Friday, April 25, 2014

There's A Circus In My House

When you live in an old house, you're always dreaming about what you can do to modernize it.

When you aren't royalty, those dreams never come to fruition because you can't afford to tear down the house and start over with a totally modern abode.

So, you make do.  You change a carpet here, paint a room there, and wonder how you ever lived with it before you made such a change.

As I've mention in past posts, my mother grew up in this same house where I live now.  When we moved in in the late 70s, my father made a couple of major changes and some cosmetic changes too.

When my parents built a house next door in the early 90s, my father again made a few changes to this house, mostly paint and carpet and they rented it.

When I came home from college, the woman who lived here soon moved out and I moved in.  The kitchen and bathrooms had nothing but new paint.  The living room had a new carpet.  And that was that.

The fabulous linoleum you see here has been in this house since the late 1970s.  It was all the rage back then.  I've seen it, and variations of it, in many cottages where I live.  They actually still make a linoleum like this.  I've seen it in stores!

Since the day I moved in here, k-ster and I have debated what to do with this floor.  I've had people come and measure and give estimates for linoleum.  I've been excited about fake tiles and brought home samples to try.  I've thought about real tile and quickly dismissed it.

When the linoleum people have looked, they've all told me that there would need to be a seam in the same location:  right in the main pathway.  It's a ridiculous place and I just didn't want to go through the effort and money, only to have it peel up in the high traffic area in short time.

The fake tiles, the kind that you click together like Pergo, just didn't seem like a good fit because I worry about water seeping underneath.  When I've chatted with people about it, they always act like no one ever spills anything in the kitchen, so it's a non-event.

K-ster accuses me of "splashing like an otter" when I get near a sink in a kitchen or bathroom, so this snap together flooring wasn't for me.

Plus, the last place I talked to said something so absurd, I couldn't even give them another moment of my time.  They said that in Europe, people use this snap together  flooring all time because "when they move, they just pick up the floor and take it with them."

Now, I know people who live in Europe.  I've been there a few times.  I have a brain.  There is absolutely no way that is a true statement.  They do, indeed, often take appliances with them when they move and that is standard knowledge.  But they do not take their floors with them.

Mainly because what are the chances your kitchen will have the same layout in your new place? 

K-ster enjoys putting in tile.  He's really good at making the pieces fit together and he does absolute magic when it comes to cutting special corners or shapes.  Look at what he did with our patio, as proof.

I do not understand how he can see a curve and make it work on the stone, cut it and make it fit.  He does the same things with tile.

But, tile can be cold.  Things usually smash to pieces on it and sometimes, you can break the tile itself.  And, with an old house, the floors are pretty saggy and flexible and that's not great for grout staying intact.

I don't have the best track record with glasses and dishes surviving a fall from the sink, so tile is just deadly.

So, we go through a phase of wanting something new for the floor and then I get fed up and we stop thinking about it.  This has gone on for YEARS.

And every time I washed that floor, I'd fume about how it is so old and cracked and probably leaching poisonous chemicals out every day.

I'm not sure what got me going this time, but I finally decided tile was the best solution.  K-ster would put it in, so I don't have to pay anyone labor.  April vacation was coming, so going without a kitchen would be feasible that week.  K-ster wasn't especially busy with work yet, so he'd have time.

And, best of all, today's grout has a little bit of latex in it, so it can flex without crumbling and cracking and ruining the whole floor.  Just what we need for this old house.

I went through the hassle of picking out tile.  For some, this is like the most fun you could ever have.  I am not one who likes too many choices.  I get overwhelmed very easily.  I'm not a decorator, so trying to coordinate things is lost on me.  Plus, I don't like super matchy-matchy rooms.   I don't know what I would ever do if we built a brand new house and I had to pick out every single thing.

Seriously.  Most people fantasize about that.  I tremble at the thought.

I'd rather live in a tent.

I tried a special tile place and didn't want to deal with the one on one attention and 50,000 questions, so I high-tailed it out of there before anyone could help me.

I just went to The Home Depot, where there were far fewer choices to have to go through, and k-ster could go in and pick out what he needed to get the job done, without someone hovering over his shoulder.

I decided that the best thing for our current driveway situation (stone dust that constantly tracks into the house) would be something that had a kind of print or marbleized pattern so a fleck of dirt would't be a staggering blemish to the eyeballs.

