Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Terrific Broth

Tag: Living room

A Living Room Update

I took last week off and spent some quality time with my family. After weeks of stressful work, it was peaceful to be at home. We took advantage of our awesome Epic Local pass and skied Arapahoe basin, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail. It felt so luxurious to wake up and decide which top-notch ski resort we felt like going that day. We are incredibly blessed.

Aside from having fun, we also made good progress in Slav’s office. Lots got installed, and lots got pieced together. By Saturday, we had all of our books on the library shelves, and really cleaned up the office. It is so spacious now! We still need to trim out the built-ins, but with all the books on the wall, our living quarter is now cleaner and calmer than ever.


The Living Quarter

With the office starts taking shape, we turned our attention to the living room. Our living room was very basic, containing only two recliners, a record storage, and a two-person dining set. Aside from dining, we rarely use this room. Both chairs were pretty much dog beds.


Our living room has not changed much since we first moved in. To remind you, we started by removing the old carpet and brought in some IKEA furniture.


Then slowly added plants and hung our collection of cow art. Last December, we added some Christmas decor:



The room felt cold and empty for we took down the Christmas tree. We really wanted to make the room cozy and inviting, a place to draw us in and spend time together as a family. We decided to do a few upgrades here.

Adding Privacy Blinds


We hung IKEA curtains in the living room right after we moved in. These curtains are light and airy; we love them. But being light and airy also means semi-transparent and see-through. The notion that our neighbors might be able to tell what we are doing in this room drove us into other rooms that offer more privacy. We have window blinds in the office and the bedroom, and these rooms we went.

To make the living room more private, we decided to add a pair of BUSKTOFFEL blinds from IKEA. It is almost all made of recycled paper but looks like bamboo blinds, which I have a soft spot for.


I mounted them just below the curtains, so we would not see the steel rail when the curtains are closed. When the blinds are up, they naturally rest right at the window header.


This is what the blinds look like when they are closed in a sunny day. I’d say that it is very effective blocking light, which will be useful in Summer afternoons. We close both the blinds and curtains at night, and one could no longer see our movement in the house.


It was sunny and warm the day I mounted the blinds. It was the first day of good weather after a long weekend of snow and wind, the pups decided to take it in by sitting at the only bare spot in the yard, where the snow had melted:


A More Inviting Layout:

Aside from mounting the blinds, I also tried a different layout. I moved the record storage under the window and the dining sets next to the living room/kitchen wall. We have been slowly accumulating plants in the last a few months and they all could use more natural light. The top of the record storage provides a good spot for just that.



I’ve been growing gardenia for five years and had not had any success. It would have been ideal to have a south facing window, but we do not have any in this house. 🙁 This west-facing window has to do.


Bringing in a Sofa

The new layout revealed how pathetic the seating situation is in our house. We are never into big sectionals, but having only two recliners makes the room feel like a dorm, not a home.


To make things even worse, we moved the recliner on the left into the office…


One recliner + two dog beds. This screams “lonely dog lady” so loud that I could almost feel the panic. It is finally time for a sofa.

We loved a 3-seat sectional in our NC apartment and all of us (including the dogs) used it a lot. You can almost always find one of us on the chaise. It allows both of us to sit together for a movie, and it worked really well for day napping. Lucky us – during our last trip to IKEA, we came across the DJURSBO sleeper.

This 3-seat sofa with chaise is very similar to our old sofa, just a bit narrower. We like the more grow-up material and the sleek look. It is big enough for both of us, maybe with a dog or two. It can be extended to a daybed, which is perfect for movie nights. It also offers a storage cavity underneath the seat for pillows, blankets and bedding.

It checked all of our requirement, and ever better, it was $300 off! We later learned that this line of sofa has been are discontinued by IKEA. That explains why there were dozens of them in the as-is section (the showroom label is just for cashier’s convenience).


It is like meeting your soulmate, who is also a cheap date. Tell me you do not fall for it.


The sofa came into two boxes. Since the sofa and the office library will be the two largest pieces of furniture you see when walking into the front door, we chose the color brown to echo the bookcases.


Assembling it was surprisingly eaaaasy. It was also flawless despite being stacked in the as-is section.



It is nice to see the space below the cow art filled, so the living room does not feel so empty. We put chaise next to the window and floor lamp and it makes a lovely spot for reading. I can see a cat napping on the chaise already (still need Slav’s permission for a cat).


This is what the living room looks like today. Plants are happy for more light, the puppies are happy for more place to lounge, and we are happy for a cozier and more comfortable living quarter.



What do you think? Do you like it better too? Now we have finished furnishing the room, the next step for the living room is to refinish the hardwood floors on the main floor. It has to be warm enough to open the windows and doors, which means another five months. We are trying to be patient and cannot help but imagining how lovely the living room can be with shining floors and new baseboards!

From Old Carpet to Hardwood Floor


When we bought our house, we had no idea what was under the 20 year old carpet that covers the whole house. The previous owner did not know either – and his family has been living in the house for 17 years!

But on closing day, during our final walk-through, we had a chance to peek under the carpet, thanks to an ironing accident the previous owner had:



Isn’t it hardwood flooring? Our realtor got really excited and immediately suggested that the whole first floor might have been hardwood.

And he is right.


