The Cool House: flooring
Showing posts with label flooring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flooring. Show all posts

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! This year I am thankful that I beat my neighbor to the finish in the great ground floor renovation: New kitchen; redone floors; moldings; windows; paint; bathroom for her, laundry room for me - the same upheavals and stress. She started long after me, but her crew is bigger. We were both behind schedule but the last coat of paint dried on our back stairs while her guys were still going strong. November 11 2010 at 4 PM was the exact moment I closed the garage door on the last contractor, which marks the official end of the project. Unless, of course, you count that missing baseboard in the closet...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hair, Bristle and Profiles

Note to self and other interested parties: Never, ever, leave the State or even the house so the flooring guy can sand and seal the floors and stain the baseboards and trim without getting pet dander in the mix. Not unless you are prepared, upon returning from vacation, to find that he has sealed someone else's hair and a handful of grit into your kitchen floor and stained three hundred feet of baseboard that doesn't match the rest of your uniquely modern house. Be aware that the feeling of nausea and subsequent meltdown when you survey the mess will last much longer than the three weeks it takes for the smell of floor sealer to dissipate from the house.
The kitchen floor has to be redone but with two dogs and four cats this is no easy (or cheap) undertaking. We decided to wait until we were on another trip so the animals would be in kennels anyway. However I'm really unhappy about leaving the guys to correct their mistakes without supervision. My supervision!
Then there's the baseboard. Stain grade baseboard. Roughly twice the price of the pre-primed stuff, more when you add in the time to actually stain it the correct shade. Leaving aside the occasional brush bristle in the finish - after all we don't have to use those pieces (eye roll) - there's the fact that it's 1/4" too narrow and the profile is rounded. It's not as if I wasn't explicit about it matching the rest of the trim in the house. This carpenter had installed the square edge in the master bedroom a few years back, when I also made him replace a piece in the closet that he thought "would do". He knows I am that obsessive.
And he really shouldn't have said that was all that was available in his catalog. Because he know I am going to check. It took an hour on Saturday morning to find two lumber yards - both in this town- that have stain grade baseboard the right size, and both were cheaper than what he told me he paid. I think he should suck it up and reorder the molding. He offered to have the rounded edge routered off - at my cost. Changing the edge isn't going to make it grow an extra quarter inch wider, is it? And the molding can't go on until the floor is redone so we are at an impasse. I guess I'm lucky he didn't get around to the trim.
The great baseboard/molding/flooring debacle is holding up the completion of the renovation and I'm frustrated that something that should have been done by the end of July has dragged on another month with the very real possibility of going through until Fall.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Inspiration in the Den

The new hardwood floor is in and will soon be sanded and sealed. The electric cables that came up through the platform a foot from the wall have been relocated to a less obtrusive position and although the room will need new paint soon it's a blank canvas I can't wait to colour. It will need a rug, something to soften all that wood, a credenza for the TV (we'll swap the big TV from the master for the smaller one that used to be in the media center) and a couple of sconces. I have plans to use pieces I have in the house for the first two but the sconces will require some real live shopping. It'll take some courage to start looking at lamps again - it's really hard to judge from a product image in a catalogue or web page how it will actually look in a furnished space. But I've made a start and found a few contenders:

jefdesigns Legna wall sconce via Design Public
. It comes in teak, walnut or zebrawood veneer - I like the walnut.

The Oggetti Dune Flushmount Wall Sconce via Lumens. Available in Black/Sand, Mocha/White and Sand.

Parker Half Round Sconce by Jonathan Adler via ylighting in Deep Patina Bronze. Aso available in Polished Nickel and Antique Brass.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tidying Up

A few items on the punch list were taken care of late yesterday:
The inferior hardwood flooring was hauled away
The mud room door was painted to match the Marvin medium bronze windows
The offensive thick trim around the kitchen slider was removed and replaced with square edge trim that matches the rest of the moldings in the house
The kitchen walls and ceiling were smoothed with spackle, mud, joint compound.
The template guy came, discussed the changes I want to make to the island, nixed all backsplashes, measured and templated and told me he'd see if his boss could actually do what I wanted.

Just because I am nuts the carpenter, flooring guy and I examined the old water damage to the triangular window in the bamboo room, decided the window could stay but the trim had to go. So that is being reframed and will be stained to match the other windows.
There will be uniformity in this uniquely modern house even if it costs me my sanity and my retirement fund!

