Archive for the ‘house’ Category


Real Furniture

March 22, 2008

When I separated from my (now) ex-wife, I tried to take as little as possible with me.  I needed to make sure that the kids had everything that they needed, and I wanted them to feel some consistency, even-though Dad was not living there anymore.  I took my digital piano, the stereo components, my weights and weight bench, and my clothes.  That meant that everything else I had to buy or scrounge.  I was a regular at yard sales, Goodwill, and my parents’ basement and attic. 

I started with a “love seat” that looked like it came out of the waiting room of a doctor’s office in the 1960’s.  It was somewhat Danish Modern and upholstered in a brown vinyl.  It wasn’t comfortable.  My coffee table was from Goodwill and looked like it had been handmade by someone who failed wood-shop in high school.  I painted it white.  It helped, if only a little.  I found an old tv with very little red left in it at my parents’ house.  They also gave me an old chest of drawers. 

Starting over, the best piece of furniture I purchased was the bed. (Read that again, this time with dripping sarcasm.)  It was a twin size air mattress that needed inflated every night before I cried myself to sleep.  Bedtime is not exactly the time one needs to be reminded that their life just fell apart and the future isn’t looking good.  So for that first month of being on my own, I had a constant reminder that perhaps, I had screwed up in a major way.  Sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of my crappy apartment was the nightly jab that would get my mind rolling with doubt. 

It wasn’t long before I was able to find a full bed frame with a mattress and box springs.  The price was just right:  free!  One of my co-workers at school had recently purchased a new bed for her daughter and offered me the old one.  All I had to do was find a way to transport it to my place.  I jumped at the chance to have a real bed.  It has served me well these past few years, although, I did find it necessary to replace the mattress with something more comfortable.  The replacement was a hand-me-down too.

My partner moved in with me six months after I rented the apartment.  We slowly found better furnishings, either as donations from sympathetic relatives, or flea market finds, or even roadkill.  Gnawing persistently at my brain was the thought that we’d never be able to select the style and quality of furniture ourselves; we’d be held captive to the dated styles of others.  They would cast off their bad taste, and we would grab it, proclaiming it to be “not that bad.”

Life did improve.  We were able to purchase a house in 2007.  We moved all our shabby chic pieces into this shabby chic shack.  After we discovered that we could actually afford to live here, I felt the need to have “real furniture.”  I wanted to pick it out, at the store, maybe even have it delivered.  I wanted to look at a couch and say “no, I don’t like the fabric” or “do you have something a bit more masculine?” 

It’s finally happening.  We purchased a sofa back in November.  It’s big, it’s well-stuffed, and it’s a vision of chocolate micro-suede.  I love the big pillows that came with it, as well as the opportunity to pay for it on credit. 

We had seen some beds at Levin Furniture back in November.  We had even returned to the clearance center to purchase a greatly reduced bedroom suite.  As we entered the store, I told myself that if it was still there, it was meant to be.  It had sold a few days before, but I looked at it as being a sign that I needed to wait.  I’m glad I did.  Purchasing an entire set of furniture is not what we needed to do.  The cost of the bed and the mattress set would be about all we could afford. 

Today, we returned to the store because we had seen a television ad offering no interest for 5 years.  We knew that purchasing the bed and mattress set would meet the minimum dollar amount required for the deal.  Sadly, none of the beds on the second floor showroom appealed to us.  I kept thinking “where are all the great beds we saw a few months ago?”  We decided to look in the clearance center, which is just across the street.  As we were about to exit the retail store, we noticed a mission style bed in the window.  We took a quick look before heading across Main street.  I kept looking at the bed in the window.  There was nothing appealing in the clearance center, although we thought the deals on the mattress sets were good.  We wrote down a product number, thinking we could buy the bed in the main store, and the mattress from the clearance center.  Our salesman offered to cut the price of the mattress to approximate the clearance center price, pointing out that we would then benefit from a 10 year guarantee. 

We bought the bed!  We pick it up on Wednesday.  It’s a beautiful Mission Oak style that will work nicely with either a rustic cottage theme, or a clean, organic Japanese environment. Now, we’ll be needing a new set of sheets and of course, a bed spread that will fit a queen size bed.  Now who has a queen bed and might have some old sheets they want to give away?

the bed



November 22, 2007

Here’s an update on the dining room remodel on which we procrastinated.  But first, since it is Thanksgiving Day, we need the requisite holiday greetings:



May you find that your blessings have been many

in the past year. 

You may recall in a recent blog entry, that we began the installation of the drywall.  We’ve also been patching the joints and sanding.  This week, we were able to put the new ceiling up.


The ceiling is a glossy white beadboard panelling that is similar to the green beadboard that was originally on it.  The color was horribly ugly, and the condition of the wood after being covered with two other ceiling treatments left it unsalvageable.  This panelling lets us keep the spirit of the house intact.  We’ve also noticed that the room is much brighter.  Installation of the ceiling was tricky.  The panelling is flexible.  It took a few of us to hold it in place, although smearing the rafters with liquid nails adhesive helped.  I got to handle the air powered nailer.  I think I could become addicted to that.  Way too much fun to use, and thoughts of torturing a few PITA’s with it went running through my mind.

We need to finish the sanding and then prime the walls.  We will install beadboard, similar to the ceiling, on the bottom of the walls as a wainscoting.  There will be a chair rail trim, a baseboard, and crown-molding, but those are details that can wait.  The laminate flooring I bought back in May is still sitting in the basement.  I’m saving that for last so that we don’t mess it up while we install the panelling and do the painting. 

