Penny Tiles … and a Rainbow

The Chennai apartment’s kitchen is being completed over the upcoming weeks. Yay! Finally! Now that we see the imagined pieces coming together in reality, we’re getting excited. Should be nice when it’s done.

For the kitchen backsplash tiles, the Chennai tile shop delivered pink accent tiles instead of rusty orange and the tiles we ordered aren’t stocked anymore. So we visited Chicago’s northwest suburban tile shops to find accent tiles for the suitcase haul to India. If the tiles didn’t work out, we knew we could bring tiles back and return them. Unlike our “no returns for any reason” experience in India. I try to stay positive and pretty here, thus will spare you the rant.

At The Tile Shop in Lake Zurich, we visited after a traffic crash had knocked power out! Exclamation point is deserved because while this is common in India, it’s not here. Tiles we thought we liked looked very different in sunlight than in the shady back recesses of the store so we got lots of exercise there. We are devoted customers of The Tile Shop — we made a beautiful master bathroom with their travertine tiles. But for the Chennai apartment, the cost for accent tiles was higher than we wanted to pay for a second home we visit occasionally. Particularly, the cost of pencil pieces necessary to set off listellos made us think twice.

See here the pencil pieces above and below the border in this display at The Tile Shop. Imagine this without them. You really do need them:

But we struck a pot o’ gold at Home Depot! Apparently when merchandise is to be removed from the shelf, it’s marked to sell for a penny. But you as a customer don’t know this. And it’s not supposed to be on the shelf. Well, the accent tiles we found were a penny each! We got our accent tiles for less than a pack of chewing gum! We had to visit a few Home Depots to get enough tiles, so gas pushed the cost to three packs of chewing gum, but still …

There was a rainbow leading to our pot o’ gold tiles at Home Depot! No joke! No Photoshop! This is for real:

The most ironic thing about this story:  We very mistakenly thought at the beginning of this process that India would offer bargains galore when building an apartment there. Thus far India has not at all been a bargain (save for the total kitchen cost versus cost of a total new kitchen in our U.S. neighborhood). Our choices aren’t at heart-attack-sticker-shock level, but they’re not bargains, and truly the biggest tangible and intangible costs are hidden — they appear during the process. The big bargains we’ve found have been in the U.S. and they go to India in a suitcase. How about that.

Here are tiles in a mockup our nephew created while he and my husband were choosing a granite slab this week:

We’re going for subtle accent with the backsplash. “Wow” things can come from elements that aren’t permanently installed. The accent tiles remind us of carvings we photographed at Angkor Wat:

The last kitchen “unknown” now is, we’re anxiously awaiting the hammered copper farmhouse sink to arrive on Saturday …

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