I celebrated the end of the workday with 2 Advil and a very strong G&T

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting a grip

on the kitchen renovation... and my sanity.

Yesterday was not a great day on the house renovation front. Not as bad as the previous week when the contractor ordered the wrong size window, tried to install it anyway and then phoned in drunk the next morning, nor the following two days when he was a no-show, and the subsequent hiring of a new contractor who basically re-did everything the first one had touched.

No, it really wasn't so bad: the hardwood for the den floor turned out to be not so much "select and better" as knotty and mismatched and had to be re-ordered; the window supplier didn't have Marvin aluminum for drip caps (because that's a siding/roofing thing); I discovered the deep shelf I wanted for the kitchen has been discontinued; I found out that the only way to make the kitchen window both watertight and aesthetically pleasing was to trim 2" of redwood siding along its length and we know how obsessed I am about the siding... Still, I avoided a repeat of last Monday evening's total meltdown, rolled with the punches and looked on the bright side:

A roll of flashing the right shade was procured for the drip cap and the window was framed out. It looks better than I could have dreamed - I just hope it's waterproof!

The new full-light fir door was installed in the mud room. There's so much light in there now I keep thinking I've left the door open.

The cabinets now have skinny Linea rail pulls from Atlas homewares. I can open and close the drawers now - and I've tried out every single one just to make sure they work.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

And then I lost my mind...

Because re-doing the kitchen and mud-room wasn't stressful enough I decided to replace the 1970s dining room deep-pile, formerly cream, wool carpet with the same hardwood floor at the same time. And because I have pronounced masochistic tendencies I thought I should also replace the matching carpet in the den - in the interest of cohesiveness (and cleanliness), right? We discussed the issues with the raised platform and how to scribe in to the bar/media centre, worked on a direction to run the wood that wouldn't look odd and ordered two bullnoses for the dais and Pete the flooring guy ripped out the carpet.

And that's when the plan changed. He checked the moisture levels on the sub-floor (because he is a professional) where we'd had an issue when the old window had leaked and luckily there was no elevation. We were good to go for hardwood. Then for the fun of it he checked in random spots across the room... and found we were at least two points damper on the dais and a whopping four over the scary stain that kept reappearing over the years on the carpet. When we discover things like this, not-good things, we investigate. We hunted around the basement. Nothing, We checked the moisture levels on the joists underneath. Normal. We plugged in the fan and ran a dehumidifier for hours. No moisture but the levels were still as high.

So Pete decided to pull up a few pieces of plywood to see what was going on. And.... nothing. No leaks, no mold, no dead animals. Just the support beams for the platform and the sub-floor. And the moisture level on that sub-floor? Normal! We had no explanation except trapped air but we did have a huge exposed floor. And that was when I said "Now that we've opened it up when don't we just take the platform out... and the huge built-in, too".

And so we did.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The hardwood floor is down in the kitchen and I spent much of the weekend playing with the placement of the island. In order for it go back the direction it was before we would have had to move the extractor vent to the west by 6 " - and there is a joist in the way! We could "jump" the joist but there would be a lot of holes in the ceiling, possibly some exploratory cuts in the wall behind Verity's bed where the hvac system runs to the exterior blower and it all seemed a lot of work, plus there was the possibility of a reduction in venting power if we had to insert an elbow into the vent pipe. An easier option was to just pivot the island and run it north-south rather than east-west.

Once it was all taped out something magical happened to the feel of the kitchen, it just fit better in the room - opening it up and emphasizing its trapezoid shape. This room is the same size as the great room but it never felt as large, now the kitchen will be one large area rather than two divided and disjointed spaces. We'll also end up with fewer pinch points than before - by using the full width of the extractor fan cutout the island will be relocated 5" towards the eating area, giving me a 36" pass at the tightest place, everywhere else will have 40" minimum clear. A big selling point is that I'll be able to cook while looking out at the yard - taking in the scenery (and watching the wildlife) from my island in a sea of hardwood.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kitchen Reno: Flooring Progress!

So far so wood...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Cork or Wood Flooring?

Help! Now we've decided to go for it, the only thing holding up the kitchen renovation is the flooring choice. I've gone over it a bezillion times and I'm no nearer reaching a conclusion but the kitchen cabinets are about to be ordered so I need to make a decision right now.

