Gwendoline Margaret Spurll

Gwendoline Spurll

Title: Tip-Toe on the Tiles

Date: Nov 28, 2013

Writing Workshop

Work Count 901

When we bought our house in 1983 the neighbours were still talking about the Youngstown Kitchen that the previous owners had installed.  This kitchen had welded steel cabinets. However it had been in place for 25 years, and was already worn when we moved in.  With 30 more years of use the front panels pulled off all the cutlery drawers,  the door fell off the cereal cupboard and the dishwasher pulled over every time we opened the door because there was nothing to screw it into.   And, invariably,  when I was cooking dinner, Hendrik would want to heat his tea in the microwave next to the stove, and one of the kids would want to get into the cutlery drawer  under the microwave,  and I would end up screaming at them all to get out.  But when the draft through the kitchen wall rivalled the wind at the corner of Portage and Main we realized it was time to reconstruct.

“We need to fix the kitchen wall, we are losing too much heat.  

'”We need room for three people to cook.

“The kitchen is too small for that. We should extend the house.

“That would cost more than we can afford.”

That was the conversation each time we tried to redo the kitchen.  This time I was adamant.  In April we went to the renovation store.  We wanted to renovate in the summer so we could cook and eat outside.  After three days of discussion with the planner we came up with a design, with work areas for two people and a tea-nook near the hall door where  Hendrik could make his tea without disturbing the cooks.  

The contractor came to the house to take the measurements. He looked at the plans, looked at the kitchen, and said “No.”  The entrances were too narrow.     

We trudged back to the planner and spent another three days revising the plans. By now it was August.  We chose maple  cabinets tall enough to meet the ceiling,  a quartz counter top,  pull out pantry shelves,  and pull out trash and recycling.  The day we went in to choose flooring she stayed home sick, so we had to meet with another sales person.  We chose marble flooring and backsplash, and under the floor radiant heating.   

Then off to customer service to get credit approved.  After discussion with the manager's manager's manager in Chicago the purchase went through.  I think they were just waiting for us to leave to pull out the champagne.  By now we were in September.  

In October they called to say the cabinets were ready.  We  boxed the kitchen contents.  We  moved the dining room furniture into the living room to make room for the boxes containing the cabinets to go into the dining room.  We would cook, eat, socialize, watch TV, and do homework in the living room.   

Monday three men turned up with jack hammers.  Five hours later, no kitchen.  Several days later, the doorbell rang.  

“I'm the electrician.”  

A few days later the insulation arrived, and wall board was installed.  

Next the radiant heating.  Under-the-floor radiant heating consists of heating coils which are laid on the floor. Then a layer of thin concrete is poured, covering the wires.  Then tile is laid over the concrete.  

The electrician laid out the wiring.  Then the contractor came to pour the concrete.

Under our the kitchen is the laundry area, a powder room containing a library of bathroom reading, and the shower room.  

When Hendrik went down stairs to use the powder room he heard drip, drip, drip.... We found concrete running into the laundry room sink.  It was heading down the to the main drain of the house.  I created a dam against further concrete flow, and so far the drain is still running....

The next day they came to lay the marble tiles.  They mixed the grout.  But when they walked on the concrete  it cracked.  The hardwood floor under the concrete had too much give.  

Back came the men with the jackhammers to remove the concrete and the wiring.   This time they laid  plywood over the hardwood floor, and re-poured the concrete.  

Hendrik went downstairs to use the powder room.   He heard drip, drip, drip.... This time it was leaking into the powder room.  A thin layer of concrete coated his books.    

However the concrete did not crack when they walked on it, and they were able to lay the tiles. We now have a beautiful marble floor.  

How did we need to treat the tiles? The salesman said the marble tiles had to be sealed and resealed every six months.  But the installer, an Italian, said they don't need any treatment.  The sites on the internet talk about sealing, except for one about marble at religious sites, which says just sweep and wash with water.  And then I understood; of course, you can't make money by selling water.  In Italy they use marble for the public urinals.  

Speaking of Italy, we figure our dog Peanut must have been a Roman dog in another life... He looks over the doggy gate at the marble kitchen floor, and you can see his right leg twitching.  

In the meantime,  we hope this second layer of concrete does not crack.  Tip toe on the tiles.