Thursday, October 20, 2011

Under Construction

Back in January, our upstairs shower started leaking, down to the first floor, and causing some wall and carpet damage in our living room. It took Carl and I a few weeks to agree that this was, in fact, the perfect time to replace the disgustingly nasty beige carpet that really isn't meant to cushion the sole of dirty little boys' feet.

But which part of the house to redo? Carl, having grown up in the harsh winters on the East Coast, has bad memories of walking around on cold floors. Thus, wood floors in any of the bedrooms was out of the question. I made some effort at lobbying for the downstairs guest bedroom to be done, but Carl wasn't biting, and frankly, I have bigger arguments to win. We also considered putting the wood in the kitchen. I see it done all the time in design magazines and online, but wood flooring in the kitchen just seems a bit impractical to me.  I also really wanted to do the stairs. The carpet there is not in good condition, and I love the look of the wood there. Turns out that doing the stairs is VERY expensive. As in $10,000 expensive. The stairs were out.

In the end, we're doing the entry way, the downstairs hallways and coat closet, our office, the dining room, and the living room. Its 900 square feet, and the next hurdle for us to jump over was exactly how to pay for these home renovations. Our insurance settlement only covers the living room, so the rest of it was on us. We were sidetracked for a while because we were already planning a refinance to a 15 year mortgage, and we were going to roll in a small equity loan. But I wasn't comfortable with a mortgage payment that would be too high for us to swing on only one salary, since I'm sort of a glass is half empty kind of gal, and I live in constant fear of this economy causing one of us to lose our jobs.

We eventually decided to sell some of Carl's stock options at IBM. Naturally, the stock market took a downturn right around the time we made this decision. We finally sold the options in May, and then we spent the next few months thinking about colors and floor types, and what exactly we were doing with our renovations. Reaching an agreement is not the easiest thing when you have two strong-willed personailities, but eventually we reached a consensus on the floor.

But since things are never simple ... we agreed on a handscraped bamboo floor, which has to be glued down. And every DIY expert out there agrees: gluing down wood is not a DIY project. Which meant we had to decide on an installer for the wood (another few weeks spent). Eventually we made our purchase, and scheduled an install date for the flooring of October 24. Secretly, I'm relieved we aren't doing this ourselves. We have so little free time these days, it would have taken us months. And the experts are going to put down 900 square feet in three days.

We also reached an agreement that the walls needed to be painted, and that it was time for the white to go. Which meant agreeing on a paint color.

Yes, that was an easy decision to make.


It took a lot of paint samples, but we eventually agreed on Light French Gray for the dining room and office, and Natural Gray for all other areas. Who knew there were SO MANY GRAYS out there?? Painting is easy work, so while I briefly toyed with the idea of hiring painters (to save time), we just couldn't justify such an extravagant expense.

As the clock was ticking, we reached our agreement late Friday night, and bright and early Saturday morning I was at Home Depot to purchase an awful lot of paint. With Chris and Al's help, we spent pretty much the entire weekend painting (minus one Chelsea soccer game)

Add in a few late nights and half of a "vacation" day for me yesterday afternoon , and we've finished painting just about everything except for the office and some additional trim work. The doors will have to be painted later, but since that will take place in the garage, there isn't a sense of urgency there.

 Light French Gray

Natural Gray

I'm dreading the office -Carl's side is particularly, ahem, problematic, to dismantle. My desk and the boys' desk is cleaned off and ready for moving once Carl packs up the computers. We've intentionally saved the worst for last because its going to be hard without the house's central nervous system being operational. But I can hardly wait for it to be done.

I'm also pretty excited to be losing the dining room. We're turning it into a secondary living room, or my reading room, as I like to call it. The perfect place for these Jane Austen throw pillows I recently discovered through Pinterest. We'll see if Carl even notices them. Or reads this blog.

Up next: the wallpaper in the kitchen will go, and we'll do some minor kitchen improvements. But that will all be past my October 24 at 9:00 a.m. deadline.

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