Gray Skies Outside, Gray Walls Inside

Last weekend, outdoor progress was put on hold, thanks to the on/off rain on Saturday and being gone until late Sunday.  Dreary weather didn’t stop us from making tracks on some indoor projects, though!  #operationpaintbrush is back!

The last time you saw our living room, it looked meh:


In January, we did a test paint of an accent wall in the living room.  We painted it Sherwin Williams Retreat and loved it…IMG_4579until we painted the accent wall in the kitchen/dining area Drizzle. We also played with swapping some furniture around in the living room, foyer, and master bedroom, resulting in the antique buffet landing here for awhile.  It looked great on this wall and especially nice with the Retreat color. Originally, the kitchen/dining accent wall was going to be a color from the same swatch as Retreat, Comfort Gray, and Sea Salt (all colors in the main living space) so that everything would coordinate nicely.  Except it didn’t.  Oyster Bay, the color that henceforth shall be The-Color-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, was a no go for us.  As we said here, we could see it being pretty in someone’s home–just not ours [It also clashed horribly with Retreat, in case you were wondering]. We loved both the Drizzle and Retreat walls, just not in the same visual area.

This led to the decision that the moody green-blueness of the Retreat was going to be a keeper in our house but not in the living room.  We ultimately decided to paint our master bedroom Retreat and move the buffet to the bedroom with it (haven’t painted the master yet, so we’ll see how this goes!) and to choose a different paint color for the living room.  We love gray and intended for the main living spaces of our home to be gray, but the pale blue-green grays we selected (Sea Salt and Comfort Gray) look like blue-green with a gray undertone, rather than gray with a blue-green undertone that you see elsewhere on the Interwebs.  We like it, but it definitely took our house in a decidedly more coastal direction, which we are trying not to overdo.

This time we decided to get as close to a true gray as we could.  Enter Attitude Gray. A dark, modern gray with undertones that are truly undertones.  In the day it looks like a green undertone, at night a blue undertone. Sherwin Williams recent had a 40% off sale, so we grabbed up one of those $ off paint coupons that comes in the Pottery Barn catalog and headed to the sale for more paint.  For most of our house, we have bought the Harmony line to help get rid of the funky smell we mentioned here, but this time we chose the Emerald line for the paint-and-primer combo that would hopefully cover the Retreat (a dark base) more readily than just another regular coat of paint.IMG_4587

When we started painting, we were a tad concerned about the coverage.  I was using the brush and Chris the roller, and both of us could see streaks where we were cutting in or blending roller passes and it was actually taking paint off where we had just put paint down.  Talk about frustration.  We did not have this issue with the Harmony line and have never had this issue with any Sherwin Williams product before.  It also went on very light green-looking, and the Retreat was showing through, making it look like a camouflage wall. Chris was quite dubious at this point, but we pressed forward.  I had painted my mom’s kitchen and den with the Emerald paint line (a different color, though) and although it looked like a very thin coat going on, the coverage was great, even with just a single coat…so I remained cautiously hopeful that the same phenomenon would magically happen for us.


As it turned out, the Retreat wall only needed one coat, but the remaining walls that were sprayed renter-white at some point prior to our purchase of the ‘Zoo, needed a second coat.  We did a second coat on the Retreat wall just for good measure. Chris thinks that the quality of the Sherwin Williams paint on the Retreat wall made it easier to paint, compared to the cheapo stuff on the other walls from who knows where.IMG_4583

The Attitude Gray looks much better with the Drizzle wall–you can see a bit of the Drizzle in the background in the above picture.

We also did some furniture rearrangement, resulting in a new TV placement on an espresso stained media stand my parents gave us, flanked by the two legs of the Pottery Barn project desk that function like regular bookcases when not holding the removable desk top (currently stored under our master bed).  We’ve struggled to find space for this desk monster in this house that doesn’t break up sight lines/walkways and finally gave up hope (until we add square footage down the road). If you are doubting the smallness of our living room, it’s a 12′ x 14′ space with a fireplace on the angle that juts out into the room, making it more of a 10′ x 10′ space, which is quite small, compared to the living rooms of most 3 BR/2BA homes with only one main living space.IMG_4589

We are in the process of Craigslisting most, if not all, of the upholstered furniture in here, as we really need smaller pieces to fit the room, but right now, we have surprisingly plenty of seating yet room enough for Kinect gaming and workouts. Not bad. The ‘comfy chair’ on the smallest wall has already sold since I took this picture yesterday, and we have someone coming to see our sofa Saturday {fingers crossed}!

