Showing posts with label dining room. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dining room. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


In other big project news, after eight years(!) in the house, we finally got our wood floors refinished. It took this long because I couldn't afford it for years, then once we could I knew we'd have to move out of the house to have it done. We also had a huge question mark about the sloping subfloor under the carpet.

We had no idea if fixing a creaky franken-floor would cost $500 or $5000. Just to recap, at one point our dining room was two rooms: a formal dining room (the side with the big window) and a kitchen nook that was 2/3 as deep as it currently is. The kitchen nook was bumped out to meet the front of the house and the wall between knocked down.

Plywood removed and subfloor revealed

They either ran out of money to finish out the oak flooring or got lazy? They put down plywood and slapped some carpet on top. The floor sloped and squeaked. When I moved in there was evidence of a previous roof leak (this wall is drywall when every other wall in the house is lathe and plaster and there was clearly damage to the ceiling), and the mouldings were all hiding in the garage.

Anyhoo, we finally bit the bullet and hired Union Floor Co. In preparation I started cutting the carpet away from the wall so it could be easily rolled up the morning that work started. In the course of doing this I discovered past water damage and dried, inactivated mold. Yay! We are assuming this was from the previous leaking roof because why would you replace the plywood when you've had a leak and you could just put carpet on top?

There were a couple of reasons that the floor squeaked. For starters, when they were nailing in the plywood THEY MISSED THE JOIST. So the plywood was sitting atop the joists in places. There was a particularly bad squeak that Greg would stand on and rock back and forth, just to drive me crazy, and I would think, "Oh that's why people get divorced after a year."

It turns out that that squeak was caused by a nail that had been shot into our metal air duct. Every time we stepped in that spot the nail would scratch across the duct. Company that built this floor, I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO REVIEW YOU ON ANGIE'S LIST.

Other issues included the weird hatch in our closet (read more about that here):

We had deep gouges in the bedroom where someone dragged something heavy across the floor.

Pet stains in the living room:

Extensive staining, water marks, and paint drips in the dining room:

They just generally looked terrible:

The dining room was leveled and patched with white oak flooring, as Siberian oak is no longer available.

We moved everything into the basement and a POD outside and I decided that we are never ever moving because we have too much stuff.

We moved out of the house for a week and into an Airbnb a block away. I was able to check in and be incredibly picky about how the floors were looking. The main worker kept saying things like, "The scratches aren't coming out in the bedroom but you lived with them before, so . . . " and then I'd feel like I was having a stroke.

I had told the owner that we didn't care how much it cost, we wanted all the scratches and stains removed, either by flipping the boards or installing new boards. It was in our contract. We didn't move out of our house to "live with" floors that weren't fixed because it was more effort. I called the owner and asked him to clarify with his employee that we wanted them as perfect as humanly possible.

And they did it!

We opted to seal the floors without a stain and they've assured me that the new white oak will patina to match the original Siberian oak. I'm skeptical, but my fingers are crossed. We did a satin finish, which is the least shiny option.

The nails in the original flooring are more pronounced

Other than that, the floors look SO GOOD.

Former closet hatch

Site of former floor gouges

We're very happy with the results. We're also totally exhausted from cleaning the house and moving back in. There was a fine layer of dust on every surface, requiring a wipedown of all the walls, counters, windows, etc.

I'm going to be camped out here for the next couple of weeks, until my feet stop hurting.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

And then I painted everything

Greg recently went to a trade show in Europe and was gone for two weeks. Two weeks! I have a habit of painting while he's gone (proof here, here, and here) and this time was no different.

Except that he was gone for so long that I had to paint multiple rooms.

First up was the dining room. For anyone keeping track (so far that's me, Greg, and my psychiatrist), this is the third time I've painted this room. The first color was a disaster, so I painted it again two days later.

The color(s) when I moved in

First disastrous paint color, minty fresh

Two days later, second alright color

The second color, that washed out blue, was never something I was in love with. It just didn't make me shudder the way that minty green did, so it stayed. Also, I was sick of painting by that point.

But! Now I had holes in the ceiling to repair and a ginormous hole in the wall to fix. When you're very lucky, your house comes with TWO fuse boxes.

This fuse box confounded three different electricians, who couldn't figure out WHY there would be two boxes in one house, one upstairs, one down. It powered a very strange set of things, like: the refrigerator, the outlets in the bedroom, one switch in the living room, and, somewhere in Mongolia, a single lamp that an ancient man cooked by. The main box in the basement powered everything else.

One reason that our electrical upgrade took so long is that our electrician removed this and properly rerouted our wires to one single box in the basement, which he then balanced and upgraded. This is all fancy talk for saying that we had a huge hole in the wall now, and the lights no longer dim when you run the microwave. Huzzah!

Blah blah blah, patchy patchy patchy . . .

I finally got smart and got professional help on the paint color. Anna Kulgren is a gardening friend who I came to learn also has degrees in architecture, interior design, horticulture, and loads of other things. She's also a brilliant color specialist and runs a small design-build studio in Portland called Optic Verve. She came over with her suitcases full of color swatch decks and got down to business.

