The Man and I have been together for 16 years.
In that time we’ve learned a few things.
1. We each have some powerful strengths.
2. We are each ever-so-slightly imperfect.
3. We each work really well on our own, as far as house projects go. Together? notsomuch.
And so with these truths in mind, we’ve had a good partnership in fixing up this house. He does his things on his time, I do mine on mine, we consult each other on key issues (mostly where money is concerned) and in the end, things mostly get done with him staying out of my way and vice-versa.
I’ve mentioned, he started sanding the concrete in the basement after my birthday party. I mentioned it was an ungodly mess. Cleanup after that is still not complete. And I had expected that we’d be waiting a long time before concrete-in-man-den Phase Two was underway. But I was wrong; he asked me to begin painting the ceiling pretty soon after the majority of the dust cleared, and all last week that was pretty much what I did. It was a whole lot of no fun, with Satan’s Popcorn (as I dubbed the ceiling texture) stubbornly resisting me (when it wasn’t falling into my hair or dodging my glasses to get into my eyes). A helpful Lowe’s employee suggested I use actual ceiling rollers (Novel, that! a roller, for popcorn!? Gee, I wish the first five sales people had told me that, between the old house preparations and moving into this one…) –and Satan’s Popcorn Was Mine. (now, I have the rest of the house to complete, minus the ceiling in the office.)
I suspected that The Man would sit back and wait, once again, before beginning again on the floor, and I had half a mind to do my own thing with it. I experimented in the storage area, and came up with this, based on his “I want to do red and gold like my long board” color scheme suggestion.
The idea was, take a polyurethane-type finish, mix it with a tint, and, like I did for the photo above, loosely brush it on and remove it with a crumpled plastic bag. When I talked to paint people in Lowes, Home Depot, and Sherwin Williams, they kinda’ looked at me like I was smokin’ high grade. I don’t know if “we’re doing a color scheme based on a long board” that did it, or, “can I make my own glaze?” –but they didn’t like it, no sir, not one bit.
And so, we were heading into Lakewood anyway, so we stopped by Lakewood Paint and Hardware. http://www.lakewood.doitbest.com/home.aspx
The variety of merchandise there is awesome. The store is small-company awesome. The workers there are freakin’ awesome. The sold Devine, Prtt and Lambert, and much other paint-y gloriousness, and we were given information that was friendly, non-judgmental, and smart-as-hell.
And so it was, I was swayed in my original thinking, and we walked out of there with Mason’s Select concrete stain and sealer and a garden sprayer for applying said stain. We had arranged a sleep-over at grandma’s for The Kid, and we were set to embark on a project, together.
*insert first cocktail.* *and second.* (for me. for him, it was more like, insert beers one through four.)
The spraying of stain was initially a bit daunting; he was armed with garden sprayer, me with two regular ole’ spray bottles. Getting the stain into the bottles was about the undoing of the togetherness: I had created a sort of long-handled cup out of a water bottle, he then cut the crap out of my cup trying to make it a funnel. I freaked out, he said try it my way, his way didn’t work, my way did. He gracefully conceded defeat. Once the stain was in holders, we started in the back (not very well sanded) area, and it was stain-lake for a scary while. At this point, I was on wine + Fresca number one, and together we steadfastly adopted the motto, “fuck it.”
As we worked, him spraying in squares small enough for me to reach into, then me spraying in a loose circular technique (swallowing/inhaling enough stain to have perma-stain-flavored wine + Fresca) we found that things were looking okay. Mostly. Except certain cat pee areas (left kindly by the house’s previous occupants) we’d apparently not treated well enough, and also the not-so-sanded areas, which were still lake-ish. We smiled sloppily and went, “fuck it!”, by now relatively jovial.
We stood at the railing of the stairwell when we finished the job and stared at the wet stain. For a while. A long while. Waiting for it to show signs of drying. At one point I looked at him and said, “we have a sitter. It’s 10 p.m. on a Friday night. And we’re watching stain dry.” and he said, “yup.” and took a swig of his beer.
We both agreed it was a lovely date night. Until the dumbest of the three dogs (that’d be Bill, the English Pointer), taken carefully through the side yard to pee before bedtime, got into the room (helped, in part, by a sliding door left inadvertently open by The Man.)
I was in bed, trying to hack stain-flavor out of my throat, when I heard the shouting. I smiled and went to sleep with smug, shrugging little thoughts of “fuck it.”
Until the next morning, when I saw that Bill had apparently done laps in the basement, and not pretty, well-placed, stencil-perfect laps. The Kid needed to be picked up at grandmas, and then taken to gymnastics after which we had a busy day of must-do activities and birthdays and dinner parties; I was horrified by the thought that The Man would follow through on “fuck it” and seal over the paw prints. Initially, I sprayed spots of stain over the paw prints. I thought it looked worse, The Man shrugged and said, ‘fuck it.” Then he called me en route to picking up the Kid, apologetically saying, ” I wasn’t communicating well. If you want to try to fix it, go ahead.” I did want, as a matter of fact, and went through the whole garden-sprayer, double=spray-bottle routine all over again.
It looked better and I was relieved.
Until I got the call from a relatively nervous, no longer “fuck it” man, wondering what I thought about bubbling, milky sealer. I asked how he was applying it. He said, garden sprayer. I went, oh. Because I didn’t think he needed to hear, “what the HELL were you thinking?” right then. He said that he had been going over it all with a rag, and things looked to be smoothing out. “ah, well, carry on then!” I said chirpily. My gut sank.
All told, however, his “cinderella method of application” (and the purchase of a proper sprayer) all worked out in the end, the dogs stayed out of the area for the prescribed 72 hours, and, after putting all the goods back into the space (including a couple of new rugs found at IKEA) it looks good. We’re not 100% done; he wants a pinball machine, I want a pool table, he’ll eventually do a fireplace insert, and who knows, maybe some day there will be a bar of some sort down there. I hope that eventually, the downstairs kitchen will get a fridge and range (though I hate to lose perfectly good laundry space) and we’ll be as comfortable down there as we are up here.
For now, though, the dogs love the carpet, both The Kid and Man love the space, and we can finally say we *can* do a project together.
(I think, however, we’ll mostly keep up our old project ways.)
….and now, a photographic journey, then to now…
you had to be there for the "before" smell...
before, fireplace view
the curtains were cool (except for the dusty-musty-nastiness)
petrified rubber pad, and a cabinet-painting project
....after scraping petrified pad by hand with a 3" razor blade...
man-den, part one
the new floor (including masking)
man-den, part deux
man-den, "imagine a pool table" view
Poppy thinks the floor looks cool, and feels cold.