IMG_4592If you’ve seen some of our previous whole-house posts in the past, you may have noticed that our area rug has been taken up; it is headed to the master bedroom, as it barely fit this space anyway. Of course, now this means you can see the dingy carpet, but not for long!  Part of the rush to get the rest of the house painted is because we are going to be doing an entire-house flooring project in June that we talked about here.

Now, all that’s left to be painted is the guest hallway, the laundry room, and the master bedroom.  #operationpaintbrush soon to be complete!

Final Four for the Floor

Wood look tile seems to be the top flooring trend of late, but we’ve been thinking about it ever since we bought the ‘Zoo and felt eww on our feet.  The peeling vinyl tiles, complete with faux grout lines filled with 20 years of gunk, the ‘newer’ but threadbare shag carpet with cheap pad, and the exposed metal teeth on the thresholds that shred our soles, the smell emanating from the guest rooms, plus my allergies, had us shopping for flooring from day one.  Last spring, we excitedly began tearing out flooring, but the need for less disgusting flooring was soon superseded by the practical desire to protect our home investments and improvements by doing a re-roof for our big project of 2014. Now, 2015 is the year of the floor.

A couple of months ago, we started seriously looking at flooring options in our area and options from online tile suppliers that ship to our area.  We got some {free!} samples from various places and started narrowing our preferences to particular colors, lengths, and styles.  We love wood tones of all kinds, and while they have really improved how imitation wood products look, we have noticed that tiles with red/pink or yellow undertones seems to look less realistic, as do tiles that don’t have enough pattern and color variation.  Consequently, we were both drawn to the darker samples in the first round of sampling {as was Hermes, apparently}.  Our first round pick was this guy from South Cypress, an online tile shop with regional roots:


Note the stain on the far right side.  This carpet is seriously gross people.  

This is a color body tile called Barnwood in color Pecan by Storka.  We definitely wanted a color body tile where the color goes through the body of the tile so that chips and scratches are less noticeable if they happen.  The second tile beside it was our second favorite, another Storka product called Saison in color Angers.  It was also nice but was more uniformly dark.   The third tile, the gray, was something some neighbors of ours got from Home Depot and had installed in their home over the winter.  It looks great in their house, but we just didn’t want to go so gray and so weathered for our floors. We thought Barnwood combined the more traditional deep brown with just enough weathered gray visually and, on a practical note, would provide better camouflage for dirt/sand/pet-ness and be less slippery for wet feet.

We decided to do another round of sampling, focusing on tiles with similar looks and features to our first choice.  We conveniently happened to be in the Birmingham, AL area on Friday, so we stopped by the South Cypress showroom, where Courtney from Sales helped us find additional tiles in which we might be interested.  After examining a number of options, we came home with three more samples, resulting in these four final contenders:


#1 is Storka’s Barnwood in Pecan (our original favorite).  #2 is Storka’s Saison in Angers (our original second favorite).  #3 is Marazzi’s American Heritage in Spice (a new interest).  #4 is a new Storka product called Lodge in color Forest.  All of these products are color-body porcelain tile, though we observed that the Marazzi tile appeared to have a grayer body than its reddish-brown top.  Courtney pointed this out to us but also reminded us of the hardness of porcelain with respect to potential for chips and scratches. We like that #2, 3, and 4 all come in longer lengths, making them more like wood floors.


We placed them in different areas of our home with more and less natural and artificial lighting to see how they looked and watched them throughout the day as the position of the sun changed. We also walked on them to get a feel for the texture.  When we laid out all the samples, #3, American Heritage Spice, became our new frontrunner.  It had all the rich, warm tones and hand scraped look we love about wood but didn’t necessarily expect to be able to achieve with wood look tile.  It was the most realistic looking of all the tiles that made the Final Four and also felt the most like wood to our feet.   Compared to #3, the others looked decidedly more muted.  Though less apparent in the picture, #2 had a rougher, oddly synthetic-feeling texture to the feet, and once we felt the difference in texture, we could also see that difference.  #4 was the least wood-like of all of them and the most gray but still had an appealing feel and pattern.

IMG_4464We also noticed a lot of color variation in our original favorite, #1, as you can see in the picture above.  In person, the piece on the right side looks very red, the left looks very brown, and the middle piece looks very gray.  We like some variation and understand that real barnwood would also have considerable variation but are somewhat undecided about whether the variation will draw attention to the shorter ‘board’ length, making it more apparent that these are tiles and not wood planks.

