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

Tag: Living room Page 1 of 4

Refinishing the Hardwood Floor

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Hi everyone! I am coming with a big update on our ranch house – we refinished the hardwood flooring on the main story!

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The old oak flooring and the decision of hiring out

We have hardwood flooring on most of the main story of the house, including the living room, Slav’s office, and my office/guest room. Fun fact, we only discovered the red oak flooring on the day we closed on house. I am not even sure if the previous owner knew about the hardwood under the carpet…But since we discovered it, you bet the first thing we did was to rip off the carpet and reveal the wood floor.

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Unfortunately, the wood flooring we inherited were not in good condition. The carpet tack strip left many nail holes:

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Tiles were laid at the front entry, and the thinset left ugly marks on the wood floor underneath.

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The hallway among bedrooms and the main floor bath were badly worn, and there were paint splashes everywhere.

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Right before the closing day, the previous owner burned the wood floor in the living room, likely with an iron.

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We also patched the flooring with new oak boards when renovating Slav’s office and the closet area of my office. The new boards have a different finish and appear pinker.

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With all the flaws and imperfection, it makes sense to refinish the floor all at once. We decided to hire professionals for this job, because they can complete the task much quicker and cleaner (more on that later). The goal is to save our time and energy for the finishing work AFTER the floor refinish, such as installing trims and baseboard. Luckily, we found a highly-praised floor contractor who could pencil us before winter weather. So the game is on!

To prepare for the floor refinish…

We spent a whole week to prepare for the floor work, including moving all the furniture out of the house and into the garage, and taping the built-in bookshelves for dust control. Of course the floor crew could have moved the furniture, but it was a great time for us to organize and to purge.

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I removed the built-in drawers to expose the floor underneath the bookshelves. And Slav steam-cleaned the rugs before rolling them up for storage.

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We also packed away all the curtains and blinds on the main floor. The floor crew will use the dust-free method for sanding, but we knew that dust was inevitable and it is better to just wash the curtains now instead of after the floor work.

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While most of the baseboards were removed during carpet removal, there was still some left in closets. Slav pried all baseboards off and cleaned the wall skirt. We would be installing new baseboards throughout the main story after the floor refinish.

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The front door threshold were also removed to prevent potential damage by the sander. So many little details!

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Lastly, the wood planks next the kitchen tiled floor was badly worn. We decided on a whim to replace them with the floor boards left from the office doorway floor patch.

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Floor sanding and testing the stain color (the 1st day)

Preparing for the floor refinish took us a whole weekend, but all was worth it. The following Tuesday, while Slav and I were at work, the floor crews came in to sand the floors.

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Y.U.M.M.Y! Even the hidden corners under the bookshelves were sanded pretty well. We were very happy with the result.

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Here are some before and afters. The sander took off the scratch marks, and the floor crew filled the nail holes and gaps. The whole flooring became very smooth and uniform.

Patched spot next to the kitchen:

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The same spot before:

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Inside the pantry closet:

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The same closet before:

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The hallway:

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The hallway before:

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My office:

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And the murphy bed/winter gear closet area:

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The floor crew also left a few stain and sealer sample. It was a hard decision to make. I want the main story to be light and airy with lots of green plants, so lighter color was a natural choice. But I also did not want anything too trendy such as grey or white wash…So eventually we decided on the lightest color with any grey tone – the natural sealer from BONA (the lower right panel).

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Staining and sealing the floor (the 2nd day)

We confirmed the color choice with the floor contractor in the morning of the second day, then left for work. Around 2pm, Slav texted me and said the floor was done!!! I could not get home fast enough to  see it.

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O.M.G!

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I was so glad to have chosen the natural sealer (without any stain), since three coats of sealer still made the floor slightly darker than just bare wood. I think this is due to the darkening of the wood grain though. The picture above were taken with afternoon light. Without direct sun, the floor looked a bit darker, as shown in the picture below.

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I think the new floor color complements the white wall and dark bookshelves pretty well.

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The crew did a good job refinishing the small corners underneath the bookshelves.

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And the floor boards we patched in became a lot less noticeable.

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In person, it was actually hard to tell where the floor patch is.

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Here is the living room! I could not tell where the burn spot was anymore.

