Decisions, Decisions Down the Drain

We’ve made a decision: Cork.
It’s cheap enough that we can afford it (a big win).
The color blends well with the rest of the room
It’s not trying to be wood.

That was what I wrote last week when I started this post and was just SO confident in our decision. Too confident, you’ll soon learn.  
Continue reading “Decisions, Decisions Down the Drain”

I’m Going to Call it Progress

I’m going to be honest with you. This floor has really done a number on me.

I have been feeling completely conflicted about where to take things from here. Do we rip it up and put new wood down for the floor? Do we keep it and accept it as “character” of the house? Do we keep testing out stripping chemicals and bleaching agents? Our friends, family, and coworkers have all been so helpful with suggesting options. Someone even recommended we paint the wood – at first I laughed, but then now I’m thinking that could be kind of cool-looking… I might also be going crazy. Who knows at this point. The exact plan is still being worked out with our contractor but I have a feeling it’s going to be okay in the end.

Anyway, this past weekend I had to get something done and it had to be done the exact way I wanted to do it. I just couldn’t take another week of feeling like no progress has been made on our house and quality of living in it.  

My focus: decorate the guest bedroom. We’ve been in the house now for two full years and despite most of our most loved friends and family coming to visit I haven’t had the motivation, resources, and vision for what I wanted until now.

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Call it retail therapy if you like, but I’m going to call it progress.  

And, cheaper than a therapist, so really a win-win. 

The Great Floor Disaster of 2017

During the demolition we had one of those magical finds you only see on HGTV (right after I swore off the channel as #fakenews): we found original hardwood flooring underneath the linoleum tile. It was pristine condition and absolutely gorgeous, except for one minor issue: it wasn’t the same wood as we have in the rest of the house.

On one hand, it’s original flooring, *swoon*, but on the other hand, it’s not going to flow with the rest of the room. Talk about a conflict!

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Plan 1 of this saga: Do nothing. Our contractor swore that the wood would match up, not exactly with the rest of the house but close, with some polyurethane. It would be gorgeous *original* hardwood floors. Just give it a couple coats and a little bit of time – it’ll all be fine. Turns out, it looked like bare wood with some polyurethane on top… definitely not the look I was going for.

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Plan 2: Try a polyshade(colored polyurethane) on top of the floors so we can create a tint without actually coloring the wood.  While an easy, quick, harm-free fix, it just wasn’t going to work. When you’re spending all this money and time on renovating your kitchen and updating everything from the electrical to the faucets, it would be pretty embarrassing to have the floors look like a budget DIY job.  Despite our contractor’s best try, I wasn’t sold.

Plan 3: Find a stain that our contractor would put down. Kyle and I went to the hardware store and stocked up on those small stain cans. After much tested trials, we didn’t feel confident in any of the options – or our skills in recognizing which color worked best.

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Some of these colors did match pretty well, and actually might have been fine, but after they set in over 24 hours we found the colors changed significantly. 

Plan 4: Try again with someone who has matched woods and floors “hundreds of times” in DC. I spent a week digging into this and found a local company who had dozens of reviews on every site, example pictures of their projects and everyone I spoke with was beyond confident in their abilities to do the job – it’s what they do after all and they’ve seen it hundreds of times.  

It pains me to tell this story, but I’ll do it one more time.

The workers showed up on time, and got to work right away sanding down the floors (again) to remove the two coats of poly. They then asked me, “what stain color do you want us to use?” – and that’s the minute I should have sent them home. I didn’t go with my gut, so …

I asked how they didn’t know this already – isn’t that what they were here to do? I asked what stain they believe is best for matching the woods and helping the transition boards transition to the rest of the boards. I then called the company to ask why nobody told the flooring guys what the job was.  Yet, we moved forward still. 

To be fair, the guys did a pretty darn good job mixing up a custom stain. However, they missed an step before putting it down: they didn’t do a wood conditioner. The stain looked great at first but then after about an hour it sunk in way too far into the grain of the wood leaving really dark rings that looked like yellow and black zebra-print. 

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I don’t understand why my communications degree fails me in explaining that I want the floors to transition between each other. It’s fine that they don’t match but… it has to look like it was done on purpose.

I won’t go into details about my reaction but the owner of the company had to come out to apologize for the “worst job he’s ever seen” – and say the only remedy would be to tear up the flooring. Or, of course, live with it.

Plan 5: We’re ripping it up. I know, it’s a sin to remove original anything from an old house – especially the floors – but at this point I literally hate the floors for all the pain they’ve caused me and my cats. I don’t see how I’ll be able to be in my kitchen and keep a scowl off my face if I glance at the floors. I have no choice but to take them out.

Stay tuned. The exact plan is still being worked out with our contractor but I have a feeling it’s going to be okay in the end.

No More Dreams of Demolition Day

You know how on HGTV the couple gets to take the first swing at the wall they don’t like? They get to put on some safety goggles, and swing a big hammer at the walls or bust down some old cabinets. Maybe the husband will be sweet and let his wife take the first blow – or he’ll be so excited he’ll just go for it.  They’re so full of joy, it’s the first step toward the house of their dreams. They’ve spent years saving up for this, dreaming about it, and it’s finally here!

It’s what dreams are made of.

Well, it’s what MY dreams were made of. Unfortunately… as I’ve said many times (so many times) since we bought our house: HGTV is not real life. It’s #fakenews.

Our contractor didn’t let us anywhere near the demolition site. We had to be home in case something terrible happened, but we had to spend the day in a separated room. On the other side of the opaque plastic sheeting. Talk about torture! What was going on in there?

A lot, apparently. 

