The Dream Of My New Bathroom Floor Just Did Not Hold Up To Reality


I am writing this column in two parts. Part One will focus on the exceptional vision I have for new flooring in the bathroom of my cottage, and Part Two will focus on the reality of getting new flooring into the bathroom of my cottage.

Part One: “The Vision” — I am tired of the peel-n-stick vinyl tiles someone put down on my cottage floor as a “quick fix” over the horrid yellow linoleum that was there before. My plan is to have my general contractor husband Mark pull up these horrible stickers, and then expertly place handcrafted Italian tiles in a geometric pattern that I myself will have designed. He will then use some custom-colored grout to fill in between them and — voila! — a utilitarian bathroom in a lowly cottage setting is instantly elevated to temple-of-the-tile-gods status. My friends will be in awe; my neighbors will mentally calculate the astronomically higher value of my little hideaway compared to theirs. It was exciting. And today is the day that brings us to:

Part Two: “The Reality” — I am really, really angry at the person who put down these peel-n-stick tiles, and now I remember exactly who that person was — me. Yes, despite the hurry-scurry of moving in, I thought it would be a good idea to at least “slap down” (I believe those were my exact words) these easy-to-use tiles to cover the yellow floor in an otherwise-pink bathroom. They did the trick for a while, but now they have shifted around and collected dust in the cracks between them and look decidedly “low end” — as in “low-end housing.”

So I got up this morning full of vim and vigor and high expectations, and immediately set off for that ritzy tile store I’d heard about. It was closed; call for an appointment. So I went to a couple of home improvement stores, but everything they had was so, well, non-Italian. When I accidentally caught a glimpse of the time out of the corner of my eye, I realized that my fun day was quickly disappearing, and probably the patience of my personal contractor, too. And, really, what was so bad about vinyl? Maybe a full sheet instead of tiles this time. I bit the bullet, paid for my mediocre, uninspired vinyl and headed for home where, indeed, my personal contractor was headed into the bedroom for a nap.

“No!” I exclaimed. “I’m ready to go here!”

“No, you aren’t,” Mark said. “Peel up the old tiles, cover their sticky backs with newspaper so you can use them for a pattern, cut your vinyl sheet perfectly to fit and call me in the morning.”

“In the morning!?”

“It’s an expression. Call me when you’re ready to lay it down.”

He got in a nice, two-hour nap before I was even remotely ready to go. Prying up the old peel-n-sticks was satisfying, but they did not give up without a fight, even though I used my very best pancake turner and butter knife. To make matters worse, the more progress I made, the more I stuck to the floor. I put bags over my shoes. I walked on cutting boards. I had glue in my hair. The door had to be removed. One glove got stuck to the doorknob. Sweat in my eyes made it hard to see. My glasses steamed up. I had a hard time wrestling the large sheet of vinyl. Mark laughed at me so hard he had to say, “because you’re so cute,” which is always his last-ditch line.

But it’s in. It’s in, and it looks OK. I would call it “fair to middling” — as in “What’s the improved value of Debbie’s house? Fair to middling.”