How can I prevent grime from collecting in tile joints? It defeats the purpose of using white- or light-coloured tile grouting. I am also keen on using onyx somewhere in the house.
— Rashmi Singh
With the oil-based cooking that attracts dust, it’s hard to avoid the grime that settles between tile joints. However, instead of using small tiles, you could easily opt for large format tiles (at a tiny incremental cost) or even toughened float glass on the wall. This will help reduce the number of joints. If you go for glass, you could either use texture paint on the wall behind the glass or stick things such as small seashells, dried leaves, old coins, among others, to make an exciting mural. The glass will encase the mural, giving you a clean, joint-free surface that is both exciting and easy to maintain.
I have also tried wood-finished PVC tiles stuck on 12mm-thick waterproof ply, powder-coated, sandwich, aluminium panels and brush-finished stainless steel panels with reasonable success. With a little more money, you could also replace wall tiles with Italian marble for stunning results. Natural wood and terracotta tiles require a lot more maintenance and don’t fare well in the long run.
In the case of flooring, a coat of hard surface sealant (or Araldite with matching stone colour pigment if required) could be applied on the stone surface before polishing it to protect the joints and save them from mop-induced dust marks. Onyx is a translucent stone with amazing colours and textures that look best when lit from behind. You could try and use it on the bar counter or a (fake) fireplace. To enhance its effect, you could use a part of the stone to make matching wall lights and side tables, among other things.
I bought a chrome-finish, single-lever basin mixer, but later realized that the height of the tap is low and just about reaches the lip of my over-the-counter basin. What should I do?
— Mohit Aggarwal
A large variety of tall-body taps are available in various brands. You could consider doing some kaizen (Japanese for “innovative tweaking”) of your own. Ask your plumber to introduce you to a brass or stainless steel fabricator. They could easily fabricate a small extension that could “house” itself at the bottom of your tap and give it the desired elevation. If you are unable to match the shape or diameter of the existing tap, then it is better to alter the design of the base so that it looks “designed for”, instead of an apologetic imitation. Matching chrome plating can be done on both (non-corrosive) brass and stainless steel pipes easily.
What are water-curtained glass sheet and air-brushed silhouettes of plants. Are these natural? Do they need temperature-controlled environments/soil/water? Is waterproofing required (when used in interiors)?
— Savitha Birajdar
“Water-curtained glass sheet and air-brushed silhouettes of plants (bamboo plants)” refer to a design element where a sheet of transparent float glass is placed vertically in front of any floral decoration (plants, flowers, among others). Water is then sprayed on to this glass surface to create the effect. Good lighting, a motorized closed-loop water system and sound waterproofing further support the design. Typically, a sheet of glass 0.5-inch-thick is required. Toughening of glass is preferred. An obscure (not visible from the front) entrance door/hatch would help in the maintenance of plants (or any other focus element, lights, among others), while curved glass could add a little drama. Start the glass from the floor or as close to the floor as possible to make the screen seem like a waterfall that you could touch. A 0.75-inch-wide by 1-inch-deep aluminium channel is embedded into the floor, soffit of the top lintel beam and the two sides to house the glass within. All the adjoining surfaces, that is, stone, plaster, pop, among others, can be finished before the glass is inserted into the channels. Many a time, one of the sides (top or bottom) is kept unfinished (usually from the non-visible side) till the glass is in position.
The bamboo can be real or artificial. You could also pick up other indoor plants such as palms and crotons. Placing lights at the base of the plants tends to project a strong shadow and adds to the drama.
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