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