Tag Archives: floors

What I know or thought I did but still don’t

 bowbanister

I’m wrapping up the worst of the house, meaning almost all of the walls and ceilings are repaired and painted, and floors refinished painstakingly by hand.

I am an experienced fixer-upper, but I still don’t understand the darkest secrets in the universe of home improvement.

Such as:

I never could predict just how much hard wax oil I needed to use per floor, and ended up paying in shipping small cans what would have cost for the large can.

The smallest room used the most paint.

grey walls

Despite its trendiness, I like yellow and grey.  And that yellow door is the living room color – the living room is the largest room, yet took the least amount of paint…

And we still haven’t figured out which room is for what – this room will probably be N’s office, though it may be my “studio” but it is a really tight space – the other wall is pretty much the right margin of the pic – but it has the best natural light.

We did end up covering the knotty pine paneling in one of the rooms, and the room is much better for it, though it will stay in the living room for now.

green walls

And though I’ve previously held an unyielding “choose paint colors for the middle of an ungodly dreary winter” stance (meaning only warm tones on all walls) I went outside of my comfort zone and painted cooler hues in these last few rooms and I really like them.  The color of the smallest room, above with the yellow door, even has the terribly depressing name of “November rain.”  But I would prefer rain in November to some icy slop.

Every time I sand wall patches or floors, despite how well I meticulously seal up the room, I’m blown away about how much dust still escapes and ends up in rooms on the opposite side of the house.

Dusty wheel

 And I hate the fact that I now have to do a thorough furniture-moving, rug-lifting deep clean because I just did that, and everything is fresh and new but now looks like dusty hell.

What is left?

A full-bathroom re-do (more thoughts on that soon) that will either be a placeholder just-work-with-what-we-have-and-slap-several-coats-of-paint-on-everything for now, or a reexamination of the budget to see if we can contract some of the work out – it’s not a major job, but the floor is the worst part of that room and it’s a major pain in the ass.

Improving the “finished” basement that really isn’t.  It needs a floor and a new/improved ceiling* and is ripe with the shit version of paneling which we will likely paint, but again, the budget and our energy levels will play a huge role in its outcome.

It’s got some snazzy vintage fixtures though.

basement light

(And  sadly, I don’t think those are our fingerprints and dust – we haven’t touched the things…)

Improving the yard – we need a bigger garden with better deer fencing and possibly pooch fencing, and some attempts at landscaping.

And then 89, 783, 2311+ weekend projects – tiling the kitchen backsplash, painting closet doors, stripping room doors, installing some thresholds, touching up paint, touching up paint, oh, and touching up paint, building shelving, insulating random little places, hemming more curtains, etc., etc., etc…

etc., etc., etc….

curtains

(And maybe I should add ironing curtains to the list too…)

*Anyone have ideas for improving a drop ceiling on the cheap?  It’s got those large rectangular panels, so I can’t just replace them with something interesting like record sleeves… cover with fabric or textured paper?  Paint?  The current panels are stained Styrofoam and I don’t know what stained them or continues to stain them, I want to get rid of them but hate to toss them in a landfill, and the new ones are only marginally better and more than I want to spend…

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Floored

I went on a floor sanding and refinishing bender recently and I am still recovering…

floors-diningroom

…but the dining room and my studio room are now mostly done.

Only four more rooms and three hallways to go – will I or won’t I endure?

floors-half-sanded

floors-studio

We had a guy in the other day to look at something that seemed to be beyond our abilities.  He came somewhat unexpectedly as people are wont to do in this small town which leaves me occasionally on edge since my work (not work, work) clothes are the shrunken bits thrown in the charity bag (I can’t find my stash of work clothes!) and I don’t want to be seen in busty gut-baring teeny t-shirts and sweatpants with burst seems.  We were in the middle of sanding the dining room floor by hand – with little electric sanders, so at least with the aid of some power…  he smirked and said “well you could do it that way, but I’d rent a sander.”

No f*ckingshit you’d rent a sander – most people would.

But floor sanders are big and heavy and use a lot of sandpaper and cost money to rent and we can only do one room at a time since we’re living in the house, so for about $10 worth of sandpaper (and a whole day) I can do it myself.  (And I mostly did it myself since N quickly looses interest/endurance on these sorts of mind-numbing vibrating tedious tasks, and I’m able to call up the genetic reserves of my peasant ancestors from time to time).

And I also like the way it looks.  In our old house, I sanded a few rooms by hand, and a few with a sander – the floors done by hand still looked old in a good way – they had more depth and patina and character.  The ones done with a sander looked 1,000 times better what they had (and a heavy grind down really was necessary) but they were a little too clean and bright even though I matched the stain with the old.

