Carpet’s gotta go, yo. For one thing, we didn’t install it and even though it’s in good shape and had been nicely maintained, someone else lived on it, and therefore it skeeves me out. Also, it’s beige overload, from one end of the house to the other, the end. Did I ever mention that when I Dyson’ed it for the first time on the first day we moved in, I didn’t even so much as fill 1/5 of the vacuum canister? It was unheard-of clean, but still, carpet grosses me out.
Tearing it out and prepping the floors will be no small task. We had wrongfully assumed when we bought the place that oak hardwoods ran throughout (after strategically lifting carpet in various corners which entirely seemed to validate our assumption). Our plan until the day of closing had been to tear out all of the carpets before we moved in, even to refinish the floors if necessary, but there, on the afternoon that I filmed my favorite home tour video ever, we uncovered several spots in the house where the carpeting was covering plywood. Cue the wide-eyed look of horror. We also found a nugget of hunter green shag, which we can only assume is what originally or previously carpeted the living room, dining room, and bedroom hallway.
At this point, we believe that the bedrooms are fully oak, and the hallway, dining, and living room are subfloor. The closets off the living room and hallways, however, are hardwood, which makes us very curious. The whole thing seems completely backwards to me, yet I seem to be the only one really scratching my head over why they’d keep the bedrooms hardwood and leave the dining room carpeted. We’ll be interested to see where the fine line is with this whole subfloor-meets-oak saga, because it’ll make or break the amount of work that we need to do around here to get it rockin’ pretty, consistent hardwoods.
See, oak floors would be nice to extend through, but when we started to price things out–the cost of new materials, the labor involved with laying original oak (our labor, I should clarify), the refinishing to get the old and new rooms to match–we also started looking into the cost to replace everything all at once, and start with fresh, brand new floors. It’s fun, but it’d be more fun if it wasn’t a square footage (and subsequent dollar amount) that makes us sweat money out of our armpits.
It hasn’t stopped us from starting to save though, and certainly hasn’t stopped us from starting to shop for flooring. Shopping for new flooring, I can also point out, makes me sweat out of my armpits nervously (lots of armpit visuals today). I’ve always lived in homes and apartments with well-weathered hardwoods, the kind that are refinished smooth and poly-ed thick and, well, not so new that they appear to have some manufacturer’s sealant and absolutely no dings and dents. I like wearing shoes in the house and not having to worry about the condition of the floors. I like a little natural wear and tear. New flooring as an overall option makes me really… uneasy. But it’s proving to be one of the best options for us, from a cost, home consistency, and longevity perspective.
We’ve wavered back and forth on dark vs. light flooring. The old house had oak floors that were somewhere in between what we have been considering, but we’re equally inspired by both the dark-dark and the light-light options on the flooring spectrum. I still owe you some kind of master planogram to articulate the aestetic that we’re going for with this house. To be honest, it’s more necessary for us personally than from a blog content perspective, but we may as well show you too.
We shopped around a little. And I should say that we haven’t actually bought anything or signed our names on any big orders, but Lumber Liquidators ended up having great products at fantastic prices, with great warranties to boot. It was basically impossible for us to beat the selection locally, especially being able to see and touch samples.
During our first ever visit to our local store, we weighed the pros/cons of engineered vs. solid hardwoods–I wanted solid, Pete wanted something that will last only as long as he stands to live–and we took our time looking at lots of samples.
A few things worth noting:
- The zebra striped brazilian woods will always look awesome. Too bad they seem so exotic/impractical. It is also the only flooring that a 6-year old will agree to have in his/her bedroom, so leave the 6-year old at home.
- Make careful note of the natural vs. select flooring options. Natural is more inclined to have varying colors and striations between boards, whereas select is allegedly more consistent. The flooring samples in-store only cover a few square feet, and that you can’t necessarily see a difference on such small a scale. This goes for most flooring stores, not just LL. One of the associates pointed this out to us, and we’re glad they did.
- Until I saw samples on the wall, I was sure that I wanted narrow hardwood boards like the ones in our old house. When I saw them in person, I realized that a wider board would probably be a more proportional fit to the large size of our rooms. The installer on-site even commented that 5″ boards wouldn’t look 5″ wide if they were in a big space, the illusion would make them look narrower. Plus, wide boards = faster installation and fewer nails. Bingo.
- Bamboo’s kind of bad ass, especially when you’re considering the inevitable pounding of kid feet and dog claws for the next 50 years. But visible knuckles? They’re not my jam, and you can tell me all you want that they aren’t that obvious once installed, but I won’t believe you. Probably not, at least, not unless you show me that you’ve installed a super dark brown bamboo sample (Qing Spyder Strand) like this one that we took for fodder. It is so extremely dark that there are no signs of knuckles, but at an angle, are some unusual looking grains that we worry would be odd on a large scale. It’s cheaper than the other samples we saw though, and engineered and not solid. I know Bamboo floors aren’t a new thing, but I haven’t personally seen any homes that feature 50+ years old bamboo floors, so I don’t know how to gauge how well they really wear after refinishing and decades of abuse.
Light wood would be great for our space, at least we think it would be. We’re both drawn to the look of light walls and light floors, especially in a house that needs a little oomph-oomph in the lightening and brightening arena. Light floors would seem to reflect a lot of light, where our current beige carpet only seems to absorb it.
And so here’s where we stand: it will probably be a maple, a birch, or an ash. We’re spending plenty of time looking at real-life samples of these light floors installed to see how it looks in mass.
The intended installation is holding us up a bit in some areas of our lives (i.e. we don’t have shelving anywhere yet, and all of our books are in the basement) and from a timing standpoint, it would be great to get started on this in the fall so that we can have it done and be a little bit settled in before the baby arrives. Is it really possible? I’m not sure. Again, the money, the armpits, this is not a small decision.
No pressure. Onward.