The Joy of Tiles II

The bathroom tiles are all up, and the tile guy will be back on Monday again to finish up. I’m really happy with how the bathroom is turning out. This shot probably gives the best overall impression of how the walls look:


Here’s the shower enclosure:


I’m so relieved that it’s symmetrical. And here’s the niche above the toilet with all the surrounding tile in place:


Here’s how the window was dealt with:


The plan is for the tile guy to come back on Monday and do the grout work and start on the kitchen tiles. Tuesday will probably be a plumber and then a carpenter will have to do some finish and trim work around the door, and a painter will have to deal with the ceiling.



The Joy of Tiles I

There are (some) tiles on my bathroom walls! Let me repeat that: there are (some) tiles on my bathroom walls! The room is by no means finished, but it is significantly closer as of today. I was thinking the crew would still be working on applying the membrane and other technical stuff, so this was a pleasant surprise to come home to after work:


Thankfully, these huge tiles don’t look as out of scale in my tiny bathroom as I had feared. And just think how much less grout I’ll have to clean.

I asked the tile guy to use the remaining floor tiles in the niche above the toilet because I thought that might tie the two very different tile shapes (and the room as a whole together visually. Here’s a shot of just the niche:


To be honest, I was pretty skeptical about the idea (even though it was mine!) because I usually dislike decorative features of any kind. In that regard, it’s a big surprise that I even suggested it. I’ll have to see how it looks with grout (and together with the floor itself, which is currently covered in plastic), but my initial reaction is that this works pretty well. I’m glad there were enough of the hexagons that the tile guy didn’t have to fabricate some kind of border out of the larger tiles, which he talked about as an option.


This shot gives a little bit more of an impression of how the room will look as a whole. I’m pretty excited!

And we’re off!

I was traveling for work Sunday through Tuesday this week, and am delighted to report that I came home to clear signs that work has begun on my bathroom! I’m not sure exactly what is being done, but it looks like they’ve started in on the membrane on the walls:




I’m really not sure what the wood is there for, but I have complete faith that they know what they’re doing. Here are a couple more pictures:

As you can see, there is no toilet! I’m going to have to rough it tonight, and try to find somewhere else to stay for the next few nights. I wasn’t sure that they’d actually start work, so I was loathe to book a room or an AirBnB until I knew for sure.

Meanwhile, the toilet itself is doing a Marcel Duchamp rip off in the living room:


So close, but yet so far

See this?


These are the modules of my sofa, just delivered to my house. Unfortunately, there was a big mixup with the order, and the delivery guy, who came alone, refused to actually move the modules inside the building and into my apartment. There was a flurry of phone calls back and forth between me and the store, and between him and his boss, and the end result is that the delivery guy is taking the modules back with him. The plan is to re-deliver on another day with someone else along to help him bring them in.

I am so disappointed. I can hardly express how much I have missed having a sofa to lounge in with my son. We were really, really looking forward to being able to hang out and watch an episode of Doctor Who from our new sofa tonight. Boo!


The curtain rods for the two hall closets came in today, so I picked them up and actually installed them on the same day that I brought them home. I think that must be a first. A few weeks back I had bought white linen “Aina” curtains from IKEA, so I hung those up too, and all in all I’m satisfied with the result. Here’s the larger closet next to the bathroom:


Clearly the curtains still need ironing and hemming, but you get the idea. Here’s a long shot of the whole hall, taken from the living room:


The curtain in front of the smaller closet seems pretty unobtrusive (or at least it will be once it’s ironed and hemmed), and I like how all the different parts (rug, mirror, curtain, art and the background of wall color and flooring) work together. Maybe the mirror is hung a little high? I don’t know, it’s always hard to tell since my ceiling is so low. Regardless of that, it definitely helps to have the curtains in place.

The next step will be working up the nerve to install the rod for the bed alcove, though I fear that may be a two-person job since it’s so long.

Kitchen review

I emailed the contractor to let him know the bathroom tiles had arrived, and he was completely taken by surprise. There is no one on his team available to do the work until after 20 March. So, again I wait.

In the meantime, I’ve been getting used to my new kitchen, having been living with it a month, so I thought maybe I should do a review. The short version is that I love it. I’m basically pleased with every choice.

