Monday, April 2, 2012

Changing Plans

Years ago I fell in love with some green Italian marble, really deep green, nice polish. I brought home a box. Only 10 one-foot squares. Only 80 lbs.

My kitchen didn't have enough storage, so we hit the do-it-yourself store, brought home some top cabinets to install across under the dining room window at floor height, a nice oak front which Paul stained to match the rest of the wood. A built-in buffet, if you will, complemented by more high cabinets on each side of the window. A couple spacers, a hole for the vent from the furnace, a slab of plywood across the top, and we were ready for the marble.

And we were ready for the marble. Hey, we were ready....

Need I mention it never got permanently installed? Sure, it got laid out, eventually, and some bits of millwork got laid between tiles to act a substitute for grout, but no adhesive was used, no front put on. When a plant in the window got tipped over, we could easily pick up the tiles, wash them off, and replace. It was kinda beautiful and kinda ugly.

For years.

Part of the issue was nothing quite fit. It was "good-enough" - no it wasn't! - and so it sat.

With the new house in Arizona to clean up and decorate, I started casting about for ideas - read that "excuses" - for taking the marble tiles down there for a project. Ten sq. ft. of marble is not quite the right size for anything. Since Steve and I have been browsing through the tile sections of stores, it didn't escape our attention that mosaic tiles are quite the thing these days. We looked at several ideas for incorporating them into a future floor tile design for the three rooms where we will be replacing filthy carpeting in with tiles. The budget says carpet comes out immediately, tiles in... later sometime.

Suddenly something clicked. I knew where to use the green marble! And, how to make it work.

In the Arizona room, sometimes called the first lanai, sits a gas fireplace. On either side of the chimney, from mantle to ceiling, are wood panels painted a very ugly black. I could get some thin plywood, cut a piece to fit each spot, hit a local tile store for more marble in, say, green with white or white with green, and different sizes, and custom make a decorative piece to install in each spot. It's going to be the green room anyway, getting the green Persian rug, the green futon, etc. Make a couple pieces of tile art to accent it. Cool!

That leaves this house and a serious need for a top to the buffet. (Just like it's been for years, actually.) So tonight I hit Home Depot with an eye to some different kind of project to finish the thing off - finally!

My initial idea was going with neutral one-foot tiles with mosaic pieces as accents and space fillers. Nothing I saw inspired me, not in neutral colors. Needing a front piece for a finishing edge led me to look at those selections of tile offering a match, but they were all for larger tiles. Wouldn't fit. And Yikes! $11.00+ a running foot! There were lovely selections in the custom order section. Lovely prices to match as well. C'mon, guys, the rest of the counters in this house are formica. Let's not get carried away.

I left to go look at the millwork to see about a wood front edge, but they were unfinished, and nothing really fit the bill as I envisioned it. And when I get that mental image all thought out in my head, it's pretty hard to budge me. On the aisle next to the ceramic tiles was the laminates, and I rode my shopping cart on a stroll through there just to see what we didn't pick for the house. Under the flooring they had pieces of all kinds of milled and finished thresholds. Hmmm.... Eureka! I found the perfect one, some kind of a reducer for carpeted areas bordering laminated ones. Sitting vertically rather than horizontally, it would be perfect for the buffet front edge, and they had some in what my eye said would be a perfect match for our oddball fruitwood wood stain, and in oak, to boot.

Heartened, I went back to the tile aisle. This time what caught my eye was a set of little glass mosaic squares labeled iridescent. Huh? Really? White/green, intriguing but no. Brown/copper, better. Green/copper! Wow! This was it! The tiny squares should solve all the it-doesn't-fit-right issues, and the colors would be perfect blending in with the green walls and fruitwood stain cabinets. But I needed to find a ceramic to go with them so I had an excuse to use them.

And I did. But it was a surprise. What I thought at first I liked, I also found in 6" squares. I liked those even better. Instead of having the mosaic being the background, it just became the main field with the 6" tiles interspersed in a random pattern as an accent. There was a half box of the ceramic bundled together, and I couldn't use a full forty of them anyway, not in this small a project.

With a little help from a friendly clerk, I got the right kind of adhesive for glass tiles, and picked out a grout color as well. Unfortunately, the grout I liked only comes in large bags there, so she suggested I shop around and see if I can locate a smaller quantity somewhere. It needs to be somewhat light and bring out the copper in the glass as well as that color in the ceramic.

Toting it all home and laying it out, I still love the idea and the colors. Now to get Paul to do that last bit of work on the cabinets....

I'll give him two weeks. That way I'll have the taxes done - or else! - and can devote a weekend to this job.

No comments: