Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Real Corner, Revisited

The same corner, now taped, sanded, and primed

A week ago, we could not have imagined our progress.

Thursday, we signed our contract with the tile installer, then drove to Toronto to find a cheaper source for our floor tile, which we did at a significant savings (of almost $10/sq'). The nod goes to Weston Tile in Toronto's west end. If you know what you're looking for, they have a good selection of tile in a large but modest showroom, knowledgeable staff, and very good prices. Because they aren't reviewed in any of the shopping guides, like the one Toronto Life publishes, I never would have happened upon Weston Tile except for an obscure reference to them in a comment on a 2-year-old tile forum thread about sources of 1" unglazed hex tile in Canada. We are grateful to the writer whose post of 2006 has saved us a bundle in 2008.

To celebrate our good luck, we went--for the second time in several months--to the lovely little neighbourhood restaurant called Cowbell in wilds of Queen St West. Luckily, Cowbell is not participating in Winterlicious and we were able to walk right in and get a table, although the place was pretty much full by 8:00. Chef Mark Cutrara specializes in locally sourced foods, homely robust dishes, and old fashioned slow cooking techniques, as well as the currently popular sous-vide method. The pork and beef pot pie was perfect comfort food for a winter night, beef brisket was tender and very beefy (and quickly disappeared from the chalkboard menu), the selection of five Quebec cheeses including Migneron, Pied de Vent and Benedictine Bleu, was well chosen and appropriately flavourful at room temperature, and the pecan tart decadently memorable, sweet and savory all at once. The 2006 'Jack-Rabbit Flats' Pinot Noir from Fielding Estates (one of our favourite Ontario wineries), available by the glass, was a great accompaniment to our meal and my cheese. Chef looked out smilingly on his happy patrons every once in a while and seemed pleased with what he saw. We wish we had a restaurant like this in our neighbourhood. And, lest this mini review seems out of place, I assure you that there is a tile connection to this culinary aside. Cowbell's floor sports the VERY SAME TILE we were in the city to buy for our bathroom, yes, the very same 1" hexagonal tile, from wall to wall. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I think our dining choice last night must have been influenced by our tile buying mission. The little sample of heaxagonal tiles I'd been carrying around in my purse all day (or some subliminal memory of our last visit), must have exerted a divining rod type pull to Cowbell.

So, back to the renovation news: we've decided that the floor will be 1" unglazed white porcelain hexagonal floor tile surrounded by a 5" border of 1" unglazed white square tile, and, so as not to be entirely enslaved by our home's Victorian past, we'll include an inset detail of glass tile between the hex and square tiles. We have a sample of white glass tile, but it looks perhaps too white against the ivory of the floor tile, and we may decide to keep the colours closer because there will already be a lot of textural contrast. On the other hand, all of our bathroom fixtures are bright white and a white border accent could unify things. I think we'll have to make a sample board to see how much the grout colour will influence the tile. We plan to use marble for the countertop and shower seat and hope the detail in the floor will pick up either the veining or the body colour in the marble. I think we've decided to strip the ancient shellac from our wood mouldings and whitewash window trim (as below) rather than paint it to allow the grain to show.

the current tile and trim choices

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