I feel like I’m just going to start every post about the kitchen renovation the same way: These photos are terrible. I’m sorry. The good news is that they make last week’s terrible photos look downright professional by comparison! I was so engrossed in the tile work to bother walking 15 feet to get my camera, and low-light iPhone photos…grain city. Oh well. I threw some adjustment layers, borders and type on them, which I’m pretty sure is the secret to good blog photography. (No?)
It may not look like I got that much done, but I actually tiled for more hours this week than last. There were a lot of cuts to make in the edge tiles! We did finally give in and buy a cheap-o wet tile saw, but it made us feel like we were either going to lose fingers or burn the house down, so we’re sticking with a guillotine-style manual cutter and nippers for now. That takes forever.
As you can see, I’m still avoiding that tricky area around the windowsill. I think I need to get one of those little hand-saws for tile that looks like a coping saw. That’s an actual thing, right? I haven’t seen them at Lowe’s/Home Depot, but I’ll look at a tile store next weekend. There are only a few areas in the room where the cuts are really detailed, so doing them by hand seems reasonable enough. I’d rather cut the tile than under-cut the sill.
The other thing that took F-O-R-E-V-E-R was tiling this little strip of wall between the pantry and the kitchen entryway. The logistics of laying out 6″ tile in a running bond pattern in a 7 ½″ space made my head hurt. I opted to set the whole section off-center to avoid (a) tiny strips of tile on either side, or (b) having some kind of weird centered geometric pattern effect once the dark grout goes in. I think it looks just fine. Please don’t tell me if it doesn’t.
The eagle-eyed obsessives in the audience may have noticed that this little strip is also one row lower than the height of the tile on wall to its left. That’s because of the electrical switch. Call me lazy, but I really don’t want to have to open the wall, deal with a fire stop, move the electrical box and replaster the old hole just for the sake of one row of tile. I’m surprisingly OK with this non-solution.
Aside from updating my tiling progress, I wanted to share my two big renovation rules—both of which I made sure to stick to this weekend.
1. Have a “renovation outfit” that fits you and looks OK.
After seven years of renovating the same house, I can tell you the least motivating thing I face on renovation days is the prospect of having to change into ill-fitting old jeans and a giant t-shirt with a stupid logo on it. Gross clothes make you feel, well, gross. You can roll your eyes all you want, but not feeling hideous while you’re ripping paneling off a wall in a filthy basement goes a long way. You can buy a pair of jeans (Diva skinnies are my go-to jeans for dirty work), a soft t-shirt and a lightweight hoodie from Old Navy for less than $50. You don’t have to worry about them getting dirty or stained, and they’ll last through years of renovation projects. Worth it.
2. Periodically stop and clean up your workspace.
I can’t stress this enough. A messy environment makes for messy work when you’re talking about stuff like tiling and wallpapering, because you’ll be getting thinset and grout and paste and paper scraps all over the place, and chances are good that you’ll wind up ruining something or other as a result. Working in a mess just makes everything so much harder, anyway—you can’t spread out easily when you need to measure something big, and you’re constantly stepping around (or in) debris. I force myself to stop what I’m doing every now and then and clean up. I bag up trash, I move tools I’m done with to their storage spots, I organize screws and nails, I sweep (and vacuum, if necessary) and I wash my hands. It seems like pain to stop in the middle of a project, but again…worth it.