A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Covering a Multitude of Sins

Another staging project for the sale of our current house was the living room. In the dining room, which opened into the living room, Pete had stained the floor a cherry stain, like the woodwork, and it had a glossy finish to it. When I moved in, the living room was covered in white wall-to-wall carpeting. I always hated that carpeting and eventually it was covered in spots that wouldn’’t come out. Pete’’s friends used to call the living room ““The Museum”” from his previous life with The First [wife] because everything in the room was white, beige or yellow and, according to them, they weren’’t allowed to step foot in there.

One weekend when my cousin was visiting, I was talking about wanting to pull up the carpeting, but I had some reason to wait (which I can’’t remember anymore). Maybe it was because I knew that the living room floor wouldn’’t match the cherry stain in the dining room. Pete was in the shower and cousin Rich says, “I just want to see what’’s under there,” and lifts up a corner of the carpet. Right then and there we decided, “Oh, what the hell?” and started yanking the whole thing up. Pete hears the carpeting being ripped up as he’’s showering. By the time he got out, it was too late and he just had to join in. In some ways, the mismatched hardwood looked better than the dingy white carpeting, but there were issues with the hardwood too.

For one, the carpet pad left some stains that wouldn’t come out. There were some other worn areas and a couple of paint splotches too. When Pete stained the dining room many years ago, he didn’’t tape off a clean line for the stain since he was installing carpeting in the living room, so the stain was kind of slopped into the living room floor. But to me, hardwood floors are better than carpeting, no matter what the condition.

Floor transitionHere you can see the transition from the dining room to living room. You can also see in the lower left where Pete recently wanted to try out the Silent Paint Remover we rented for another project. It did a good job of removing both the stain and varnish, but you’’d think he could try that in a less conspicuous place, like the closet?!

I have forever been wanting to refinish the hardwood floor. The biggest thing that kept me from doing that was, actually, the biggest things that we’’d have to move out of there. For a number of years I used the space as my office when I worked out of the house. longcase clockAt that time I had a large desk, all my computer equipment and lots of other stuff. Sawdust (is it still called sawdust even if it doesn’t come from a saw? Drum sanderdust?) and computers don’’t mix, in my opinion. Once I moved my studio to Evanston, it freed up a lot of space, but the room still had bookcases and a dining table (we used it as a multi-purpose library/dining space). Plus we have an enormous longcase (grandfather) clock in the living room that anyone can see is a bitch to move. It’’d be as bad as moving, but I’’d still be in the same house. That’s Axel——he wanted to give you an idea of scale so you can really see how big the clock is.

Knowing that we’’d be moving and not knowing what the future buyers would want to do, we decided to cover it with an area rug. That way they’’d know there were hardwood floors, and it would cover up the bad areas as well as create a transition to the dining area.

Now what type of area rug do we buy? In some ways, I wanted cheap, because I didn’’t know what I would want to do in the bungalow, and I didn’’t know if it would fit either. I looked at the usuals: Target, IKEA, etc. but I would still have to pay around $300 for a rug that I wasn’’t in love with and didn’’t know if I would want once we moved. Big waste of money.

One day I wandered into a new store across the street from my studio, Healthy Green Goods. They carry organic products: clothes, sheets, home goods, etc. and there I discovered Flor modular rugs. It was a revelation! They’’re eco-friendly and Flor will recycle old tiles that you no longer want or need (and they’ll pay for return shipping), so no landfill waste!

They have a variety of styles, textures, and colors, so I borrowed some swatches and took them home to decide. On the Flor catalog site, you can configure a rug based on your dimensions, so I spent some time mixing patterns and textures until I was satisfied. You can place your order directly with them, but I ordered from the Healthy Green Goods store —— same price, but it helps out the local businesses. Delivery took longer than I liked (about 2 weeks), and UPS lost one of the boxes, so I was missing 12 squares. While I waited for those, I started to arrange the rug based on the pattern I designed and immediately decided that it wasn’’t going to work. It looked fine on the screen, but add some furniture on top of it and it looked too busy.flor rug

I was a little nervous that I totally screwed up, but eventually I figured out a pattern that would work with the furniture. Here is the final result. For those who are interested, the Flor patterns I used are Toy Poodle in Coco Chocolate and Kiki Cream and Home Movies in both Chips and Salsa. AxelChips is the main pattern you see. And that’s Axel again, trying to coerce someone into playing with him and his catnip lemon.

We will probably use the rug in the media/family room once we move to the bungalow, and we’’ll be able to reconfigure it to fit in there. What’’s also great about this rug is that you can pull up a square and wash it under the faucet when the cat pukes on it (note that I say “when” not if). Yes, of course they have puked on it, and of course they can never puke in the center of one tile (or on the hardwood: too easy to clean up!); it always has to straddle at least 2 tiles, if not more. Or they have to puke on the cream tile instead of the multi-colored one! But really, how can anyone get mad at this face?


  1. brick1101 on June 14, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    You can find really inexpensive hand knotted oriental rugs on E-bay. I got my 9′ x 12′ last year for $235.00 including shipping. Beware of excessive shipping on these inexpensive rugs. They make up for their cheap prices in shipping! These are not “investment grade”rugs by any means, but they sure outshine what you can find in a box store. Be sure to get a knotted rug over a hooked one. (The hooked rugs usually have fabric over the back.)
    The cats rule!

  2. denise on June 16, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for the tip—that is a great price!

  3. […] other two potentially major issues, in my mind, were the condition of the hardwood floors and the color of the walls in those two rooms. Much to my annoyance, many people I know liked to […]

  4. […] the third bedroom “after”. The floor sanding removed all of the cherry stain that Pete had applied on the floor years ago. It turned into a nice little room and we staged it as […]

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