home-improvement

If you can’t do it right, don’t do it yourself.

images.jpegSettling down for the last time on my cozy mattress island amidst a sea of plywood, staples and drifting tidbits of foam, awaiting tomorrow’s carpet delivery and the long-awaited end to this dreadful project. As Danielle and I trudged around the unfinished floors tonight, sticky with residual carpet glue in the few places where the old stuff actually came loose and indignantly spongy in all the places where it refused, I settled into the sullen regret I now feel in taking this project on at all. It’s one of many things I’ve promised lately, either to myself or someone else, that has contributed to the rising tide of tasks that threaten to drown me every day until I learn it’s ok to make a splash and say “no, I can’t do that right now” if that’s what it takes to keep my head above water.

Let me give you the backstory. For an extra $90 the carpet installers would also remove the old flooring and do all the in-between prep work to ready the raw floors for the fluffy new covering my parents were so kind as to order. Yet I wanted time to finish painting the bottom 3 inches of the walls, and to chase the many squeaks in the floor with some well-placed screws, so I chose to forfeit this add-on and take on the removal and prep work myself, with Danielle’s help (assumed, probably unfairly).

Pulling the carpet turned out to be much more than I’d bargained for, another home-improvement project that turned on me like a domesticated tiger after tasting human blood. Apparently carpet glue was all the rage 20 years ago, or was on sale that fateful week when my carpet had been installed, as it was applied with reckless abandon between the thin, ugly carpet and the plywood floor, bonding them together with the kind of permanence that an orthodox priest would approve of. After hours of back-breaking agony on Sunday, with Dave mercifully coming over to assist, we peeled back the worn wall-to-wall abomination, mostly by separating it from its thin, spongy backing which remained intertwined with the floor, its apparent soulmate. Hands aching from the struggle to grip something which defies proper gripping, we stacked the outgoing material in neat piles – carpet, pad, baseboards, thresholds – in the garage for their ready disposal by the install crew. While I purchased a “floor scraper” at Home Depot – which turned out to be mostly a flat, ineffective shovel at twice the price – we chose not to worry about the remaining layer of carpet backing and glue, as it’s very thin and inconsequential, and we were very tired and frustrated. Plus, the only employee I could find at Home Depot that night said it would be fine.

Christie helped us touch up the walls’ paint last night, and (again, an example of very poor project scope control on my part) I also decided to move the washer and dryer into the hallway and install linoleum in the laundry closet Monday night, as if there weren’t already enough tasks to accomplish. I did a relatively good job with the flooring and then ruined it by impatiently moving the appliances back only 24 hours later, gouging several large holes in the still-soft vinyl.

Tonight, as I finished off what had seemed like a giant box of screws when I bought it but which quickly became a paltry sum in practice, driving the last one into a suspected-squeaky spot in the master bedroom’s plywood, I surveyed the results of my efforts. The floor still squeaks tremendously. I can’t say with any certainty that I made any improvements with that whole box of screws and that whole evening kneeling on the unforgiving plywood wielding a drill. About one in six of the screws broke off inside the floorboards anyway, judging by the number of loose phillips heads I tossed in the trash. Yes, the walls are painted all the way to the floor, which will hopefully mean I can postpone any trim-related projects for awhile. If there is a silver lining to this week, that will be it.

Lying alone on my mattress island tonight, I’m exhausted, frustrated and defeated that I expended so much effort – and asked the same of Danielle, Dave and Christie – all to save $90 on the install and spend $20 on useless screws to partially-prep the floors for what I assume will be an indignant, mean, grudge-carrying (if their telephone scheduling team is any indication) team of carpet technicians tomorrow. The dark of this tunnel is soon giving way to light, as by this time Wednesday night I’ll be moving furniture back into a cozy, rug-covered bedroom and lounging luxuriously on the medium-brown shag, likely making carpet-angels in it’s voluptuous threads and dozing happily nestled amongst its indulgent fibers. My only hope is that the job tomorrow is quick and seamless, leaving no noticeable traces of yet another project that I wish I had said “no” to before it started.

A few more after pictures

I scrambled to finish the remaining half-done remodeling projects before the housewarming, and other than a few exceptions (note the mismatched light switches in the pictures) I managed to wrap them up. If you came to the housewarming, you saw most of it, other than the sweet rug we found at Target the next day (thanks for the gift card, Josh!). It’s a huge relief to have so much of it completed, and to start just enjoying it for awhile. I’ve been playing Halo 3 online with Clint in the evenings, or just watching shows on my AppleTV and going to bed on time (imagine!).

Here’s a few shots of the rooms that weren’t done before:

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Here’s the rug Josh inadvertently bought us – you have great taste, Josh! 😉

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And a beautiful sunday morning out my bedroom window – I finally pulled out the phoneless-camera to take a good picture. I’m really happy in this place, and the whole thing has worked out very well. I feel very lucky.

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A world of difference

First off, a huge thanks to my painting crew two weekends ago (seen here relaxing in front of the Seahawks game after a hard day behind a brush) for all their help.

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I had an excellent crew – they did very thorough work and even brought their own equipment!

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After a day with them (and a whole week with Mom and Dad here) my house looks amazing, a complete transformation. This is even before I’ve finished replacing light switch covers, installing trim and molding, and setting Danielle loose on the decorating. I’m working on a more Trading Spaces-esque before and after, but here’s a few previews:

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As you can see, there are a lot of finishing tidbits to do, a lot of which I’ve done since I took these photos weekend before last, but in general it’s become a place that feels modern, classy and – most importantly – mine. Thanks again to everyone who helped – you rule!