Question: We have a large kitchen, which we're remodeling. My husband is building the cabinets, and, so far, everything is looking beautiful. We've saved a lot of money by doing the work ourselves, and I'd like to finish it off by splurging on a really beautiful floor. In other words, I don't want the run-of-the-mill floor tiles I see in most stores. Since I don't have a professional architect or decorator, is there some place I can go to get something out of the ordinary in tiles?
Answer: Every home center carries its own selection of manufactured tiles, and there is quite a variety to choose from, when you take into consideration the many chains of stores in the area. If you can't find what you want, check the Yellow Pages under Floor Materials, and you'll find several major manufacturers with a listing of retail stores that carry their lines.
For a decorator-type floor, you might want to look into creating your own pattern for a vinyl floor. One firm that provides custom-design service is Eddie Egan & Associates, 156 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles.
They claim that your imagination is your only limitation. In fact, Bonnie Cleiman, sales manager, says: "You can literally dream up a floor."
In their showroon, they have about 400 panels on display and some floor designs installed. Cleiman says costs generally run about $10-$15 a square foot, installed, depending on such things as intricacy of design, colors and textures chosen.
If you really want to go all out for a personalized floor, the design division of American Olean Co. is another answer. They make ceramic-tile murals or designs to a customer's specifications. These tile designs can be used on walls or can be floor insets, providing the thickness of the surrounding flooring is compatible with the ceramic tiles. For instance, floor covering surrounding the inset might be hardwood, Mexican tiles or some of the thin facing bricks that are available.
These custom-made insets won't come cheap, naturally. A small 1x2-foot inset might run $200 or more, depending upon the number of cuts necessary in the 1x1-inch tiles of which the murals are made. If you want a large (3x4-foot, for instance) inset, it could run more than $1,000.
Should this interest you, your should send the design or photo or picture of your choice to American Olean Co., Att.: Susan Van Voorhees, Public Relations Department, 100 Cannon Ave., Lansdale, Pa. 19446.
If you decide to stick with a vinyl floor covering, Armstrong used to make insets, such as initials, anchors or other such designs that would work well in the center of a large kitchen floor. You might ask your Armstrong dealer to check with the manufacturer to see if these are still available.
In the mail: E.C. Raymer, owner of Repair-All Co., 2326 Archdale St., Riverside, Calif. 92506, writes regarding automatic closing devices for sliding screen doors, mentioned in the Oct. 5 column:
"True happiness for parents is never having to say to their children: 'Close the door.'
"We sell two types of automatic door closers--one for sliding screen doors and a heavier-duty model for sliding glass doors. Both closers are extremely durable, spring-pneumatic devices with the following features: adjustable tension and closing speed, full door opening, no tools required to disengage devices, closing action that keeps doors closed without latching, stops if interrupted by object in door opening, one-inch diameter aluminum tube that can be painted to match decor. The units are designed for easy installation by the homeowner, requiring only two screws for mounting the unit and two for the bracket."
If you can't get by to see for yourself, the closers can be ordered by mail. They are $36 for sliding screen-door closers; $38 for sliding glass door closers. Prices include tax and shipping costs. Allow three weeks for delivery.
Dale Baldwin will answer remodeling questions of general interest on this page. Send your questions to Home Improvement, Real Estate Department, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Baldwin cannot answer questions individually. Snapshots of successful do-it-yourself projects may be submitted but cannot be returned.