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Here is more or less the prints of the hot iron was. can you spot it?

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And of course, getting all these white paint marks off the floor made it look ten times better.

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Although all the nail holes were filled, you can still see where they were because the damage they have caused. But the flooring there is actually very smooth. We will be installing baseboard trims soon and many of these nail holes will be covered.

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There was two places we saw the biggest improvement, and one of them is the front entry. The thinset marks were completely sanded off and it looked like that there were never tiles here.

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The only give-away are the nail holes from the carpet next to the tile. But they will be easily covered by an entryway rug.

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The second area of big improvement is the hallway. Look at the new hallway!

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The floor in my office was the best of the entire house. And now it looked even better. The floor in the closet and murphy bed area was nicely refinished too.

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You can no longer see the floor patch here anymore.

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Like these boards were always together…

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The floor patch at the door of the closet was well blended in too:

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We loved it!

Overall we were very happy with the “new” floor! The choice of hiring professionals was a great call – it would have taken us days if not weeks to complete this task. Plus, as DIYers we could not rent the dust-free machine they used that vacuums majorities of the dust away while sanding. We hardly experienced any dust or odor during the two work days or afterwards, and the cleanup was minimal before moving the furniture back. We were also impressed by how much the sanding improved the look of the flooring – almost all the scratches and dark spots were taken care of. Although there are still visible nail marks, they are a lot less noticeable. In general, the floor is no longer an eyesore of the house!

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Now looking back, we really could have gotten this done when we first moved in, right after all the carpet was removed. Lessons learned! But hey, late is better than never, right?

So, what is next? We will be moving onto baseboard installation right away and hope to have the furniture back in a couple weeks. At the mean time, I am contemplating a new layout for the living room that should bring more identity and style to the space. So stay tuned, friends! I will be back with an update soon!

Closing Up the Walls! A Basement Update

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I have not talked about the basement renovation for a while. Progress has been made, just not at the pace we were hoping for. But today, I think it has improved significantly compared to our last update and finally worth another post.

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First, drywall! The picture above shows the wall between the basement living space and the utility room. We took off the paneling here and some of the wall framing to open it to the living room. Below is how it looked like after we added soundproofing insulation around the furnace:

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Now, fresh drywall covered the insulation, I-beam, and the new framing around the doorway:

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We also removed all the ceiling drywall in the basement for new electrical and sound insulation. Since then, we have been looking at a sea of brown for a couple months:

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You can imagine my excitement when the ceiling drywall was hung. Bright and smooth ceiling made this space feel like a room again, even without paint:

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More drywall happened in the master bedroom. In addition to the ceiling, the newly framed soffit was covered and all the remaining walls were smoothed out:

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The vertical column next to the door contains the supporting column for the I-beam. It was exposed after we removed the closets dividing the two bedrooms.

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Inside the new soffit are the horizontal I-beam, a big air duct, and the HVAC pipes.

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A much improved look from this:

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The recessed lights and smooth ceiling definitely made the ceiling feel higher. Below is the space below Slav’s office, which will be our future walk-through closet.

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The space next to the bathroom will host our king bed and night stands. The pocket door to the right leads to the new master bath:

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Speaking of the new master bath, it is a complete different space now with the walls closed up:

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Under the window will be a shower area, hence the pebbled flooring and the red water-proof coating. The double-sink vanity and a big medicine cabinet will be mounted on the blue coating-covered wall:

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Neighboring the two doors will be the toilet. We asked the contractor to add a electrical outlet behind the toilet for a bidet attachment.

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It is not our preference to have the toilet so close to the doorways. In another words, I’d rather to have the vanity here and the toilet next to the shower. But the ceiling at this corner is lower due to an air duct, so it make the most sense to place the toilet under the lower ceiling. The pocket door will save some space in front of the toilet.

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With all the surfaces smoothed out in the bathroom, our contractor has started tiling. The floor tiles were completed last week:

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We chose a smokey black/grey color for the floor and pebbles in a similar color for the shower area. I think they complement each other nicely.

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Next week we expect to see tiles on the walls. The same dark floor tile will be carried up onto the wall neighboring the bedroom, budding against the pocket door. The end wall and the vanity wall will go white. We want the bathroom to look simple and sleek with big contrast.

