Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, Part 7

Tile work has started! Actually, Pat started cutting time last week, an exercise in the most complicated puzzle imaginable, where you have to make the pieces to fit this precise space and shape.

I didn’t get a picture of it, but he started by laying out all the tile and figuring out how to match the patterns on each tile. Then made this curved pattern with a flexible piece of wood, traced the correct curve onto each tile, and eventually started cutting, very carefully and precisely. Each tile was then laid out again to make sure the curves matched each other.

These are some of the pieces cut and staged, waiting over the weekend.

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On Monday progress leaped forward dramatically. Earlier in the day:
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Later in the day:

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By the end of the day:

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The color of the material doesn’t really come through very well, but here are a couple shots of the curves. I’m really impressed by how perfectly matched the curves are. Also, I love limestone, with its little fossils still visible.

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We are all pleased with how the tile work is turning out. Pat is happy with the design and with the tiles themselves, which he says are excellent to work with. We are happy with everything, but especially the way the design stands out but doesn’t massively dominate the room, thanks to the more neutral colors. Also, hopefully this will help it not look too dated 20 years from now.

Interesting tidbit: The limestone tiles are 5/8″ thick, twice as thick as Pat expected, and this caused us some concern as to whether the extremely tight clearance bookshelves we ordered would fit into the space – it’d be a real bummer to have them be 1/8″ too wide. But some phone calls to the shelf makers established that our shelves will fit even with the thicker tile. Also, the extra-thick limestone means more work making the face flush with the thinner porcelain tile. You can see the thickness difference on the edge around the face of the fireplace:

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But Pat is equal to anything unusual; in fact, I suspect that the trickier the job, the more he likes it.

Anyway, still to do: Texture and paint the repaired wall; finish tile work; finalize a design and make mantle; receive and install bookshelves, and, finally, track down carpet. The end is near! … Although I still deem it fairly likely that we’ll celebrate a two-month project anniversary.

Then, last of all, we get to schedule a final visit from the charismatic and delightful City of Bothell building inspector, who gets to sign off on the final product. Honestly it is hard to imagine what we’d do it he found something we should change – by then it’s done. But hopefully he’ll just take a look and leave promptly.

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