First, the countertops. I was nervous about using CaesarStone because I read some online reviews from people who got chips and stains almost immediately after having them installed. Nothing of the sort has happened to mine. You can see them in the picture below, which also shows the tiles (still waiting to be installed) and the cooktop, which is the next item to review:


I really didn’t put any thought into the cooktop or oven. They were part of a discount appliance package, so I just went with that. I’m actually super happy with both. The only thing I can think of that is a negative is the loud beep every time you adjust the temperature controls, and the sort of whirring noise whenever a burner is on. I’ve never had a cooktop that makes noise before. I can’t figure out if the noise comes from the weird sensor thing mounted on the wall above, or if maybe the cooktop rattles because it was supposed to have been affixed to the countertop, or what.

ETA: this is an induction cooktop, so it’s extremely fast and responsive. I had to jettison a couple of old saucepans (that I didn’t really like anyway), but other than that the transition has been painless. I do seem to burn myself every time I take something out of the oven, perhaps because it is  slightly lower than it should have been?

Then there’s the sink. Oh, how I love my sink (photographed without having been wiped down, which is a huge interior design blog fail):


I love having two deep basins that are equally large. I have really missed that in the last few places I have lived. It means that you can do two quite separate water-related tasks in parallel, like soak a knitting project for blocking while cooking dinner, or just stack dirty dishes in one basin while using the other for cooking. I’m also really happy with the very tall faucet, and don’t even mind the asymmetrical handle. The thing that surprises me a bit about it is that I use the pull-out sprayer a lot more than I thought I would. I had worried that it was an unnecessary indulgence, but it is really quite useful. Plus it gives me a little thrill every time because it is so cleverly hidden that you wouldn’t even know it was there if you weren’t told about it. But boy does that wall need the tiles soon! I struggle to keep water from getting on the wall, especially at the seam where the counter meets it.

Then there’s the under sink drawer:


When I first saw it I thought it was weird and didn’t think it would be very useful, but it actually is. Top row from left to right: cleaning supplies, glass and metal recycling (plus milk carton recycling), empty plastic bags. Bottom row from left to right: rubber gloves for dishwashing, plastic recycling, garbage. It’s nice to be able to pull the drawer all the way out, especially for dumping awkward things into the trash. The size of the bins is very practical in that they accumulate things, but only up to a certain point that forces you to take them out. In the past I have had a tendency to let recycling pile up because I didn’t really have a well-defined way of containing it, so this is a big help. In general, I really like the way all the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen function, and I still have lots of unexploited storage space.

I should add that I have a much larger basket for paper recycling hidden away elsewhere in the kitchen. Sadly, in my line of work I still produce way too much waste paper, so I need something much bigger than the under sink unit for this:


This photograph was taken on one of the rare occasions when the basket had just been emptied. It’s an ancient Longaberger basket that I inherited from a dear friend years ago. I planned for this open space below the counter for exactly this purpose, since I knew it wouldn’t work to run base cabinets all the way to the wall because of the shape of the window. The same friend who was the source of the basket is also the source of the rag rug that I have on the floor in front of the sink:


I found I was becoming totally paranoid about every drip that fell on the wood floor. The rag rug makes it much easier to work in the kitchen now.

Finally, there’s the refrigerator:


This too was part of the discount appliance package, and I am really happy with it. I completely LOVE having the refrigerator (and dishwasher, visible to the left in the previous picture) built in. It makes things so much tidier. I also like the fact that there is some hidden storage for odd items like a Longaberger pie basket within the cabinet for the refrigerator. This fridge is a good size for my needs. The only thing that isn’t optimal is that it’s difficult to get things in and out of the drawers in the freezer section, but I can totally live with that.

Do you see that toaster next to the fridge? My Mom left it behind when she moved back to the US. I got used to using it when I was living in the MIL, so I brought it with me. I have been searching all over Europe for a toaster oven, which is my definite preference, but without success. This is a perfectly acceptable toaster, except that the cord always seems to be in the way. I had thought I would only use it occasionally and mostly keep it stored, but I’m using it a lot more often than I expected, so for now it stays out on the counter.

I’m not a foodie or a gourmet cook or anything, but I do cook from scratch every day, so it really matters that things are functional. Although I’m still getting used to a few things (like the fact that the light switch is now next to the fridge rather than on the other side of the door), almost everything feels right and it’s super easy to clean. It’s nothing fancy, but is an eminently practical kitchen, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Tile delivery

Finally! Today the bathroom tiles were delivered:


They’re huge: 60 x 60 cm! I’m really not sure about them, but it was this or wait three more weeks. Otherwise, nothing of note has happened in the apartment. Still waiting to hear back from the contractor on when they’ll be able to start work again.