Thursday, February 9, 2012

A plan set into motion

(originally written January 5, 2011)
Well folks, we finally came to some decisions on the kitchen. After living here for 5 months we’ve finally decided on the backsplash and countertop.
The countertop will be this black granite tile:
Photo from the Home Depot website
Yeah, I know you can’t *really* see what it’s supposed to look like and it looks just like a big, black box on the screen. The tile is called “absolute black” and it has little flecks of charcoal in it. On the countertop it looks really glossy and pretty. We had discussed going with “galaxy black”, but that was really flashy and we thought something subtle would look better. On the up side. the absolute black was available at the home improvement store, so if I needed more I could just drive down the street and grab more if we need it instead of having to wait and order it.
Our cabinets are a dark cherry color and I’ll be honest, I was VERY hesitant to go with black countertops. I’m not really a fan of dark colors, but Garry is. Originally I wanted to paint the cabinets white and install glass backsplash tile. That was very quickly vetoed and since I didn’t want Garry to hate being in the kitchen, I figured I’d work with what we have.
Our current countertop and backsplash is cream ceramic tile. Yep, the whole thing. It’s also ancient.
The budget for doing any renovation is pretty much “as cheaply as possible” while still improving the home. That’s pretty hard to do.
So when we thought of countertop we considered all the basic options:
Slab granite/marble: Okay, we didn’t really consider this, but we looked into the cost just out of curiosity… no way was that happening, waaaay too expensive for us. Plus, that kind of upgrade is a little too much for our modest home. It wouldn’t add nearly as much value.
Solid surface (formica, corian etc): These seemed a little more like a reasonable idea, but it was still ridiculously expensive. We have quite a bit of countertop (25 sq ft) and it was still more than we could really afford.
Concrete: We debated over this one for a while. I LOVED the idea of concrete countertop and we were almost set to buy a little starter pack to do a “test run” before taking on the whole project. When I read through the step-by-step process I realized that I just don’t have it in me to spend 2-weeks on *possibly* making a countertop. Let’s face it folks, it was too much time/money into a project I’ve never done before to risk it.
Laminate: There are some really inexpensive laminate options out there, and overall they were the lowest cost compared to all of our other options, but I just think they look cheap – and it reminds me of every apartment I’ve ever lived in – time to upgrade a bit.
So we ended up back to tile. I love granite. I really really really do. It’s a sturdy and resistant material and buying granite tile is MUCH cheaper than slab. Garry and I have both laid tile before so it’s not a project out of our realm of expertise, and at most we’ll be without a countertop (during the demo and building phase) for a long weekend.
We actually kind of did this a little backwards. See, since the grant renovations will be covering the installation of our dishwasher, we knew we’d have to get the countertop finished shortly afterwards – meaning we’d have to have all the materials on hand before the work began.  
The backsplash could wait a little while longer – even though we would have to do all of the demolition at once. But, because I really would just like to get it all done I figure we should just order everything we need now and get around to it after the dishwasher has been installed.
Here is our backsplash tile: 
Photo from
I know, don’t you just LOVE it! 
I think it will look awesome! The pebbles will give it a nice, rustic, “hearthy” feel to the kitchen. Once the room is painted light aqua like the living room it will really open up.
We’re planning on using a darker grout (so it will kind of look like the photo above) so it goes with the countertop better. I will say – this tile is not cheap. $11 a square foot! For our tiny budget, sure we could’ve gone with something much less expensive, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and these hearts want pebble tile!
The lightness of the pebbles will also lighten up the black countertops since the granite is reflective. We’re also planning on adding some push lights under the cabinets (I know, but it’s much cheaper than installing something that requires a switch) so I can actually see what I’m doing and so I don’t cut a finger off. But against that inky, black granite, my pasty white fingers show up rather nicely.
We’re also thinking of adding some sort of medallion or centerpiece to go over the stove. There is an amazing website called Earthsong Tiles that carves celtic knotwork on tiles. Right. Up. Our. Alley. (Picture me doing a giddy little dance in my office chair)
Unfortunately, they are VERY expensive. Even the little 2″ tiles are $6 a piece! Granted, they are completely worth it because they are gorgeous.
They also have an option where they can make custom tiles as well. This is where I nearly fell over. I’d like to consider myself an artist (sort of) and I have a pattern that I put on everything – my 6-point white lily.
I don't wanna work, I just wanna bang on my drum all day... 
Yeah, I made that!
I’m even planning on having it tattooed on my shoulder this spring – that is how much I love this design.
So, the thought is right now that maybe I can get something maybe a little more elaborate made in a 9″ medallion. I think that could potentially look really cool.
We’re still mulling on all of that knowing that it would be very much not cheap (but incredibly awesome and personal) to have something like that made. The other option is to buy one of their pre-existing tiles and use that.  
We’ll see about that. Once I have a full design drawn up I think we’ll at the very least ask them how much it would cost. Maybe it will be less since we’re doing the design work? Who knows. Did I mention they have a cat tile? Yeah. I’m in love with it. Garry thinks I’m a total dork.
In other news, it’s kind of a sad day here at the ranch. My mom emailed me to let me know that a dog we used to have (she was placed in a new home when my mom retired her from breeding) now has cancer and will probably have to be put down in a month or so. A lot of folks think that dog breeders are heartless and “only in it for the money” and I can say that is the furthest thing from the truth in my family. All of our dogs are like family to us and are treated with love and respect. My parents only have so much time and space so when a dog is retired from breeding (usually by the time they are 6 years old) she finds a new, loving home for them to live out the rest of their lives.
For us it makes the transition a little easier. Watching a loved one age and pass on to the next realm is hard, even when we completely understand and respect that it’s a natural proces of the universe.
However, even though it makes it easier to be removed a few years, it still hurts. It will still draw tears and for a moment bring you back to being a child again when you knew or understood nothing of death and why it’s necessary in this world.
The last year has brought a lot of this with our dogs. It is the cycle of things – one is born, lives, grows old and dies. Having it happen one right after the other is hard though.
I find it funny that when Garry and I bought our house in August, one of our dogs passed away. My brother and his wife are set to close on a house at the end of this week and a similar thing happens. The Universe tells me that they are allowing themselves to move on into Spirit form to protect our homes. At least, that’s what I’d like to think.
Sorry that took a slightly bizarre turn. A lot has been on my mind lately.