We also experimented with durability and ease of cleanup.  I might have squirted mustard on the samples. And etched them with a screwdriver.  And dropped things on them on purpose.  All of the samples fared relatively well at the cleanup and destructibility tests, though #3 suffered a couple of chips (not from our tests but possibly from transit?) that revealed that the Marazzi definition of color body was indeed suspect.  The  top has a reddish brown, but the color underneath is decidedly gray, which was very obvious when chipped.  Not exactly our definition of color body.  This was sad news for #3, as we were leaning towards this until the chipping gave us cause for pause.


Right now, we are undecided.  What do you think? We’ve tried to tell Hermes we have to choose just one.  He doesn’t seem to agree.


Update on the Tile Trial: We’ve been keeping an eye on our tile samples throughout the week.  Spice, which was starting to become our favorite, has started to show signs of damage that furniture markers/Sharpies cannot hide…and the brown/black markers actually don’t match, so it now looks like we’ve drawn on the floor.  Womp, womp. Stay tuned for the final decision!

Master Closet Part III: Remix

In last week’s great purge of our master bedroom closet, we cleared out our closet in order to scrape ceilings, paint walls, rip out carpet, and add more racks for storage, using leftover wire shelving from our garage that we took down to make room for paddle board racks.  Chris also attempted to put on pants from high school. Spoiler alert: They didn’t fit.

We painted the walls before doing anything else (usually we wouldn’t), primarily because the taller KaZoo was on work-related travel, and the shorter KaZoo couldn’t reach the ceiling well enough to handle the scrape, patch, sand, prime, and paint all by herself. When Mr. KaZoo left, the closet looked like this:


When he returned, he found the closet looking like this:


Then we combined forces to tackle the ceiling.  Our usual prepwork involves removing the carpet, tarping off things we don’t want covered in dust, and then scraping the ceiling, but this time, we used the carpet as a floor tarp to catch all of the popcorn debris raining down since the carpet was going to be leaving anyway.  I don’t recommend this unless you like slogging through a sea of popcorn ceiling and shag carpet while covered in drywall dust.    We first tried the dry-method of popcorn removal–simply scraping away at it.  Although this method resulted in fewer scratches and fuzzy places in the drywall, it was also considerably more tedious than the wet method we have used in the past.  We normally use one of those garden sprayers, but ours had recently been used for weed killer, so we just used a regular spray bottle filled with water to mist the ceiling, rather than gassing ourselves in the closet.  After waiting a few minutes for the water to saturate the popcorn, it came off in nice, soggy strips, rather than little chippy dry sections.2014-09-25 14.42.49

We brushed everything down to get rid of residual dust on the ceiling surface, applied joint compound to areas needing to be smoother, and let that dry overnight.  The next day, we sanded, brushed, and sponged everything down (again), after which we ripped out the carpet.
2014-09-26 12.38.48

After vacuuming up the residual dust and debris, we were ready to paint the ceiling.  We decided to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt) for three reasons (a) We have plenty of it. (b) It is not the typical white. (c) It is light enough to not make the closet feel like it is caving in on us while trying to find clothes in the morning.

2014-09-26 19.08.53

While waiting for the painted ceiling to dry, we measured and cut the extra wire racks we removed from the garage to be the sizes we needed for the closet.  Then we forged ahead to installing the racks.  This was a tedious process that took the form of this cycle:

  1. Chris holds rack while Amy marks one spot for height and width of crevice between wires for wall bracket.
  2. Amy uses level to measure and mark all spots for back wall brackets and side brackets.
  3. Chris drills holes for all back and side brackets.
  4. Amy and Chris hammer in the anchors and nail-ish things (we like to use the technical language for things around here, in case you haven’t noticed).  The instructions said to tap gently, but the long wall had extra plywood backing that meant we had to break out our steel-driving John Henry skills.  We’re fairly certain we woke up the neighbor’s baby doing this, which means our neighbors probably had a great Friday night. Except not at all.  
  5. Amy and Chris snap wire rack into place and set into side wall bracket.
  6. Chris adds C-clamps for maximum support, using a manual screwdriver.  The directions said to use 1 1/2 inch screws.  This was a total impossibility, and we ended up using 1 1/4 inch screws instead, with much more success.
  7. Amy holds support arm brackets in place while Chris drills holes, taps in anchor, and hammers in the nail-ish things.
  8. Repeat four times.

