Posts Tagged ‘counter construction’

I know I promised that Talavera transformation, the end was the end of the talavera tile projects.  However, what can I say?   It’s been almost two years and the outdoor counter was too small to be functional, not to mention that the 25+ year old glass tiles kept loosening and falling off the sink area.


Modeled after my kitchen sink project, two other kitchens in my apartment complex had recently received a facelift and had used up most of the tiles squirreled away in the bodega.   But, I was determined and the expansion project began.


Despite the lack of tiles, the previously mentioned, Sebastián and Leonardo began framing the new counter top.  The first attempt at purchasing more tiles at Materiales Venecia (on the way to Tule) ended in a police bloqueo.  We (thank you, Chris) turned around and headed over to Home Depot.  No talavera tiles.  Then Romasa.  Also, no dice.


Push came to shove, the tiling needed to begin!  So, the following day, we again set out for Materiales Venecia — this time, smooth sailing and success.  With dimensions, a design, and a calculator in hand, the math was done (while squatting on the sidewalk) and boxes of green and dark terracotta tiles were purchased.


I’d bought the accent pieces years ago at a Oaxaca Lending Library bazaar, had planned the design around them, and was SO glad to finally see them being put to use.


After two weeks of on again/off again work, depending on their work schedule and my ability to obtain materials, the counter was finished and I immediately went out in search of stools, so I could belly-up to the bar to sip my morning coffee and sunset glass of wine.


I love it!  And, besides serving as a delightful place to eat breakfast and dinner, the added storage under the counter is fantastic.  No more looking at the plastic garbage cans holding dirt, stacks of buckets, and leftover paint cans — thanks to shower curtains.


What’s next?  Who knows…

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This morning, I awoke to the familiar, if startling, sounds of cohetes (rockets).  Oh right, it’s Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross).  Alas, no pilgrimage hike up Cerro Picacho for us this year; we are still in recovery from our island adventure AND, more importantly, even at 7:30 AM, it is too darn hot!  Have I mentioned Oaxaca has been experiencing 90º – 96º F temperatures for the past month?  That’s 10º F above average.  Exhausting it is and sweltering we are.

However, before the sun was directly overhead, I returned to Benito Juárez mercado hoping my coffee guy would be there.  He wasn’t, but many of the stalls had beautifully decorated alters, fragrant with the sweet scent of flor de mayo (plumeria) blossoms.


In Mexico, it is also Día del Albañil, the feast day of the stonemason/bricklayer/builder because, according to this article (en español):

Before the Conquest, the indigenous Mesoamerican related to the cross with the cardinal directions of the Indian cosmography north, south, east, west and central graphically formed the cross.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, this evocation was eradicated and replaced by religious symbolism of the Holy Cross.

Since then the celebration of this feast with the construction of houses, churches, monasteries, and other buildings with Indian labor was established.


However, Sebastián and Leonardo continued working on my new counter.  And, yes, there will be tile!

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Initially, when I came face-to-face with the kitchen at the bigger and better Casita Colibrí, I was convinced there was NO way I could make it work and that IT should be numero uno on the make-over list.  A double sink, but no counter space?  A grungy ancient copper-colored stove that may or may not have been safe to light?  A cabinet door that couldn’t be opened, because said stove was in the way?

Small kitchenWith a little pleading (whining), management replaced the stove with a new one that had been hiding in the storage shed.  I installed the shelf unit I’d gotten for my old apartment and I had the cabinetry painted white — making it more functional and easier on the eyes — and I was happy.  Hey, a friend even wanted to practice using his new fisheye lens.

Kitchen with white cabinets and appliances

(photo by Alan Goodin)

However, the talavera transformation in the bathroom turned out so well, I was inspired, plus the cement at the base of the kitchen sink unit kept falling out.  Thus, talavera transformation, part 2 began two weeks ago.

Framing for kitchen counter

The old cabinet was demolished (oh, the polvo!) and the new counter, with new sink, began to materialize from the dust and debris.

Cement base on kitchen counter top

Again, I scavenged tile from the bodega.  Luckily, there were several boxes of russet orange tiles, but they were slightly smaller than most of the other orphan tiles, making finding accent pieces a challenge.  I didn’t want to introduce another color into the blue/cream/orange mix that already tiled the walls and so was hoping Nalo and crew could salvage some of the old tile, but it proved far too time consuming.

Russet orange tile on counter

The result?  I love the cleaner, less busy, look for the kitchen.  And, the crew took about 6″ off the top of my old shelf unit, so it would fit under the new counter and I wouldn’t lose the storage space.  It’s faintly visible on the right behind the blue plastic curtain.

Russet orange tile counter with accent tiles.

One of my grandmother’s oft-repeated sayings was, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”  — but I’m trying!!!

h/t Chris for the shower curtain idea.

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For those of you who may not be aware, most Mexican bedrooms and bathrooms are small.  In the US, it’s what I grew up with and lived with most of my life, so I’m cool with that.  However, what has driven me nuts is the lack of a bathroom counter.  How does one handle toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, and water bottle, without at least one of the items ending up in the sink or on the floor?  And, forget trying to apply makeup!

Small white bathroom sink

So, when I moved into my bigger and better, but also with the aforementioned deficiency, apartment a year and a half ago, it became number one on my “find a way to fix” list. Serendipity motivated me into action, when I happened upon a talavera sink and surround on sale AND discovered a treasure trove of leftover talavera tiles in the bodega (storage shed) here at my apartment complex.  Project proposed and permission given by the property’s owner (thanks Doug), I hired a contractor, and work began.

brick and wood framing for counter

Being completely ignorant of construction of this type, I was fascinated by the process.

Concrete countertop

Once I’d received the okay for the project, I began hauling up buckets of mismatched tiles from the bodega and laying them out on the floor of my main room — in an attempt to create some sort of unified design — it was exciting to see it materialize.

Counter with tile

The finished project…

Talavera bathroom sink and counter

And, take a look at the side — it’s what one see’s when opening the bathroom door.  I think Nalo and his crew did a super job!

Side of talavera counter

What a difference a bathroom counter makes.  Form and function!!!

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