Here are the issues: We have a sink, water dispenser in fridge. two dog bowls, cook top and wall ovens - that's a lot of potential spills. There are seven (7) doors/entryways to this room - it flows into the foyer, powder room, dining room, great room, mud room and basement and then there is the sliding kitchen door. The foyer and great room have waxed mahogany/walnut parquet floor, the dining room is presently carpeted and the mudroom, which is off at a 120 degree angle, should have the same floor as the kitchen. Oh, and did I mention the kitchen is a trapezoid?

I need the floor to be the same level as the parquet; I don't want anything as visually intrusive as a saddle nor do I want to trip over the transitions. So no slips no trips and as unified as possible. Also eco-friendly and able to stand up to two large dogs and four indoor/outdoor cats. Then there's the New York winter with its mud, snow, ice and ice melt trekking throughout the space and the Long Island summer - pool water and chlorine plus sand from the beach. Ceramic/Porcelain/Stone tiles are not an option here - too hard on the feet and too cold (we don't have room for radiant heating).

I had planned a cork floor for the kitchen - green, easy to install and soft underfoot. The tiles are square so will follow the same pattern as the existing vinyl that works for this space. They can either be waxed or polycoated to seal and are to a certain extent self-healing in the natural state. The flooring guy asked to quote for the job tells me it will be more expensive than wood floors and more easily damaged. I think he's balking because he's used to hardwood installation. His argument? Wood floors can be stained any color, sanded down if they get damaged and are better for resale (not that we're considering selling). Interestingly, Paul Anater of Kitchen and Residential Design had a post on cork floors last week that's worth reading.

So dear interwebs, weigh in with your thoughts. What would be the ideal flooring for The Cool House? Anyone who suggests indoor/outdoor carpeting will be growled at...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Crystals on the floor, and more

One of my recent posts, on Svarowski crystal flooring at the Domotex 2008 show provoked a whole "how do they do that?" storm so I thought I'd look more closely at the flooring.

The floors tiles are produced by Diametral Concepts in Glass, an Austrian company that uses a layer of Swarovski crystal mesh between two layers of glass, sealed with a patented glue so it always stays sparkly. It's superbly suited to hotels, nightclubs and casinos where the night lights show off the crystals to their best advantage. Diametral are pretty stingy with their images. For the moment you would have to visit the Gulf Countries or their website to see a stunning Barbie pink example, but a casino floor in Vegas may be swarovskied in the near future.

Of course you may want that touch of bling elsewhere in your house and Swarovski crystals can be used in many other architectural applications. Want an entire cystalized bathroom? Walls, lighting, faucets can all sparkle as in this bath by Kludi.

Maybe your kitchen appliances are looking ordinary? You could step up for the Swarovski crystalized fridge-freezer by Gorenje. Really, no room needs to be left bare - and I'm sure your milk and eggs will taste much better if they are stored in a crystal-studded refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Blessing for Your Beloved's Feet

I can't believe I missed this one. As you know, I love the bling and the glitz, so what could make me happier than Swarovski Crystal flooring and 24 carat gold cork mosaic? These luxury floors were featured in the Designers Corner at the DOMOTEX 2008 show in Dubai at the end of May.
As I'm still speechless I give you Elite Choice's breathtaking review:

Colors indicate one’s mood and add to this the touch of bling to witness a beguiling upshot. The case in point is well exemplified by the latest offering of Swarovski-Crystal carpeting and 24k gold cork mosaic at DOMOTEX Middle East 2008 in the ‘Designers Corner.’ This seems to be the come-back of reigning days of Moghuls and Emperors, who can’t compromise but to have a filthy-rich lifestyle. Installing this gold-bathed flooring would enlighten your sense and bring warmth to your abode. I strongly believe that this opulent offering is not everyone’s cake as would tune well with the manors feeding guests with gold or silver spoon. Feel free to give your wild imagination a shape that maintains the durability of this flooring. It would surely be a blessing for your beloved’s feet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Terrazzo - hot or not?

