Jane met us at the airport.
We’d decided a few months earlier she didn’t need to bother with this little ritual anymore, but she probably thought we needed a little extra TLC this trip.
“We found the tile!” I exclaimed, giving her a quick peck on the cheek.
“Great,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. “But I don’t think you’re going to need it.”
“Pablo had a brainstorm yesterday. We took all the chipped tiles—there were boxes and boxes of them—and laid them down with little squares of darker tile in the corners. It looks great.”
It sounded horrible but I held my tongue. Her excitement wasn’t exactly contagious but it was clearly genuine, and I wasn’t about to rain on her parade until I’d seen the finished product.
It was fabulous.
The corners of every second row of larger tile had been cut away, and smaller, diamond-shaped tiles in a contrasting color had been slotted into the void. I’d seen the effect before in French houses, and I loved it.
If possible I would’ve asked the workmen to pull up the living room floor and start all over again based on this new and improved model. But in the interest of preventing apoplexy on Michael’s part (and mutiny on Jane’s) I kept this thought to myself.
(Of course, now we’d need to cancel our tile order in San Juan–but more about that later.)
In the meantime, it was hard to believe that the highly-finished rooms we were walking through now had emerged, under Jane’s hawk eye, from the ‘bomb site’ we’d seen in photos just six weeks earlier.
She was a magician. Everything was just as we’d hoped. The white-framed doors and windows popped against the yellow walls, which weren’t too pale or (as I’d feared) too mustardy.
The kitchen’s poured-concrete counter, though not exactly to my taste, was a success, and certainly durable.
Last, and perhaps best, the bathroom was crisp and sparkling and boasted a view from the shower straight down to the ocean.
Although quite a bit of furniture for the second floor had arrived, it was piled up in Jane’s garage and there was no point in taking it out of storage yet. We clucked and fidgeted and meandered around the newly-renovated space but there wasn’t much we could accomplish.
Michael re-edged the paint around a window casing and I mopped the floors, mainly because I wanted to see what they’d look like free of their coat of thick dust.
There were finishing touches to be added, but for the most part the work was done. The next time we came down we’d be able to set everything up and get the second floor ready for guests.