Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Post is Not About Running, or Injuries, or the Even the Heffers...Although Betty Does Get a Mention...

In 2000, Walter and I bought a new house. Actually we bought an old house. At the time, we lived in a fine little house in the center of town, but the key word here was little. It had two bedrooms upstairs, and I had given birth to a girl AND a boy...and even though at the time, they were very young, we knew (or at least I knew) that at some point it just wasn't gonna work for them to share a room.

This was our house...It may look large, but trust me, it wasn't...but it was cute!

So we decided to move out of the cute little house near Balboa Park, in an adorable part of town called Burlingame and out to the east county of San Diego, into a city called La Mesa.

I looked for houses for months and months...and finally found this...

It was a fine old house (which we liked) on a really big lot (which made us nervous), but it seemed like it had great potential...and we could afford it!

Focus here on the word OLD.

We knew when we bought this house, it needed some work. We initially thought it needed, maybe, some cosmetics, like new carpet and windows...

But we were wrong.

Yes, we replaced windows...and then some walls (due to dry rot).

We re-did the kitchen. This was the old kitchen, with the back of the house torn out....without the back wall, it's nowhere near as dark as it really was.

Basically, we took the interior down to the studs. All things being equal, it would have been easier to buy a lot and build a home from scratch.

I remember bringing Betty over to look at the house when it was down to the studs one night. She looked at me with a combination of "What? Are you insane?" and "WHAT? are you NUTS?"... I'm pretty sure she bought me a beer or two that night.

I've got loads of photos like of nothing but 2 x 4s and drywall...It took about 9 months from when we bought the house until we were finally able to move in. It was a crazy time.

It'd be different if either Walter or I had any skill or interest in Do it Yourself Home Improvement, but basically both of us are just skilled at writing checks to contractors.

Anyway, at some point we stopped remodeling the interior (because the remodel could have gone on 4-EV-AH and not ever been finished) and we moved in. We knew there were still parts of the house that needed attention, parts that were not finished, but we had moved into the MONEY we ignored those, moved in, and raised our children.

Nine Years Later

Over the last couple of years, some of the things we didn't deal with in the initial remodel have become harder to ignore...

This is one of them...

The hardwood floors in the kids bedrooms...

OK...other than the fact that DramaGirl is messy...the floors look fine, right? In fact, they are beautiful, old, red oak, hardwood floors...

Unfortunately, there's also this...

The floor in DramaGirl's bedroom...a combination of termite and probably water damage, is pulling away from the house...ewwwwww right?

We've gotta take out the hardwood and replace the subfloor in both the kid's bedrooms, so in the next several weeks, you will no doubt be reading plenty about our home improvement adventure. We can't afford it, but we really have no choice.

And since we're doing home improvement, I have some decisions to make.

Now let me make this perfectly clear. I have absolutely no talent for this kind of thing AT. ALL.

I mean, I can look at a Pottery Barn catalog and think...well of course you would pair orange and brown sofa cushions with a bronze statue and cherry wood floors...that looks REAL NICE, but I have ABSOLUTELY NO ABILITY to translate what I see into what I ought to be doing in my own home...GAH!

In fact, it gives me a headache to think about it. I just want things to look nice. I don't actually want to have to plan it out!

I think this is why rich people hire decorators.

So, I need help.

Here's my first issue. The Floors.

We've decided on a wood laminate because, frankly, we can afford it. One of the issues with this house has always been that the rooms are HUGE! DramaGirls bedroom is 14' x 12'. Turbo's bedroom is 12' x 12'. We need to redo a hallway that is (and I kid you not) 4' x 25' and we need to redo a portion of the family room (which is the smallest room of all) that is 11' x 12'.

(BTW...we also have a living room/dining room at the front of the house that is, I kid you not, 40' x 25'. It's not involved in the current remodel story.)

In other words, the part we want to refloor is a little more than 800 square feet, and as much as I would love to replace the old hardwood floors with new hardwood, we just can't afford we're going with a know something that looks like wood, but doesn't cost as much. You know Pergo...

Walter and I spent about five hours (way past his capacity to look at this stuff) looking at laminate samples today...and I'm more confused than when I even started.

So I'm throwing it out to some of you who are closet-home-decorating-geniuses. What stain/color floor should I get?

It doesn't matter so much in the kids rooms. But I'm also covering the family room, which is adjacent to the kitchen, and which has wood cabinets that look like this.

Yeah...this is the "redone kitchen..." It's a mess right now.

The laminate wood floors aren't going in the kitchen, but they are going in here... the family room that is adjacent to the kitchen... We're also going to put in a counter/bar to go with those lonely barstools...

So, I wonder, can I put in a darker wood laminate? or will that clash with the oak cabinets. I brought home some samples that were roughly the same stain as the cabinets, and it looks like just too much natural oak...and BORING. Can I put in a wood floor that picks up on the darker grain in the wood cabinets?

