It’s officially been 4 months in the new place now and I can say, with great pride (and sweat and tears), that this is the FIRST day that we’ve been able to use EVERY room…at the same time!
First of all, Happy New Year! Can we all just agree that when the state of the world turned back into a pumpkin at midnight on January 1, 2022, it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for? My takeaway is that we can learn to choose happiness and good fortune in spite of the obstacles that come at us. There will always be obstacles. And there will always be joy. ✨
Now onto the nitty gritty. What has (and hasn’t) happened since we last met?
Hello holiday / hibernation season...
Master bedroom flooring makeover (with before and afters!)
Electrical meltdown averted
An adventure in shelving
First big snow!
Hello holiday / hibernation season: well, we have officially hosted 1.5 holidays at our new home and have also NOT hosted 2.5 holidays due to last minute COVID scares. I've since decided to stay isolated, embrace full-on hibernation, and will do a separate post soon on all of the holiday goodies! :)
Master bedroom flooring makeover: our master bedroom floors are cat-pee-free! That’s not exactly one of the dreamy phrases I imagined myself shouting to the rooftops upon buying my first home; however, let me tell you, this headache is officially over and I. AM. THRILLED! We are still living out of suitcases, but the closet will be next...something to look forward to (after hibernating for a little while)!
So how did it happen?
Well, I'm glad you asked. After countless (and when I say that, I MEAN COUNTLESS) rounds of covering the old floors with baking soda, vacuuming that up, scrubbing it with vinegar, airing the room out for days, repeating that 3 or 4 times to no avail, to buying a blacklight (and promptly using it on the entire house which, yes, I do slightly regret), discovering and throwing out soiled blinds, and researching and employing the supposed magic of enzymatic cleaners, to literally ripping up the floorboards like a scene straight out of The Shining. Unfortunately, what I discovered was that the former cat-of-the-house was especially fond of one particular spot in the bedroom, where they likely visited with consistent frequency, and that their urine penetrated this spot for years, perhaps even decades, and were so deeply embedded that there was no hope for the existing flooring and sub-flooring. I drenched that baby in rotating rounds of enzymatic cleaner and hydrogen peroxide (covered in plastic and a board for weight) for about a month, until I decided it was time to call in a professional. There were definitely moments, usually around 2:30 am, when I still contemplated attempting the job myself, but I ultimately felt that potentially compromising the structure of our new home wasn’t in our best interest.
I turned to yelp, where I learned a lot about who NOT to call. I contacted several flooring companies and contractors to whom flooring companies referred us because our job was too small for them. One contractor, in particular, left a very poor taste in our mouth after reviewing my very detailed (if I may, type-A) list of tasks, told he wanted the job, came to our house to look everything over, told us he’s available immediately and advised us to start ordering supplies, AND THEN HE GHOSTED US.
This is going to sound a bit dramatic, but I feel the need to express this in case others are in a similar boat. By this time, my desire for my very own bedroom had been growing for months--even longer if you count the additional 4 months I stayed in my mother-in-law's attic while trying to buy this home--to the point that those yearnings were all-consuming. This contractor wasn't my first choice, but no one else was available and when he said the job would be easy and he could do it in a matter of days, I felt a brief spurt of hope. When he just suddenly stopped responding to my emails and calls, I felt like I had suffered a great loss. I was depressed for a few days, mourning the dream I'd gotten so close to and feeling foolish that I'd wasted weeks dealing with this person, before picking myself up to start over again. I think it's important to step away from these projects sometimes and really trust your gut, even if you feel like you need to keep all of the balls in the air at all times. At the end of the day, unfortunately not everyone is as honest or as upfront as we’d like, but I learned a lot from this experience.
There were red flags from early on—
He wasn’t very responsive or professional in his emails. I had just assumed he was busy and my hope for a bedroom blinded my expectations.
When he came for an on-site visit, he didn't take any measurements. In retrospect, this should have been my first clue that we were never going to hear from this guy again.
What I know now is that realistically, our job wasn’t big enough for a contractor—he’s a businessman looking for work to employ a larger team for a longer duration of time. For a contractor, they would be more interested in a remodel, with multiple moving parts, as opposed to a simple flooring job like ours.
