I Tiled My Kitchen!!! (kind of)

Because Chewables Chicago includes healthy recipes, and because those healthy recipes are made by yours truly in my kitchen, I thought I would share with you all one of the projects I’ve been working on at home: our kitchen redo!....

Our place has been a work in progress ever since we moved in about a year ago.  While our condo is only 10 years old, there were several updates we wanted to do to make it a little less meh and a little more yeh.  To start, before moving in we stained the ho-hum maple oak wood floors a darker brown.  We similarly spruced up the maple oak mantel around our fireplace and the high beam that runs along our vaulted ceilings, painting both white to match our window and door trims.

However, phase two of our updating – tiling the kitchen – took a wee bit longer to achieve.  For starters, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do.  I spent hours at the Tile Outlet, the Merchandise Mart, Home Depot, and online.  I brought countless samples home to test drive.  I had piles of tile constantly sitting on my floor.  But despite all these efforts, none of the tiles seemed to work.  The reason, I realized, was our countertops.  I kind of hate them.  They are best described as "poop swirl brown" granite, and the multi-colors were competing (and not in a good, Olympic-style way) with every tile I brought home.  Alas, because it would be too expensive to rip the granite out and replace it with similar quality countertops, it is staying.  Sad for us.

Dealing and living with the countertops (and some very boring walls just begging for tile) took some time before it finally hit me.  The trick here was not to pick something that would compete with the countertops but rather would pull the whole kitchen together in a nice, clean look.  I went back to Home Depot and found white, super crisp looking 1" x 2" subway tiles at the bargain basement price of $4.95 a square foot (which, by the way, can still add up), and I was sold.

Now, during this year of pondering the backsplash and doing some other updating to our place, I developed an obsession healthy interest in DYI and interior decorating blogs.  One of my favorite DYI posts (and blogs in general) was Young House Love's series on installing tile in their kitchen (which you can find here).  However, as a fairly inexperienced and amateur DYI-er, and frankly because I'm afraid of the water saw, reason prevailed and I hired a handyman for the job....with the condition that he show me how to tile and let me help.

Here's the kitchen before we got started.

And here you can see what the floor looked like prior to us staining it.

Here's a couple of shots of the kitchen mid-project (yes, that's the Olympics on TV...great to DYI to!).

And here's the final result.  Because the tiles were so cheap, I was able to tile not only the backsplash but also underneath the bar, where shoes were scuffing up our paint in a very unsightly manner.

Here's a close-up where you can kind of see the new floors and backsplash.

In the end, while we fortunately did not need to completely redo our kitchen, it took 2 days…and a year to plan.  We did the floors immediately, I changed out the cabinet knobs from builder’s special to a bit more interesting a few months after we moved in, and then the tiling was completed a year later.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe such a small space requiring only a few days worth of work can take so long to do; but for me living with the space was key, and I think not rushing to get it done just to finally be finished really paid off in the end!


Filed under: Healthy Recipes

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