I mean, what are the rules here?

Don't worry about the's all cheap Ikea stuff that will eventually be replaced.

Oh...and here is the long hallway.

Really, our house has no real hallways...just open space, which is nice, but also means that things have to sort of flow into each other because there are no separate rooms.

So...I'm open to whatever help, suggestions, advice, you can send my way!
Hey, congrats to all my blog-friends (Penny, RBR, probably some others who I'm sorry!) who ran the SF marathon & 1/2 marthon today. Can't wait to read all the reports!


  1. GURL, I'm the worst, can't put a thing together - I always have to buy a matching set because that what the company SAYS goes together. (...and we own a furniture store, is that bad?!) Best of luck, find a friend who's house you like and have them c'mon over!

  2. Over the past several years, we pulled up all the old carpetting and put in tile. I was able to bring home samples of tile - I had to buy them, but whatever - and laid them all over to decide what to put in. Can you do that with the wood laminate?

    funny story here - picked something out for the kids room no problem. then took 6 months to choose something for our room. i was so indecisive. in the end, i picked exactly the same time! Aye carumba. husband just shook his head at me.

  3. amazing to look at the before/after pics I bet! Beautiful place! I'm terrible at design stuff though :)

  4. We replaced carpet for the "fake" laminate wood floors. Bought the stuff at local "fix-it" shop called Menards. They have a 30 year guarantee! Looks great and easy to clean. Still, even though cheaper, was quite a few bucks in the end!
    Good luck with all the work!

  5. It's about 5:41 AM and the resident "expert" isn't up yet. He won't be up until right before he has to go into the office. Hopefully, I'll remember to ask him what he thinks about your situation later on tonight.

    How much darker were you thinking about going with the floors?

  6. This is actually something I know a bit about since we totally gutted and remodeled our condo a few years ago, and we too installed laminate flooring.

    For one, I suggest the laminate planks that are the width of about 3" a piece and that actually divet on the sides to resemble real wood more closely.

    As for the stain, it kinds depends on how much natural light you get, but with the described dimensions of the rooms, I think you can easily go with a dark stain. Personally, I like a dark stain and with such large rooms, it won't "shrink" the rooms or make them feel too dark.

  7. I am not going to be any help here, sorry. My husband is the "Mr. Fix-It Man" so I usually just nod my head and take a long hike when any work has to be done around the house. Good luck though. ;)

  8. I am currently sitting on a huge pink sectional circa 1982 (actually I believe they called it 'dusty rose' back then) that my parents handed down to me 10 years ago as a "temporary" replacement for my futon, so yeah, you don't want any interior decorating advice from me.

    I am interested to hear though. I want to put Pergo in my kitchen since cleaning white linoleum SUCKS ASS!

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  10. I am no good with decor...I just sorta wing it. But I am VERY impressed with anyone who will do the work themselves. You learn so much!!

  11. I'm all MA, sister (and WHAT a man, if I do say so myself), so I'm no help on this home remodeling and redecorating stuff.

    But ... good luck!

  12. I meant all MAN, not all MA.

    See? Even in my spelling, I'm all MAN!

    I will tell my MA if you make fun of me for my spelling!

  13. I might have to call Glaven G-MA from now on!

  14. I'm thinking the darker wood would go well with the lighter cabinets. You certainly don't want them to blend together. We have darker stone tile in the kitchen than our cabinets, and they seem to look fine.

  15. I have no advice because I suck at this stuff. But I feel your pain at buying a money pit. Next time I am building a new house. ha! Good luck!

  16. I'd go with a light or medium stain myself. And I agree with Jess -the wider planks would look more like real wood.

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  18. Glad it's you and not me! That's all I've got to say about that! P.S. - Don't tell my wife what you're doing. I humor her by letting her watch HGTV....

    BTW - it's still a great accomplishment when you step back and look at before and after. Plus we all know that here in Southern California - the more land the better!

  19. My wife spends hours reading decorator porn magazines. She would no doubt have much to say. I'm just the hired muscle. At that means I only know the words for about a dozen colours.

    You might be able to re-use that beautiful oak if you pry it up carefully. I did that with some maple, then gave it a light sanding to deal with any rough edges.

    If you're getting stuff from IKEA, talk to some of their staff. They have some great people, lots of good advice, because they want you to be happy with it. I do not have a good opinion of laminate, but I'm a hardwood and slate snob. Sorry.

  20. I wish I can help you here, but we don't even own a home so I will actually need help in the future! Good luck!

  21. not it... I like darker woods than lighter because I think they look more like the real thing -

  22. Hey there...found your blog clickety click clicking...and I live in San Diego and just went through a remodel. We used Sids Carpet Barn and their prices are economical. They actually recommend finding installers on your own (we had great luck with Craigslist) and having them charge you by the job..cheaper than having their installers do it! Good luck!

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