There has been a lot to take into consideration with this house project, not only trying to marry old and new whilst remain sympathetic to the house but also taking into consideration what my Mother would have said (not my Dad, he wouldn’t have really cared but would have been aghast that we spent any money on the place). Mum had very definite views on certain things so there have been things such as bifold doors in the orangery that have been vetoed, much to the chagrin of the world’s worst project manager (that being an entirely different story for a different day).
I took a fancy to the patterned Victorian tiles for the house bathroom floor but all I could find to go with them were subway tiles or wood panelling. We had decided to wood panel the bathroom walls except for where the bath and shower are because that needs to be tiled so I was stumped as to what to do. We took a trip down to the tile shop to have a look and having picked our floor tile, I asked somebody called Ian for help. Poor unsuspecting Ian.
“What other tiles would you put with this?” I ask him.
“Well normally, they are paired with subway tiles.” Ian says.
“Yes but if you didn’t want subway tiles, what would you have?”
“Well… why don’t you want subway tiles, do you just not like them?”
“Well you see Ian, it’s a bit complicated. I inherited a house last year and we’re doing it up but the thing is that my dead Mother really hated subway tiles and I just have this horror of waking in the night to her looming over and shrieking at me for putting them in.”
“Oh. Right. Ok. Um.”
There is an awkward pause.
“But like, would she not maybe change her mind once she saw them in. You know how people don’t like something but then they see it and actually it looks ok and they change their mind.”
“No Ian, she would not. She had very strong views about subway tiles, bifold doors amogst many other things and she just wasn’t the kind of person who would change her mind on such things.”
“Oh ok. Hm. Well I suppose you could just use one of these slightly larger, flatter, rectangular tiles.”
“Yes, I think that might work actually.” I say, pairing them together.
“You do know you sound insane when you say things like that” David says to me as we get back in the car.
“Well, I just don’t know how else i’m supposed to explain it?”
“You could just say you don’t like the subway tiles.”
“Oh no, couldn’t do that. That would make me look really very strange.”
A week later i’m sent back to look at grout. A whole new world to me, who knew a whole world of grout existed?! Not I.
“You want a darker grout for the floor” our builder says “so it won’t look as dirty quickly.”
I can’t tell if this is the case for everybody or if he’s just casting aspersions on my cleaning capabilities (possibly not unfairly actually).
“Oh. Is grout not just grout?” says I.
So I return to the tile shop and as soon as Ian sees me, a look of dread crosses his face, from what I can see above his mask anyway.
“Hello!” I say brightly “I’ve come to look at grout!”
Ian hands me two weird catalogue type things filled with little sticks of different colours and runs away into the back room, I swear i’m not exaggerating. I’m almost tempted to shout “DON’T WORRY! SHE WON’T HAUNT YOU!” after him.
I spend twenty minutes placing the different coloured sticks against the tiles and deliberating. How can one tell how it will look? It really is a completely different world and not one that I wish to revisit any time soon. In the end, I get completely fed up, randomly pick one in a huff, hoping it’s the right one and scribble it down on a piece of paper. After all, as everybody tells me, it doesn’t do to overthink these things, sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
“Thanks so much!”I call out to poor terrified Ian on my way out, my dead mother’s ghost no doubt trailing in my wake probably disagreeing with my choice of grout colour.
A few days later David says to me “I called the tile place and put in the order.”
“Yeah. I got Ian on the phone. He said ‘I’m not being funny but are you the people with the dead mother who didn’t like subway tiles?’ That is how we are known in there now.”
Personally think there are worse things to be known for.