Just as I'm making plans to take out another terrazzo shower base, this time in the master bath, I find that terrazzo is hot again. These days it's eco-friendly, made from things like old toilets (I kid you not) and 100% recycled glass bonded with coloured epoxy resin and turned into bright, shiny countertops.
Our old terrazzo shower base is made from crushed marble set in portland cement, the same as one we took out during the boys' bathroom remodel. It's not a look that I find appealing, more cement than marble and is the devil to keep clean. You might want to close your eyes at this point and surf away as the photo below is quite disgusting. This is what happens when the terrazzo gets cracked and you can't scrub it properly because the water will leak through to the foyer below. Yuk, ugh. I can't wait to take a sledgehammer to it.

disgusting master shower

The new terrazzo is supposed to be easy to maintain and they even have a product made from actual terrazzo and glass that's suitable for flooring - it looks like terrazzo but is cheaper, and easier to lay. I don't think it would work in our house as it's not scratch-proof. It sure does sparkle though.
I really want to update this house in the greenest way possible but I think that, in the end, I just find the new terrazzo too irregular for my taste. And I'm a little afraid that I might be letting back into my master bath the avocado and fawn beige toilets we took out of the other bathrooms. That's a step too far for me.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Flooring frustrations

Last week we had the carpets steam cleaned to get rid of the kitty pee and poop stains, and it worked fairly well but the cat must have snuck back in the dining room and peed again 'cos it smells awful in there. So we decided we would have to take up the carpet and put down hardwood floors.
That was the start of the process. Our first choice would be BR111 Brazilian redwood which is what we put on the landing two years ago (see photo). When we tried to order more of it then our supplier said there was a problem with quality and we'd have to wait a few months to get it. Well, it turns out the problem is more than a temporary hiatus in production and there is no more Massaranduba to be had.
This leaves us in a quandary. Do we continue to wait in the hope that more will be released at some future date? Do we pick another hardwood? If so, what?
We liked the redwood because it goes with the house (that's a close up of our Californian redwood siding that forms the background on the banner on this site). It is exceptionally hardwaring hard wood, and that's important with two big dogs and cats that are prone to throwing up and peeing in the most inappropriate places. The other issue is it has to fit with the parquet in the foyer and great room that is oak and mahogany. Light wood won't work, there is a lot of wood in the house: beams, stairs, railings, doors and moldings and it's all dark or red toned. And it has to be of the right depth so there won't be a huge step from the foyer to the dining room and the dining room to the kitchen.
I really didn't want to do anything about this carpet until we did the kitchen remodel so that at least we could tackle the floor level in one go. But despite copious amounts of my usual secret weapon Nature's Miracle the smell just won't go. I suppose we could just not use the dining room for the next couple of years until we're ready to redo the kitchen but that seems kind of limiting, and getting rid of the kitty and replacing the soiled carpet with new carpet is a no go.
So to sum up: we can't get what we want; we really don't want to settle for an interim solution; we can't live with the yucky carpet any longer.
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cleaning up

new floor
seventies pink shag

One of the big advantages in replacing the psychedelic seventies shag carpets with hardwood and bamboo floors is that when you stagger out of bed with a streaming cold to find that the cat has thrown up on the landing and in two of the bedrooms, you can take a piece of kitchen towel, squirt a little detergent on it, throw it on the floor, and slide it over the cat sick, and it will all come up, guaranteed. Even the dried-on stuff. And you can do this all while holding a tissue to your streaming nose. Bliss.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Autumn has been very pretty this year. We have had a couple of cold days but on the whole it has been mild and misty. I have been out digging back the front drive and discovered that underneath the two feet of accumulated debris the path actually drops an inch or so. That means that in theory it should not flood much, if at all. The berm held all the run-off from the road at bay and there was only a small pool after a steady downpour last week. Since then I have dug back another foot so I can't wait for tonight's predicted storm to see what happens. Watch this space.

Inside I got the electricians to install the lights in the foyer, den and landing and we bought a rug for the foyer. It looks pretty good, especially as we cannibalized the desk and made a dining room console from it and a piece of carrara marble. We also took a week to lay new tiles in the kitchen. This is a temporary fix until the big kitchen renovation in a couple of year's time. We didn't want to do it but someone was going to break their neck tripping over the curling vinyl tile so we spent a couple of hundred dollars and two and a half days scraping glue off the old floor and the result is cleaner and brighter than we could have imagined.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

More setbacks

I finally made a decision last night and ordered more redwood to go through the rear hallway. I decided that it would tie in well with the stairs and landing and we would have it all completed by next week. The setback came this morning. The last delivery of Brazilian Redwood had come in defective and there would be no new shipment before the end of the year. So back to square one. The really bad news is that Pete thinks he will be short of redwood to finish the balcony. So I may not get my upstairs finished until the New Year after all. Bummer. Plus I have 120 sq' of bamboo sitting in my rear hall that I will now have to sell. Any takers?

