Friday, September 21, 2012

Floors, Ceilings, And Mistakes

It's all about wood right now at the house.  We've got our floors, ceilings, and, to some extent, mouldings going in (the mouldings can't be completed until we install our cabinetry).  We decided to try and salvage as much of the hardwood floors that we already have for practical reasons.  I'd love to say that it's beautiful old heart pine boards or some such, but, in actuality, it's just some sturdy oak floors put in sometime in the late 90's.  They're perfectly good and serviceable floors though, and we're not ones to waste, so they're staying.  The trouble is that we want the entire house to have hardwoods, and some areas (the bedrooms and office) were carpeted. Others are, of course, brand new, so this can be a bit of a problem.  Fortunately, since the old floor is relatively recent, it's not that hard to match.  They actually have a neat way of transitioning the new and old floors called feathering:

Can you guess which is the old and which is the new?

By staggering (or feathering) the old and the new together, sanding, and then refinishing them all at once, it makes the composite floor look as if it had all been installed at one time.  Pretty ingenious, no?

The hubby and I were amazed at how quickly the floors came together.  In one week the work crew had the hardwoods down all over the house:

The dining room/kitchen area.

The master bedroom floor almost finished.

 Another shot of the master bedroom with the closet area.

The office floor being completed.
We were puzzled by how quickly they were able to get the floors installed, and then our contractor Brett took this video and sent it to us:

warning, the sound is really loud on this video

One guy goes along and lays boards down on the ground, and another comes behind him nailing them in.  Once they get a rhythm going, they get a room done in a matter of hours.  Amazing!

This week also marked the death of our ugly spatter ceilings.

 I hate this stuff.

Don't get me wrong, a spatter ceiling could be very appropriate in a 60's ranch or an 80's splitlevel, but in our charming 1911 folk Victorian it was just wrong, wrong, wrong.  For 11 long years I have lain in bed staring up at that ugly ceiling thinking, "Some day, some day I will DESTROY you!"   Okay, so maybe I have issues.  Anyway, we decided to kill the spatter and add beadboard to the ceilings throughout the house.  I get a lot of strange looks when I say we're putting beadboard on the ceiling (instead of just drywall), but historically speaking, it's completely accurate.  Fancy houses from this time period would have lovely smooth plaster ceilings, but our house was built for the middle class.  They couldn't afford the time consuming plaster, so they would have slapped some beadboard up there and called it done.

Dry wall goes up on the ceiling before the beadboard, but they have to leave the beams exposed so that they can nail the beadboard to them.

 There is nothing sexier than men putting beadboard on my kitchen ceiling.  Don't tell them that though, I don't want them to get weirded out the next time I'm at the house.

 Almost finished in the front hall.

 Completed ceiling in the master bedroom.

 Completed ceiling in the master bath.

 Close up of the ceiling in the office.

Doesn't that look much better?  Completed ceilings and floors are nice, but I know what you people are really here for- you want to hear about the mistakes.  Well the first one actually involves the ceiling in the new addition.  You see, the plan was to have the beadboard in the hall and addition stained (as opposed to painted).  Our designer Karen picked out this great medium brown tone stain that would go really well with everything, and our contractor Brett went to the store and matched the stain perfectly.  He even tested the stain on a piece of pine (our beadboard is pine) before giving the go ahead on staining the ceiling.  So we were all a bit shocked when we checked out the ceiling in the kitchen on Thursday and saw this:
It's lovely, but way, way, way too dark.  It seriously makes my spacious addition with 10 foot ceilings seem like an enclosed cave.  Unfortunately, there's not much we can do at this point.  We're going to experiment with sanding down the ceiling, but the truth is that probably won't help much.  Our only other options are to tear the ceiling down and start fresh (too expensive) or to give up the idea of stain and just paint it.  I'm a bit bummed because I was really looking forward to the look of the stain, but I think the paint will be okay.

The other mistake was this one:

That's one of our old fireplaces in the house.  The first part of the mistake is that the mantle did not need to be primed.  This is a modern mantle that is going to be removed and replaced by one of the old ones we've found in antiques stores and on craigslist.  The second part of the mistake is that they GOT PRIMER ON MY OLD VICTORIAN TILE!!!!!  Folks, this was my first real put-your-head-between-your-legs-and-panic moment of the renovation.  Those are actual antique Victorian tiles that are original to the house.  They have a hundred years of lovely patina on them, and I can't exactly go to Home Depot and replace them.  Fortunately, the painters had some solvent that removed the paint without harming the tiles, so everyone concerned gets to keep their testicles.

That's it for this update.  Here's a little sneak peek of what's happening next:

Can you guess what we're doing?