Home Sweat Home

Warning, long post ahead and it could be mighty boring.

Hubs and I had been going over to the new-old house almost daily after work. We put in a lot of hours and spent a lot of money at Home Depot.  And it’s only just begun…

I wanted to show you the progress we’ve made so far. To jog your memory, our den started out like this:

The previous homeowners wanted to leave us that monstrous TV – we had to negotiate it OUT of the closing contract. Even though we didn’t have a TV of our own, that one probably weighed as much as our car! Hubs picked out a nice slim one instead just before the holiday since there were raging deals going on. Now, if only the cable company would be remotely helpful for once, we could plug it in and watch it while we work…

We tackled the den first because we wanted to paint the paneling while the grubby carpet was still in since we were hoping to get new floors installed in the upcoming weeks.

The day after we closed, “we” primed that golden terror with the good stuff.

Actually, Hubs did the priming since it’s a fume-y job and we didn’t want to risk it with me being pregnant. Meanwhile, I painted the trim with a fresh coat of white in the nursery. I used off-the-shelf Behr medium base no VOC paint in a satin finish (for wipeability – which apparently is not a word). I picked the medium base so it would be nice and bright but avoid the blue cast an ultra white woud have.

Anyway, back to the den.

The priming took a couple of days since it wraps around (if you can only imagine) and he had to prime the baseboards as well.

Sorry for the crappy lighting, we did most of our painting in the evenings so it’s hard to snap a nice “after” shot but the primer alone makes a huge difference, doesn’t it??

Then, we painted the panels “Popped Corn” by Behr in an eggshell finish. As you can also see, the gr(ay)t debate had begun.

We picked Popped Corn on a whim because we wanted a white, but we thought a yellow undertone might warm it up just a tad. In retrospect, I think we could have used the off-the-shelf white like in the nursery instead since it’s warmth is not overly noticeable.

Here’s the other side of the room. I told you that paneling was a never ending story.

From far away, it looks nice and fresh. But just like me, you get up close and things get hairy.

There were gaps and seams and cracks and ugliness. Although the primer and paint had great coverage, more needed to be done.

So, I caulked the crap out of it.

Three tubes later and see how pretty it looks? I need this stuff for my face.

While I caulked (and caulked and caulked), Hubs went back and did touchups with Popped Corn. I almost wrote Pooped Corn, which does not elicit pleasant imagery. Anyway, we used every last drop of it after finishing up the trim.

If we had more time, I really would have liked to get another swipe at caulking and put on another full coat of Popped Corn, instead of skimping by with touchups only. But we did not have time (nor another gallon of paint). Moving on to the wall color!

After too many samples and a few mistake gallons (doh), we settled on a gray.

I mentioned it before, but we chose Ashes by Behr and it’s actually the color Hubs picked out long ago on our first trip to Home Depot when we were ordering the new floors. At the time, I secretly scoffed at it since my heart was set on Elephant Skin (the color Emily used in her first photography studio) but it was way too dark in our little house. Ashes, although morbidly named, it’s the perfect gray. I’m telling you, a good gray is hard to come by.

TA DA. Me likey!

(Can you believe this post isn’t over yet?)

Next up, we ripped out that blue sea of disgust. We saved at least $600 by doing this ourselves! Ripping out carpet is not difficult work, but it’s hard work. And it’s gross work. Here’s what we used:

The carpet cutter (a glorified Exact-o knife) is from Home Depot and the “tail” came in handy prying up rogue staples. Obviously work gloves would be better suited for this job but my gardening ones got me by. For you carpet removing virgins (don’t be shy, it was my first time too), you first pry up a corner with the pliers

and cut away the carpet into manageable strips.

Honestly, it comes up pretty easily, since it’s only attached by the carpet tack (the wooden strip) along the edges. See the multi colored foam underneath? That’s the carpet pad. It’s usually stapled down (if you have a wood sub-floor) or glued down if you have concrete, like we had in the den. That came up fairly easy too. The hardest part is trying not to think of all the skin cells and hair and bug legs and boogers and Dorrito crumbs and foot sweat that have nested into that sponge of filth over the years. Don’t think about it, okay?

Next up, removing the carpet tack. Now that part sucked.

I stabbed myself through my wimpy gardening gloves, right under my thumbnail and it got infected. It burned and took a few days to heal, which was totally a blast. We used a regular old hammer and a pry bar (also picked up at Home Depot):

It was a noisy and knee-aching job.

Hubs did most of it, while I pulled staples out, one by one. It was super glamorous.

I’m awarding 100 points and a free donuts to you if you noticed those pictures are not actually of the den, hence the wooden sub-floor (and staple-pulling versus glue-scraping). I figure I’d get the carpet ripping talk all done at once – since we had almost 1000 sq feet of it to remove throughout the house. I didn’t take pictures of the den because by the time we got to there, my soul had sunk to a very dark place. The den had underlying concrete, making pulling up the angry tack strip even more painful. On top of that, when the blue sea was laid initially, they just added a second strip of carpet tack down next to the original one…doubling the work for us. Normally I love a good two-for-one deal, but this one was curse-worthy.

(Will this post ever end?)

After lots of labor and cleanup, we were left with this:

Meanwhile, our new floors had been delivered and were “curing” in the living room. See all of the white boxes?

