Kitchen Remodel – Weeks Seven and Eight: Painting, Fireplace and Floors

You guys. I don’t even know what week we’re in on the remodel (okay now I do, I just looked. Week nine!). I’ve been going nuts with Christmas approaching (family arrives in three days!) and have been behind on the blog. I spaced taking photos of some things (like the three different stains we chose from for the floors), but at least I have some documentation of weeks seven and eight.

IMG_9160 (768x1024)The painters started doing their thing at the beginning of week seven, so our access to our new kitchen was short-lived. More sanding (aka more dust) and priming.

IMG_9161 (768x1024)And doors were taken off to be sprayed at the warehouse.

IMG_9065 (784x1024)The fireplace was set up.

IMG_9168 (768x1024)And the floors were sanded…

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Heavy-duty vac.

Heavy-duty vac.

And stained.

IMG_9170 (768x1024)I prefer light wood floors and my husband prefers dark. For some reason, though, I didn’t put my foot down on the floor color. We had dark floors at our flat in San Francisco and they were quite nice. Plus, since the floor had to run through both rooms, I felt a darker stain would warm up the family room section and would be a nice contrast to the white cabinets and backsplash.

We had to move out for a couple days while the floors were being finished, as the fumes from the process are extremely potent. Luckily we have a huge attic fan, which really helped air out the house when we got back.

With the floors complete, all that was left was our final decision on the paint color.

IMG_9190 (1024x768)I won’t even tell you how long I spent just narrowing it down to these five. Most people whose opinion I asked chose Revere Pewter, a neutral gray color (far right). It IS a lovely soft color (duh. I chose it out of thousands). But in the end, I went with my gut, which was Pashmina, a light grey-brown neutral with a hint of green (middle). I felt Revere Pewter was too close to our hallway color, and I wanted this room to feel separate.

Since we’re already in week nine, I can tell you that I’m very happy with my choice (whew!). Pictures soon.

We Have Floors!

IMG_8934 (600x800)Our new floors got installed over the weekend (and completed Monday) – hurray!

To refresh your memory, here’s what the carpeting looked like before. The carpet, in its defense, was actually pretty nice and really good quality. Hate to rip something perfectly good out but we wanted hardwood to match the rest of the house (and because we just love hardwood).

house.family2The floor guy set up a make-shift workshop in the garage,

IMG_8913 (648x800)(and in the family room). And put down a layer of subflooring.

IMG_8920 (600x800)Then he installed 2 1/4″ wide red oak floors. The floors will get stained and sanded last, after everything else (cabinets, moldings, lights) is complete.

IMG_8921 (600x800)He also installed vents that are flush with the floor…

IMG_8935 (800x745)vs. the older vents we have throughout the rest of the house that are raised…

ventThe excitement was short lived; the floors got covered up again the day after they were installed.

IMG_8939 (600x800)But it’s nice to know they’re under the tape and paper. And even nicer knowing that the reason they’re there is because cabinets arrive today!

Meet Javier, Hardwood Floor Guy

Rug.master

Master Bedroom, before.

When we put a bid on our house, we weren’t thinking about the floors. Let me rephrase. We were trying not to think about the floors. I asked our realtor if she could find out what was underneath the upstairs carpeting. Without hesitation, she said there was no way there was hardwood. She was quite confident that when we lifted up the carpeting, we’d find¬† plywood, typical of homes built in the 1960s.

But our home wasn’t built in the 1960s, it was built in 1960. This is what the little voice inside my head said. So I held out hope. When the sale went through, we didn’t have possession of the house right away, as the owners requested a rent-back to give them time to solidify the purchase of their condo. About a month later, we finally had a chance to get inside and look around. And to put an end to the hardwood floor question.

rug.guest

Guest Bedroom, before.

If you’re anything like me, you love a good home renovation show (my personal favorite, Rehab Addict). Which means you’ve seen the episode where the camera follows the host to (insert room here), and zooms in on the filthy, stained and/or hideously dated carpeting. We then watch as the host reaches down to pull up the carpet and reveal what’s underneath and….oh my goodness, original hardwood floors, can you believe it!?

Yeah, it was kinda like that.

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Oak

So we had oak floors. Now what? Our first thought was to find someone to come out and sand and stain. Easy peasy. Or not. The one place that was recommended to me (by several professionals. All these home improvement guys know each other), would be happy to do the job. In November. For $7100. Seeing as we weren’t interested in waiting three months to move in, nor had we anticipated having to pay that much, we decided to go a different route.

I called pretty much all the hardwood floor people in Grosse Pointe Blue Book, requesting a quote for cleaning and sealing (no sanding, no staining) of our floors. Three people got back to me (seriously?) and one of them was Javier (pronounced Xavier. That’s what he said. I do what I’m told) of Exotic Floors & Designs.

IMG_7901 (708x800)Like I’ve done with my other trade interviews, I started by asking Javier how he got into the business. About 19 years ago, he was working for an environmental company (didn’t say what he did and of course me being the amateur interviewer that I am, failed to ask) and although it paid well, he was due for a raise and had a small baby at home. He asked for that raise, they said no, and he decided to look for work elsewhere.

Here’s where my facts get a little sketchy (see what happens when you wait too long to try to decipher your very scribbley notes!?).¬† I do know he is mostly self-taught. In order to learn the techniques of hardwood flooring trade, he bought a video and watched it about 1000 times (for real). He was honest with his first client about his inexperience, and said he would give them a great price if they gave him a chance.

Things obviously worked out (last year, Javier worked with that same client on another job). In 1997, he started Exotic Floors & Design, and at one point, even had a storefront on Mack (a main thoroughfare that separates Grosse Pointe from Detroit) before the building was sold.

IMG_7902 (600x800)As his company name implies, Javier specializes in exotic woods (he was approached by a client who owned a lumber company at some point in his career, and that’s how he got turned on to the exotics). What are examples of exotics? Bamboo and African woods, like the deep red padauk (which can be so poisonous that it can’t be sanded in the home).

What trends is he seeing? He still does a lot of designs – borders and inlays. And says the Grosse Pointe area continues to be traditional and clients here prefer an authentic and/or antique look, whereas newer more fast-paced communities like Birmingham (Detroit suburb) prefer flashier styles. Like what? Jet black floors. I’m sorry… black floors? Yep, finished to where they look like a lacquered piece of furniture. I get the impression he thinks the effect is kind of cool. Perhaps it is.

Javier

Javier and one of his designs (not our house).

Our floors look amazing, considering we didn’t have a huge budget. Javier’s guess is that they were never used, never walked on (can you believe it?). There are some bad scratch marks where razor blades were used to install carpet, and several water marks that won’t come out unless we sand and stain.

But that’s okay with us, we feel fortunate just to have them. They remind us a little of our old place (and I want to add “back home” but I’m trying to stop doing that) in San Francisco and I find myself wondering how long it will take for this place to feel like home. As always, I’ll keep you posted.