After installation of all the racks, I sponge-washed the walls to get rid of residual dust from the drilling and vacuumed the baseboards and floor.  Once we installed the racks in their new location, the closet started looking less like a secret safe room and more like an actual closet.  Of course, adding clothes back in the closet helped with that, too.

To plan the new location of our racks (and determine the measurements for our cuts), we inventoried how many categories of clothing items we had (i.e., how many skirts, pants, shirts, dresses, etc.) and decided where it would be best to hang the respective categories.   We decided to do two long racks (keeping the existing long rack plus a new long rack cut from the garage shelving), one for each of us to hang our shirts and pants.


With the residual section of the garage rack, we made another short shelf/rack for my shorts and knee length skirts to hang opposite the long wall.  We trimmed an existing closet rack to fit the same wall for my long skirts and capri pants.

We decided that a galley-like closet arrangement was more functional than the previous corner system that rendered part of each shelf useless for hanging items where they t-boned into each other.  Plus, this provides easier access to the outlet and gives us a nice path for a runner rug.  Not that room for a rug was a major part of our planning and decision making, but having a rug over the concrete floors (until we get our wood-look porcelain tile) definitely softens things up a bit underfoot.


The mid-sized existing rack we raised a few inches to allow for long dress and suit storage for both of us, storage for my purses, and room for Chris’s shoes.

While cutting the shelving, Chris noticed that the garage wire racks weren’t the same kind of rack as the ones already in our closet: They didn’t have the clothing “bar” at the bottom.  Aesthetically, we thought it may not look the best, but after install, it is barely noticeable and is actually a functional improvement in some ways because the divided sections keep you from cramming too many clothes in one location..  Plus, if we upgrade to a real closet system down the road, we only have to live with the mismatch for awhile. Given my perfectionistic, OCD tendencies, I really thought it would bother me more than it does.  Maybe I’m too short to really see the top rack, so I don’t notice the difference.IMG_3198


I hung my flip-flop shoe organizer back over the door, and we mounted our coat rack behind the door to hold hats and scarves.

On the left wall (as you enter the closet), we brought the 3 x 3 Cherry Cubeical back, which is currently holding my swimsuits, swimsuit cover ups, board shorts, work shorts, and work pants.


Note: The purple labels hanging on the blue handles differentiate my ocean swimsuits from my pool suits.  This may seem ridiculous to some of you, but if you have ever had a home with a pool, this may make some sense to you.  Basically, if you wear a swimsuit in the ocean and then wear it again to swim in a pool, you can introduce algae to that pool, and algae (especially some kinds) are hard to eliminate from a pool.  If you wash your swimsuit in hot water every time you swim in the ocean before swimming in a pool to “kill” living organisms, there still may be some algae stuck to it (especially if you have a lined swimsuit), and your swimsuit may now be faded and ill-fitting. A simple rinse of your suit between ocean and pool or showering in your swimsuit between venues does not suffice. Since I frequent both the pool and the ocean, I handwash my suits after wearing them and choose to keep two different sets of suits to avoid the risk of contamination.  

The middle sections of the Cubeical are currently empty (!), but I’m sure they’ll be filled soon, too.  We also added some interest to the wall in the form of a pinboard with a coral motif, a panoramic photograph of Neyland Stadium, and Chris’s diploma (because where do you hang those if you don’t have a dedicated home office or man cave)?  My diplomas aren’t framed, so they don’t get a place of honor in the closet like his does.  Maybe someday I’ll get around to framing my first two diplomas.  Probably about the time I frame my third and final one. Which could be never at the rate my dissertation is going.

Eventually we plan to upgrade the light fixture from its mushroom-like state, add the wood-look tile I mentioned earlier, and install a real closet system, perhaps with some additional shelf lighting to help with visibility.  For now, our under $100 fix will work just fine.