We got the carpet ripped out just in time. The flooring guys set up shop and got to work. Of course, they noticed a few concerns…

Such as, the floor was not level in the den. Generally speaking, being level is a good thing. The opposite? A very very bad thing.

The flooring guys gave us some tips on how to fix it and so that night, at 10pm, we set out to even it up. This was also the week where I slept in the car and fell on my face, so you can probably imagine my overall enthusiasm for this surprise night-time project.

I bought a 50lb bag of this stuff (sorry it’s upside down, I was fading fast at this point).

All you have to do is mix this with water until it’s a milkshake-like consistency and pour it on the floor. Gravity will take it where it needs to go, then it hardens and viola! Level floors! Easy, right?

But you have to work fast.

We taped off the trim so the leveler mix wouldn’t seep in behind it:

Then, we added the mix to some water and stirred!

Let me be clear, we did not know what were were doing. But we poured it down anyway.

Also (and unfortunately) after our great closet purge this summer, Hubs was left with no “work clothes” and so he’s been doing all of our DIYing in those long johns (presumably from junior high school). It’s indecent and we’re sorry about that.

After we poured, we pushed it around (with a mudding knife) and watched where it tended to move to, then added more sludge to that area until we felt like it looked “ok”.

Again, we did not know what ok really looked like since we were totally guessing our way through this.

We set up a puny fan on the mess and went back to the apartment to sleep (and pray that the morning would bring level heads and floors).

The next morning:

Level floors in some spots (!!!) and…

kinda level floors in others:

(you can see the big gap underneath the level itself)

Did we fix the problem? Nope. Did we make it a lot better than it was before? Yes! In a perfect world, we would have taken two passes at this but the flooring guys said that they could fudge it by laying down cardboard in the low areas, since they were using “floating floor” anyway. Phew, we did it! Go us!

Unfortunately, the floors were not dry by morning. We had mixed it too runny and it needed more time (like a full day) to harden completely. They couldn’t lay the floors until it was dry, otherwise the wood would soak it up and warp. Cue sad hearts and somber violins. They did as much as they could and made us promise those floors would be dry by the next morning, their final day of work:

That night, we bought a space heater (from Lowes) and turned on our in-house fan (which sounds like a tornado) then hoped that the notorious dry Colorado air would work its magic, while we slept uneasily at our apartment.

It was indeed magical, take a look now!

The floors are laminate (Home Legend Walnut Plateau from Home Depot) and we love them! I must give a shout out to Emily, who helped us pick these over the other (much darker) one we were mulling over. As you know, the girl has got good taste. We are eternally grateful for you, Emily!!!

More pics? As if this post isn’t long enough?

There is much more work to be done but let’s just revel in the moment, shall we?

21 thoughts on “Home Sweat Home

  1. Oh wow! What a TON and HALF of super hard work – but WOW – it looks fantastic!!!! I love the before & afters! A) that is a LOT of paneling B) leveling out floors?? You guys are hardcore! C) the floors are GORGEOUS! LURVE the color! D) I say sport those long johns with PRIDE Zack. You have earned the “I am hard core DIY I Made This House a Home” title, which trumps any wardrobe choice (or lack thereof)! :-)

    • Thank you, friend! We’ve been working so hard and we’re thankful that it’s coming together, slowly but surely! Can’t wait to show you progress in the nursery…(coming soon!)

  2. Looking SO AWESOME, Garbows! Please don’t give me any credit for making it look so amazing…you did all the hard work and I simply cast a vote! So looking forward to seeing it in person someday! Can we have a house crashing like John and Sherry!?!?

    • We couldn’t have done it without you – your vote was the deciding one! Let’s house crash! I know you are working magic at your own new house, the “Emily spin” you put on decorating spaces is always inspiring. Miss you so much!!!

  3. Wow, I am impressed!!!! I might need to refer back to this when we buy our next house. I didn’t know you could paint over wood paneling like that! Good work! It looks amazing!!

    • Yep, you can! You just need a good primer, otherwise the oils in the wood paneling will seep through. Can’t wait to see your face soon!

  4. I’m tired just reading about all the work we did! It feels so satisfying to look back at all the effort we spent transforming our house. And so many projects left to go!

    • Welcome to my little corner of blogland, Anne! Thank you, we do love those new floors and glad we went a little lighter. The hand scraped is a nice touch and it doesn’t have a glossy finish which hides dirt/dust better too.

  5. seriously…that is amazing! I can’t believe how much time/work/effort you guys have put into it already. it is awesome! I can’t wait to see the rest of the house. Candace, where do you find the energy…so jealous! Looking good guys!

    • Oh sweets, thank you!!! It’ll be fun to make over each room and experiment with new colors and such! Wish you were here to bounce ideas off of!

    • We are, it feels better each day – as the house gets more organized and with less madness. Home is a wonderful place to be!

  6. Ooo, I love the Ashes gray! You are so right, a good gray IS hard to come by! Looks so pretty guys! You are definately inspiring, now I’ve gotta see if Paul will read your post & maybe get fired up to work on our master bedroom :) Fingers crossed! Happy moving, happy unpacking, happy decorating & happy well-deserved napping! What amazing memories you’re making & so many more to come!

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