I also chose to use a hard oil wax product on these floors instead of polyurethane.

floors-hardoil-wax

That one gets another smirk from the work guys – “you could use that, but nothing wears like poly!”  But poly looks a little bit like wood in plastic coating and I wanted something a little more rich and velvety.  Again in the old house we used poly – the oil based stuff so it would take on a bit of an ageing amber tone – and I liked it, but after four or five years I was finding a few flakes and scratches and I was able to repair a few areas, but I felt sick to think we’d have to go through the whole business of sanding and re-coating the entire floor in a few years.  But I could eat these words since we’ve only had the hard oil wax for a week* and I’ve no idea how it will hold – especially once there’s a four-footed creature about, and dinner parties.  But I should only have to hit the worn areas with a fresh coat every few years instead of the whole sanding down and re-sealing business.  And this stuff doesn’t require buffing like old-timey wax.  So we’ll see.

floors-before-and-after**

You could be wondering how the linoleum  floor patch looks now?

kitchen repaired linoleum

It’s holding up just fine – the rug covers about half of it, but it still gets walked upon plenty.

We’re still looking for new rugs though…

But this linoleum will  certainly not be saved…

floors-bad-linoleum

…and is a tiling project next on the list.

*I coated a few broken steps with it a couple of months ago and so far the test areas have held up well.  And for the record, it’s Fiddes Hard Oil Wax in “American” tint.  I got it online, but it can also be had in a few actual shops in Brooklyn and other hipster places in the states (it’s a British product).  I used two thin coats with a bristle brush and I’m contemplating a third, maybe of clear, in the highest trafficked areas.  It stunk a bit, but much less than the common brands of oil-based stain, and it dried in a few hours, but I waited to put rugs and furniture back in for a few days.

**The colors aren’t right in these pics – the trees around the house are throwing green light into the place, so everything – floors and walls – is a warmer, less yellowish more orangeish tone – I’d call the floors a bit of a warm pecan shade.  And those big black rectangles are naked radiators without their front cover pieces.

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Hexed

I tend to get a little obsessive/fanatical about certain colors, textures, and shapes.  For a few years, I loved the diamond.  Not hard-assed sparkly rocks that people die for literally and figuratively, but the shape in a flattened geometric form.  I had some awesome diamond-shaped eyeglasses back in the late 1990s that I wore to dust; I have some argyle clothing, jewelry with diamond shapes, some great vintage diamond-shaped buttons I’ve yet to use, and I’ve sewn and knitted many diamonds.

Little did I know I had a thing for hexagons too.

I knew I liked antique hex tile floors.  I had an original one in my first roach-infested apartment (it wasn’t the first of several infested, it was the first and happened to be infested).  And I fantasize often about having one again (a tiled floor, not an apartment full of cockroaches).

I photograph tiled floors when I see them, including this one in the late 1990s, which also served as evidence in case I was brutally murdered or came down with an incurable STD or sudden Bukowski-like alcoholism from the seediest hotel I’ve ever patronized in Niagra Falls (I mean seediest ever, not one of many in Niagra Falls).

niagra falls seedy hex

And check out this awesome antique floor in a non-hipster cafe in Brooklyn I saw last year:

Hex - phone

(And yes, I have a cheap-ass pre-paid phone and can’t figure out how to email the picture to myself, so yeah…)

When we first started fixing up our former house, I was completely and entirely ecstatic when I found this in the bathroom:

hex3

However, my joy was short lived when I found other things:

hex4

And the absence of the tile throughout and/or layers of cement and other impenetrables that prevented us from salvaging the original floor.

I wanted to put down a new authentic porcelain hex floor, but the high price sent me to the big box for the cheap alternative:

hex2

Still porcelain hexagons, but not quite the real thing – the real deal is more flat and matte with thinner grout lines.  I loved that bathroom though, and I yearn for that giant cast-iron tub again…

But I’m still always on the look-out for hex floors and sometimes find them in surprising places:

hex1

Like out in the woods in the middle of nowhere.

But the fiber word is awash in hexagons as well.

One of the classic quilt patterns – Grandmother’s Flower Garden is all about the hex.

I found this in an antique shop last year:

quilt square-hex

Look how small the hexagons are!  The tiny little hexes are just a little bit bigger than a hex floor tile.

quilt square-hex-det

I wonder if the maker was sick of it after one motif, this was a leftover from a finished quilt, it was made to be a chair pad or other small item, or yeah, maybe she (maybe he but not likely) died.  I love the inconsistent greens as well – I wonder if it was made from old-time scrubs or nurse’s uniforms, or if the fabric was home-dyed.