Organizing Clothing:


For Chris’s clothes, organizing was simply a matter of hanging his shirts from dressy to casual, followed by his pants, also from dressy to casual. My clothes required a little more work, and I organized them in a slightly unconventional way.  I typically sort by kind of article and keep like with like: dresses with dresses, shorts with shorts, etc.  For shirts, I normally vacillate between organizing by color and by category (business casual, casual) as the primary category, followed by type (sleeveless, short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, long sleeve).  On the one hand, I like organizing by color because there is just something harmonious about color continuity that I prefer, but I keep wearing the same tops over and over because I know how to pair them with other things to make outfits, rendering much of my wardrobe useless.  On the other hand, organizing by category shows me more options for particular occasions, thus increasing the likelihood I try wearing something different than usual, but walking into the closet is a visual jarring experience that makes selecting anything difficult.  When re-doing this closet, I decided to analyze my clothing pitfalls and use that to come up with a happy medium.

I frequently find myself stuck in three kinds of clothing ruts: (1) I wear the same tops/outfits over and over. (2) I prefer casual to dressy.  (3) I gravitate to neutrals. After having to conduct my dissertation research out of state and live in a hotel for six weeks, I re-learned the art of capsule wardrobes.  I used to be good at this when traveling internationally.  In high school, I took a small size carry-on for a month in Europe and laughed at all my friends lugging giant Samsonites up nine flights of stairs in Greece. I love the simplicity of capsule wardrobes.  I am a minimalist at heart, so having a closet full of clothes overwhelms me with too many possibilities.  Consequently, I’m planning to start cataloguing outfit ideas, beginning with my neutrals that I love.  Rather than fighting my preference for neutrals, I’m going to use that as the starting point for developing my outfit building skills, essentially building a capsule wardrobe with neutrals as the base.

My neutrals are sorted into three categories: up, up/down, and down, a.k.a. classy, convertible, and comfortable. Up clothes are dressier and more likely to be considered businesswear in a traditional workplace setting.  Items in this category are more likely to closely resemble menswear and/or have an element of elegance about them, such as being made of better material, adding a touch of lace or silk, or creating an interesting neckline or back.   Clothes in this category have a certain feature that makes them seem classy.

I love gray, but I hate gray areas.  The murky gray clothing area is what I call up/down wear, or clothing which can either dress up an outfit or dress it down.  Clothes that could be considered business casual in a less formal work environment or in a trendier/artsy environment fall in this category.  To qualify as an up/down top, the style and cut of shirt is likely based less on menswear and/or may be made of a material that makes it appear more casual.  For example, the blouse on the left is an “up” blouse, but the one on the right is an “up/down” blouse because of the material and style. Note the sleeves of the blouse on the left are nicely cuffed, whereas the sleeves on the right blouse aren’t.  I would wear up/down clothes when I’m wanting to appear put-together, but not necessarily needing to be “polished.” Here, the emphasis is on the versatility of the piece–can it be easily converted from work to play?

Down clothes are items like basic tees and polo shirts–anything that is decidedly more casual or sporty.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t throw a blazer over a tee and turn it into a work outfit (my default, in fact), but the tee itself has a dressed down, at home, casual feel, where comfort is king. This is literally my comfort zone when it comes to clothes.

The rest of my tops are organized by color.  Here at the coast, the weather is warm enough year round that having entire sections of my closet devoted to long sleeves is unnecessary, but because the air temperature can feel cool in the early mornings and evenings, even in summer, having access to all kinds of sleeves year round is essential.  Consequently, I elected not to do the secondary sort I typically do by sleeve length.

We’ll see how “the best of both worlds” turns out.

Demolition Diaries: R.I.P., Nasty Carpet

You know how Mista Lista said that sometimes things don’t go as planned?  Mista Lista was right.  Just after we closed on the house and had the gas heat turned on, I noticed a peculiar, unplaceable smell emanating from the front bedroom–a smell that had NOT been there when we walked through it multiple times.  Chris and my parents didn’t notice it until I brought the issue to their attention, but once I mentioned it, they could smell it, too (Ah, the power of suggestion).  We tried several solutions to get rid of the smell (airing out room for days on end, containers of baking soda and vinegar, sprinkling baking soda, carpet cleaner, and deodorizer, etc.) to no avail.  Chris didn’t really seem to notice, but I’m very sensitive to smells, especially bad smells.  It reminded me of an old nursing home.

