Friday, April 22, 2011

We're Back

We don't want to be, but we're back in California. It was so hard to leave North Carolina, but I am very happy to cuddle with my four-legged kids again. Their mess wasn't too bad when we got home and it didn't take me long to clean up, but Dozer apparently thought she could do better and promptly barfed as soon as everything was in its place again.

Everyone was all purrs and happy feet within an hour of our getting home, but Tank was more than a little pissed that I left him to go to work this morning and let me know it when I got home tonight. Instead of running down the stairs to meet me at the door, he hopped down 2 steps, meowed, stuck his rump in the air, turned his back to me and then sat down. But he was all cuddles and drool once I got up the stairs.

Okay, so that storm last Saturday. Turns out that was a doozey. I've never been near a tornado before, though I must admit I've always sorta wanted to chase one—Storm Chasers is a favorite when I happen to catch it on. I didn't realize just how bad the storm was until the next day, when my dad was trying to reach me and make sure we were okay.

I happened to be in a furniture warehouse purchasing my totally awesome new chairs when the tornadoes hit the Raleigh area. I'd actually been looking forward to the storm because we so rarely get lightning storms in the Bay Area, but when it started raining I was very happy to stay inside.

I didn't quite grasp the severity of the storm damage until Scoob and I, on our way to a quarry to look for granite, drove through the tornado's path along Tryon Road. I've seen pictures of tornado damage before, but it doesn't quite prepare you. Driving next to what must have been an ancient oak that had been uprooted was incredibly humbling. Its root system was massive, about 3 times (or more) as wide as our car was long, and it was just yanked out of the ground. The sheer force required to do that made me very thankful we hadn't been in the path of that tornado.

Scoob and I were supposed to meet with Stock Building Supply on Yonkers Road on Tuesday to go over interior and garage doors, stair railings and pickets, door hardware, tile, accent tile, carpet, and flooring. The builder called the night before to say that Stock had suffered some damages during the storm and didn't have power. And Ferguson's (plumbing and lighting fixtures, and appliances), along the same stretch of road, had lost the entire back half of their building.

Luckily for us, I'd been working with the Ferguson's showroom in Carrboro and was able to meet with the Stock door guy at their Apex location, but we did have to cancel the tile appointment because the Raleigh location was their only showroom for flooring materials in the area.

Our builder did try to schedule us an appointment with an alternate tile supplier in Durham, but we were having such a difficult time navigating the storm damaged areas we weren't able to make it. The builder suggested just using all the tiles we chose when we visited The Tile Shop, but honestly, even though we found items we like there, I know their prices are high. If we can't find comparable materials elsewhere, I'll probably get the stone tile for the kitchen wall and fireplaces, and the accent tiles for the master bath there, but everything else, I'm sure, can be sources for less.

Which reminds me, I was having problems uploading pictures of the tiles last time.

Rough rock tile, flooring, and grantie for the kitchen.

I had a terrible time getting the colors to photograph the way they actually appear, but the rough rock tile is what's holding this all together. It has lots of whites and creams, and the creams work with the floor tile and the lighter background pieces in the granite, and it has some rusty orange, which also works with the flooring, and some gray-green-blue hues that tie really well with the granite. This is the granite I said I wanted to place near my bed at night.

Wall tile (which has matching floor tile) and 1" x 1" glass accent tile for the master bath.

Again, problems with capturing the colors. I was more concerned with capturing an image to jog my memory later than I was with getting a great picture. This is the awesome crackley glass accent tile I was talking about. I like that the overall palette is neutral and calming. It will give me lots of flexibility over the years if I want to change things up with pops of color. The glass tiles are clears, creams, light and medium grays, and light and medium browns, and the floor/wall tiles are mostly white to gray. The crackles throw off little sparks of light and even though the floor/wall tiles are ceramic, they could easily be mistaken for limestone, giving it a much more expensive "stone" look without the stone price.

So, I think I mentioned that the granite pictured with the kitchen grouping above was only available in 12" x 12" tile. The shop I bought the sample tile from called in Green Mountain. When I took the sample into Schneider Stone, the granite fabricator we've been working with, she said it's not something they carry. But she did some calling around and Cosmo, another shop in Raleigh, had Mountain Green available. So they tagged it for us and that was the granite quarry we were trying to get to while driving through the storm damaged areas.

