Monday, March 02, 2015

Saving the Decorative Tiles

After it was decided that we were not going to keep the old faux brick archway in the new kitchen,

I wasn’t ready to give up the decorative tiles too.

Call me sentimental, but I actually liked those kooky painted tiles that we inherited with the house.

We found a stack of 5 or 6 of them in the basement when we moved in, almost 16 years ago, and I decided to incorporate them in a back splash underneath our open shelves on the other side of the kitchen.

I wrapped the 5 or 6 tiles in paper towels and shoved them in a grocery sack and went to the big tile store on the other side of town.

I showed the sales lady the tiles in the hopes of matching up a plain tile for the back splash. Instead, she gasped and got the other employees. 

Like, ALL the other employees.

One, tall, skinny man, PUT ON GLOVES to touch and pick up the same decorative tiles that I brought in wrapped in Bounty and shoved in a Kroger sack.

He asked if I had more and I told him I had almost an entire wall of them.

I thought he was going to faint.

He brought me a catalog and asked me to point to the ones I had.

I had them all.

Except for the lobster, which was a real bummer 
because of Monte growing up in south Florida 
and how much we both love lobster.

The man turned white and asked me if I had ANY IDEA how much that wall of hand made, hand painted, stamped tiles from Portugal was worth.

I stopped him right there and told him quite plainly that I did not want to know.

And I didn’t.

I knew that if he told me just how much each tile was worth, I was going to hit every bump on the way home and then break those tiles and I was going to FEEL SICK about how much money I just lost in the Bounty-wrapped, Kroger sack in my back seat.

So it was knowing there was value in that wall, that I asked that as many of the tiles be saved as possible when they were removed from the wall.

I was told to scrape any old adhesive and grout off the tiles so that they’d be level for reuse.

I googled the best way to do that and watched a very informative video.

Just soak the tiles in very hot water in a bucket 
and then scrape the adhesive right off.

So I did.

And I did.

And I did.

Some tiles were way more stubborn than others.

Julie offered to come over one day and she suggested adding Dawn dish soap to the bucket of hot water.

It worked like a dream!

It takes a village, people.

Not THE Village People.

We were able to get SO MANY tiles scraped and clean that day!

They were numbered.

And we still had time for some other necessary things.

When you got to go,
you got to go.

I love that no one is even paying attention to the two
middle aged ladies snapping photos on a toilet in the
middle of a construction zone.

It was sometime AFTER the toilet posing, that Paul, our builder, walked into the room and tapped Julie on the shoulder and said,

“I just hit your car.”

I thought he was kidding and started to laugh because THERE WAS NO WAY he hit her car after the siding guys HIT MY CAR a few months ago.

What are the odds??

But I saw his face and it was not joking or laughing. In fact, it looked really remorseful and a touch sad.

Julie handled it like a champ and they walked outside to examine the damage and take pictures.

Of course, I had to take pictures too.

Poor Paul looking all defeated and slumped over.
Julie looking just the right amount of melodramatic.
And me being HORRIFIED that my Christmas wreaths are still on the table in the front yard!

We laughed far more than Paul did, poor guy.

They exchanged information which she promptly sent to her husband because he is in the car business.

Her husband was at a business organization lunch when he got the word about the car incident. He decided to call right then to get more information. When he dialed the number and asked for Paul by name, the guy sitting RIGHT NEXT TO JULIE’S HUSBAND happened to be Paul’s insurance agent and let him know that Paul was fully covered and the matter would be handled.

What are the odds??

So these tiles came at a cost, people. 

They weren’t able to use as many tiles as I would’ve liked due to the size of the corbels.

While the tiles were being laid out, I had to get rid of the cool blue bird with the crazy eye because it was slightly larger than the black and red raspberries tile next to it.

I had to quickly hand the tile guy a substitute, the baby calf, which makes three brown animals in a row, TIC, TAC, TOE.

I will try not to focus on that 
every time I’m at the stove.

Right in the middle is my favorite tile. 
The maid milking the cow.

Before the tiles were removed from the wall, I was able to notice tiles that never popped out to me in the 15 years I stood before them cooking.

Like, this turkey only has one leg:

That little quirk earned him a spot on the wall.
And the fact that this milk maid is milking a cow with HORNS.


The cow/bull seems to be saying something to the maid.
Probably, “Hey!"
This tile quickly became me and one of our worker’s favorite. We pointed it out to everyone. Paul finally got fed up enough that he researched cows with horns and apparently IT’S A THING.

I told Paul that me and Jeremy’s story was better and it would not stop us from telling it. 

We have two boxes left of the tiles and while I’m planning a cool tile serving tray project, Monte is researching the going rate for hand painted, tiles from Portugal on eBay.


  1. Love this story! The tiles look beautiful (I wouldn't have wanted to know the worth until they were up on the wall either). Can't wait to see your tray, that is unless your husband sells them all, haha.

  2. Love the tile story! You could be sitting on a gold mine, Karmen! Everything looks awesome :)


Just Another Rat Story

Happy Summer! Our summer started with Monte and I sitting on the back patio after dinner chatting while a rat ran across our yard. This...