Every room on the main floor has hardwood floors underneath the carpet! And we only found out an hour before our closing! This is 95% good news, but 5% trouble – we were prepared to move in THAT DAY, right after signing the papers. The trunk was rented, the moving boxes were sealed, and the notice was given to our current rental. The discovery is a real temptation to pause the moving process, so we can remove the carpet BEFORE moving furniture in. But where are we gonna store all of our stuff and sleep at night? More importantly, Slav had a work deadline in a week from the closing day. He could not afford to lose any more time besides the move itself.

But furnishing the house on top of 20 year old carpet, knowing there is hardwood floors underneath? No way! The decision were made when we drove to the closing – move out of our rental as planned, unload everything into the garage, only throw a mattress into the basement to sleep (also carpeted), and pull the main floor carpet before unpacking.

Oh, and I would be the only one working on the carpet.

So we started. We closed on the house around 11AM, went back to the rental an hour away, and spent the whole afternoon loading the trunk. We drove the dogs and our stuff to the ranch around 7pm, and Slav immediately start unloading everything into the garage. The only thing we moved into the house was a full-size mattress.

Our first dinner in our “new” house is Domino’s.


Next morning, Slav dragged in an entry table and started writing.


At the mean time, I took off the closet door in the bedroom and started ripping off the carpet.

01 start from bedroom closet

The carpet was only loosely held by the nails on the wooden tack strip. It is pretty easy to pull off with just bare hands. It is heavy though, so I used an utility knife to cut it into small sections as I pulled it off for easy transport. The underlayment beneath carpet however, was held down by staples. Since the carpet is 20 years old, pulling the underlayment off caused some parts to crumble around the staples, which made a big mess.

Overall, the bedroom carpet removal was a breeze. It took me about half an hour to drag the whole room’s carpet and underlayment out to the front porch. And it left me a good amount of dust, hundreds of staples on the hardwood floor, and carpet tack strips around the perimeter of the room.




Removing staples and tack strips are not nearly as easy. For one, I have to hunch over and get pretty close to the floor, so it is very hard on my back and knees. It is also very dusty. I was wearing a mask with good filters.

It took me about an hour to remove all the staples and Slav went in with his ply bar to remove the tack strips.

07 strip off




Encouraged by the bedroom success, I moved on to the other bedroom on the main floor. This room is bigger, and we plan to make it an office for Slav. Again, I started by removing closet door and pulling carpet out of there:

11 office


The office has two types of underlayment:


I guess the one on the left is better? Because the underlayment was pulled right up with ease, left me smooth flooring in perfect condition. On the other hand, the one on the right crumbled into pieces and left so much dust:


Not only the underlayment on the right was fragile, it also stuck to the floor pretty well. I had to use a scraper to slowly chip the underlayment off the wood floor.


After I removed staples, Slav took a break from his work and removed the tack strips in 15 minutes:

18 Strip off office

The old(er) underlayment left some marks on the floor, but the left half of the room was spotless:

23 after office

I then moved onto the small hallway among two bedroom doors, the bathroom door, and the living room. Having the same type of underlayment as the right side of the office, and being a high traffic area, the floor in the hallway is in bad shape:

22 hallway

After removing tack strips and a good scrape, the hallway floor was a lot better:

24 after hallway

The bad underlayment slowed me down quite a bit. While the bedroom only took me half a day, scraping the office and the hallway took me almost the entire second day. For these two nights, we slept on a full mattress on the floor of the basement and basically lived on drive-through. We even had KFC bucket – something we have not eaten for about a decade!

By the end of the 3rd day, we managed to have our king bed in our bedroom!


And Slav was also able to move into his new office! The desk he uses in temporary, because setting up his standing desk takes time. But at least he was able to close the door and block all the dust and noise (me) as well as the dogs out when he needed to concentrate. This room also is the only one that has a window AC.


On the third day, I moved onto the living room. This room is 18′ by 13′, a lot bigger than any of the bedrooms. It took me nearly half a day to just getting rid of all the carpet and underlayment.

19 living

And Roxie certainly did not help. We did not give her much attention while working on the house/computer. So this girl threw a big protest by laying on the carpet 6 inches ahead of me. 🙂


The floor in the living room is unfortunately not in a good condition. It was clearly not protected when the walls were painted. The old white paint stuck to the floor and the scraper really did not help much here.

21 livingroom

After clean-up, the only area left was the entry way tile. It looks like that we might have hardwood floor underneath the tiles as well.

27 after living

We actually lived with these tiles for two weeks, and it was just removed yesterday when Slav finally had some time. The tiles was glued down onto old linoleum flooring, which was glued directly onto the hardwood floor. Even after heavy scraping, We can still see some glue left on floor.


We do have the plan to finish the floor down the road. But it is hard for us to decide on the colors without a clear vision for the main floor yet. For now, we are just gonna cover the problematic areas with area rugs.


And our front porch looked like this for a good two weeks:


It wasn’t like our ranch house had any curb appeal to begin with, but I am pretty sure that these dirty carpet and underlayment brought our curb appeal to waaaaay negative. On the other hand, it was a great conversation starter with the neighbors. We kept the windows and doors wide open during carpet removal, and met many friendly neighbors who asked about our renovation. And we got some ideas from their stories as well. We do not have HOAs, but everyone seems to be putting in effort to keep a good curb appeal. And we hope to catch up soon!

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