Call me crazy, but when I went to FL for my ‘spring break’ I couldn’t take it any longer.  I couldn’t stay inside the house without getting a headache.  I asked one of my neighbors, a stay-at-home mom who seemed very knowledgeable about the goings-on at our house (maybe a little too knowledgable), if the former inhabitants were smokers, pet owners, etc.  According to her, there was no smell in the front room, they weren’t smokers, and they kept their dog at the back of the house on the vinyl tile.  I wasn’t so sure.  I noticed that some of the boxes of our things Chris had stored in the front room’s closet were starting to smell, too.  Noooo!  I bravely went around sniffing the room and determined that the primary source of the bad odor was definitely the carpet, hence why boxes sitting on the carpet smelled bad, but not the boxes on top of other boxes.  I moved all of our things out of the room.  I also noticed that the smell seemed to be drifting into the guest hall, guest bath, and the other bedroom.  The carpet had to go. 

I resorted to drastic measures.  First, I called Chris waste management to set up a bulk pickup appointment for carpet.  They told me it would be two days before pick up, and that I needed to have at least two rooms of carpet to justify the pickup.  That meant I had two days to get the carpet out of the entire front of the house. I stopped by my parents’ house for tools from my dad.  They acted surprised (and a little dubious) that I was going to tear out the carpet by myself.  But remember:

Though she be but little she is fierce. ~Shakespeare

I started in a corner, making cuts with my box cutter along the baseboard along both walls meeting in the corner until I had enough to grip.  Then, I tugged, and the carpet heavens opened the carpet pulled away from the tack strips.  I could have rolled that nasty carpet up in a single roll, but I would not have been able to get it out of the room singlehandedly. I took my dad’s suggestion and cut it into manageable strips around 2 feet in width.  Once I started rolling the carpet back, I saw the signs: huge stains on every section of carpet. Clearly, someone had had an accident (or twelve) in that room.  You can imagine my disgust.


The stains fueled my enthusiasm for the task, and with renewed vigor, I attacked the rug pad, slicing along the duct taped divisions and cutting it into sections.


The rug pad was more difficult to dissect into strips because it was disintegrating into nasty little chunks and stuck to the concrete pad where the installers had run a bead of glue around the perimeter of the room.


After the rug pad was torn out, I started prying up the tack strips and the concrete nails holding them down.  The installers obviously didn’t want those tack strips to move because there must have been a thousand concrete nails I had to remove one at a time (the tack strips were pretty much rotted and thus splintered into numerous bits and pieces).  I swept up the residual refuse and shop-vac’d around the baseboards to ensure I got all remaining pieces of the foul flooring.


Within an hour and a half, the dirty deed was done.

And the room smelled better.  

Only better.


Part of the weird smell was removed with the carpet and rug pad, but now there was a definite smoker smell.  If there is one smell that we loathe above all others, it is smoker smell, especially since it is one of my many allergies.  Our home was advertised as a smoke-free home, and it had not smelled like that before.  From what we could surmise,  three possible scenarios came to mind:

  1. A + C leave the windows open to air out the carpet odor.  Random neighbor person walking his dog and smoking lingers at the front of our house, curious as to who the new people are.  Smoke drifts inside through the open window, adding to the funky smell in the room.
  2. To close on the house, the door frame wood has to be patched, painted, and pass inspection a few days prior.  The worker(s) smoke in the yard, but with the windows open due to paint odor, the smoke drifts inside.
  3. Option 2, except that the worker(s) actually smoke in the front room because it is raining, thinking with the windows open and the fan on, the smell will dissipate and no one will notice.

Whatever the situation, I was dealing with smoke when I should not have been, and I was not a happy camper.  When Chris came home, he agreed it smelled like smoke.  The walls didn’t smell, but the room still did.  No way was I going to stand by and let our family suffer third-hand smoke damage (seriously, this is a thing, people).  It was time for more troubleshooting.

I did some online research and learned three things: 1.  We needed to clean the room’s walls hardcore even if they didn’t smell bad.  2.  We needed to use odor-locking/blocking primer and odor-eliminating paint to seal in the bad smell and hopefully eliminate it once and for all.  3.  We needed to de-popcornify our ceiling (yes, that’s a word I just made up).  Apparently popcorn ceilings are notoriously bad at harboring smokiness, so we needed to scrape and clean the ceilings.

The demolition job had only just begun.

We aren’t huge fans of popcorn ceilings and had planned to clean and paint anyway, but not immediately.  Unfortunately, we needed to address the lingering smoke problem quickly before it permeated the whole house and all of our things that Chris had been steadily transporting from the city to to the coast.  Fortunately, we had a little money saved up to tackle the issue because we had planned to do these things relatively soon anyway.  I headed for Sherwin Williams and came home with the products I needed, plus an extra can of paint for the other bedroom, thanks to the good sale they were having plus coupons I had from Pottery Barn and my preferred member discount.  I essentially got three gallons of odor-fighting, premium paint for the price of one.  Yay!

