Saturday, November 22, 2008

Or, You Can Just Cut The Counter

After nearly 2 months of living with WalMart Classic Rooster vinyl tablecloths tacked to the sub-counter of my kitchen we are getting tile! Not just tile, but beautiful gloss 8x8 inch white tile that stretches from one end of the counters to the other, up the backsplash and across the window sill. Ahhhh....

Of course, as anyone knows who has done tiling (or watched in wonder as someone else did it) laying tile requires more than just dividing the counter's square footage by the tile measurements to come up with the amount of rough material necessary. One of the more important steps is a mysterious, and deeply guarded secret that tradesmen alone know the power of called, "setting center." This task precisely determines the spot where every eye ever to enter your home will rest. It does not matter if you have purple ostrich feathers protruding from the ceiling in the upper-left corner of your entry, if center is not placed correctly in your kitchen all guests will immediately recognize your foible, and comment ruthlessly on the inadequacy of your feng-shui. It's important stuff.

So our tile setter came last night to "set center", and begin the rough layout for our counters. The general rule is that the kitchen's sink is used as the central mark, and everything radiates out from it. In fact, this has become such a trend that many architects are designing the sink to be an obvious focal point of the kitchen layout. Our home was apparently not designed by an architect, since the sink is not center for anything from our cupboards to counter length. And because our non-architect also lost all of his issues to Architecture Digest (before reading any), there is no true center to the kitchen... anywhere. This makes tile layout somewhat complicated. But our tile master was up for the task, and began giving us option after choice on how we could set center. The final plan took into consideration the peninsula that stands center stage when entering our kitchen, and therefore makes an ideal radiating point. Then my naivete over tile setting became glaringly obvious as once again I was asked where I wanted full to begin. Um... what? Because our counters don't run in only one direction we had to decide where we were going to start with full tiles. This means deciding whether to have full tiles at the base of the counters, at the top of the peninsula, or at the joint of the peninsula to the counter because, once again, our non-architect/ghetto designer did not own a tape measure which would have helped him logically choose coordinating depths and widths for the varying countertops. We were stumped. The eye was automatically drawn to the peninsula, making it the perfect selection to receive all full tile priority, but that left a sliver running the entire length of my sink counter which was, admittedly, ugly. And then it happened! The reality of home ownership came down like an angel singing Glory Hallelujah. Our tile setter suggested we cut about two inches from the overhang of the peninsula to allow for a full tile at both the peninsula's end AND the sink-counter. It was brilliant. Christopher and I stood stone still for a full 30 seconds trying to grapple with the reality that we could simply cut our counter to match our tile, rather than the more acceptable version of cutting the tile to match the counter. It was our house!

And so we did.

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