Thursday, November 10, 2005

Retiling the interior

Having completed all the outside tiling minus the terraces to still to be built on one side of the pitched roof in order to create more outdoor living space, it was time to tile the interior of the house. This involved bringing tiles of choice from the shop in Mexico City where we buy all our tiles over to Coatepec, and getting Roberto over for several bursts. A week at a time is a good tiling span. At the time of writing this post the interior is mainly tiled. All that remains are two bedrooms, the first floor landing and a couple of small balconies.

The same tiling pattern is being used throughout the house, based on concepts built into the floor of the shop where we buy the tiles. The design involves cutting a small triangular piece out of one corner of each tile, such that when four tiles are laid together there is a small diagonal square gap left, into which a small colonial blue and white patterned decorative tile is set. Around all the walls in the main rooms, at the base of the walls, a 'guia' design of tile is used as a trim -- like an archetreve.

As the first picture in the following sequence shows, the original tiles were an eyesore. They were also concrete tiles with a dye surface, rather than clay and ceramic. They attracted damp, and they were plain ugly. The person who had mortared them gave a whole new -- pejorative -- meaning to the otherwise venerable concept of 'rustico'. It might best be thought of as 'lumpen rustico'.

That is now all in the past. Roberto listened to our ideas for the floor, fed in suggestions of his own, generated variations around the themes, and then executed the design with that precision we regard as one of his trademarks. We are quite often asked in Coatepec why we bring Roberto all the way from Mexico City to Coatepec to do the work when there is plenty of local labour. The first picture below says it all.

I sometimes wonder why we go to all this effort to rebuild and otherwise renovate the house. But at moments like these of assembling the record I fleetingly forget the blisters, bumps and bruises, the aching bones and cement in the eye.

At least fleetingly! But right now I get the feeling that another part time year should close it out. After that it should just be down to maintenance. At least, that's the plan.

Point of reference. This picture shows the original tiling in the house, set here against a painted cement bedbase that looks well and also constitutes a major strike against dust. The original tiles really had to go, didn't they?  Posted by Picasa

The stairs bring together the components of almost all the tiling in the house: the larger floor tiles, the small decorative tiles that sit between each block of 4 floor tiles, the 'guia' patterned tile that is being used throughout the house as the lower wall trim, or archetreve, and the plain yellow tile that is used in the square borders in the lounge floor design. The only missing component from the tiling scheme as a whole is the patterned middle-sized ceramic tile that is used in the border design for the lounge. Posted by Picasa

Looking down on them when they are clean and shining. Hopefully, they'll be like this more or less permanently when the building is all finished. Posted by Picasa

Second flight from landing at top of the first flight of stairs. The iron work on right looks down to the lounge Posted by Picasa

Closer up on stairs approaching first level landing. Posted by Picasa

Stairs near top of second flight. Posted by Picasa

View down first flight of stairs prior to tiling lounge Posted by Picasa

Retiling the lounge

The last of the downstairs tiling to be completed was the lounge. This was also the most complex because it involved working out how to get the best effect in a large space wat was complicated by stairs on one side and a storage area in one corner. We wanted a classical colonial look that bore Moorish influences. Roberto, bless him, drew up some concepts on notepaper. One concept involved the use of the small decorative tiles as were being used throughout the house as a whole -- set on diagonals within the square space created by cutting one corner off each tile. The second concept was of a large inner section whose large tiles were set at diagonals to the large tiles in the surrounding area. The latter were laid in the same manner as the tiles in the rest of the house. The third concept was of decorative borders made in small coloured/patterned ceramics.

Roberto had never done this kind of tiling before, let alone been given the task of working out how to implement a concept that began as inchoate, but worked itself out in conversation and in conjunction with purchasing the azuelejos (the smaller ceramics). One way of deciding on how to bring an inchoate concept to fruition is to purchase tiles and then work out how to make them come together in a successful design. We knew the colours we wanted and the kind of concept. We worked with Roberto to achieve the design, but it was Roberto's knowledge of how to use diagonally cut half-tiles to make well-conceived corners that made the design come alive.

As the work unfolded we came to realise more and more what a gem of colleague Roberto is. He made it happen and you could feel his enlivenment as the thing came together. At the end of it, apart from the sheer joy of being able to see the floor as a finished work in twice the splendour we could have had in our wildest dreams, there was the thought: if this was Roberto's first hash at this kind of thing, what would his fourth or fifth be like?

While I personally have no intention of being part of any scheme to get to the fourth or fifth effort, I'd be less than honest if I didn't concede that the thought is almost tempting.

Bless you Roberto. May your tile cutter be sharp forever.

Before the furniture. Front door entry is from the left at the bottom left corner. Posted by Picasa

Longways shot of the streetside half of the lounge. Lots of tiles, lots of work. Posted by Picasa

The wall nearest the streetside courtyard. Posted by Picasa

The various patterns, classical Moorish and Colonial motifs Posted by Picasa

Clean lines Posted by Picasa

Close up of the centre square. Roberto's execution of the collaboratively developed design. Posted by Picasa

The tangerine wall on fine form. Cathedral on the right, below stairs -- see next pic. Posted by Picasa

The baked clay cathedral bought in Mazatlan in 1997, carried back to Australia, and then brought to Mexico in 1999. At home in the niche Roberto built in a lounge wall. Posted by Picasa

From the bookcase Posted by Picasa

From dining room door Posted by Picasa

The two borders Posted by Picasa

Middle of lounge Posted by Picasa

Half the lounge Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mixed Work

This sequence of pix goes back a few trips to earlier this year, when Roberto brought Beatriz and Magali over and we did a pretty serious 10 day stint which took in different kinds of work. The first job involved taking the tarpaulin top off the chill out space that is on top of the roof -- hence, 3 storeys up. The replacement roof was galvanised metal 'look like' tiles. Light, strong, durable, and a pretty good colour match to the real thing.

A second job involved puttting some lamps in the front and back courtyards. I kitted these out with coloured fluro tubes like those featured in an earlier post that showed the barbeque.

The third job involved building a fountain in the front courtyard. We also put a small fountain next to the barbeque in the back courtyard, but to date there are no good photos of this fountain to show.

Magali began walking on this trip. She was never far away. In fact, for me, this was a very special time. The house was full of life, with lots of laughter, and a lot of cheering when Magali got that step after step walking thing right.

The rooftop chill out space, with its new metal 'tiles'. Posted by Picasa

Magali learning to walk. Posted by Picasa

Roberto with Magali Posted by Picasa

Plumber's mate Posted by Picasa

Green light Posted by Picasa