Tuesday, December 6, 2011

House heroics: tearing out carpet and walls

June 2011

It turned out the getting the keys didn't mean moving in, not right away. There was too much work to be done up front to even consider bringing boxes over. It meant arriving with crowbars and carpet cutters.

It's my firm belief there is a factory in some remote industrial city in China, and its entire job is to churn out acres upon acres of beige/tan carpet that only the unimaginative or apartment landlords ever use. However, there must be a lot of unimaginative people and apartment landlords (and unimaginative apartment landlords) out there who think this stuff is da bomb. I bet there is enough manufactured to carpet the Earth---cheap, bad, and ugly--- about 8 times over annually. However, in my little corner of the planet, it was coming out. It was going to be a lot of back breaking work.

I, however, have discovered the best inexpensive tool ever for back breaking work. Ta-DAH: teenage son:

You can pay him in sandwiches. Lots and lots of sandwiches.
Yes, it does look in the photo as though Grant arrived from Handyman Heaven, and I sure felt like it by the end of the day. He was my house reno hero that week.

In one of the upstairs bedrooms, the room that was going to belong to my twin boys Ben and Joe, the carpet was a badly stained (what did they DO up here? Oh. Don't answer that.) hold-over from one of the worst design eras in American history, the eighties. Country-blue tweed sculptured carpet. Combined with paneling made of cheap construction grade plywood stained this curious, nauseating brownish pinkish hue. Remember this photo (above?) Yeah, the one with the goats (in my fevered nightmares).
Those became the priorities that first week of ownership: getting that hella stink o' carpet out of the house, and making that room fit for habitation for children.

We had our triumphs that first day:
Underneath the living room carpet we found hardwood! And it was in good shape!

I know how Howard Carter felt. Just a wee bit. 

In the front room we found vinyl composition tile, but it was 1960s and fun. I liked the streaky brown, tan, and cream colors:


It felt like pulling off a scab. That good.

 Grant got started prying out paneling:

What do you mean, no sledgehammer?

The flash is for dramatic effect, not bad photography. (Straight face.)

He cursed a lot, and as a Good Mom Person, I'm supposed to scold, but the panels were installed with what I believe are officially called "Long Ass Totally Unnecessary Pain in the Ass Nails," and it was difficult to pry out the stuff and leave the 50+ year old and fragile dry wall intact. I let him cuss. 

Besides, I was on the other side of the room cussing myself, finding whatever flooring was under the animal sacrifice blue carpet (I know. I can't let it go.) We found more vintage vinyl composition tile, this time a sort of deep purplish brown, pictured here still coated in carpet glue scum:

It's the new design color of the season. Glue Scum Green.
By now you've probably noticed the vintage wallpaper Grant uncovered. It was big, beautiful, with gold metallic paint highlights, and relentlessly feminine. Here's a closer look:

Gorgeous, but damaged. Sorta like Marilyn Monroe.

That first day resembled what a lot of our house projects have since: triumphs and setbacks. Sometimes in equal measure. We had hardwood floors that were so nice they only needed damp-mopping, but edged by approximately 500 miles of remaining carpet tack strip (which we're still picking at, inch by cursed inch). We got rid of weird looking paneling but were confronted with the beautiful vintage wallpaper damaged beyond repair with construction adhesive and nail holes. We were proud of our progress but our backs hurt and our knuckles were raw and we'd barely started.

It was totally, absolutely worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment