living room floor: DONE!

23 Jan

I know I’ve mentioned it on facebook a couple of times, but I don’t think I’ve really ever gone into all the details of the floor debacle. And since it’s done and officially crossed off the house to do list (you can’t even imagine how good it feels to say that!), now’s a good time to share some pictures, and the story of how I “fixed” the floor.

In early August, I noticed that the floor in the hall was wet. Not wet like one of the dogs had an accident, but wet like there’s a big puddle in the hall. This was of course after all after the plumbing problems we had in the spring, so my first thought fear was that the pipes were leaking. So I cut a strip in the carpet to see if I could trace it to the bathroom wall. It wasn’t coming from there. It was coming from the vent in the wall. The heating and air system was leaking. The whole unit ended up needing to be replaced, and the carpet had to come up. It had apparently been leaking for some time and smelled like mildew, not to mention, I’d now cut a gigantic hole in the carpet.

The concrete was in pretty good shape (our house is on a slab foundation), no major holes or anything, but it was uneven and bumpy. We lived with bare concrete for a looooooong time, (until the end of November) while we were trying to decide what to do. I couldn’t even find a good picture of the whole room. I really tried to avoid showing all the ugly in the living room at that time. Here’s the best (and only) one I’ve got.

You can see the concrete just beyond the rug. Words can’t even express how much I HATED the floor like that. I hated the living room, I hated the house. I was so discouraged. We thought that we would be putting down some kind of flooring solution, but we just didn’t have the money for what we wanted. Carpet was out (I never wanted carpet in the first place, I detest carpeting, with 4 dogs…no way.), tile was too expensive, linoleum wasn’t right and wood/vinyl/laminate floors were too expensive for our budget. Sure, we could’ve gotten a lighter maple-color wood for a lot cheaper, but it’s not what we wanted. Why spend money on what you don’t want? We’ve had so much on the to do list for the house, we’ve had to start making choices about what was most important. We also really, really weren’t interested in repouring or trying to level the concrete right now, so as a cost-saving solution, I decided to paint the floor. I figured if I painted it, it would at least be tolerable until we could afford flooring that we loved.

I used semi gloss Valspar Porch and Floor Paint in Brownstone. I used a small roller for the big areas and a Purdy brush to do all the cut in work. As a side note, let me just say, I’d been buying a new cheap paint brush for every job that I did because I didn’t think the better ones were worth the money. But for this job, I bought a Purdy brush, which really wasn’t expensive, it was less than $10. I’d heard people raving about it, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was so worth it, for the first time my brush wasn’t shedding bristles all over my project! $2 a brush for every job (because you really can only wash the cheap ones out so many times before they completely fall apart) vs. like $8 for a Purdy (and wait until you see what it looks like now, it’s held up BIG time)…it’s crazy. I feel kind of dumb for not doing it before.

Anyway. I didn’t like the brown floor either. I don’t even have a picture of the whole floor done because as soon as I was done, I knew it wasn’t staying like that. It had almost a muddy look to it. It wasn’t glossy and it wasn’t matte…it really looked like mud. I liked the color a lot, just not on my floor.

So at this point we were stuck. I’d done everything  I could think of, I was completely out of ideas. The thought of having a plain brown floor for the next 5 years was downright depressing.

Sometime at the end of December I got my January/February issue of This Old House magazine and saw this:

Lightbulb! I figured if you could paint a wall faux wood grain, you could paint a concrete floor to look like wood, right?

First I went to Lowe’s and got a wood graining tool for about $7.

Using the same small size roller I used to paint the brown on, I painted a strip of black to look like a plank.

Then I used the same Purdy paint brush and mixed white in with the black I’d just painted. I happened to have Glidden Onyx Black and Valspar Ultra White, both in semi gloss, on hand, so that’s what I used.

(I told you that brush held up well!) Not that any of this project was technical, but this part was especially not techincal. I literally brushed the white on the newly painted black “plank” until it made the color I liked. I was going for a smoky gray, and I wanted stay true to what old wood would look like, so I was fine with color variation. Once I had the color I liked, I pulled the wood graining tool through the paint while it was still wet.

Sometimes I just dragged straight, sometimes I rocked the graining tool back and forth while dragging it to make it look like knots, it was really trial and error. I just did it until I liked it. Here’s a close up.

I really love that you can see some of the brown through the gray. It gives it so much dimension. 

This is the finished room.

I absolutely LOVE how it came out!

I think that in this case, the uneven concrete really worked to our advantage. 

The other side of the room.

We still have the baseboard to do, but that’s (hopefully) going to be done by the end of next month. We still haven’t really decided what kind of molding to do.

So there you have it! Working in sections for 3-4 hours at a time, it took me about 7 days, on my hands and knees, from start to finish. I started in the corner, but if I had to do it again, I would’ve been more technical about it and started in the middle of the room, measured and all that. I had a really hard time keeping the “planks” straight.

This whole project cost about $71 ($50 for 2 gallons of the Brownstone paint, $8 for 1 Purdy paintbrush, $6 for the mini roller and tray, $7 for the wood graining tool and the black and white paint was free since I already had it). How’s that for an alternative to a wood floor!