In no time she found the perfect color for the dining room. You guys, she's SO GOOD.

But first I also had to patch the ceiling where the old light fixtures were. I think I did a pretty okay job.

We chose Benjamin Moore's Caribbean Teal and I'm head over heels for it.

I cannot recommend Anna enough. If you are struggling with finding the right colors for your home, call her. She also figured out colors for our crazy blue entryway and our bathroom. I can't wait to get painting again. That's really saying something, considering I spent two weeks prepping and painting. I'll show you the bedroom next!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And lo, there was hyperbole!

Guys, these lights almost killed us.

I came home from the gym last week after attending one of those classes with an oily bohunk who makes you lunge and lift and squat, all the while yelling, "faster! faster!" while he flexes his enormous, hairless muscles at you. It felt like I was part of a movie montage where the nerds try to get in shape but they're hopelessly flabby.

Anyway. I got home from the gym and the electrician had wired up the receptacles we installed and Greg was like, "Should we hang up the lights now?"

I was like, "Um, of COURSE we should hang those right now. But let me go throw up first and then I think I'm supposed to drink a glass of egg yolks."

There were a series of errors, beginning with the fact that the sun was going down, so we were working by headlamp. Next: Greg was hangry. He's a very sweet man until he gets hungry and then he gets mean. Third: At some point I dropped one of the nuts that attaches the fixture to the ceiling and it rolled away to parts unknown, laughing most likely. Remember how Greg was hangry? This was not our best moment. And we couldn't install the last light fixture.

Also: at some point I misplaced one of the Edison bulbs that came with the light fixture and we didn't have a replacement. We spent 20 minutes tearing the house apart looking for it.

I went and took a shower, during which time Greg located the missing nut! I came out from the shower and we finished the last light installation. Thank freaking goodness.

Nine hours after we started this project I flipped the breaker back on and hit the brand new dimmer switch . . . and nothing happened. Sonofabitch.

There was nothing to be done except go to dinner (at 9:30! so European!) and bemoan our lack of a proper reveal. We assumed the problem was in the dimmer switch, since our electrician seems to know what he's doing. After dinner Greg decided to swap out the new dimmer switch with the old one and voila! it freaking worked. FINALLY.

We were missing a bulb but it was still pretty glorious. To celebrate I promptly got a migraine that lasted four days.

But I'm fine now! And lights! Such pretty lights! Such pretty holes in the ceiling that need to be patched! Boy, I don't feel like doing that at all!

But if I've learned anything from movie montages it's that my muscles will soon be huge, I will get the girl, and you will find me either yelling Adwian!Adwian!* or singing We Are the Champions with my buddies** at the end of all this.

I love movie references. I love lamp***. The end.

*see: Rocky.
**see: Revenge of the Nerds.
***see: Anchorman.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plaster dust does nothing to cover gray hair, just FYI

Whenever I take photos of my dining room (which isn't all that often) I try to crop out the light fixtures. 

They are ugly and utilitarian and they make a terrible humming noise if you try to dim them.

Terrible photos, ahoy!

I never noticed that they're not even aligned, to boot. It took cutting holes in the ceiling for me to notice this.

Greg (an engineer) was like, "How have you never noticed that those lights aren't aligned?" and I was like, "Oh, I don't know, I've just been exploring the wonder of the natural world and worrying about bumblebees. God."

Except in reality I've been watching The Bachelorette and playing The Simpsons Tapped Out on my iPad. You know, the important things in life.


I got to use the hole saw to punch those beautiful holes in the ceiling. I wear glasses, which I thought would protect me from the falling debris but I ended up with two eyes full of plaster crud, which was awful. Our electrician went and grabbed his safety goggles for me, but I couldn't wear them with my glasses so I had to operate the hole saw blind, basically. I qualify as legally blind without corrective lenses, so I'd like a medal for getting three perfect holes in the ceiling (Greg was in the attic) without any blood loss.

Greg is in here somewhere

You have not lived until you've passed tools back and forth to your love through a hole in the ceiling while trying to discern what the other is saying.

Mumble mumble barn owls.
I said I needed a drill bit! Focus, Heather.

The house was a mess and it took multiple showers to get the plaster out of my hair, but we got the electrical boxes installed and they are ready to be wired.

This was all a walk in the park compared to picking out light fixtures. I don't think Greg and I would ever survive a full-scale remodel and all the decisions that come with it, unless Jimmy Carter was involved. We finally found one single light fixture that neither of us hated, based on this picture:

Greg worked some Photoshop magic to mock this up:

I thought they were too far apart, so then we switched it to this:

But the attic beams conspired against us, so the final placement is somewhere between the two. Hopefully our electrician will be finishing up the attic work soon so we can ditch the old lights, patch the ceiling, and hang the new lights.

Grody carpeting, I'm coming for you next.