Friday, September 24, 2004

The working week is nearly over and we are so far behind the installer's most generous estimates that it's not remotely funny anymore. Yesterday he decided we would be 2 boxes short on the redwood so I made an emergency call but the installer had to go get them as they are 7'6'' long and weigh a ton. So that took a couple of hours out of his day. Add that to the wasted day on Monday and I suppose we are lucky that we are about 75% finished and not less. It is starting to look really good though, and Steven is gloating continuously over his tasteful choice.

Outside, I spent the morning transplanting bushes in the sun. It has been the most glorious week since the hurricane passed through, warm and sunny and it's hard to believe that autumn is here. It's good to be working in the sunshine as it takes my mind of all the other work that needs to be completed before the bad weather starts. We really thought by now that we would have new windows installed and the guttering taken care of, but people come, take measurements and leave, promising to drop off estimates soon. Then they disappear for ever. Even when we get an estimate we can't seem to get them to commit to a date to start work, or they start the work, say the'll be back in a week to finish up and we never see them again.. The attitude is way beyond "manana", it's more like: this year, next year, sometime, never.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

That's why they call it hardwood...

Ha ha indeed. We didn't get any flooring down yesterday as the wood is too hard!!! Apparently what Steven chose was harder than Brazilian Cherry and the installer didn't have a saw that could cut it, nor nails that could be shot through it. He ended up pre-drilling and hand nailing one piece and then left to get more tools and a blade with more teeth. This morning he turned up again with a huge circular saw and a very determined air. We shall see, but we lost a whole day yesterday.

Outside we are still cleaning up from Hurricane Ivan that dumped several inches of rain on us Saturday morning, caused flooding all over the area and turned our front into a swamp.

At one point the water filled the sunken bed outside the dining room and water poured into the basement. Luckily we were home and we ran with buckets to the sink and back until it stopped raining. Then I patched the hole with Dry Lock and started mopping. That took all Sturday PM and most of Sunday. after that we surveyed the damage. Our drive is 6" higher, thanks to the sand and debris deposited by the raging torrent that was Vineyard Rd. The other part of the drive is covered with leaves and pine needles where the water crested; apart from that the damage is minimal. We were lucky, lots of people had to go collect their drives from adjacent properties; we gained one. I'm hoping the Village will sweep it out but I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bamboo to you

Hurrah, we have bamboo flooring in all the bedrooms; the furniture is back in place; the beds are made; pictures have been hung and it all looks fantastic. There is a lot of colour variation in the bamboo so it has movement and the gloss finish makes the rooms feel much lighter. Because most of the rooms had recently been painted cream we will leave them for a while, it's neutral and clean looking. But we will paint Steven's office as we had to strip panelling and wallpaper there. He wants a cranberry colour but I think yellow or gold will work better. We'll see.

We also changed our minds at the last minute about bamboo on the landing. I felt it was too shiny and casual for that space. I asked Steven to go look at some Tigerwood that I thought would work but we would have to wait until November for delivery. He didn't much like the Tigerwood anyway (too yellow) but he saw some Brazilian redwood that was new in that day so he bought a sample home for the weekend so we could live with it. As the ceiling is redwood it tied the whole area together. It looks good where it joins the bamboo and against the teak banisters, too. The bonus of doing it this way is that there will be enough bamboo to floor the master dressing room and my office. By the end of this week it should all be finished and we can sit back and relax. Ha ha.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Floors and walls

We're drying out and, apart from a wet patch on one wall that is probably caused by the air-conditioning system, Steven's office is done. It looks so much better than it used too, although if I was a pre-teenage boy in the seventies, I might think it was cool to live in a gold bamboo fort.

The bamboo floors are quite glossy and that reflects a lot of light around the room, which it needed. The old blue bedroom is also finished and hopefully by the end of today we will be able to put the furniture back in those rooms and then there will just be the pink room, the landing and staircases to floor.
The lights are causing a major headache.The first ones arrived with no problems except for the really nice one that is on back order. For the other upstairs lights we ordered from a different company and only half the order arrived and that was damaged. So I returned them and re-ordered other fixtures. But they failed to arrive (something about the salesman left and the order was never processed) so I just canceled that order today. Now I have to go and choose something else and you would not believe the junk you have to sift through before finding contemporary lighting here.