I wish I could live in a house that I knew would be the only one for the rest of my life. I’d immediately fix it up enough so that it would be safe, not too smelly, not extremely drafty, and visually appealing enough for the time being. Then I’d wait to come across the perfect things and work around them – a mint green double sink with double drainboards? I’d design the whole kitchen around it. Ditto with the same in the bathroom with a green pedestal sink (which is fairly easily obtainable). And bonus points for having a house the right age for a separate clawfoot tub and shower stall… I’d wait for the perfect sized vintage/antique built-ins to show up in the salvage yard until we had a house full of nooks and crannies and only needed a few pieces of upholstered furniture for the center of the room. And I’d consider the thing a lifetime project that gets better and better with time and age as most things I love do.
(Of course my real dream would be to find an old house entirely untouched by decades of other’s “improvements,”except for newer wiring…)
But I’ve felt a sense of urgency in our last two home projects – we’re both in somewhat precarious fields full of fluctuating budgets, management whims, and soft money. My personal mantra is along scout lines in that a house should always be prepared for immediate sale if a sudden onslaught of financial ruin should befall us. I am overly skittish about such things, but I identify far closer to a depression-era mindset rather than our current one of debt and giant crap houses full of expensive soulless crap.
But it’s also because we’ve seen so many houses during our last house hunt and watched too many trashy home shows that set my teeth to grind because of other’s overall lack of what – planning? Aesthetic sense? Care? People spend so much money to have a “showcase” kitchen and then have bedrooms with missing radiators and broken windows or serious foundation issues that should have taken up most of that ugly new kitchen budget. Or a room that is nearly finished but for some missing trim pieces, or fresh paint on the walls, but a stained ceiling and the whole thing looks worse than it is for it.
In my making stuff life, I leave far more unfinished, or in a state of I-haven’t-finished-it-yet-but-will-someday. But in our last two houses, I like to wrap up the details on a project before changing focus. But this last time around, I’m not sure what happened. We let a few easy finishing touches languish – partly from indecision, partly from other things demanding attention, and partly from forces unknown.
This threshold on the half bath took over a year and a half to be laid. We bought it after doing the tiling, so I was waiting to put it in until we were doing another tiling project, which also took over a year and a half.
We wanted the kitchen to have mostly tiled walls. But then we wanted a functional kitchen faster. I knew I was going to put in a tile back splash, but we didn’t immediately know what height or which particular tile it would be. I bought some samples and enough of the smaller subway mosaic sheets to do a low band along the counter or a section just around the window, so we painted the walls except in the one place where we knew with certainty that there would be tile. And then I stared at the ugly naked spot every day for over a year and a half. But then, I really didn’t – I looked out the window and truly didn’t see the ugly naked spot anymore.
But I was done chasing splashes threatening to flow behind the sink and leaving out ratty old rolled towels to absorb their path, so I declared it would end before the year was out. We decided on the easiest layout, N went out for more tile (and yes, they changed since I originally bought them – about 1/8″ thicker) and more mastic for the last foot at the last minute.
I think I’ll always choose white subway tile in the kitchen – I like that several versions are available and cheap these days but will cringe when the masses of trend zombies declare it dated. And I’ll beat that dead horse again of my belief in only putting in semi-permanent stuff in a house that is appropriate to its age. Yes, the white subway tile is a little outdated for a house from the early 1950s, but I can’t stomach powder blue and pink dammit.
We lost our tile spacers in the move I guess – oddly, we still have the can that they were stored in, but they aren’t in it now – but some cut-up pieces of resilient floor samples worked perfectly.
We wanted a thin black line at the top, but thin black tiles that are glazed on the top edge, or are a narrow bullnose are not to be had unless specially ordered and bought with lots of money – I could somewhat justify spending it because the whole project was very affordable, but I was also fine with the wider black bullnose, so that’s what we went with in the end.
And the whole thing – tiled, grouted, sealed, and caulked took less than a week – and it’s made such a huge difference. I didn’t realize how much the un-doneness of the kitchen actually bothered me after all.
(And yes, I’ve screwed the switchplate back on, as well as junked it back up with the dish drainer and canisters and radio and…)