I did not expect finishing drywall to be such a significant step in the basement renovation – all the sudden, all the rooms look like rooms again, which invites all the imagination on how they should look eventually. We still have lots of big decisions to make: paint colors, flooring, shower doors, bedroom closet layout, the color and finish of the stairs, and whether to drywall over the big section of paneling in the living space. Each one of these factors can drastically change the feeling of the basement.

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For example, what should we do with the living space paneling? It will not stay brown for sure. Slav insists in covering it with drywall, but I would like to paint it white first to see if they can disappear with a lighter color. What do you think? Drywall or paint?

Since we completed the demo, almost 4 months have passed. This basement renovation has been a slow and painful process, but nevertheless, I am happy to be at a point that we enjoy thinking about the basement again. In the next a few posts, we will discuss how we are gonna use the living space, the flooring choice, and the potential bedroom layout. At the meantime, I am impatiently waiting for our contractor to finish tiling and wrap up the bathroom. Because after that, it will be DIY time again!

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Cozy Up for Winter

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Coming into November, we welcomed our second winter in Colorado.

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We moved to Colorado for the snow. And it does not disappoint. We watched so many snow falls from our little ranch, and skied the best powder and most beautiful mountains we’ve ever seen.

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Although beautiful, Colorado’s winter is also cold. With the walls painted white and few furniture pieces, our living space did not feel cozy.

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I am not good at decorating. I can make a room sterile-clean, and super organized, but when it comes to making it cozy and inviting, I really struggle.

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This is how our living room looked over most of this year. Hanging art helped, but did not make the rooms come alive. 2018 is the year of improving our living space. Before the year ends, I set my mind on making our living room cozy for the winter.

The first order of business was to get a new rug. The green IKEA rug had served us well, but was way too small for this room. The pine flooring we discovered under the decade-old carpet is covered with old paint sprays. Before we have time to refinish the floor, we need a much bigger rug to cover the defects.

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Luckily, Slav has much better taste on rugs and is uncharacteristically decisive on his pick. Below are the lucky winners:

The Persian rug for the living room:

The Bohemian rug for Slav’s office:

LR Home Fusion Bohemian Oriental Black/ Blue Olefin Rug - 7'9" x 9'5"

Ordering rugs online felt risky, but when they came in, we were happy with their quality. The color in person is vibrant and the rugs themselves are plush. We bought the living room rug in 9″ x 12″, and it completely changed how our living room feels.

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The dogs love the rugs too. Charlie claimed his spot as soon as we unrolled the living room rug, before Slav even finished vacuuming:

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And he stayed on it for the rest of the day.

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While Roxie prefers a good chair, Charlie is a always a spreading-out-on-the-floor kind of dog. It is important to us that Charlie enjoys the rug.

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I used to shy away from feminine colors and usually stayed with black, white, and grey. But the large area of subtle pink on this rug grounds the room without making it look like a teen’s dorm. I love it.

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The second rug now lives in the adjacent room, Slav’s office.

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I adore the intense yellow color on this rug. This specific shade of yellow was widely used in old oriental rugs and represents significance and honor, especially when combined with black. This rug brings back so much taste of home.

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Do you love it too? It is amazing that pieces this colorful could make a space feel cozy, but not busy.

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Besides soft things, I also added a few more plants.

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My favorite is this Pothos plant.

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It is now hanging in our kitchen with a Macrame plant hanger.

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I also acquired some lights and threaded them in between the plants. They created beautiful shadows on the ceiling and are just perfect mood lighting for the room.

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Room by room, we’ve been upgrading the ceiling lights. The whole house came with the classic “nipple” lights, and they have been replaced with prettier, brighter, and more efficient LED lighting. But finding the perfect overhead light for this little hallway has been a struggle.

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We got this LED warm-light from Costco for a pretty reasonable price. Slav mounted it on in 15 minutes.

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It was perfect – it is much shorter and no longer distract the eyes from the painting on the wall. It is also bigger in diameter and fills the space with warm light.

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The new living space makes us smile every time we walk into the house. Seeing Roxie and Charlie napping on the new rugs also makes our hearts sing. After all, it is our loved ones that make a house home.

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Just like this, we cozy up for winter. We hope you are enjoying the warmest holiday weekend with your family. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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