September 26, 2004

El Tango Renovation-o

I know there are three or four people out there who remember all the renovation we were doing to our house last year, and are wondering how it was all coming along. Well, the short answer is: slowly. The long answer is held in this weekend’s photo essay.

As you may remember, for over twenty years our house was dominated by the Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™. In the latter years it had become the Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™, Now With Cat Pee Frosting®!


Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™, dining room division.

Last year, with a new baby on the way, we got fed up with that noise and decided on a change. So we ripped out all the carpet, throughout the whole house, and coated the subfloor with Kilz sealant. (Kilz! Now with 75% more toxic fumes!!) At this point our house became the Great White Expanse, a marked improvement over the Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™. And yet…living on plywood? Not as great as it sounds.


Great White Expanse, dining room portion. Yes, those are purple walls.

The Great White Expanse was to be a temporary solution. We settled on installing laminate flooring, also known as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Hardwood!” We had the landlord (my parents) buy the wood, but that’s where things fell apart. One room was finished in October, and another in March. Having a baby takes up a lot of your time, don’t you know? So, anyway, sticking to our six-month timetable, earlier this month we did the third room in hardwood, the dining room.


The obligatory cluttered before shot.

But first, of course, we had to paint. Some years ago we had painted the room purple (Don’t ask; we were young). And years of sun damage had faded the purple to a sickly lavendar. So being older, and with slightly better taste, we went with a light cream.


Room for the vines to breathe.

Next it was time to put the hardwood down. First you lay a roll of blue foam padding; this helps to cushion the floor, dampen the sound of walking, and protect the underside of the wood. Then you snap the planks together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. This isn’t actually the time consuming part; it’s all the prep work and moving the furniture that slows you down.


An unexpected helper.

I also had some old ceramic tile to contend with. By the sliding glass door the carpet had rotted away long ago. So I replaced it, first with linoleum and then with ceramic tile. But the tile was old and cracked, the grout was coming out, and the colors just didn’t go with anything we had planned. So this, my very first ceramic tile job, had to be sacrificed so that hardwood might live.


Smash! Smash good!

After the tile was gone, the last few courses of wood fell right into place.


You’re doing it all wrong! Let me show you…

And then, at last, we had a dining room to be proud of. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re going to stop eating dinner in front of the TV—that’s just family tradition. But now we have a nice place for when guests come over.


A hundred times better.

And sometime in the next six months, we just might get around to putting hardwood floors in the master bedroom!!

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