Nailed It!

So we have now spent four nights in our new/old house... and it's anything but luxurious!  Until our floors are complete, we can't move our furniture upstairs so we're living/storing everything in the basement.  Here's a little picture so you can see that I'm not exaggerating.  By the way, that box spring is NOT our bed.  It  was left by the previous owners and while we think it's probably fine... we won't sleep on it so we lost even more floor space downstairs.  We're still figuring out how we're going to get it outside since we think it was brought downstairs before the kitchen was finished. 

With all the work that needs to be done, we're obviously trying to save as much money as possible.  We had hired Mr. Sandless on Friday and, after seeing our sleeping quarters, he told us that he would squeeze us in for Monday.  More on that later.

We told him that we were really on a budget and he told us that the best way to save money would be to remove the existing floors ourselves.  Our deadline for the main floor was this morning at 7.  I'll talk more about the condition of our floors in another post.

Anyway, our "adventure" began Friday night, when Corey began to remove a badly damaged tile in our front entrance hallway.  We hadn't planned to expose hardwood there because we could see tile underneath.  The top layer was not salvageable so we decided to try to clean the layer underneath.

But, once we had removed the top layer, we noticed that the floor was still higher than it should be.  Carefully, we lifted the bottom layer of tile using a screwdriver and a hammer... and occasionally a crowbar for the tough spots.  To our surprise, there was hardwood underneath so we just... kept going.  The only snag was this spot (below) where there had been an old return.

Yesterday, we woke up early to begin our living room and dining room.  Corey had already started working in the dining room on moving day... just to make sure that the hardwood we had been dreaming of was actually there.

We encountered our first challenge when we realized that the particle board subfloor was nailed down obsessively to our beautiful hardwood.  We wanted to minimize damage to our floors which would be caused by prying up the subfloor, so we began the tedious process of lifting each nail individually.  This meant chiseling down around the nail with a flat head screwdriver, twisting to try to pull the nail up a little and then using the back of a hammer.  Some nails took some serious work to pull up.

The living room was completed after diligently working until 2:00.

When we began the dining room after lunch, we expected it to be similar to the living room.  We couldn't have been more wrong.  The dining room was actually raised about two inches above the living room.  This was due to the many layers of flooring we had to work through to get to our hardwood. 

The top, was a simple laminate.  Then came some parquet (which was nailed, glued and plastered in some areas) which had a layer of plaster and metal lathe underneath.  Under this was another particle board subfloor (with many nails into the hardwood again) and, in some areas, still more nailed down subfloor underneath before we could finally reach the hardwood. 

It was very difficult work and, with both of us working constantly, we had made very little progress by dinner time.  My mom dropped off Chinese food and we were just talking about how we probably wouldn't be able to finish by our 7 am deadline, when I opened this fortune cookie:

We hope so, wise fortune cookie!  We really hope so!

We powered through and finished a little after 3 this morning.   You'll see our finished floors soon, but I'll leave you with this picture of all the nails we removed last night.

This is by far the most unexpectedly difficult home project we've tackled to date.  I'm sure I'll be eating those words in a month or so though.  Still, nothing feels better than working on your own home!  Operation "Get Barkley Back" is well underway.  Once the floors are finished and we can move upstairs, all we need to do is install stair runners (he's not very good on stairs) and dog-proof the back yard and he can come home!  We miss him very much so we're pushing ourselves hard these next few days!

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Hello, New Challenge! (Pictures of the House!!)

We've been working steadily since the move and I'm now convinced that the house is clean enough that we can begin some projects.  At the moment, we're living in the basement, which is not ideal but we're pretending we're camping.  Not really, but it actually does feel a bit like camping.  The sellers left a bed in the basement (yuck) and we think we'll need to saw the box spring to get it out of here so Corey and I are cramped onto our own double mattress on the floor.  We're hoping to have the floors done this week!

And now, I'm finally going to show you our house on the day we moved in.  Don't worry- we're already making some progress but this house is going to keep us busy for A WHILE!  So strap on your seat belts, because here come the "before" pictures.  (I don't know why but I actually still haven't taken an exterior shot.  I just noticed this... oops!)

Living Room:  Don't worry, that window A/C unit will soon be a thing of the past!

Dining Room

Kitchen with Entrance to Family Room

Family Room: This picture was taken during the move so those are our sofas... This room is now packed to the gills since it is one of the few rooms without original hardwood to finish.

