Well, that just about killed me.

Install laminate flooring, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. Just click it together, they said.

Good god.

Perhaps for Stan the Handyman, installing laminate flooring would be a breeze. For me the English teacher and my hubby the graphic designer/drummer, well, that was a different story.

The morning after the bulk of the flooring was put in, I arose at 4 a.m. because my entire body was so sore (especially my back) that it felt that I had malaria. Ok, I will admit that I do not know what it feels like to have malaria . . . but I think it probably feels like that. The constant bending over, measuring, placing, crawling around on my knees and pounding in the boards got to my aging body. Plus, I only had a vague notion of what in the hell I was doing, so there’s that too.

It took a day and a half (which for a seasoned pro, it probably would have taken a few hours), but the room is done and we are proud of our new space.

I actually hate using that word – “space” – because it is SO OVERUSED on every home renovating/real estate show out there. Have you ever noticed that? Next time you watch one of them, count the number of times someone enters a room and says, “Oh, this is a nice spaaaaaaace.” They always seem to say it with just smidge of valleygirl accent, too. OMG, I love this spaaaaaaace. That is what I am now saying when I enter the breezeway.

If you look closely, you will notice the quarter round along the right side of the room looks like it is not nailed down yet. That’s because it isn’t. Here’s a little story about why I abhor doing home improvement projects – something ALWAYS goes wrong.

I borrowed a pneumatic tack gun and air compressor from a work friend. We used it for about 15 minutes and the air compressor (pretty new) suddenly stops pressurizing, rendering the gun useless. So not only could I not finish the trim, but now I have to tell my friend that I am returning her air compressor in a non-working condition. THAT is my worst nightmare! I always worry about being “that person” who breaks borrowed items. Now I’m that person. My husband and I just looked at each other in exasperation. What should have been a pretty easy project turned into one where we both wanted to pull our hair out.

Next steps: get a rug to absorb some of the sound, for right now that room is a regular echo chamber with the vaulted ceilings and hard floor.

Next steps after that: GET RID OF THE UGLY FAKE FIREPLACE.


An adventure in home improvement

I think I have a curse when it comes to tackling home improvement projects.

It never seems to fail: I get a great idea, I get the gumption to tackle the project, and then something goes horribly, horribly wrong. I don’t have the right tools, sometimes. Or, more often, I do not have the brain needed to know what in the hell I am doing.

My husband and I decided to refloor my breezeway area – which for the entire time I’ve lived here has been an ugly brown indoor/outdoor carpet. However, it was durable and stood up to the muck and grime that inevitably got dragged into that area day after day, so I kept it.

We had recently made an effort to turn that area into more usable space. We purchased a small square table from a local furniture store and put it in there. However, the area was also inhabited by my husband’s numerous drum cases. He’s a drummer, hence the cases. And when he plays gigs as often as he does, it is preferable to have the cases in a location where you can just grab and go. Some of that stuff is darn heavy. The breezeway seemed like a great place to put that stuff.

But now we have tired of the brown “turf” carpeting and we wanted something that made the breezeway a place to hang out, if one desired. We went to Menards and picked out some Mohawk laminate plank flooring (Lexington Pine) and loaded up our cart with everything we needed, and we picked a day to get the project started.

The day the project was to commence, we cleared out the breezeway, carried all the drum cases to the basement, and temporarily relocated the case called “the coffin” to the back patio. (The coffin contains all the hefty chrome drum stands, and it requires two people to move or lift it – it is so freaking heavy. Even rolling it on its wheels involves grunting, back pain, and general agony. So that damn thing sat outside while it thought about why it makes our backs hurt.)

Yeah, look at this Hershey chocolate brown goodness, will you? While you’re at it, please note a couple of highlights regarding this picture: that giant stain in the middle of the floor is from a leaky oil container that my car-loving son left there, which is also the same spot that the same kid, then 3, dumped almost an entire bottle of car wash soap out. That was SO much fun to clean up. I accidentally made a bubble machine out of the wet/dry vacuum. This floor has seen some stuff, man. Note Molly’s tennis ball lying there, dejected. Oh, and the next project that we will be tackling is GETTING RID OF THAT GOD-AWFUL FIREPLACE. No one is fooled by orange-glowing logs. NO ONE.

We hauled in all the flooring, read the directions, and then got hung up on one little detail of the directions. We had to saw off the “tongue” that went against the wall. No problem, right? Just whip out the old band saw and go to town.

I don’t have a band saw.

I have manual saws.

They did not work worth a darn.

After doing some Googling, I discovered the solution: a utility knife. So I went out and bought a sturdy utility knife (the one I had was old and rusty) and cut that tongue right off.

We also decided to paint the baseboard a darker color to match the dark tones in the wood. Yes, I know we should probably replace it, but there are some funky holes/contraptions in the baseboard along the house side and I would have no idea how to install new baseboard while taking those thingies into consideration. I have limited tools and even more limited knowledge. The baseboard is now a mid-toned chocolate brown. Eventually, once we are able to get that gawd-awful fake fireplace off the wall (it is hooked up to a gas line, so I need professional help there), the walls will be repainted a more gentle color. I’m not sure what sort of mood I was in when I bought that turquoise paint. Obviously, I was in the mood for change!

My hubby and I hope to get a start on the flooring sometime today. Wish us luck!


Quartz — it’s not just for countertops

When I was doing the kitchen remodel, I wrote a few posts about how I selected the countertop material: Silestone in the texture of Stellar Night.  I still love my countertop with a passion; the silver sparklies in the black are just beautiful to behold.  Here’s a pic of the countertops just after they were installed (and before I had the ugly tile ripped off the walls):

Continue reading “Quartz — it’s not just for countertops”


Pluggin’ along …

The new room is taking shape.  The contractor finished mudding the walls, and I put an initial coat of primer on them on Saturday so he could touch up any spots.  I suppose I’m learning why people don’t like non-textured walls in their houses: they show every single flaw.  However, I wanted the walls to match the non-textured walls in the kitchen, so my intentions were good. Continue reading “Pluggin’ along …”


Flooring decision: Made! (finally)

The other night I finally decided on what flooring to put in our kitchen and new dining/miscellaneous room.  I wanted laminate so it would be easy to change out when/if we got sick of it, and I also wanted something that brought a retro flair to the rooms.  For months I’ve been toying with the idea of black-and-white checkerboard flooring, but I kept getting hung up on the fear that my house would look like a diner rather than a cozy kitchen with a retro flair. Continue reading “Flooring decision: Made! (finally)”


Exploring Flooring

The work on our house is scheduled to begin soon, and I am just about ready to hit the “buy” button on that red cracked ice chrome table over at American Chairs.  Frankly, I’m amazed that I have been able to put off this urge this long.  Had I lived in a larger house, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it, but knowing as I do that my 1953 ranch house didn’t come with tons of space for an extra table, I’ve held off out of necessity rather than want.  I suppose it’s good for me to exercise a little restraint now and then. Continue reading “Exploring Flooring”