It was great to be able to use the same concrete floor that had been the bane of my existence for months to make something so cool, and of course that it was so inexpensive compared to other flooring options. I don’t know that it looks exactly like a planked wood floor, but it feels like it. It at least gives the idea/notion of wood. I was a little hestitant to use black and gray as the colors, but just the right amount of brown shows through, and Chris and I really like that it kind looked like great aged barn wood. It gives the room so much depth and character, we really love it.

This room has been “done” twice before. Here’s the way it was when we first moved in:

This is how it looked this summer when we repainted (here’s the post all about that):

And here it is today:

It’s not typical, it’s not “normal”, and it’s admittedly not for everyone, but it’s PERFECT for us.

In case you want ALL the deets, there were obviously a couple of other changes in the before from this summer: we added a Pottery Barn white slip cover to the couch and all three pillow covers are from Pottery Barn. We were given the media cabinet and hutch that doubles as my desk (the drawer pulls out for a desk) by Chris’ dad. We painted them both Sealing Wax by Martha Stewart and changed the hardware, also by Martha Stewart, all bought at Home Depot. The table was moved back in the kitchen. The rug was also a hand-me-down from Chris’ stepmom. Everything else is stuff we already had. 

Edited 2/1/11 to add:
I joined the February DIY Project Party!

DIY Club


insert creative title here

22 Jan

I had a really good day today. I started one of my 2011 goals: to read 5 books. I started reading Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. I’m really inspired by it and find it completely convicting. It’s about dispelling the myth of feminism, in that if you’re “just” a housewife you have no value. It’s based completely in scripture and is really (so far) a fantastic book. I plan on doing a full review when I finish.

Hrm…what else…I’ve got nothing.

I thought of something: the “d” key on the key board doesn’t work very well, you have to push it really hard. Last week the “x” didn’t work well, and before that the backspace key didn’t work, but now they both work just fine. Our laptop isn’t much more than a year old. I’m not sure why it keeps happening, but it’s annoying.

one step closer

20 Jan

I don’t have anything to say today. I finished painting the floor and have spent the past 8 hours putting the house back together. This is a HUGE step in the direction of saying the house is finished and I’m elated.

But exhausted.

you are now entering the twilight zone

20 Jan

Tonight I was getting my pajamas out of the bottom dresser drawer and I heard a crinkling sound. I reached in (praying it wasn’t some rodent or something) and found…

This. A Christmas flag. That I’ve never seen in my entire life.

I have two theories. First, my grandma stuck it in the drawer (the dresser was hers) and it got stuck, which I sort of think is unlikely because this dresser was moved from New York to Maine after she passed away. Then from Maine to Georgia when we moved. And I use this drawer ALL the time. Chris did move it into the closet this weekend, so that could’ve dislodged it (I totally have pictures if both Kat and Chris getting stuck in the closet in the process by the way).

My second theory is I’m slowly going insane and I bought this and shoved it in my pajama drawer for safe keeping. Or I’ve crossed over into the Twilight Zone. I guess that’s three theories.

P.S. You know it’s all I can do not to make some thinly veiled Edward/Jacob/I’ve seen all the moves and am totally excited for the next movie, right? You know Twilight, because I said I was entering the Twilight Zone? Nevermind.

P.P.S. I’m posting this post and took the pic from my iPhone, so now there’s no excuse not to post every day.

day 2 (because I can’t think of a good title)

18 Jan

I’m only on day 2 of the whole write a post every day thing, and I’m already having a hard time. It’s 11:06 at night and it was all I could do MAKE myself sit down and write. I’ve been painting the living room floor to look wood planks (crazy, right? Wait until you see pics!) since last Thursday night. The floor is concrete and I’ve had to paint on my hands and knees because I can’t really reach when I’m sitting normally. I’m in so much pain it’s hard to think straight. Combine that with the post-apocalyptic scene that is my kitchen and I really don’t feel like I have the time to sit here and write. Oh, I also for some reason volunteered to iron Kat’s shirt before tomorrow morning, I think probably because I didn’t feel quite overwhelmed enough *wink*.

Anyway, so here I sit writing my post. I’m also eating a Kit Kat. I’ve been on my hands and knees for like 4 days, I SO deserve it.

Maybe if I continue to make myself do it, it’ll come easier. I don’t know how there are 24 hours in every day and I never feel like I have enough time for me. I don’t do my hair anymore, no makeup, I rarely get out of my pajamas unless I have somewhere to be. I really don’t feel like I have the time to even stop and get dressed. Like now, I’m sitting here wishing I had time to shower, but I feel obligated to write, clean the kitchen and make an attempt at folding the mountain of laundry that’s piled up over 4 days. But today, I’ve written enough. I’ve done enough. I’m taking a shower!

Right after I iron Kat’s shirt.

my project 365

17 Jan

So you know that whole “write every day” thing I said before? Well I haven’t done it. At all. I haven’t written a single word since I wrote my last post 15 days ago. I think sometimes the thought of having to come up with something to say is overwhelming. Sometimes I think I just don’t have anything worth saying.