They had about 4 choices of beige, so I went with one I liked.  K-ster agreed it's fine.

And they are rectangular, not square.  You can get a sneak peek on instagram, I'm frenchymms.

All fairy tales must come with a tumultuous twist, so here's what happened.

Because I love to save money, I ordered everything through The Home Depot online because I went through and got a great percentage back.  Even with the cost of shipping the tile (everything else was free shipping), it was cheaper and easier than going to the store and carrying out 17 boxes of tiles.  Plus, they didn't have that color in my local store, so it would have meant 2 hours of driving to haul 17 boxes of tiles out to my car.

We got everything in late March/early April.

I didn't have school on Good Friday, so my fantasy was that on Thursday afternoon, we'd move the kitchen into the living room, k-ster would begin the 3 day project on Friday and by Monday, we'd be ready to move everything back into the new and improved kitchen.

For a couple of weeks, I asked k-ster where we thought the refrigerator would go.  That was the most important thing because, while I can go without the stove and dishwasher, I can't really go without the refrigerator, so the door would have to be able to open in its new space.

And for a few weeks, we theorized but never actually measured or fully thought through this whole endeavor. 

I suggested that if things were going to come out of the kitchen into the living room, the living room would have to be rearranged to accommodate everything.  I didn't want a repeat of the living room becoming the laundry room episode of 2009 (that was P.B, pre-blog, but let's just say that walking into the house and falling over the washer and dryer, while k-ster rebuilt the laundry room because of the washing machine maintenance guy's extreme error with a water sprayer, was great fun for any guests we had.)

I wanted it all well mapped out so everything had a place and we could still evacuate in case of a fire, without having to leap over large appliances, etc.

The best laid plans do not happen around here.

Suddenly, k-ster became very busy with work.  I drove to test out saddles on the Thursday afternoon.  Easter kind of got in the way, plus k-ster had (seriously, I encouraged it because they didn't go all season) to go to a Bruins game and April vacation was well underway with nary a piece of the kitchen moved into the living room.

I tried to pin k-ster down so I'd know exactly when I should have the kitchen ready to be moved.

And we had a little communication issue.

I thought he said he might start it Wednesday afternoon, after he came back from a boat  he was working on.

I thought I had all day to clean up, and that it was a maybe anyway.  I needed to empty the refrigerator and put all of the frozen stuff in the freezer out in the garage (down the driveway, not just in the next room).  I needed to move everything that I could move alone.   I needed to wash what was in the dishwasher so I could empty it before he moved it.

So, I:

1. skyped with my niece
2. read the newspaper
3. got started on uploading information for my goals for school,which are due soon.

I thought I had all day.  And then some.

And k-ster walked in to find me in pajamas, with the kitchen like this.

Sadly, the kitchen didn't look like this just because we were going to put down tile.  It's often in a state of chaos until I pick it all up and then after a few days, we are right back to where we started.  K-ster is not the kind of guy that orders me around when it comes to cleaning and doing household chores.  As you've probably gathered through my many blog posts.

But when he walked in and the kitchen looked as it did when he left, and I was at the computer, he lost his mind a little bit.

After making it clear that when he got back from buying screws, the kitchen better be ready for moving,  he left and I got to work.

I learned that it actually takes one hour for the dishwasher to run its cycle, which is also the amount of time it takes me to:
1. empty the refrigerator and put all of the frozen stuff out in the garage
2. move everything that I could move by myself
3. completely clean and rearrange the living room to the best of my abilities
4. make sure all of the dishes in the sink are also cleaned and ready to go in the cabinets.

When he came back, everything was ready to move, so the living room now looks like this.

Because even though I ran around like a maniac, you can only arrange the furniture so many ways before you're stuck with a plan and have to live with it.

And nothing could go outside because it rained during this whole process.

At least if people come visit, there are plenty of clear paths.

And we only have 2 more days before the grout is finished and everything can move back to where it belongs.

And I can loll about on the new tile that is clean and free of debris.

Until someone takes a step inside on a muddy day and I rue the day I ever thought tile was a great idea.

Linking here: 


  1. I could never, ever go through the hassle of building my own house and having to pick out every single thing. It would drive me out of my mind.

  2. Haha Scott always gets on me about splashing at the sink too. Where do we get that from?


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