Grouting all of that wall tile wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be - cleaning it all up is what sucked the life out of us. Once we found a nice consistency, we just slapped it on the tiles with rubber grout floats and we had the whole kitchen done in an hour or two. Then we started to clean it all up. We gave it a good wipe-down just a few minutes after we were done smooshing the grout into all of those little spaces. Wiping it down with a damp sponge really smoothed out the grout lines but made the actual tile look like a foggy mess. As not to re-live the nightmare of the tile-cleaning process and to keep from typing out the word "grout" too many more times, I will just summarize by saying we spend the next two days wiping down our white tile. For anyone out there that might be needing to clean that hazy film left on the face of your tiles by grout, I will point out that baby wipes are your best friend. I know they make special cleaners just for this purpose but I think I've been to Lowes about 97 times in the past two months so using something we already had on hand was a win in my book. After trying to buff our tiles with a dry towel, we tried baby wipes and it gave us the nice clean, shiny finish we wanted without the sore arms.
(For unknown reasons, I don't have pictures to show the mid-grout or the post-grout process. Instead, you will have to settle for the next step in our kitchen reno process...)
After allowing our tile to set and grout to fully cure, we had the green light to proceed with hanging our open shelving. Open shelving seems to be a popular thing these days and there are endless sources on the web that will explain how to hang and provide tons of eye candy. For two long L-shaped shelves, we needed a total of 12 brackets. Each bracket is attached to the wall with two screws. In order to attach those brackets to the wall, we had to drill 24 holes into our new tile. I must admit that the thought of drilling through new tile was nauseating but we got it done without any issues.
I measured, checked for level, measured again, stood back for a better view while Joe held up a sample bracket and shelf, measured a few more times, checked for level again, and then finally marked where my first screw hole would go. Repeat 23 more times. Luckily the wall studs created an even bracket placement so every bracket is secured to a stud - somewhat alleviating my fear of hearing a shelf full of dishes crash down in the middle of the night. (Note: we checked for studs before tiling this wall and made marks on the ceiling - that way we could easily determine where the studs were even after the tile was up. I don't think a stud finder or the ol' tap-the-wall trick would have been as effective through a wall full of tile.)
(Yes, I am fully aware that those shelves are too long. I just had them up there temporarily to get a better idea of how everything would look - not like there was any turning back at that point though!)
After we trimmed those shelves down to size, everything needed to be primed and painted. I had brought one of our cabinet doors to a local Sherwin Williams store for them to color match and came home with a gallon of paint - way more than I needed but I figured I would use it for several coats on the brackets, shelves, and crown moulding - as well as any other touch-ups. Since it was a custom color that the rep tweaked for me, I didn't want to run the risk of running out and then not getting the exact same color a second time.
Admittedly, I'm not a very patient person. Because of this, painting something that requires primer, several coats of paint, and a little sanding in between each coat is a painful process for me. Since we both work regular 9-5's and only had an hour or so to work on them each night (although I've decided to start playing the lottery so that won't be an issue for much longer) we finally got everything painted over the course of a few days.
I'm giving the shelves another day to dry before I attach them to the brackets so I hope to have pics of everything completed shortly!
Up next: Crown Moulding: The Leading Cause of Divorce