Sprucing up the kitchen – a learning experience

As many of you know we own a home in CA that we rent while we are overseas.  Due to having great tenants (who were willing to live with a bit of construction) we replaced the countertops during our time in Cameroon.  However the backsplash was not repaired after the old tile was taken off.  So a kitchen spruce up was in order on our return.


This is the kitchen as we moved in.


I was told this was a simple project – and I guess it was but I had a number of new skills to learn.  First there is the choice of the mosaic tile material.  We, of course, did not choose nice square tiles, we choose long skinny tiles which are offset from each other.  They were big enough that the “snippers” couldn’t cut them on the ends and after ten minutes on each of the first two little glass pieces it was obvious it would take days to cut them all for the edges using a hacksaw.  So I bought a tile saw – and learned to use it!


The needed tile saw - it became my friend.


Note to other would be tilers – cut all edges – don’t try to fill in the pieces like I did.

Putting up tile normally is a two or more day project, but I only had one day so I tried the sticky paper approach instead of thin-set and it worked great.


The yellow lines are the glue on the backing paper and you can see three sheets of tile up on the wall.


Less messy, less time, but you better get it right the first time.  There is no going back and changing it later.

Grouting is messy and it is worth the time to get as much excess off at the beginning because the areas I did not required lots of scrubbie sponges and elbow grease a few days later.


This is the same wall with the grout now added and the partial tiles cut and inserted.



I also learned to rewire my kitchen outlets and switches.  Even when the circuit breakers are all marked so you think you got all the live wires to the kitchen you may not have succeeded (sorry Beth) so turn off ALL the electricity to the house!


Almost finished. Note the new grey electrical switches and outlets which I wired.




This is the final product with new valances to boot.  The valances (plus the new curtains in the living room) required me to buy a new sewing machine but learning to use it was not nearly as nerve-wracking as learning to use the tile saw.


The completed project including fixing up the grout to make it nice and even on the edges of the tile.


I wonder if I will put any of these new skills to use in Cameroon next year when we move into that newly constructed apartment?  It could be difficult without having both Home Depot and Lowes (I needed both stores) within easy reach.


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