The Mast-Head: Tile in the Crosshairs

The rectangular early 1960s red quarry tile with white grout made everything look wrong

    No one really ever liked the kitchen tiles. My wife, Lisa, and I learned this a couple of days ago when my mother stopped by the house and we began talking about our on-again, off-again effort to fix up the house.

    We had painters taking care of a few rooms earlier in the year, but work stopped when we got tired of having to follow them around pointing out places they had missed. Then, too, trying to figure out what color to paint the kitchen cabinets was nearly impossible — the rectangular early 1960s red quarry tile with white grout made everything look wrong.

    Mom supplied the background details. When she and my father had the house built, she had wanted real bricks on the kitchen floor but was told she couldn’t because they would be too difficult to keep clean. Instead, they settled on brick-like tile, which she did not care for early on, and her opinion never really improved.

    Tile being essentially indestructible, the stuff has lasted for some 50 years. It would have had its fleeting moment of fame when the house was used as a location for the lobster scenes in Woody Allen’s 1977 “Annie Hall,” but the director had a white plywood floor put down so the scuttling creatures would stand out on the screen.

    Complicating things now is that our oldest child believes that any color is right for interiors so long as it is white. Adelia has strong opinions, and she insists that she will not allow friends over until the kitchen is up to her standards. Lisa and I are still considering our options. She briefly took an interest in dying the grout a darker color, but Adelia said she would move out if she did.

    As for me, I see how these things go. Next thing we know, we will be pulling out all of the kitchen cabinets, laying down a real wood floor, buying new appliances, and ordering new cabinets. It’s a slippery slope, and we’ve got the kids’ college funds to think about.

    Woody may have had the right idea.