Last spring, I spent many happy hours considering different placement options for subway tile because I know how to have a good time (denial: the renovator's best friend.)
Why was I doing this? Because I blindly picked white subway tile for the master bath shower at the condo. All the magazines were showing it and everybody I knew who was renovating was putting it into their bathrooms. It's timeless and classic and a huge step up from a prefab stall at the building store.
Then Ray pointed out things I already knew but hadn't assembled in my mind.
a/ I hate cleaning and
b/ subway tile produces more grout than any other option and
c/ grout gets nasty if you don't scrub it regularly.
Since I wasn't planning to hire a cleaning team as part of our renovation budget, we put 12 x 24" tiles into the shower at the condo. And since it was by then too late to return the tile to the store, we decided the subway tile will be perfect for the backsplash in our house-kitchen. Also probably the condo kitchen, when we get around to replacing that, because there is a LOT of subway tile. Enough to waste on crazy chevron layout patterns, even.
In related news, a couple of months ago Lynn put me onto Maria Killam's blog, where you can get some very firm talk about colour undertones and how to make sure your interior decor looks right with the least possible effort (hint: make sure the undertones match.) As for many lay renovators, Maria's words might as well be heaven-sent because she makes it really, really simple not to mess up even if you are not hiring a decorator as part of your renovation budget.
Does it gall you to think of hiring a decorator for your home? I mean, crafty folk like us are creative people with established daily patterns and personal preferences - shouldn't we just automatically get it all by ourselves? Even after the lucky escapes I had on the condo - and we did mess up the shower stall at the end because I didn't look at the replacement tile vertically in the room after the lighting was in place and the floor tile was down* - I am still a bit undecided on this. I still feel like I would be a failure if I admitted I need help. But I also recognize that a truly experienced and well-trained decorators has skills I could not begin to match.
* it turns out that when you don't put your vertical tile onto your horizontal tile in the lit-up room where they will be coexisting for the next twenty years, instead of just in the dimly-lit tile store when the samples are still on boards and you're rushing to your next appointment and feeling cost-conscious, is that you choose a beige wall tile for a rich grey floor. Who knew? thank goodness for the miracle boundary of shower curtains.
Anyhoo, after reading quite a lot, and thinking Oooo! I get to look at paint colours soon! because I am so sick of looking at quartz countertop samples and not being able to decide what to choose - I want black, and Pete wants red, and we both think white would be the most sensible - I bought all Maria's stuff. The e-book about how to choose white, and the e-book about how to choose all the other colours, and the giant painted colour samples for Benjamin Moore paints so I don't repeat the condo shower disaster. If she was doing her live training in Toronto this year I would be taking that too, even though I would have no professional use for it. I have learned the hard way that mistakes are expensive.
Also the kitchen designer from our supplier of choice is coming by on Friday to go through the options and give me a quote, and I would like to save time by having just a clue what colour the cabinets should be sporting when all is said and done.
And guess what? Thanks to the miracle of e-reading, I now know I don't get to choose the cabinet colour, because we chose tile first. The fastest and simplest way for me to get this right without professional help (from a decorator or from a therapist, heh) is for the cabinets, and indeed the still-unchosen countertop, to match the undertone of the subway tile. Which turns out to be off-white, by the way, if only slightly so. I didn't notice that in the terrible light at the tile store.
Thankfully, I quite like the subway tile now that I've spent so much time with it, and I'm pretty sure, if not yet prepared to be completely sure, that it will go just fine with Cloud White. Cloud White is a stock colour at the kitchen place and is offered at the base price, and that will be great news if it looks right because we are ordering a LOT of cabinetry.
It was a surprise to realize that my colours are even more restricted than that, thanks to the tile. Because we won't have space for a china cabinet in our new but narrow dining room - hey, at least it won't be doubling as a living room any more - we are having built-in cabinetry around the fireplace complete with more of the quartz countertop. That means the kitchen colours will be all over the dining room too. And also, all over the living room - because a good chunk of countertop and cabinetry will be facing into that room as well, in the form of a giant pass-through from the baking area and bookshelves that back onto the counter-flush cabinets for my mixer and heavy vintage Pyrex mixing bowls.
I am pretty sure we can rule out the red countertop option, aren't you? Poor Pete. And poor me, because the expensive marble tile I dreamed of putting around the fireplace will just look awful with the kitchen stuff I forgot would be butting up against it. Forced cost savings, I guess.
At least one decision is easy:
Classic subway layout: we all like it best.
I'm off tomorrow for one last summer day trip that will hopefully feature some vintage wool blanket purchases, and I fear that between that and the window order I'm still trying to finalize, and the meeting with Andy from the kitchen store, this will be my only post this week after all. Thanks for your patience guys. I really hoped to get back to normal this week! but next week, they are guaranteed to because I refuse to put off my love of autumn a minute longer and as we all know, autumn is for knitting.
Take care and I'll see you again as soon as ever I can!