Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Canadian in the Kitchen, an Italian in the Bathroom

Rather than bitching about what isn't happening at the house, we spent our Columbus Day driving around suburban Maryland in an attempt to finish up with some of the remaining choices we have to make.  Most importantly were the kitchen countertop materials and the bathroom flooring.  Isaac was sleeping over at his friend Alex's house, so my thought was to get up whenever Lola did, which is usually 7 something, head out to stores, maybe with a stop at IKEA for breakfast, and then come back by noon in time to pick Isaac up.  Well, with Lola sleeping in until after 9 (hallelujah!), we went another route and the girls made heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast while I cleaned up the backyard.

Finally set off afternoon with both kids in tow, headed up the B-W Parkway... but not until a stop at Burger Delite in Hyattsville for some Carolina Barbecue.  Nomnomnom.  (You see where I'm going with this, right?  So much for getting a lot done...)  Made it up to MSInternational, this huge warehouse in the middle of nowhere (Jessup, Maryland) full of enormous slabs of stone.  Very impressive, if I must say so myself.  They were recommended by a store Abby went to, and apparently they're the suppliers for Home Depot, so I guess their prices are pretty competitive too.  Anyhow, I've never seen so many countertops; they were stacked sideways all the way across the warehouse, sorted by color and grain and source and type and whatever-- impressive.  When we walked into the warehouse part, Isaac actually gasped, which I thought was neat, since he more and more often acts unimpressed by anything, being the premature teenager he is.  What was also very cool were framed pictures on the walls of giant mountains being ripped apart in extremely geometric ways.  Now I'm definitely not a fan of hilltopping, which is what coal companies do in West Virginia, leaving ridiculous environmental damage in their wake.  But does the fact that these mountains have marble and granite and whatever else in them instead of coal mean that the operations are cleaner?  My guess is no, but I'm choosing to deal with this political issue in another way some other time-- maybe as I'm making a sandwich on my new kitchen's new granite countertop...

Anyhow, Abby had two things in mind at this place: a countertop and a floor tile.  She had been here before, on a day she spent gallivanting around home-improvement places between DC and Baltimore, and had wanted me to see them.  It was great: we walked in, we looked at the slab, I said "yep," and we moved on.  Wish all decisions could be made that way.  (And for the record, our kitchen countertop will be "Virginia Mist," a charcoal-colored granite with a low number of variances, mined in Canada.)  Okay, so on to the tile.  Should be easy.  Nope.

Virginia Mist Granite:
Our Canadian Countertop, eh?
Abby picked out this tile that made me think of an Iranian whorehouse.  Okay, maybe not an Iranian whorehouse, but how about the place where Iranian call girls go to get their nails done?  It was dark gray, which is what we were going for, but with these weird cloudy streaks of metal going through it.  There were two different shades of the same style tile, and the other one, which had more brown, was definitely more bling-y, but I just couldn't get over the metallic shine of it all.  Tried going the nice route, by pointing out other tile in the store I really liked-- Abby said everything I liked was too "rustic," but I don't see it-- until I finally just told her it wasn't for me.  So, not exactly back to the drawing board, but let's call it going 1-for-2.
This is what an Iranian bathroom looks like, at least in my head.

By now it was already 4:00, and Abby was strongly hinting maybe we should just go home and call it a day, but I wanted to GET STUFF DONE so I pretty much steered the car the way I wanted it, across Central Maryland and over to the other tile store Abby had liked.  On the way, Abby conveniently started getting another headache, which is something that's been happening a lot lately-- she gets migraines, if you didn't know already.  But doggone it, we are shopping for tile here!  We make it over to Rockville and pile into the store.  The guy's a bit skeevy, with a terrible dye job, but the store has tons of choices, and we quickly go to work.  Lola's immediately fascinated by the Hello Kitty tile.  Thankfully, the kids are distracted by the putting green up front (good idea!) and we can mostly work sans kids.
I kid you not: they sell this in Maryland.
Abby and I are both drawn to stripes, for some reason; all the prettiest tiles have 'em, apparently.  But we can't do stripes on the floor, because the vanity has a really bold wood grain.  Having more lines on the ground would just give the whole thing a bit too much vertigo, I guess.  After an hour or so, we decide we really like this one gray tile, very simple but still three-dimensional (meaning it's not just flat gray), and are happy.  And it's Italian: ooooooh, fancy...  Then we realize this is the same exact tile we've had a sample of in our trunk for about two months.  Oh well-- when you like something, you like something, right?  And not a moment too soon, because the kids start going crazy.  We whisk them outta there, it's after six, we make it home by 6:30, have homemade burritos, and put them to bed. Can't think of a better way to celebrate a holiday that's still around pretty much solely due to the Italian-American lobby than by deciding on a purchase or two of granite.  Michelangelo would be proud.

Dark Gray Bathroom Tile:
Will be less blurry in person

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