Boy, what a response 🙂 You lot have some really strong opinions and know exactly what you like, it’s great! I guess this means that when some people come to stay they’ll love the fireplace but others, not so much.
We’d made (in the interiors world) the controversial decision to lift some original fireplace tiles as they just didn’t fit with the newly designed Pavilion bedroom. In most ways it’s been a sympathetic redesign: we’ve restored the cornice, had original shaped skirtings remade plus re-installed a glorious picture rail, but with a nod to the contemporary, I’ve chosen some unusual tin tile effect ensuite ceramics and a trellis wallpaper, both of which I literally LOVE. I keep walking in the room and smiling. OK, I’ll admit, at 11pm on a Bank Holiday Monday after 4hrs fine sanding then top coating the floor, I wasn’t really smiling, nor blowing hearts out.But I didn’t love the hearth, those yellow and red patterned tiles. Actually and may restoration lighting strike me down, I actively disliked the red. The yellow ones were much nicer but there couldn’t really be one without the other. They had to go. It’s quite traumatic to take out original features but can I just reassure you that they’re totally undamaged and will be reused elsewhere so the guilt isn’t weighing too heavily. The hearth base was cleaned and then a self levelling compound poured in – always better to tile on as flat a surface as you possibly can, for a much easier tiling life.
If you do decide to lift original tiles then act carefully, raising from the outside in using a rigid wide paint scraper. Set the scraper low down under the layer of bonding under the tiles, rather than trying to get the tile off their bed. The original adhesive / bond is going to be pretty old so is often pretty easy to lift. If the tiles need a little ‘help’, then an old chisel and hammer usually works but take your time and be gentle. One tip if the tile and adhesive seem pretty stuck together is once you’ve lifted them both together, soak them in a bucket of washing soda to soften the old base away.Anyhow back to my fireplace! I gave ya’ll some options:
…and LOADS of you loved the mutants, the four darker green tiles which looked kinda cool when thrown in with the lighter vibrants.
Sus rather liked the mix with darker shaded mutants, renovation.x opted for angular but didn’t really think input was helping (no, it really was!), simplythenest wanted diamond mutants, 2lgstudio wanted brick bond, annainternational wanted mutants, so did happylittleplaces. Even pals on Facebook threw in their tuppences and were a surprisingly traditional bunch: 11-3 against diamonds.
Uh oh. As my Facebookers are the ones most likely to come for a sleepover, I might be in trouble because ta daaaaaaaaaaaa, I’ve gone for it!!Still got the skirtings & edging strip to finish but they’re laid, grouted and polished and I loves ’em :-)For me, the diamonds had it. This layout, though less traditional than brick bond (which I usually adore), perfectly picks up the vertical point pattern in the wallpaper as a playaround on Instagram Stories shows.
It has dawned on me (yes, indeed, stupid me) that more of you may well have plumped for diamonds or at least forgiven me them had I shown you my quiet and restrained fabric for the headboard. Soz 😉
I chose a pale grey BAL grout to pick up the grey in the wallpaper and also because it looked more subtle than a bright white. I also used a Kerakoll adhesive called EcoFlex as it’s incredibly forgiving for non-professional tilers. It’s more expensive than ‘normal’ tiling adhesive but has super grab whilst allowing you to move the tiles around more easily. It’s solid yet pliable, and if you’ve ever done any DIY tiling you’ll know what I mean by that. Also it gives 30-45 mins fixing / play around time which helps loads when you’re a slow DIYer.
Weirdly it *feels* better too, it’s not sticky like many other adhesives, nor is it gritty. I don’t tile every day and frankly I don’t much like tiling, so when I do it I want it to be as nice an experience as possible! Plus, tiling in little white spotty socks helps, I generally find. See, I told you I didn’t much like tiling. And nor does my back!
But I do like my reclaimed tiles. They add a fabulously bright splash of colour to the room, work wonderfully with the newly stripped floor and act as a colourful foil to the back cast iron fireplace and muted grey palette. Discovering them last week was some kind of special and they’ll always remind me of how light can be found on the darkest of days. They’ll forever be my small tribute, fitted with love and designed to elicit a smile.