Kitchen Tile

Now that you’ve seen the ugly, I’ll give you some inspiration, shopping, and design planning!  I’ve gotten lots of compliments on the tile I picked for the kitchen… it was actually a pretty large project in itself!  As you saw in my previous post (Here), the kitchen floor was plastic tiles that were basically just laid on plywood.  We literally walked around the room just picking them up.  Once we gutted the rest of the kitchen I knew I needed to start planning what tile I needed to order so that the contractor could start the sheet rock and tile.  Little spoiler… the rest of the original portion of the house has carpet over the original 1935 wood floors… that being said, the kitchen is also original to the house so there is a good chance there are the wood floors under the plywood but I also spotted some linoleum in the gaps of plywood.  We decided maybe we should just leave the plywood and plan on laying new tile instead of risking pulling up the linoleum and finding damaged wood or no old wood floors at all.  This is where my design planning began.  I loved the look of patterned tiles.  I liked imported tile from mexico with multicolored but I also like retro geometric patterns.  Once I started searching I realized this was going to take longer than I thought to order… all custom/handmade tiles take 6 to 8 weeks or even 12 weeks!  I really didn’t want to wait that long being we wouldn’t be able to move forward with much more in the house until the sheet rock was done (which wasn’t going to take that long) and the tile was laid.  I’m really not trying to throw anyone or any business under the bus with my renovation posts but what would a renovation be without knowing the ups and downs and frustrations.  It’s really not as easy as I told myself it would be.  I went into one store in Houston that had imported Mexican tile, Pyramid Imports.  It wasn’t far from the house and it looked like it was a small business that had some great custom tiles… I figured why not check them out and get a quote to see how much this might cost me and how long it would take to come in.  First of all it wasn’t actually in the best location and there wasn’t much room to park anywhere.  I squeezed into the only spot there because I wasn’t going to drive another block and get leave my car and walk by myself (that’s what I mean by not a great location).  I went to the door and it was locked… I might have rang a door bell?  It was a friday in the middle of the day…during their store hours.  A younger girl opened the door telling a dog not go outside… and instead of stay something to the effect of “Hello… come in!” she turned her back to me and walked into the back and flipped on the showroom lights as she did.  Ok? How do I even know what I’m looking at? or prices? or how to order? or what’s available? is anything instock? are these the only sizes? only colors?  I began walking around but still did not have the best first impression… I am all about a good deal in the end so if it would work out in my favor by digging I usually stick to it.  After I considered walking out I decided maybe it was worth it to “sneak” to the back office to find her and ask if a tile came in a bigger size (I was looking for a larger tile for the kitchen like 8″x8″ not 4″x4″ because it would look like a mosaic on this large floor area)… she was slightly helpful and gave me a piece of paper with color options based on size and rambled out a few GENERAL prices based on size and then walk back into the back.  I immediately left after this… they didn’t really have what I wanted in 8″x8″ anyway… this is where my mexican tile idea just faded.  I didn’t really see any other place in Houston from searching online that would have the type of handmade work I would want.  I was also working on getting a online/over the phone quote for the one and only GORGEOUS varieties of Granada Tile.  Granada Tile is featured on many websites, designers, pinterest pins, etc.  I found out the custom tiles would probably take 8 weeks and were more expensive.  The “in-stock” tiles weren’t AS expensive and being in a big city for the first time, there was actually a warehouse!!!  These tiles are handmade and imported from Nicaragua to warehouses in California, New Jersey, and Texas (Houston).  I thought maybe this was perfect because I could save on shipping!  I decided there was an in-stock tile that I would be happy with and asked for a quote to pick up from the warehouse.  Turns out this was still going to run me almost $4,000 (about $7 a tile – which doesn’t sound like a lot until you add up the square footage) just for the tile (installation including prep of kitchen and bathroom tile was already going to cost me $4,300).  This instance… like most of the other products I wanted for the house… is when my hopes start to fade and I start questioning myself “Do I just bite the bullet or keep searching?”… I kept searching… never give up!!! What I haven’t mentioned is that I had at this point decided to stick with a black and white patterned tile.  I love working with a “blank canvas” of built ins and bringing in color and character with easily changeable items… so black and white was what I was focused on.  I had to come up with a final outcome vision because I usually just add things I like as I go but I knew it wouldn’t work quite as easily in these major renovations… that being said… I chose the follow kitchen design pictures as my “inspiration”…. and yes, these are Granada tiles…


