Fitz and I just returned to Northampton after a much deserved, highly anticipated, long awaited… vacation! Yes – we finally managed to take a break! And it was well-worth it. We spent 2 weeks away from Amber Lane, visiting NYC… San Francisco / San Mateo… West Orange, NJ… Sinking Spring, PA… and Bantem, CT. It was, as always, a whirlwind… crammed with activities, people, and lots of coffee. But, more than anything, it was a chance to catch our breath and get a little perspective on this project.
There is a lot to take away from those 2 weeks as I look around me now with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit. But I’ll save those thoughts for another post. What really struck me and moved me more than anything was the sheer number of people we encountered who began our catch up conversation with “I read your blog ALL THE TIME” and “I love it!”.
Wow! You guys! You have no idea how much that means to me. I love writing this blog. The pictures we take and my on-going inner monologue of post ideas, word play, stories, and silly moments keeps me focused – and keeps me in a creative space that transcends the difficulty of this project. Don’t get me wrong – the renovation itself is quite full of creativity… creative problem-solving, creative solutions, creative hoop jumping, and (of course) the sheer magnitude of visual creativity in designing the entire space (structurally and aesthetically). But this blog exercises a different kind of creativity – the same that I use when I dance. And, if I can’t dance right now, I better write! I encourage all of you to do the same – whatever it is that you’ve stumbled across in your life that really makes you think, that uses all the beautiful strengths you possess in a way that both produces a product but also celebrates the process: DO that thing! Make handmade birthday cards… write songs for the piano and guitar collecting dust in your corner… bake… knit… hike… keep a journal… work on something really hard that challenges your mind in ways that demand nothing less than your best creative solution. You will thank yourself.
And I thank you for the huge part you all play in my version of this. It really means a lot!
Beginner’s tip: You can CLICK on the PICTURES to make them BIGGER and to read the CAPTIONS! That’s a fun fact to learn 7 months into this blog (Dad!).
(I had 22 options in the queue for this post… I picked this one… Lucky us, to have options!) 🙂
So, it all starts with the impending delivery of the Home Depot Order (or HDO). This HDO was like no other HDO we have ever orchestrated… it really began last November when we first moved to the Valley and began our weekly treks to Home Depot in Hadley. Over time we got to know the intricacies of this store – the employees, by name – the aisles – the deals to swing – and the bounty of creative solutions available to those willing to hunt long enough. And hunt we did. For months we stalked the aisles, making lists – jotting down ideas – arguing – crying – laughing – asking questions – getting inspiration – discovering limitations – and, all the while, adding up the price tag. The ace in our back pocket? The Home Depot credit card: offering 10% off the first purchase made on this card.
In March, we started the electrical and finally had to make a pretty big purchase. That led to the realization it was Time. Time to make the REALLY big purchase. So we spent 7 hours at Home Depot one day figuring out everything we needed for our infamous HDO. 7 hours. I had to leave in the middle to get snacks to re-fuel. I’m sure I cried at least once that day – I often cry at Home Depot. The place is pretty overwhelming, honestly. With our SKUs in hand; quantities approximated for the next 5 months of work; a momentarily clear vision for the intricate relationship among tile spacing, grout type, backing material and mortar type for the 7 separate tile projects we’ll do; and beginner’s confidence that we’d secure a loan… soon… we sat down at The Desk to place our HDO. When you place a HDO, you go to “The Bid Room.” We were VERY excited to go to The Bid Room as we’d heard a lot about it during our weekly visits. But… major letdown – there is no room. It’s just an email and a click away to HQ for HD down in Atlanta. Super anti-climactic! We’d imagined a dark room – 1 light bulb – a man in a bowler hat, smoking a cigar, spins around in his seat… “I see you’re ordering a lot of tile, my dear. Whaddya say we skim some off the top there?” And I’d twist the end of my hair, gulp silently and nod imploringly – knowing the future of my project rested in this man’s ability to decide I should pay less.
But, what it really means is that you are buying a lot of stuff and Home Depot will take some money off items on which they usually receive a high profit margin in thanks for you clearing out their store for them. We ended our time “in the bid room” with 14% off our total purchase. Not bad.
And – free delivery!
But, the big question was… WHERE would all this stuff go? Seriously. Amber Lane is, as you know, packed to the gills and where there aren’t gills, there is construction of gills taking place. This presented a major problem. However, good ol’ HD offered to hold off 3 weeks until the delivery date. Somehow we managed to stretch that to 6 weeks… (thank you Home Depot!) but, finally, the day came to schedule the fateful HDO delivery. It was mid-week and we were able to pick a Monday delivery date. That gave us through the weekend to figure out a solution.
The final solution involved a bit of Pile Animal manipulation. At this point in time, my Pile Animals had spilled beyond our doors. We were storing various stacks of lumber outside under tarps during a miraculous 4+ weeks of NO RAIN (amazing, still, to consider our luck there!). It’s too complicated to explain or really, even, remember but – to successfully accept the impending HDO, we had to move one very BIG pile animal from outside… our tongue and groove lumber. Sometimes, though, moving these kinds of beasts is not enough – you must slay them… aka use ’em up!
So… without further ado (there was a lot of “ado” in this post, sorry!)… I present the Using Up of the Tongue and Groove Lumber to make Awesome Office Floors Project:
(Reminder: When the pictures are in a mosaic pattern, you can click on them for added fun!)
Step 1: Remove the carpet.
Step 2: We chose to use tongue and groove boards removed from our downstairs reception area’s ceiling! We pulled these boards out in December – and created a huge mess in the process. They had been there for well over 100 years, collecting layers of dust and dirt beyond any other project in this place. We cleaned them up and, like I said, they’ve been resting in a very large Pile Animal outside under a tarp. So – here they go: from a ceiling to a floor!
Step 3: Dinner. You know how we have a lot of stuff crammed into Amber Lane? So – every time we do a project, we clear everything out of that space… into another space. Usually the kitchen is our “safe space” (shows where our priorities lie!) but, to do this project, we relocated a lot of stuff into the kitchen – including our bed for 2 nights! So we dined on the new floor instead.
Step 4: Day 2 of Floor Project. Oh, did I mention we were in a hurry? Remember, the looming HDO is happening right around the corner. I am proud to say we accomplished this entire project in exactly 48 hours, including breaks for sleeping and eating… and polyurethane drying. And… during the first heat wave of summer!
Step 5: Once the boards were laid, we scraped off all extra paint, vacuumed, sanded, and vacuumed again! Then it was time to decide on a finish. We started the project believing we were going to paint the boards a cream color. We have a bunch of paint left over from projects before our time at Amber Lane and were certain we had a color that would work. We tried a few out – found some good possibilities – but nothing seemed to sit right. What we really liked – to be honest – was the boards just the way they were! The variation is lovely. You can’t create that kind of character. Anthropologie would kill to have those boards, fresh off a barn wall, in their catalog. Besides, we realized that any paint we used would still show the contours of the peeling paint beneath. It was not in the cards to remove all the old paint so… we threw caution to the wind and just went for it! A couple of coats of polyurethane should do the trick!
And voila! Our first finish!
Not bad for 48 hours!
And, yes, we finished in time for the HDO. In fact, they were a day late with the delivery (in typical contractor fashion, of course!). 🙂