People keep asking Kyle and I if we could have done this ourselves to save money – because, HGTV tells them it could. The short answer is, yes but only a few hundred dollars (according to itemized contractor proposals). That said, everything was torn out from this wall and cleaned up in less than 10 hours. The next day he came back and did the other wall of cabinets. We were able to start on the actual progress of a renovation immediately, where had we done this part ourselves it would have taken a week and some used vacation days.  So thinking about it that way, no it would not have been cheaper to DIY.  

But, I still had wanted to.

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Viva Las Jingle Bells

It’s only polite to ask your coworkers what they’re doing for Christmas. The expected response is, “going home to visit with my family” or “staying in town and having a quiet holiday,” and then a response of, “Oh that’s so nice!”

This year, I had a different response at the water cooler, “We’re going to Vegas,” which was responded with either a, “THAT’S AWESOME” (coworkers who have kids and assume we’re taking full advantage of the DINK life) or a, “Oh, that’s different,” (coworkers who think I must be the ultimate sinner).

Sometimes I left it at that (let them think what they wish), however the reason behind our visit to Sin City for Christmas was, we were visiting Kyle’s mom, who lives a couple hours away.  Outside of it being the most convenient place to meet up,  it was easiest on the wallets and just sounded like a good time.

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I’ve had a few things on my want-to-see list that just don’t work into the trips to Vegas with my college girlfriends. To say I was thrilled to offer (insist) to do the first draft of our itinerary would have been an understatement.

First stop: The Neon Museum: This place has been on my bucket list since my first trip to Vegas in 2010. The museum is really a graveyard of neon signs from casinos and hot-spots around Vegas, most of which no longer exist.

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Next Hot-Spot: The Hoover Dam:  If I’m being completely honest, I’ve never actually ever wanted to go here. It just seemed like a full day of travel into the desert to see a whole lot of wall holding back water. Terrifying. But, when you’re married to an engineer I guess you should expect to be tricked into this activity at some point in your life.

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Upon arrival, I immediately changed my tune about the tourist destination. It was cool, but so scary I refused to let us get too close (you know, leaks happen).  While at the end of the day I don’t regret the road trip I definitely wouldn’t go back or recommend it to someone in Vegas for Vegas. I mean, it’s just too overwhelming …

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Bucket List Item: Cirque du Soleil Beatles LOVE Show  …Love, Love, Love…. and I left really wondering how I didn’t end up as a circus performer. Untitled

Vegas Rock Climbing: Thinking back on my last 30 years, this has to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The photos I’m sharing do not do the Valley of Fire State Park any favors because the place is absolutely unreal. For two people who consider themselves outdoorsy because they like eating on patios, we took to the desert wilderness pretty quickly. We spent hours hiking around and climbing the rocks, and I really wish we could have spent another day out there with some proper shoes and jackets. #IWILLBEBACK

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Although I’ve been to Vegas now 5 or 6 times, each time gives me unique memories. The city is nothing but fun and adventure – as long as you go into it with the best attitude and a willingness to go with the flow. Whether you’re with your best friends, your fiancé or mother in law, you’re going to have as much fun as you can handle, and that’s what I love about this place.

Small Updates While I Wait Patiently

2016 has been pretty slow when it comes to home improvements. We’re in super-saving mode in preparing for a new kitchen and bathroom which is why we aren’t going to Europe this year (…boohoo, I know). This also means, no other décor changes should happen until we at least have our plans in place.

These are times when I wish I had a patient bone in my body. Is just one too much to ask for?

One thing that couldn’t wait though, was a change to the area just inside the front door. Every single day this was a disaster. We used the coat tree I bought at Ikea when I first moved to DC, combined with a side table we didn’t know where else to put, in an attempt to organize the area that should be a closet.

As you can see, even if it was at its cleanest, it would have been a mess. Coat trees, while cute in theory are just an eyesore. Kyle was out of town for a weekend this spring, giving me the opportunity to at least start changing things up – since he wouldn’t be around to tell me no…

Before:
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The wood carving is from my grandparent’s house, and until I started playing around didn’t know where to put it. The two images are small pieces of art Grandma and Grandpa had picked up in Paris on one of their travels. Putting them right where I’ll see them each day, reminds me of my grandparents and our shared love to travel.

New Perspective

You know when you see something and know immediately you’d never be able to un-see it? It’s just going to be burned into your brain forever, even if it fades a little or gets built up or changes in your memory over the years.

I knew the moment I saw the first giant redwood tree that this was something I could never un-see. I’ll always remember these trees, how they smelled and how they made me feel. It was unreal.

This June we traveled out to San Francisco to visit Nate, one of my oldest and most dear friends. Our first day out there, Nate had to work so we rented a car and drove out early to Muir Woods to check out the famous redwoods.

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I was the driver this day, (she who holds the Zipcar membership, holds the power) and this was very hard to drive over for the first time! So much excitement and terror all at once.

To get to Muir Woods, you must do a lot of mountain-climbing. We spent a good bit of time taking winding roads up a mountain. It felt like our honeymoon when we were lost taking a shortcut off the highway to get to our apartment. Thankfully, at the top there is a nice pull-off to catch the view from the top.

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Anyhoo, by suggestion of every single source about visiting Muir Woods, we arrived close to 7:30 AM., scored one of the (very few, maybe 40 total) parking spots near the entrance to the park and spent the first hour with just a handful of other people near us. OH and if you arrive that early, there is nobody at the entrance to charge you for going in (#earlybirdsgetthetrees)

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We had quite the hike, and hope to get back at some point with appropriate hiking shoes and clothes for some more of this magical place.

Imagine this peaceful scene, just about 45 minutes later, packed with tourists. I can’t and glad I didn’t have to witness it – as we were leaving (~10:00 AM) busses were pulling up. Time to scram.