Today in my daily time-wasting internet/blog reading, I came across a challenge. Write a post every day for a year. It’s like the post a photo a day for 365 days (aptly titled Project 365) only it’s for bloggers. I thought that sounded kinda cool. I had a blog before that I loved. It was random and weird, but totally me. I didn’t worry about what I said or how I said it. I just said what I felt and wrote about the crazy things that happen in our life. I miss it.

So, I’m in. My own little Project 365.

P.S. Keep me honest and on track. I need all the nudges and headbutts I can get to keep me motivated.

P.P.S. Don’t really headbutt me. Just send me an email or something.

“do you have a goal? you gotta have a goal!”

4 Jan

I had an absolute blissful vacation from reality: no home projects (well, ok one. But I did that one yesterday so it doesn’t really count), no DIY, no blogging, no writing, no nothing. The kids were on vacation from school for two weeks, Chris took the first week off and we all just hung out every day. We slept in, played board games, ordered pizza, stayed up way too late laughing and being silly…it was really awesome. The second week, we did more vegging, we’d hang out with Chris during the day, then at night the kids and I would, do a project or bake something, watch tv, really just embodying the word vacation, or sloth. In this case they’re pretty interchangeable. Besides being able to spend so much time together, I really relished in fact that I had nothing to but think, plan, plot and dream. After a year of putting things together on the fly, making it work Tim Gunn-style, and never making any time for what I enjoyed, I really needed the recharge.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolultions. I think they’re pretty much failure waiting to happen, so I just made goals for 2011. I’m more of a goal-oriented person anyway. But instead of just saying them out loud, I wrote them down. I read somewhere that if you write down your goals, you’re much more likely to succeed. I don’t know how true that is, but that’s what I did. I made a “vision board” and wrote down all of my goals. Well, I didn’t make it, I downloaded an app for my iPhone, because let’s be honest, a vision board just sounds like way too much clutter in my house. Anyway, the idea is that when I look at it, I’ll be reminded and inspired of what I want.

So here we go. Goals for 2011.

1. Read at least 5 books. Believe it or not I read one book last year. ONE. Granted it was a crazy good book, “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett, which just by the way, is seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s an amazing story. Starz made a mini-series about it this past summer, but that wasn’t nearly as good. Anyway, I was supposed to read the “Twilight” series, I even borrowed them from a friend, and I tried to start them about 12 times. I’m just completely not interested. So no Twilight for me. I’ve watched the movies with Kat, but that’s about all the Twilight I can stand. Anyway, I love to read. Reading one book in 365 days is unacceptable. So I’m shooting for at least 5 this year.

2. Read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I’ve never read it. I’ve always wanted to, so I will. This one doesn’t count in the 5 books though.

3. Read “Tom Sawyer”. How have I not read this? I’m not really sure. But I think I should. This one also doesn’t count for one of the 5.

4. Dedicate time each day to write. I love to write. It’s what I’ve always loved to do. I loved to write before there were such things as blogs. I used to dream about someday being a professional writer and seeing one of my stories on a shelf in the bookstore. Somewhere along the way I kind of lost that and declared writing to be nothing more than a past-time, not worthy of my “precious” time. I miss it terribly. I feel like there’s been a piece of me missing since I stopped. I believe that God gives everyone has talents, and people have always said writing was mine. I don’t know if they’re right or not, but I want to try.

5. Get paid to write. The ultimate validation maybe? I just really want someone other than my friends and family think that what I have to say is worthy of being read. While I don’t need to find self-worth in a paycheck, it would be kind of nice.

6. Keep a gratitude journal. Inspired by our “Thanks Jar” (another post about that coming soon), I decided that being thankful and showing gratitude for everything that I’ve been given is never a bad thing. I really love it so far. I downloaded an app for that too, which I love. It’s called “Gratitude Journal” by Happy Tapper. You can check it out here. And no, wasn’t paid a dime for that plug. I wasn’t ever contacted by anyone from Happy Tapper, and I would highly doubt they even know I exist. I just really like this application. If you have an android, you should get a gratitude journal app, and if you don’t have an android or iPhone, get a plain old notebook. I paid 99 cents for this app, and it was so completely worth it. I’ve done it only for a few days and I find it calms and centers me…keeps me focused on what’s good.

7. Make my marriage better. That’s a pretty blanket statement, and isn’t really specific, but I do have some ideas. I’m going do the “The Love Dare” again. I downloaded a daily devotional app for that, so there should be no excuse not to do it, since it’s right on my phone. I also got an app for just the 40 Love Dares, in case I was a total slacker and didn’t do the devotional. I also want to take more time with Chris, be more patient, more forgiving and more understanding. Without going into too much detail, we’ve had a really hard time the past few months, and it’s time to knock it off and get back to being awesome.

So there you have it. My goals for 2011. With a little help from App Store and the local library, I should have no problem. Or at least that’s the plan.

How about you? Do you have resolutions or goals? How are you going to achieve them

P.S. The quote in the title is from Pretty Woman. Kit De Luca (Julia Robert’s best friend) says it.