Backyard:  Not our furniture.

Entrance:  Pay no attention to the green carpet or the knob and tube light switch plate...  They won't be around for long.

Upstairs Hall


Bathroom: Again, not our stuff.  We'll start work on this bathroom next month.

Tiny Bedroom

Master Bedroom

What are we going to do first?  Well, remember the list from my post about finding our dream home?  Here it is again:

  • Corey will need to update some of the electrical work. Not a glamorous task but necessary and important.  Still a priority according to our insurance company.  This will be done in the next few weeks!
  • We discovered original hardwood underneath the laminate and carpet. Who has two thumbs and is excited to use a floor sander? This girl! (I say with my thumbs pointing at my chest.) Corey is skeptical but I'm going to attempt this project on my own. I'm still not sure whether I want a dark, light or natural stain. Our current condo has light floors but the dark dog fur really stands out against it. Feel free to weigh in.  Yes, we found hardwood in the closets... then, when we ripped the downstairs floor we just found regular sub floor under the laminate.  But then we found hardwood under THAT!  We're diving down the rabbit hole in terms of flooring and hoping to have all the hardwood exposed by the end of the day!  We are going to have the hardwood professionally refinished, as I mentioned in my last post.
  • The upstairs bathroom is wheelchair accessible. (Actually, the entire house is and we plan to donate the wheelchair lift and stairlift.) We had considered just finishing the shower nicely but decided we wanted a tub. I found a fabulous clawfoot on Craigslist which was being sold by a couple in Trinity Bellwoods who were also refinishing a 1926 house. They had an extra clawfoot tub and I just couldn't resist. It seemed so perfect finding a tub from the year our house was built! It will need to be painted but I already have some ideas.  This is still a priority, but floors come first so that we can start to move our furniture and boxes out of the basement and begin to unpack.
  • We have a lovely front porch which we would love to enclose to create a mudroom. It would give us some storage for coats (the house does not have a coat closet) and I think we may have finally found a home for our church pew which currently resides in our dining room.  Hahaha.  We may need to take our time budgeting (time and money) for this one!
  • The back yard is begging for a new fence and some trees. We want to plant some trees right away so we can enjoy some shade in a few years. Our priority right now is cleaning all the garbage, debris, broken glass, exposed nails and sheet metal from the yard.  A fence is still a priority but once the yard is safe, Barkley can enjoy it.  The existing fence isn't great but we know Barkley won't try to jump it so we'll just supervise him outside. 
  • Since I'm not budgeting for a kitchen renovation just yet, I'm thinking of purchasing a lovely hutch (A friend and client of mine is selling one and she was sweet enough to offer it to me. She said it could use a "fresh coat of paint" :) ) and painting it white. It would offer me some extra storage as well as a chance to display some of my pretty dishes. The existing cabinets seem to be in good condition (although not my taste) so I'm thinking of painting them white and changing the hardware for now.  The beautiful hutch is here (thanks Janet!) and once I moved the fridge and positioned the hutch, our kitchen started to appear larger.  I actually think it's slightly larger than our condo kitchen.  There is no painting going on here just yet though.

  • Add to this list:  I actually wrote this before the move and have since modified in red...
    • Have a company install central air.  I don't know why I left this major change out of the last post, except that we're not doing it ourselves.  We have hired a company and they will likely start next weekend.  Unfortunately, most of the duct work in the house is going to be usable so this will cost more $$$ than we thought and likely take at least a week to complete.
    • Create a closet for the master bedroom.  We're going to do this as affordably as possible for now.
    • Install wall-mounted bedside lighting.  Soon.
    • Create built-ins for the living room.  Soon
    • Find or build a garden shed for Corey.  Maybe next year.  This is not a place to spend money at the moment and we discovered a very functional crawl space under the family room, which will give us storage for gardening tools for now.
    We thought we'd add some fun, smaller projects to the list of major things to do.  Still, this is just our list of things to start with. 

    As you can see, our house is throwing us some curve balls but we're learning to be patient and flexible.  We are finally home and it has always been our dream to renovate and restore an old house together so we feel very lucky! 

    We are limited only by time (We are obviously both working full time at jobs which require long hours.  In fact, I've already seen clients this weekend.) and money. 

    This is going to be an interesting year...

