6 October 2014

Bathroom tiles - Sourcing

Early in the bathroom design process I had moaned about how cleaning the grout on bathroom tiles has to one of the most miserable domestic jobs, second only to cleaning the oven. I looked for ages for an alternative to a tiled wall.  

Charlie and I discussed a morrocan style of lime plaster called Tadelakt. Very elegant and calm looking.  You can go on courses to learn how to do it yourself. 



Tadelakt lime plaster ©MikeWye.co.uk


But in the end I conceded to a tiled wall. In the tidal wave of choices this was just an easier path to take. In order to minimise grout cleaning one should choose the very popular large format tiles.  But if I'm being really honest, and please don't get offended, I've seen too much of them in the last few years and I'm never one to do the easy thing.  So I hit pinterest to see what tiling alternative there were out there.

I have a deep love of geometric pattern (Sam my kitchen designer even says i am obsessed with straight lines- I like to think that is fascinated is a better term...).  Hexagons were a major contender, but not necessarily a cost-effective choice (have you seen the prices!).








I decided that a small rectangular tile (the ubiquitous metro) laid in a herringbone bond was what I wanted.  It met design criteria 1 & 2 (see here) as it used low cost materials creatively. It also allowed me to express my love of parquet flooring in another way. I busily set about researching plain white tiles and grey grout (to minimise staining and cleaning).  

However on my sister-in-law's recommendation (she had picked up some amazing bargains) we went to visit the Fired Earth Factory Shop in Adderbury the next time we were in Oxfordshire.  Behind the main shop they have a large storeroom area full of discounted products; tiles, brassware, sanitaryware, furniture etc.  Some of it is seconds, some ex-display and some used on photo shoots.











Amazingly we hit the jackpot!  There was a pile of boxes containing light grey rectangular tiles from their new Forecast range. Lovely glazed tiles from Spain which look handmade. It turned out that these were seconds as the colour tint didn't quite match.  They were perfect - a lovely grey colour which would work with the concrete floor and really textured and handmade looking so would offer texture and softness as a counterpoint to the clean lines in the rest of the bathroom.  Off I went to agree a price (less than half the retail price!) and reserved loads of boxes of the tiles.  The plan was then to go home and work out exactly how many tiles would be needed and then purchase the correct amount.  We had also put a reserve on a couple of Geberit Monolith cisterns they had in the warehouse, but needed to check for components.  The following week we confirmed how many boxes we wanted to buy and I arranged a date for collection a couple of weeks later.  




Fired Earth Forecast Cromarty tiles


When the day arrived, there was utter heartache when it appeared that they had inadvertantly sold my tiles to someone else (my advice now is to always get those tiles in your car as soon as possible). I would now have to go back to square one as the budget did not stretch to full price Fired Earth tiles, and that was so hard when I had already imagined how fab those tiles would have looked.  However after a couple of days nursing my heartache and convincing myself that the Gods had decided to show me that nothing should be that easy and I needed to work harder and be more creative...The very amazing Paul from F.E. called me to apologise and assure me that as it was their error, I would still be able to purchase the volume of tiles I needed at the price we had agreed.  HOORAY, HOORAY, HOORAY! Just another little emotional rollercoaster but with a happy ending. Is it all going to be like this?



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