For those of you in the knitting world, you’re probably expecting me to say I’m hip-deep in hexipuffs for the Beekeeper’s Quilt and that’s what this is all about.  Nope, though I like it a lot, and considered it for a little while, I’m going to pass for now (even though I may have purchased a few mega-sale skeins of sock yarn with this in mind).

I occasionally find myself designing floors for bathrooms, kitchens, and foyers of homes we don’t have.  In fact, one of the houses we purchased over the last year had a half-bath (I hate the name “powder room”) small enough that I could justify the price of the real thing and to my own custom design.  But alas, I must settle on non-floor hexagons for now.

But look at this!

63050463502674595_HcReHRQr_c

(Picture yanked from internet – no idea of its original publication)

Ok, so a floor again, but even though whatever house we’ll eventually get will eventually need to be re-sold, I’m really tempted to do something along these lines.  I don’t know if it is paper or fabric, but it would be fairly economical and a more interesting alternative to the paper bag floor (which I also sort of like, but can’t get past that leather crazy quilt jacket look of it).

But back to what I can do now, which really isn’t something I can do since I must finish other things first, but what I’m fantasizing about doing is a traditional hexagon quilt.  After a summer’s worth of basting letters for an appliqued quilt, and though at the time they often annoyed the hell of of me, I had the brilliant epiphany that a quilt can actually be as portable of a project as sock knitting.  Though that is probably obvious to all already, I’d never thought of making quilts outside of hours-long blocks of time at home.  And though my earlier thoughts of sewing a quilt by hand were along the lines of you’ve got to be f*cking joking, I now want to piece that bitch up one by one by one in airports, while visiting other people’s houses, in waiting rooms, and sprawled on the sofa while binge watching some mildly awful but addictive television series.

I haven’t decided whether or not to use my current stash and scraps or come up with something a little more uniform and floor-like, but I’ve sure as hell had fun playing with the possibilities – at least in my head, of course, since I really can’t be spending any real time on it.  (And I haven’ t yet printed off a bunch of blank hex sheets I found on this site).

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the hexing possibilities with crochet in the form of hexy granny afghans – see this Flickr group for pics – but alas, I don’t crochet.  I don’t like the looks of it sometimes, but that’s usually the maker’s fault for choosing crap acrylic yarn, or poor colors, or having no general aesthetic sense.

But I’d like to learn one of these days…

Oh yeah, and my inner jukebox plays this every time I think of the word hex:

The 1990s infected me with a whole wiggling writhing wad of ear worms…

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Missing my studio and my old city…

Mine is a tale too common of late, and it could be much, much worse but it has left me unmoored…  Last spring I lost my job that had been more of an obsession, a way of life, than just a place to go and do something in exchange for money.  I left my beloved small city that I had threatened to leave so many times in the earlier years, but I discovered that I had grown with it, and really loved it after all.  I now live with the generosity of my partner N in the grey areas of the suburban outskirts of the east coast where fantastic cities are an hour’s drive away, yet a walk outside my door is impossible due to the overwhelming and maddening car culture of the area.  In my former city, we had a humble house of our own, technically two and one half stories, but you can call it three.  The two rooms on the third floor were my “studio” as well as the depository for off season clothing since the old structure only had tiny closets from the time we owned so much less.  In one room was my sewing machine  in a little window nook, birds-eye level with the trees in the back and a tiny glimpse of a beautiful cemetery one block away.

3rd sewing - Copy

In the other was a comfy window seat where we napped and watched the neighbors come and go from the bus stop.  The middle of the floor was about the size of a king sized bed, so I could lay out my quilts to piece and baste.  Both rooms had shelves lining the walls so most of my various stashes were visible and accessible.  We lovingly restored the house to something of its original state and spent days and lung tissue stripping off the shellac on these floors and finishing them to an outrageous glossiness.  Our realtor took this picture, and it appeared on the listing of the house when it sold.  No one questioned having a photo of a room with a dead pheasant (which my grandfather killed decades before I was born) perhaps since hunting was popular in the rural areas outside of the city.

front 3rd

The curtains were a vintage find to the precise length needed for the windows, and I regret not photographing them in detail, but they continue to live in the house (I hope).  I am still lucky enough to have a workspace in our temporary rented apartment, but it is shared with our boxed up lives, my part-time work-from-home station, and all stashed materials are now boxed and stacked high, or bagged and lumped.  It is hard to finish things in this state, especially when I know I have the perfect handles or thread somewhere, just somewhere, but can’t find them…

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