I actually went back to one of the larger flooring companies I had assumed we were too small for and they (restored my faith in humanity and) delivered a beautiful product! During my first phone call with the owner, he told me that they were people-focused and that no job was too small. It sounded too good to be true. The owner had been in business for 30 years, brought a shop of choices over in his company van, talked us through every option, made us feel that we were in control of the situation, and it was overall an absolutely delightful experience.
The job took just two days, I promptly painted the walls blue as soon as it was done, and we moved in the next morning (before immediately welcoming guests for a tree trimming party)!
My tips for you:
Always get quotes from multiple companies (as well as local recommendations, if possible)
Trust your gut if something feels off when dealing with vendors. If a vendor does NOT take measurements during your on-site consultation, they are going to ghost you. Just forget them and move on.
Embrace patience and do your best to not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Don't pick someone because they say they are available immediately--wait until you meet someone you feel comfortable dealing with.
Get one of these handy dandy all-in-one tools—this thing is my new best friend and I’m finding new ways to use it every day—to pull out nails, scrape putty, rip out trim and flooring: Husky 15-in-1 Painter's Tool
Don't get a blacklight (or do--whatever floats your boat)
Run your flooring the long way--it elongates the room!
Here are a few before and after photos of the flooring makeover to give you a taste of our new ethereal/serene vibe:
Electrical meltdown averted: as of today, we have restored the power that mysteriously vanished in half of our home!
When we first moved in, we noticed a few electrical issues (which of course had not come up during the home inspection) and would periodically lose power in half of the house... Now, when preparing to host guests for a holiday for the first time in your new home, I wish you a master bedroom to sleep in AND I wish you power in your entire house. Those may seem like low standards, but I’ve come to appreciate these more now than ever. While we gained the former, we lost the latter on the same day! We hoped it would come back, as it had done before, but this time it was completely kaput. The outlets and lights in half of our house just stopped working, including the outlet we needed for the 11’ Christmas tree we had just hauled in. Fortunately, with lots of tree lights on hand, we got creative and just extended everything from other rooms and invested in candles and LED lights everywhere!
I learned that in my county, electricians don’t need to be licensed (note: cosmetologists do, but electricians do not…🧐), so I turned to the Nextdoor neighbor app to identify a local licensed electrician with a solid reputation. Due to what was apparently a particularly busy electrical season, we weren't able to get an anyone in and have been relying on our Christmas lights since late November. With the help of parents, we conducted some light testing on our own in the meantime and identified the possible problem after seeing sparks (not the good kind) from one outlet. So we shut off the breaker tied to it to be safe and waited patiently (and continued to pee in the dark). It turned out that the wiring in one outlet had been poorly done and was causing the issue! When our electrician came, he quickly identified the issue, rewired it, and BOOM—POWER RESTORED!
And finally, an adventure in shelving: we DIYed a few shelves!
We figured that, since redoing the kitchen will be a lengthy and expensive venture, we would find a temporary solution to achieving a slightly more boho-kitchen-y vibe while also dealing with storage issues.
Shelving is surprisingly expensive and, since these aren't going to be our "forever shelves," we wanted a more cost-effective (read: DIY) solution. we bought raw pine slabs at Home Depot, cut them to size, sanded, conditioned and stained, and installed the shelves using leftover brackets I pulled out of the master closet! Et voila!
Total estimated cost: ~$50
Estimated time: ~2 hours
Level of ease: Intermediate
BE CAREFUL when disposing stain and stained products, especially the rags used to wipe excess stains. These can self-combust and need to be disposed of properly! Read the can, look up YouTube videos--the main idea is that they need be sealed /dried in a metal container so as not to catch fire and spread.
Don't leave the lobster pot you used to contain the rags out too long--it might snow and get buried....and then you'll need to find a new lobster pot. 😬
I've gotta say, it's a strange, and most welcome feeling, but with these major projects done, I feel like I can breathe again and start focusing on the fun stuff, like our first big snow. Here’s to whatever comes next! :)