Work in progress

Author: fraise

Sunday 28 December 2008, in Home improvement, La France, Nice

Uncovering the living room

This is how I’m spending my Christmas and New Year’s holiday! All of this is the result of “just” three hours of work today. I’m glad that these went much quicker — I should be able to finish a good part of the living room by the end of next week. These are the tools and protection I’m using. Always use face protection when removing tile; I can’t insist enough. No matter how careful you are, the tiles break in unpredictable ways and pieces go flying everywhere. My eye protection and face mask have been hit by flying pieces of tile very often. Along those lines, if you have a pet, either don’t let them near the work area at all, or stop working when they’re nearby. Kanoko rests on his cat tree perch to oversee my work, so he’s been fine. I only worked for three hours because that’s all my arms and legs could take. It’s best to kneel (I used a folded-up blanket as a knee pad), which takes its toll, and it’s tiring to pound and lift all the time.

The thick gray line just above Kanoko’s head is not due to broken tile — that’s originally where the living room wall was. The previous owners took it out and put it further back to create the sofa nook. This is both good and bad: the good part is the tomettes aren’t broken; the bad part is there are no tomettes along that line at all!

While I consider tomettes to be a treasure because of their beauty and soft, silky feel, they are also a treasure in the material sense of the word: since tomettes are no longer made, you can only find vintage ones, and hexagonal tomettes cost from 50 to 70 euros per square meter. My living room and bedroom are 35 square meters in all, multiplied by 60 euros makes for 2,100 euros, or about 3,000 US dollars at the current exchange rate (I use’s currency converter). In comparison, decent-quality modern tiles cost about 20 euros per square meter, or one third of the tomettes’ worth. In short, for 3-4 weeks of tile removal work, I’ll be tripling the value of my floors! (Why did the previous owners tile over these tomettes? Well, since they are “vintage”, there are some French people who don’t like them. I’m assuming that’s what happened, since the previous owners were a young French couple.)

4 responses to “Work in progress”

  1. Bouks Says:

    I have a confession: I *hated* tomette-covered floors when I lived in France. The color did not appeal to me, and I came to associate them with depressing, dilapidated property that needed renovating.

    However, because of your blogging about your home renovation experiences, I am developing a new appreciation of tomettes. I didn’t know about their history or value until I read your explanation, and your enthusiasm is contagious. Moreover, I am realizing now that my association of the tomettes had more to do with difficult personal circumstances while living in certain residences that had these tomettes, than with the tilework itself. So I am putting my prejudices aside, congratulating you and cheering you on. Work happily and safely!

  2. fraise Says:

    I wouldn’t call it a prejudice, just a matter of taste! Reading ApartmentTherapy has freed me of so many self-imposed home design restrictions… I’d always had other peoples’ ideas of taste pounded into me, mine often being ridiculed (which continues, make no mistake about it), but seeing how different people are finally made me realize that what I enjoy is fine, and what others enjoy is fine too. I understand how people can dislike tomettes, it’s not often they’re very well-kept, and like you say, when you see them it’s often a sign the place hasn’t been renovated for a while. I’ve always liked terracotta, and burgundy is one of my favorite colors (as attested by the drape in my bedroom…!).

  3. Charlotte Says:

    Bravo Anna ! moi j’adore les tomettes, j’ai grandi dans un vieil appartement niçois, où pratiquement tous les sols étaient en tomettes, j’en suis nostalgique ! Tu sauves nos traditions car la tomette est d’ici (de Salernes dans le var) merci à toi !

  4. fraise Says:

    Je savais pas que c’était carrément du Var ! Excellent, j’adore quand un appart/une maison est fait de choses locales. (Je viens de visiter leur site, il y a même une tomette pour représenter la ville :) Ah tiens, il y a un site de céramique aussi, chouette.)

    For others — Charlotte said that tomettes are from Salernes, a village in the region. I had no idea — it’s great. Merci Charlotte!

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