10 February, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

er...two-story, four-bedroom Tudor Revival, that is.

If Mom hasn't shown up in the blog much the last two weeks, it isn't because she's slacking. Okay, she's slacking on her Box House duties (just kidding, Mom), but that's because she's been working hard on a few updates at her other house, which is now on the market.

For thirty plus years, this was her sewing room:

Actually, I can't find a single picture of it. How is this possible? For thirty years this room was the epicenter of her creativity, where she made her quilts, her stuffed animals and dolls, and the occasional item of clothing for me or my brother (I was the only kid on the block with Holly Hobby jeans. Those were good jeans). What you'll have to picture for yourself is a room cobbled together with mis-matched, second-hand furniture; cabinets; boxes stacked floor-to-ceiling with fabrics or sewing books; and an assortment of finished and half-finished and with-luck-she'll-one-day-get-a-chance-to-finish-it projects.

Three months ago, she began, with a mixture of excitement and bittersweet memories, to pack up the room in anticipation of the move. Unfortunately, there was no room to put the boxes, and so the packed boxes stayed where they were, in the center of the room, obscuring the qualities of late afternoon sunlight streaming through the window and the fact that this downstairs room could be a terrific office, sitting room, or even a fifth bedroom, as it has a closet--a rare find in these suburban-style homes. But all people could see were boxes and more boxes.

Mom's waving through what used to be a wall; shortly after Mom and Dad bought the house, they walled off this opening with two-by-fours and paneling to create her sewing room. The room was entered from the hall to the left (not visible in the photo). A few months ago, she took the wall out to open up the space to the living room. Any future owners have the option of closing off the space again.

Little by little, the boxes filled with fabric and mementos made their way to The Box House, but what their removal revealed was a well-worn vinyl floor, lifting in places and showing the sub floor in other spots. This was even more detracting to the potential buyer than the piles of boxes were.

Biting the bullet, we went to Lowe's in search of replacement vinyl tile. Having watched far more episodes of Curb Appeal, From Junky to Funky, Desperate Landscapes, and other DIY Network shows than is probably healthy, we knew that investing a few hundred bucks in re-doing this room would equal multiple offers on the house in an otherwise tough market. (At least, that's the plan.)

We got distracted by some of the other offerings at Lowe's--gotta get me that red washer and dryer--but we eventually found tile that is a match to what she already has in her kitchen. I think it's really the same stuff in a different package, and at 88 cents a tile on sale, it's a bargain to boot:

Mom rolled up and removed the last fragment of 1970s peach-colored rug that was left in the house; it had been at the bottom of the sewing room's closet.

Pulling up the old tile began in a deceptively easy fashion. The glue had long since lost its powerful hold and all we had to do was lift 'em right up and stack 'em in a pile. We were laughing at the ease of it, high-fiving and congratulating ourselves on what would be a fast makeover. The ones in the center of the room, however, must have been glued down by Satan himself. Right where Mom's sewing chair rolled back and forth over the decades, the tiles had melded together with the wood so that they were now one entity. Pulling them up (I'm not having as much fun as this picture demonstrates) was rough, especially when all I was using was a small, bent-angle scrapper. (The bulk of the tools are packed in boxes at The Box House.)

It took 20 minutes to pull up nine tiles, and a few splinters of subfloor came up with them.

Hi ho, hi ho, it was back to Lowe's we did go. This time, we picked up some floor filler and leveling compound to take care of the rough spots. While I was supposed to be working on that, Mom painted the room with a fresh coat of cream-colored paint. (I slacked; having rented the first disc of last season's Lost, Ted and I watched that instead. We're always a year behind on shows.)

Well, Mom painted three walls of the room cream before she ran out of paint. The final can from Home Depot was not the creamy magnolia goodness we were expecting, but mint green. An odd mistake, and one we were surprised we didn't notice. But what's more strange is that it is the exact shade of the fabric blinds in her room. So, mint green the fourth wall is; it looks good, and don't believe anyone who says we didn't plan it that way from the start.

With the walls freshly painted, the floors cleaned and prepped with a skim coat, and a new chalkline snapped, we laid out the tile:

Or that was the plan for today, at any rate. The floor is still naked to the subfloor. The realtor called to say she was bringing over a potential buyer to look at the house. So instead of prepping, snapping, and laying, we piled all our boxes, paint, and flooring supplies in the middle of the room and went out to the hell that is the mall on a Sunday so they could look at the house. Humph. How frustrating to have people look at the house when you're trying to get it ready to sell.


Jean Martha said...

I gotta tell you, it's been good therapy for me to read your blog. My Mother lives with me as well (going on 6 years now) and the last 6 months have been particularly - well - let's just say, not so happy. It's a hard transition at times. Everyone wants to be independent but the roles reverse slightly - and that can be really awkward at times.

Things are getting better on our side, Mom changed her blood pressure medication and she's back to "her old self". But let me tell you, there were days I wanted to pack her up and drop her off at my sister's house. I'm kidding (mostly).

Your Mom is adorable. I'm sorry to hear there are no pics of her craft room. My Mom has 2 craft rooms (well, maybe even 3) in my house so feel free to borrow from our side. :)

Jennifer said...

What an interesting twist of fate to have a complementary but wrong shade of paint! I bet it looks great, though. I always like those "popping" walls.

Joanne said...

iloveupstate.com: Mom, Ted, and I have had trial periods of living in each other's pockets. We took my mom to Guatemala a few years ago, and if we can survive third-world backpacking together, we can survive anything--even restoring an 80-year-old house.

Still, it is a period of adjustment. We're selling the house Mom's lived in half her life, downsizing everything she owns, and setting up a new living situation in an unfamiliar town. We're bound to run into awkward moments. It's good to know others are surviving similar situations.

jennifer: I'll post pictures of the completed-and-staged-for-buyers room when I get the tile laid.