Source: jhinteriordesign


Source: jhinteriordesign


Source: jhinteriordesign


Source: jhinteriordesign

  At this point we were already frequenting Home Depot… a lot.  I knew their tile selection wasn’t that great in the store but I decided to look online… at home depot as well as other websites.  I hit the jackpot with homedepot… basically I think from searching “black and white”.  Merola tile has a collection called “twenties”  that is ONLY sold by Home Depot and is ONLY online.  (Click here to check out the Merola Twenties collection)  I mean… it speaks for itself.  If you don’t have that “creative” vision just compare it side by side with the Granada Tile options on their website.  Did you notice the price… $1.97 a tile.  About $900 total (not including shipping – 4x cheaper).  SOLD.

Tile comparison

But let’s be real… not that easy right?  I decided on this Merola Twenties Vertex black and white patterned tile… and look at the Granada Tile comparison here.  It looked retro/art deco (1920s) geometric… perfect! The house is from the 30s, why not?  One of my favorite design styles is old style with new flare… and vintage furniture from ALL generations.  So I go to place the order… I calculated the exact square footage of the kitchen and washroom.  It says they don’t have that many in stock.  Did you know I don’t give up yet?  I sat there and entered amounts until I found out the exact amount they had in stock available to order.  Next step… come up with a design where I could incorporate another tile.  This is when I decided to bring the solid black tile from the same collection into the design and work it out to be a boarder.  I calculated the exact number of tiles I needed and drew out an exact to scale layout of the floor plan… I’m an engineer, I can’t help myself.  Here it is…

floor brainstorm
Pattern brainstorming…

Kitchen Tile Floor
Kitchen Layout with dimensions
kitchen and laundry floor plan
Kitchen and Laundry Room Floor Plan

Grey areas represent walls and hatched areas represent build in cabinets and the existing walled in chimney in the corner… will talk more about cabinets and the chimney later.  Any way… there it was! I wanted the patterned tiles placed at 90 degree angles to mix and match the color pattern… if you can tell from the picture.  I printed this out and told my contractor to make sure the tiles were placed like this.  He kind of laughed at me asking where I got this idea… “umm the internet?” I dont know! haha Maybe I’ve just been the most detailed and outgoing designs he had ever done.  As I started to get to know him I started to realize he was very good with numbers and he was understanding and remembering everything I wanted (his native language is spanish so I wondered at first since he didn’t say too much).  That being said.. I trusted him to get this design done with out as many detailed measurements… its in my nature (at work) to be as detailed as possible to avoid any miscommunication in construction. I forgot to mention that I decided to go with a black grout… I didn’t want white or light grout in the kitchen because after time it starts to just look dirty.  Incase you didn’t know… the grout comes after the tile in completely installed so that was going to come later anyway!

When he finally got around to laying the tile we were getting married and then on our honeymoon.  I received a text from him while on the honeymoon in Curacao that I needed to order a few more black tiles… not a problem… went to on my phone… searched “twenties”… ordered the black tile he needed and told him it would be shipped to the house in a couple days.  We got home to a beautifully tiled kitchen!  I can’t tell you how excited I was to come back from the wedding and honeymoon to finally seeing the house starting to look pretty!!!  Here are a few pictures from then!

Kitchen - Before
Kitchen – Before
photo 2 (2)
Kitchen During Demo…

Kitchen Tile prepwork
Kitchen Tile prepwork
Kitchen Tile prepwork
Kitchen Tile prepwork

Kitchen Tile Installed
Kitchen Tile Installed
Kitchen Tile Installed

And how about a picture from our first dance at our wedding with our black and white dance floor outside! 🙂



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