely features, with lots of wood and ceramic tile and big windows and a big brick fireplace in the living room that rises all the way up to the 2-story cathedral ceiling. All these natural product provide lots of textural contrast, so we've decorated with pretty quiet colors, for the most part. An architect who visited once to help us think about expanding our living room commented that the colors created a very peaceful feeling. I didn't consciously set out to do that, and didn't realize that's what we had achieved, but I looked around the room with new eyes when she said that. What a nice compliment! The rooms have a very comfortable feel about them, and I still love our little house after 14 years of living here.

Which is not to say that there aren't some things I get a little itchy to change everyone once in a while, and the ceramic tile in the upstairs bathroom (left) is one of them.

The house was built in the early 80's, but the tile colors reminded me a lot of the "earth tone" trend from the 70's. Tan tile kitchen counter and floors, with dark brown grout. Light tan tile and grout in this bathroom. Not really my cup of tea. Dark brown patterned tile in the downstairs bathroom. Really not my cup of tea!

About 8 years ago when the Huz was out of town for a little over a week, I surprised him by remodeling the downstairs bathroom completely. The tiles there were the most egregious. They darkened our tiny bathroom beyond belief. I was So. Incredibly. Tired. ... of looking at their dreariness, that I replaced them with WHITE! White walls, white countertop, white floors. Yup, white floors. I knew at the time I would regret that, and I did, but I thirsted for white and the thirst had to be slaked. I added some cobalt accent tiles and a school bus orange color on the walls, and this is now a doggone bright place to do a little reading, I must say.

The next tiles that need to be replaced are in our kitchen. The tiles aren't awful, but the thick dark brown grout, besides being kind of unsightly in my opinion, is impossible to keep clean and is starting to crumble, besides. I haven't settled on the color and style of countertop that I want in there, though, so it will have to wait. We want something that is as impervious to heat as ceramic tiles; we've really enjoyed being able to set down a hot pan anywhere in my kitchen. And it needs to be easy to clean, but not show every loose crumb. Nothing shiny. [I'm considering acid-etched concrete. Does anyone have any experience with that? I've seen some pictures that look like you can achieve a few nice colors with the acid.] Anyway, over time I've learned that I need to let these things just percolate around in my subsconscious for a while. One day, voila! The answer will be there. I just need to be patient. Isn't it cool how that works?

The least objectionable tiles are in the upstairs bathroom. I'd still like to replace them because brown just isn't my thang, but they're livable. At least, they are now. For the longest time, I tried to get other colors to work with them. I am a lover of all things yellow, so I added some yellow paint in there that, shall we say, co-existed with the tan peacably. They didn't really talk to each other, but they didn't fight, either. I added some light sage green as a mediator, and it worked out OK. But nobody was really happy, including me.

I also tried white. White paint, white towels, white bathmat. Sort of trying to overcome the tan with blindingness. It was ... OK. Just OK.

Finally, I gave in to the essential brownness of it all. I decided if I painted the walls a medium tan, and did all black accents, it might actually feel pulled together. And what do you know ... it does! As it turned out, I had lots of accent thingies for the counter, and a fabulous print for the wall, just waiting to go in there. With black towels, and happy little black squares mimicking accent tiles sort of crawling along the wall above the wall tiles, I do believe I've hit upon the scheme I'll stick with. Third time's the charm.

Until I get someone in there with a sledgehammer. :o)

So, Felicia, I don't know if any of this little walk down memory lane is of any use to you at all as you consider your options, but thanks for asking for input. It's been fun to share this little corner of my house with you, and with everyone else. And I wish you the best of luck and much happiness in the choice you finally settle on!


Cyndi said...

I remember the nightmare that was title in my house down the mountain. It was white, and it was on our kitchen countertops. Imagine trying to keep THAT clean. I don't think the builders planned for people who really cooked. I was so glad to move and come up to wooden countertops in this cabin, though I'd much rather have something solid (like granite). Coriander (isn't that a brand name as well as an herb?) will do. Great post. It was enjoyable reading!

Paz said...

Your home sounds cozy and peaceful, the way it should be!


Paz said...

P.S. Congrats on the new location.


PatL said...

Hi, Cyndi, thanks for the post! White kitchen counters. Yikes. It reminds me of a post I read recently by a woman who does cooking for other families. She goes into these fabulous huge kitchens, with expensive appliances and under-counter refrigerators and all the rest, and opens the cabinets to find not a single spice in them. Nothing but drinks in the fridge. These folks have designer kitchens you (I assume) and I would die for, and they don't use them. Where's the justice, I ask you!! Not that they don't have any right, I certainly don't mean that. But wouldn't it be nice if it were spread around a bit!!

Anyway, thanks again for stopping by! I'll check out your blog too.

PatL said...

Hey, Paz, always nice to hear from you. And to know at least one person is reading my blog!! LOL

Ceramic wall tiles said...

I love the tan walls. Different from white, yet not extreme.

Good choice.

I am a fan of grey walls as well.

Claire :)