Since I now had enough paint for both guest bedrooms and the clock was ticking on my bulk pickup, I went back to attacking the carpet in the other bedroom and the hallway that connects the two guest rooms.  Wouldn’t you know, the other bedroom and hallway carpet were also stained, hence why the smell was present in those locations, too.  There weren’t as many stains, but it was still gross enough to merit a swift elimination.

There was one additional complication of removing the carpet from the hallway, though: The tack strips had been nailed through the vinyl tile in the bathroom entryway and in the doorway to the foyer, and there were some rusty concrete nails that were still stuck into the vinyl tile after I pried the tack strips up.


I couldn’t get the crowbar (or anything) underneath the head of the nails to pry them up because of the slick-yet-sticky, stupid vinyl tiles.  This meant tearing out some of the vinyl tile (tragedy) in order to eliminate the possibility of tetanus.  If you give a DIYer a crowbar….


Overall, I overfilled ten contractor trash bags full of putrid, disgusting flooring material.  I’m glad to say all the carpet has been hauled away, although there was a mix up and it didn’t get picked up right away.  When I say mix up, I really mean a big problem: I called Waste Management on Wednesday morning to schedule the bulk pickup.  I was told to put the carpet out Thursday night and that it would be picked up sometime on Friday.  By Friday at 4:00 p.m., the carpet was still by the road, so I called again.

Apparently, someone unbeknown to us cancelled our account with Waste Management on Wednesday afternoon (despite the fact that we had paid for services for the entire quarter), so our bulk pickup request was never routed to the local folks who actually collect items.  Say what?! We were astounded to learn that you can cancel someone’s (anyone’s?) trash services with Waste Management by simply providing the address. We suspicion that the former homeowner may have called to cancel his service at our address and that the representative with whom he spoke cancelled our service at our address, but what a coincidence that it happened to be the exact same day right after I had called to schedule the bulk pickup.  Waste Management apologized for the inconvenience/misunderstanding and rescheduled our pickup for the next week, since it was late Friday.

We hauled the bags of carpet and refuse into the garage over the weekend and then back out to the curb.  Once again, the carpet was not picked up, so we called a third time.  Waste Management apologized again and submitted a third request.  By now, I was starting to worry that the neighbors would think we didn’t know that you had to call for bulk pickup and that we were fast becoming the pickup pariahs of the neighborhood.  (“Look, Maude, those fool youngsters left their carpet out again.  Don’t they know you’re supposed to call first?  That’s what happens when the house prices drop–you get a bunch of young riff-raff who don’t care about the neighborhood and don’t follow the rules.  We’d better call the HOA president.”)  Shortly after the third request was submitted, we received a call from the local WM people who apologized profusely and said that the carpet would be picked up the next morning as the first pickup location.  It was gone before Chris left for work.   They also gave us their direct line and said we could contact them directly regarding pickups, given our previous difficulties.  We sincerely hope that Waste Management starts asking  callers for additional information pertinent to the account before stopping service to someone’s home so that this doesn’t happen to other people (or to us again!).

R.I.P., nasty carpet.  Of course we do still have the living room and master bedroom to rip out, and I foresee that happening very soon, now that we know how disgusting the carpet is, even in places that aren’t oozing Great Uncle Vernon and his dog smell (We are sure that there are very nice smelling Great Uncle Vernons and their dogs out there, just not the fictitious one that occupied our front bedroom).    Until then, smell you later, carpet.

Update: We have since found out from a different neighbor that previous inhabitants DID keep their dog penned in the front areas, which definitely explains the stains/smells. Poor baby–locked up without access to a proper place to go (hello, fenced in backyard, people!).  Accidents happen, and some pets have special needs.  Regardless, if you are a family that includes animals, please be responsible for your pet’s welfare by providing appropriate venues and sufficient opportunities for elimination–for their sake and everyone else’s.

For those of you who are wondering about what has replaced the carpet, the answer is (drumroll, please)…..nothing.  That’s right, those rooms have had concrete slab floors for several weeks now and will likely stay that way for some time until we have saved up for the good hardwoods we want.  Mista Lista approves this plan, even if it means that some of our soon-to-be-arriving guests will have cold feet.  In the spring/summer heat, that’s not necessarily a bad thing at the coast!