Remember I said these blog updates would be random?  Well, nothing like silence after nine months and then the first house related post in four years.  I want to share some details about our kitchen renovation experience because, during our process, I was constantly looking for real-world examples and I found other writers’ blog posts  and photographs to be useful.  So here goes mine.

Our house was built as one of several in an area of military homes in circa 1955.  I always say circa because there are no records for the house at the land titles office until 1968, when the entire parcel of land that was owned by the military was broken up and sold as individual lots.  In aerial photos of Hillcrest (my neighbourhood) our house is present as of 1959.  When we started renovating and pulled down some walls, we found a a 1949 German Pfennig (coin) tucked in the ceiling. I usually split the difference between those two dates to come up with the approximate age of the house.

We knew that renovating the kitchen would be the most expensive and most time consuming, so we left this to the end of our renovations.  There will always be little things to do (is it possible for that not to be true as a home owner?) such as better trim, a new garage door, shelves just outside the kitchen area, painting the exterior, improving the garden, extending the deck, etc., but the kitchen was the last BIG item.


Here are a few details that might help others who are trolling the interwebs for examples and information that might relate to their project.

  • If you are buying from Heath, the overstock is an awesome deal but consider the glaze variation number, especially if you are buying seconds.  The higher the variation rating, the more likely it is that there will be differences between pieces.  Frost has a 5 rating (which is high – compare that to Antique White which is only a 1). In buying seconds we were buying tile where the glaze variation was beyond 5, so the dissimilarity between the tiles we bought was pretty significant.  We were fine with that; we like the way it looks, but it is something to be aware of.
  • We pre-sorted all of the tiles in order to ensure the best quality ones were used in the installation and to ensure that the colour differences were spread across the walls.  Time consuming?  Yup.
  • We used 3/16″ spacers between the tile; Ben felt this gave more flexibility in being able to balance the differences in size between the tiles.  Remember, because the tiles aren’t machine made, they are imperfect.
  • Grout choice was really hard; we ended up with a light grey (Prism brand, colour #115 Platinum).  Our upstairs bathroom has a lot of white tile and white grout and I can’t stand how the white grout gets visibly stained.  I didn’t want that to happen in the kitchen.
  • Considering concrete counters?  Fu-Tung Cheng’s book on the subject is exceptionally helpful.  To get our shade, we used Quikrete cement colour in charcoal and we doubled the amount of dye to make sure the counters were a very dark grey. – Yukon Jenn

A weeklong series on the art of entertaining, for women who are too busy for Pinterest.

We’re about to enter a five-month-long stretch of pink-wine weather. To celebrate the return of summer water, the Cut asked 25-year-old Piora sommelier Victoria James — one of Forbes’s ten New York food innovators under 30 — for a comprehensive guide to the official drink of picnics and rooftops. Then we sampled it so that we might offer our own take. Read on for the best wines to chug, take on vacation, and put in your CamelBak.


Most likely to accompany brunch: Renardat Bugey 
$27, Flatiron Wines

The Professional: “My absolute go-to picnic wine. It is a slightly sparkling wine with a bit of sweetness and a dark-pink color. It is the perfect wine to contrast salty cheeses and charcuteries.”

“Kind of tastes like I could have it for breakfast.” — Aude White, publicist

Best doesn’t-taste-like-a-rosé rosé: Lini Lambrusco
$16.99 Tribeca Wine Merchants

The Professional: “Sometimes the versatility of rosé is elevated with a bit of bubbles. Lini Lambrusco is a delicious pairing for hearty spring dishes like lamb and pastas in cream sauce.”

The Cut:  “It tastes a little sour to me.” – Ashley

Most likely to be bought in bulk: Gris Imperial
$23, Available at Piora

The Professional: “I have this by the glass at Piora. It is delicious, clean, mineral-driven, and extremely versatile. The perfect pairing for spring vegetables.”

The Cut: “Yeah, this is the bottle I want to drink all summer. Delicious, super dry.” – Megan

Closest to an actual rosé: 2015 Sulauze Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé “Pomponette”
$15.99, Chambers Street Wines

The Professional: “A fun little wine that is an essential Provençal rosé to try. It is so lovely and delicate that it’s hard not to drink the whole bottle.”

The Cut: “It looks like the Gris, but it tastes the opposite.” — Megan

“It’s very floral. I like this one.” – Ashley

Best overall taste: 2015 Bedrock “Ode to Lulu” California Rosé
$24.99 Chambers Street Wines

The Professional: “If you cannot find Domaine Tempier, look for this American rosé instead. Here, the winemaker pays homage to Lulu Peyraud of the famed estate in Bandol. The wine, just like her, is a real firecracker. Made from old-vine Mourvedre (about 120 years old), Carignan, and Grenache, it is a stellar representation of what domestic rosé can be.”

The Cut: “I want all the bottles of it.” – Megan

“It’s a richer, bolder Pomponette. I like this one.” – Ashley Weatherford, associate beauty editor

Overall aesthetics winner: Chateau Puech-Haut Saint-Drezery Prestige 2015
$22 per bottle, Tribeca Wine Merchants

The Professional: “Hailing from a small town in the south of France, this biodynamic wine is made from Grenache and Cinsault. It is many things a rosé should be: light, easy, and pretty. Pair with typical sud de France Mediterranean cuisine.”

The Cut: “It looks very French. Is it French?” – Ashley

“That one is my favesies. It’s light, highly chuggable.” – Eve Peyser, writer

“It’s a rosé I would drink at a ski resort.” — Leah

“Yeah, like when an older man invites me out and I want to impress him.”— Eve

Most chuggable wine: Cep D’Or Aop Côtes de Provence, Les maitres Vignerons de la Presqu’ile de Saint-Tropez
 $13.99, Tribeca Wine Merchants

The Professional: “In the 1960s, the growers of Saint-Tropez banded together to form this promotional outlet for their little-known wines. No need to summer in Saint-Tropez; this year take a few sips of this Provencal rosé instead. Chill down this traditional vintage-shaped bottle and throw it in your beach bag.”

The Cut: “This one is my favorite. It’s very dry. I get like, berry, melon, summer thing. It tastes like the kind of rosé I wanna drink in the summer.”— Megan

“I like it, but it’s boring.” — Leah

“A good wine for chugging. It’s an easy wine. It’s the wine you order when you need a quickie glass.” — Eve 

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