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Sneak Peek at The Kitchen Countertops & Backsplash

We’re moving right along on our kitchen update.  I can’t really call it a remodel as we’re not moving any appliances around, taking out walls, or replacing the cabinetry.  However, it’s already feeling like a remodel to us after painstakingly removing those darn countertops.  Let us wipe that from the memory banks, shall we?  Moving onto the pretty stuff…

From the moment I heard about Vetrazzo recycled glass countertops, back in the late ’90’s, I knew someday I’d have it in my house.  Unfortunately, not this time around (it’s very pricey).  Years down the road we’re going to completely gut the kitchen and do it right.  When that happens, that’s when Vetrazzo will have a permanent home in our kitchen!  There’s multiple reasons why I love it so.  From it being a recycled product to it plain just being pretty.  Mostly, I love that it was started locally, in Berkeley, CA and then moved to an historic building, Ford Assembly Building, in Richmond, CA.  On Vetrazzo’s web site, it used to talk about where it acquired the glass; from old buildings in San Francisco, etc.  I enjoyed reading about the history of those buildings and loved that I could have a piece of history in my home.  Before I get too nostalgic on you, Vetrazzo was sold in 2010 and production was moved to Georgia.  Boo for the local economy, but fantastic for the owners who can kick back and enjoy the fruits of their labor!  Congrats!

Here’s the Vetrazzo countertop I’d most likely have in my future kitchen:

Here it is in actual kitchen:

Nice, don’t ya think?  When it comes to kitchens I tend to believe one should choose a neutral palette for the permanent pieces (for resale purposes) such as countertops, cabinets, and backsplash.  I’m not saying everything has to be white, beige or grey, just tasteful and re-sellable.  When it comes time for us to sell, I personally don’t want the listing agent telling me that buyers will consider the beautiful-in-my-eyes kitchen a tear out.  Ouch!  So, while I personally may want to choose a more colorful Vetrazzo countertop, the logic in me says to stay neutral.

Back when I discovered Vetrazzo for the first time, I also ran across glass countertops:

There’s some pretty cool and artistic ideas they can incorporate into it:

Everything I’ve read says they’re very durable, but do scratch.  As appealing as glass countertops are to me because they’re so different, knowing me, I’d have those babies scratched up and cracked in half in no time!

Perhaps in moderation?

Since we’re not doing Vetrazzo or glass what’s left?  Too many options to discuss here, so I’ll just get straight to it!  We’re going with Iced White Quartz.

I like that it looks similar to the Vetrazzo, but doesn’t carry the same cost.  A nice compromise!

We decided on a light countertop because our wood floors and lower cabinets are pretty dark.  Plus, the kitchen itself is pretty dark with only one medium sized window hidden from the sun by a porch overhang.  Yes, we could paint the cabinets, but we just painted a couple of years ago and we have more pressing things to get to, like some fun!

Once we chose the countertops, the backsplash was pretty easy.  We decided to keep it classic and go with a 3×6 subway marble tile.  It’s called Arabescato marble.  It originates from China (which makes it cheaper) and has a mainly white background with grey and beige veining.  We specifically chose this marble because the beige veining works well with our cabinets and countertops.  Tough to see the details in the image, but I promise it has the beige and grey.

I can’t wait to show you the completed kitchen in a few weeks!

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Kitchen Tile Removal – Woo Hoo!

There aren’t enough happy words in the English language to describe how thrilling it is to see our tile retire to its new home… the dump.  Normally, I’m trying to save things from the dump in order to repurpose them into creative and useful items for the home (and to be kinder to the Earth), but there was no way I was keeping that awesome stuff around.  I have enough of a reminder as it’s still on our hallway floor…

In my last kitchen post you saw us take down a cabinet, construct a new one, and install lighting.  I love the openness, and being able to see straight through from the kitchen to the dining room and vice versa has done wonders for entertaining.

Remember in my last post when I mentioned how obvious the tile is now that everything is off the counters?  We had to do something about it and quick!  Before getting into that, I must share a little Melanie-ism first.  You see now, I have two general beliefs when it comes to updating older homes: 1) Never be surprised at what’s behind or under ‘it’; and 2) It’s harder (to deconstruct) than ‘they’ said it would be.  How many of you are with me shaking your heads knowing exactly where I’m coming from?  Let me lay out the evidence:

Issue #1:

The tile on the sink wall had a 3/4″ finishing bullnose piece and the stovetop wall only had a 1/4″ bullnose.  Hmmm… why would those be different?  Well, as we chipped away at the sink wall, we discovered there’s two layers of drywall.

Not unheard of, for wet locations or for more fire resistance some choose to put up greenboard or Type X first, then a Hardiebacker for tile applications.  In this situation, they were just covering the first layer that had been damaged from prior tile removal.  Awesome.

Anyway, on we went with the removal.  It wasn’t too horribly difficult.  A multi-tool was used cut through the grout on top and bottom.  No need to loosen the tiles in-between because the plan was to remove the second layer of drywall.  Much cleaner keeping the tiles secured on the drywall.

Next, a crowbar was used to loosen the nails from the first layer of drywall.

Then, it was time to pull off in sections.

When we got to the stove wall, we quickly discovered why the bullnose end pieces were only 1/4″ thick.  They GLUED (not thin-set) the tile right onto the wallpaper (of which there were two attractive layers by the way).  Us surprised?  No.  We’ve seen stranger.

Unfortunately, this created issue #2 for us.  The entire wall was crumbling before our eyes as we pulled the tile-glued-to-the-wallpaper(s)-glued-to-the-wallboard off.  Awesome.

To take our minds off that fiasco, the hubby started chiseling away at that beauty of a countertop.  He started with the edge so we could see what was underneath.  To our delight, the plywood was actually inset and flush with the cabinets.  That meant we may have a fighting chance to save some money and keep the plywood.

What we didn’t realize was the tile was set in a ‘floating’ fashion.  Felt paper was laid down over the plywood; metal cap strips were installed along the edges; chicken wire was laid along with 3,000,000 staples holding it in place; 3/4″ concrete was laid next and then the tile was laid on it.  Ask the hubby if that was easy.  Ummm… well… how do I put this?  When I started hearing F-bombs coming out of his mouth (it’s a rare day when he swears), I knew we were in for a world of hurt.

In the meantime, I attempted distraction from the flying fairies (f-bombs in other words) by starting to smooth out the damaged wall.  We asked the experts how to tackle this.  It was recommended to use joint compound to get it as smooth and flat as possible before putting up the Hardibacker.

 Putting on that first layer:

First layer done.  You’ll see it has a long way to go before looking smooth.  We’re not shooting for perfection though as it’ll be covered.  I’ll wait about 24 hours for it to dry before putting on a final coat.

The hubby eventually finished removing the countertops and worked on getting the Hardibacker up on the sink side.  This is how we’ll temporarily live for the next week or so until the new countertops are in.

Overall, it was worth deconstructing ourselves as it saved us money and we took greater care to keep the area as clean and damage free as possible.  It took one solid weekend and we only had one ‘come to Jesus’ moment (that I’ve already wiped from memory) and survived to share our story.

I’ll show you a sneak peek of our quartz countertops and marble backsplash in the next post!

Have a great day!

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Designed on Sunshine - LOL! Not sure we’ll ever willingly tackle that job again!

Bloomin' Crazy - Great job! Now that you have all this experience, come on over. I need new kitchen tile too!