    Moving by Numbers

    Ahhh, finally moved and settling in.  We expected moving day to be a bit like Murphy's Law... And it was!  We battled nosey neighbours (at the condo) who questioned our movers about our belongings as they were loaded onto the truck (yuck) but we were organized and packed well so our movers expected that unloading at the house would be a breeze...

    Until we actually arrived at the house!  The doorways were even narrower than we had expected.  This is not a good thing to learn when you plan to move all of your personal belongings into the basement of an old house.  In the end, Corey removed both doors and the weatherstripping in order to get my beautiful harvest table in to the house.  At one point, I heard Corey tell the movers "We need to get this inside- it's the ONLY piece of furniture that she really cares about!"  While this was happening, I waited in another room and paced back and forth.  The movers warned us that it wasn't going to fit easily but we managed to get it through the narrow opening with only a minor "battle wound" (below) which we can probably stain.  It was a tough day but we did get through it and are very happy to finally be home!

    A house is never as you expect when you take possession and my sellers had a difficult time removing all their belongings so we had to clear the house out (and CLEAN!!!) before we could even begin the renos.

    And on to the rest of the moving day details:  Remember the Craigslist Moving Challenge I had posted about?

    Coffee Table
    Foot Stool
    Flokati Rug
    Big Red Painting
    Triple Convex Mirror
    Teak Nesting Tables
    Outdoor Bistro Set
    Small BBQ
    Pink Umbra Chair
    Black End Table
    Brass Lamps
    Chrome Sputnik Lamp
    Black Tiered Table

    Coffee Table
    Big Red Painting
    Triple Convex Mirror
    Foot Stool
    Small BBQ
    Outdoor Bistro Set
    Chrome Sputnik Lamp

    Pink Umbra Chair
    Dog Items
    All donations were made to the RLP Shelter Foundation, which you can read about in this post.  Donations are still being welcomed until May 11th.

    So, how did we do on our challenge?  We ended up keeping a few items on the "for sale" list because I decided to repurpose them here.  Still, we had no major items like sofas so I think we did pretty well.

    I paused during our move to snap this quick picture outside our new house.
    We had hired Door 2 Door Movers for the big day.  They had affordable rates, great testimonials and reviews and (most importantly) they were a referral.  I work by referral and I find that I automatically have a deeper level of trust with a professional (whether lawyer, mover or veterinarian) if they have been referred to me by someone whom I trust.

    Overall, I found them to be professional and courteous.  They were all nice guys and they worked hard throughout our long move and asked questions when they were in doubt about where our things should be placed in the new house.  Not once did I feel like I didn't trust them- Honestly, I liked all three.  They also did not hold our belongings hostage (like I've seen other companies do) while they renegotiated our rate.  We had an hourly agreement from the start so there was no dispute about the final total.  They also had a huge truck and packed our things (including our giant mirror) pretty carefully.  They actually went above and beyond in many areas.  I would use them again..  The one minor critique would be that I wish they had a GPS in their truck.  They got a little lost while driving to our house... and we all know that every 30 minutes counts when you pay by the hour.  Still, it was a good experience overall and they were lighthearted even when things weren't going our way.

    I promise to upload a tour of the new house "before" the renovations by the end of the week.  We've just been busy cleaning, ripping up carpet... you know, the usual!  Overall, it has been hard work but, like the song says, we got by with a little help from our friends: My mom has actually been helping every day since the move (and the weekend leading up to it) and we are very grateful!

    Also pitching in have been my brother (Who picked up the heavy iron clawfoot tub with Corey and carried it to the upstairs bathroom.  It's so heavy that I keep checking to make sure it hasn't fallen through the floor... yikes!) and my dear friend Bonnie who brought food and cleaning supplies and rolled up her sleeves with my mom to try to make our house liveable.  She didn't even flinch when I sobbed while scrubbing the floors... You see, my dirtiest little secret is that dirt grosses me out to the point of tears.  I don't even know why but I do know that it's ridiculous!   Oh well, many more tears to come as we work our way through the house. haha.  We are very luck to have such a strong support system because this house is not going to be finished overnight!

    Another moment which almost sent me to tears again was when we decided to start ripping up the laminate in the living room to get a quick peek at the hardwood floors we assumed were there...

