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Renovation Diary Part 4: Bathroom tiles, window replacements, and more hiccups

From wrong tile shipments to window debacles

Photos by Melissa Romero

After years of fixing up homes throughout rural Pennsylvania and abroad, RoseAnn Hill had the itch again to renovate. Only this time, the home she fell in love with was in Philadelphia, and at 776 square feet, it was the smallest property she’d ever taken on. Follow along the renovation process from start to finish, as the 52-year-old works with local architect Timothy Kerner of Terra Studio to fix up a traditional Trinity in Queen Village.

Editor’s note: this story package was originally published in 2017 but each piece has been updated with the current information. This is part four of five stories.


This renovation has definitely gone through some iterations and changes since we started in January—and no project is without its hiccups. Here are some of the biggest issues we’ve run into so far:

Wrong bathroom tiles

In the beginning, I was going with this very updated, modern, and somewhat masculine look with clean lines. So for the bathroom, we went with this elongated subway tile that, from my understanding, was going to be this pretty neutral color.

But when they installed the tiles, there was texture on them. And I’m not really wild about the texture—it’s more of a grotto look versus a cleaner, sleek look. It’s not offensive, but I’m just not wild about it.

But again it’s one of those things when you do a project like this that’s pretty small potatoes. It’s a superficial, cosmetic thing that’s still great, and something we can revisit down the road.

Window battles

When the new windows were installed, Tim realized that the grilles were incorrect: The grilles were installed in between panes of glass, which is really cheap looking. True-divided litewindows have a richer look: It’s a depth of the grill that is outside versus the one that they put in, which is between the glass.

The in-between grilles are easier to clean, but it would qualitatively change the home’s look and curb appeal. The compromise was to keep the windows installed, but have the sashes replaced. Fortunately, Tim’s specs were really clear so there won’t be any penalty for it.

Mending fences

There’s another project under construction right next door, and there’s a gate that abuts both of our properties and leads to row of other homes. When the other project demolished their half of the gate, it became really unstable, so they agreed to put a second pier up.

We decided to not reuse the metal gate, but had to get the OK from my new neighbors because their mailboxes are located at the gate. And getting to know all of the neighbors has been lovely. They agreed to divide the cost of the new gate between the four of us, and I ordered and paid for it.

Again, this is where Tim my architect is such a professional. I call him the neighborhood whisperer, because we had to deal with the builder next door and our new neighbors, plus there’s money involved. Plus, I’m literally tearing up the concrete and making noise next door.

Tim neutralized a lot of the communications as point person. It’s going to be a beautiful gate. And now, the mailman is going to have the key to the gate and drop mail at everybody’s stoop so that the mailboxes are not on the outside of the property, making for a cleaner look.

—As told by RoseAnn Hill