Now that this entry is done, it’s time to become Pilgrims ourselves today.  We will pick up my kids and take them to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Later, we’ll pick up Scott’s kids and head to his parents’ house for the evening where we will eat, drink, and be grateful for all we have. 


Five Hundred Words

November 8, 2007

That’s the limit for this post.  That first sentence sucked up six of them.  Damn!  There went another eight! 

Procrastination.  I’m so good at it.  Back in July I started the remodel on our dining room.  Here’s what it looked like as the demolition progressed:

flocked wallpaper

paper and plaster

It wasn’t long before I had removed all of the old panelling, drywall, the decades old beadboard, the original plaster, the lath, and the wooden ceiling, which could not be saved despite my great desire to preserve it.  I removed the cheap vinyl floor tiles too.  I did some rewiring, added a few more outlets and installed the dimmer switch for the new chandelier.  My partner installed the insulation on the outside wall.  There was no insulation originally.  By the end of July, or early August, the room was a blank slate.  We turned out the lights and walked away. 

Last week, we decided it was time to  get back to work on this space.  We purchased drywall, panelling, a chair rail moulding, and drywall screws.  We cleaned up the room and got to work last night.  We got off to a slow start, placing only two sheets of drywall before calling it quits.  Tonight was much better, and soon the room will be ready for the taping and mudding.  I’m thinking I’ll be able to paint on my day off next week. 

This is rewarding.  Just seeing the new walls go into place is brightening the room.  Why did we put this off for so long?  California Polytechnic State University  offers some reasons for procrastination, as well as some tips to help their students overcome this habit.  I think I’ve found two reasons for delaying the remodelling of our dining room since I gutted it last summer:  fear and perfectionism.  There is the fear that I don’t know what I’m doing, fear that I will screw it up and everyone who visits us will see that I didn’t have the skills to do a decent job on this remodel.  Perfectionism is the other reason because I do like things to be done perfectly.  That’s why the room was gutted; I didn’t want to leave any evidence of the “improvements” made by previous owners.  I even considered removing the sub-flooring.  I needed to feel that I had stripped the room to its bare bones and created our new room from scratch.  Fear and Perfectionism held me paralyzed in their grip until my partner suddenly announced that we were going to purchase the necessary materials to complete the room.  Scott’s little push has done wonders for my morale as well as the condition of the dining room.  Soon we will be enjoying dinners in the renovated space.  I can’t wait to invite friends over for dinner.  If I work really hard, we’ll be able to use the room for our Thanksgiving celebration.  By Christmas, I should have the details of the room completed.

And this sentence brings the total word count to exactly four-hundred-ninety-nine, and not one more.


Jones Soda and Laminate Flooring

May 23, 2007

Life is a banquet, remember? This evening was quite a surprise and quickly became one of those times that life feels so very good. Under these circumstances, how could it be any different?

First off, it’s payday! I text my son, Sterling, and ask if he wants to ride along to pick up my paycheck. He agrees to ride along, knowing that I’m going to feed him, but I get to pretend that he likes to spend time with me, even if I didn’t take him out to eat. We pick up the check, deposit it, and do some shopping. He helps me figure out the square footage in my dining room, the amount of laminate flooring I’ll need, and we do a cost analysis at the local home improvement mega-store. This, however, is not where I’ll purchase the flooring, eventhough the cheapest available is a mere .87 cents per sq. ft.

Having recorded our calculations in our heads, we drive about a mile down the road to Gabriel’s also known as “Gabe’s.” I saw some nice K Swiss laminate flooring there on Monday on sale for $19.99 for 25.8 sq. ft. I figured that it was a good bargain. When we returned this evening, it had been reduced to $10.00 for the 25.8 sq. ft. package. I make my selection, the Calavados Oak, load the shopping cart and head for the checkout. With the underlayment, installation kit, and a twix bar (for Sterling) my new dining room floor will have cost me around $80.

KSwiss Oak Floor

Feeling pumped about the floor, we make our way to the car, but at the door of the store we encounter this evening’s entertainment. A young lady holding a shoe, a pump with a very high heel, calls out in a brassy voice to ask if she could use one of our cell phones as hers was locked in her car and she needed to call her boyfriend to get a ride. We oblige, Sterling hands her his phone, and when the boyfriend answers, she begins yelling at him and cussing him out. “You know I have to go see my F***ing Parole Officer tonight!”
We load the flooring into the car and drive across the road to Big Lots, where I inform Sterling that they have his favorite soda, Jones Soda on sale. I suggest that we buy some for his graduation party. We decide that two cases would be not only sufficient, but that his friends would be impressed that we bought the “good stuff” for them to celebrate high school graduation. We make sure that we have a good variety of flavors and head for the cashier. Shopping victory #2!

Jones Soda

The car now seems to lumber slowly down the road with our load of flooring and soda. I offer dinner, to which Sterling agrees and suggests Texas Roadhouse. I’m a bit surprised because this is not a place I’ve heard him ask for before. I question the cost. Life may be a banquet, but I’m not about to pay a huge tab for dining here. Sterling assures me that his meal will be less than $5 as he only orders the fries with cheese. He’s right, even with beverages and the cost of my entree, mmm sirloin kebobs, we drop less than $20 plus the tip.
I’d love to end this with a lesson learned, some moral to the story, or a surprise ending. I can’t. There’s nothing. Well, nothing other than a great evening, spent with a great kid, preparing for things that will make our lives richer in the coming weeks. But then, I can’t overlook the events of this evening without reflecting on how those events have already enriched our lives. It’s a banquet, folks! Dig in!