    We lifted the laminate gently, expecting to see hardwood but instead finding... particle board subfloor!  How upsetting and disappointing... especially since we had already been arranging floor refinishing!
    Luckily, Corey is a home reno detective and he decided to pry up some of the subfloor.  Like buried treasure, we found hardwood underneath!  Now, we're in the process of ripping the carpet upstairs and all the laminate downstairs to prep for the floor specialists on Monday!
    I know I said we'd do the floors ourselves (and you know we're trying to save as much money as possible) but I am taking the advice of a client and friend of mine who is a more experienced do-it-yourself-er.  She says that finishing floors is one of the few jobs that she would leave for the professionals.  Since floors are really one of the first things people notice about your home, I decided that she was right so I searched for affordable options.  I'll post all about our floors soon: Like with everything else in an old house, we have already encountered unforeseen challenges.
    I'll end this post with a little video clip of Barkley.  While he hasn't loved watching us pack, we've enjoyed some fun moments.  Last weekend, we uncovered some finger puppets I had from when I worked at camp... I LOVE finger puppets!  Anyway, I thought I'd use an annoying squeaky voice to make the unicorn talk to him.  Apparently we learned that Barkley does not play well with unicorns.  Either that, or it's his way of telling me not to use that stupid voice ever again... Actually, it may be the latter.

    We are missing Barkley BIG time right now because he's staying at his "grandma's" until our floors are ready and our yard is safe.  We missed his 7th birthday on Friday and Corey and I both felt so guilty.  We had promised him a yard for his birthday and he still hasn't seen it!
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    Fascinating Facets

    Fascinating Facets... Have I outdone myself with the bad puns? Probably.  This main picture (above) is actually my living room colour palette in a pixelated version.  Can you tell that it's growing on me?
    Today is moving day but I pre-scheduled this post in case our internet at the new/old house isn't set up for a few days.  This one is going to be short, sweet and mostly eye candy!

    Thanks Ryan... but I actually meant a different type of eye candy!  As a "math person" I really like the current geometric trend in home design.  I even made some DIY geometric bookends last month.  I find that patterns can be both comforting and stimulating at the same time.  Before you chant, "nerd alert" over and over at your computer screen, take a look at a few examples:

    Origami Coffee Table from West ElmI love this one.  It actually inspired this whole post.  If we weren't trying for another second-hand styled home, I would buy this for the living room.  Corey likes it too... Finally, we agree on something after arguing about my modern art, piano and toilet-sink.  Actually, my friends are now teasing me about the toilet-sink and threatening to boycott it... or worse!  ...But that's another story.

    Robert Abbey Lamp from Lamps Plus:  I'm a big fan of this one too.  It's affordable and it comes in many colours!

    Society 6 Print by Steve WomackI love the colours and Society 6 is a cool website to check out for cheap art prints.  Corey just pointed out that this "matches" the background of my blog: Unintentional but cool.

    Geometric Pillow Cover on EtsyI really like the colours here and, I feel like it could look good in a Modern, Southwestern or even a Minimalist themed home.

    Geometric Wall Stencil from Olive Leaf StencilsI always love interesting walls.  I contemplate trying stencils from time to time... Maybe in the new house.  I wonder how badly I'll mess it up.

    Geometric VasesThese are so pretty.  They look like origami to me.
    Moravian Star from EtsyI think this is a great twist on the moravian stars I've been seeing everywhere.  Kind of like an adult mobile!
    Polygon Dhurrie Rub from CB2I honestly don't love these but this room is just such a good example of geometric design.  Personally, I think this trend works best in moderation with some solids or softer prints (maybe florals) mixed in.  They tend to look harsh otherwise.  I do however, like that they mixed the colour and scale of the patterns.
    Patterned Pillow from ZazzleAgain, not my favourite.  I'm including this because the colour combination of purple and lime green is so gutsy and vibrant!
    Honeycomb MorphologiesThis honeycomb wall is just so... different.  I can't decide whether I love it or not.  Corey thinks it's awful and weird. I think it's fluid and organic looking... but better as an art installation than a practical room divider.
    What do you think?  Notice how the colour and size can impact the feel of the print?  I found that stencilled wall positively serene, while that bright orange rug is a little too energetic for me.
    Would you embrace this trend in your home?  I was going to make a joke about being a square but I decided it was too cheesy.

    That's all for today.  Wish us luck with the move and I'll post again as soon as I can.
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