I am so glad we went to look at it. I would have been so unhappy with this granite if I had just taken their word for it that Mountain Green was the same as Green Mountain. Other than the uniformity of the colored piece sizes in the granite, Mountain Green was not Green Mountain. It had white background pieces instead of cream and when you stepped back from it, it actually looked gray with a blue tint. Not at all what I was hoping for. I had pretty much given up on finding a match for my granite sample and it was our last day in North Carolina, so we strolled their warehouse floor trying to find something that would work and found this:

This looks like a Plan B to me.

They called this Romano Dream and it's nothing like my granite sample, but it does coordinate with the rough rock tiles. It has lots of creams, some random spots of rusty orange, and some of the gray-green-blue colors scattered in the background. I liked it and thought it might be a good alternative, though I wasn't sold yet. There is a lot of black in the Romano Dream that isn't going to be present elsewhere, and honestly, the rusty orange spots make me think of nicotine stains from cigarette burns. Not an image I'm really looking forward to seeing every day.

The entire Romano Dream slab with my 12" x 12" sample at the bottom.

It's very pretty, and I could probably get past the rusty orange stuff. There really weren't many of them. But they only have 1 slab in stock, and we'll need 2. And now that I've seen the variations possible, I will not accept a granite slab that I haven't seen for myself.

And that was when one of the other salespeople stopped to see how we were doing. He recognized the sample I'd been carrying around as something they used to carry. He called it Tunis Green/Green Tunis/Tunis Verde/Verde Tunis and said as much as he hated to send me to his competition, if anyone around Raleigh still carried it, Daltile Stone would be my best bet. And they were just down the street.

I handed the Cosmo rep a sheet with names of their granites I was interested in so they could send pricing information back to Schneider Stone, then Scoob and I headed over to Daltile. I wasn't about to get my hopes up just to have them dashed against the rocks again. (I'm getting punny. I'm still on east coast time and it's way past my bedtime.) But look!

YES! I just about hugged the slab when I saw it!

Here's a better picture of it from their website.

They called it Green Tea. And it's almost a perfect match! Scoob says my tile sample is like a high definition TV, the darks are darker and the lights are lighter and there's more definition between the colored pieces, and that the slab is like regular TV, it's just a little more dull. I'm wondering if the colors will deepen when the sealant is applied.

The salesperson at Daltile said he would continue to look for something that matched the sample more, but in the meantime, I tagged 2 slabs of Green Tea.

When we got back to the house, we laid out all the tiles on our friends' living room floor and got some second opinions. See, Scoob had grown very fond of the Romano Dream granite while I still favored the Green Tea.

Scoob is much more design oriented that I am, and I'll usually defer to his judgment on things like this. Normally I don't give it a second thought. But I have learned that when I find something I like, I can be awfully tenacious about it.

Our friend thought both granites looked great with the rough rock. She gave Scoob and I each a pen and piece of paper and had us do a little exercise. She asked us to think about how we want the kitchen to feel and what we want out house to say about us and choose 3 words/phrases to describe that. I remember that Scoob wrote down unique, but I've forgotten his other 2. (Is it bad that I can't remember exactly what Scoob wrote down?) I wrote down solid, livable/not fussy, and comfortable/inviting.

I had to elaborate on the solid word choice and here's my explanation—this is where I'm choosing to put down roots, this house will be our center in NC and our anchor, it will be the place we know best, and it will be a foundation for our family and our lives, I do not want it to feel fragile, I want solid and sturdy.

Based on our word choices, our friend said we should go with the green (yes!). The Romano Dream would be beautiful, but would give the kitchen a very high-end, monochromatic look and people would be afraid to set anything down on the counters and probably wouldn't relax in the space, while the Green Tea would add some depth and warmth while still being unique; green is not a common counter top color and just look at how difficult it was for me to find it!

Our friend has been absolutely indispensable during this process and I'm sure if we already lived in North Carolina I'd be constantly bugging her with things like this. I've lost count of how many poor decisions and almost disasters she's already saved us from.

I did compromise, though. Since we'll probably be using the same rough rock for the fireplaces, I suggested to Scoob that we use the Romano Dream as the fireplace surround in the living room. The keeping room fireplace surround will be Green Tea since its in the same space as the kitchen.

So, in the end, we both get what we want. I think that makes any day a good day.

1 comment:

  1. I am starting to feel happy we don't have those kind of decisions to make about our house! SO MUCH STUFF!