Saturday, February 12, 2011

Totally floored...

Did you think I'd chucked it in?  Surprise, I'm back!  Excuse my long absence, we've had back to back weekends of interstate visitors, which has been awesome, but means if I want to give them my undivided attention (which I do), then blogging or completing blog-worthy projects has to wait - fine with me :)  So anyways, I've enjoyed my time with our visitors immensely, but now its back to business!  Today I'm all about floors!! 
When we moved into our house, we had a mish-mash of flooring and bare concrete…  The lounge room (as I've shown before) looked like this (in all its filthy blue, ripped and snagged glory - with added bits of bare concrete for good measure).  You can also see on the right hand side the step up from the lounge into the dining room…. You guessed it!  Bare concrete :)  Really, this is a terribly flattering photo for something that was so ugly in person!

The majority of the rest of the house was tiled (including the bedrooms) in the sort of pale terracotta type colour tiles you can see in the picture below.  We don't love the colour, it doesn't really match our colour choices for walls or furniture, so we set about exploring options to cover it.  Also to contend with was a crazy teal green type tile with a lovely bare concrete strip where the front door used to be….  Sideline:  originally our lounge room was a double garage.  The previous owners turned it into a lounge room and moved the front door from next to the dining room, out to the lounge room - garage conversions seem to be very popular in Queensland, especially the area where we live - they're everywhere!  What was left behind was a patched up wall inside (outside was probably patched also, which is presumably why the previous owners rendered the front of the house, although why they didn't continue the render around the sides and back is beyond me… but a story for another day!) and this lovely patch of tiles where the entrance used to be (on the right in the photo below).  I think the concrete strip indicates that there was once a wall there also :)

In the kitchen we had a very large patch in the corner where there was once a doorway into the laundry/garage - you can't see the floor in this photo, but basically that curved line on the ceiling indicates where the doorway used to be, so picture that on the floor with bare concrete from there back.  The area under the fridge and freezer was also bare concrete.

Now you have the full before picture in your mind, lets move on!  (I must also apologise in advance for the quality of the photos that will follow... still saving for the digital SLR!)  With the colour scheme that was there, the house really had a late 80's early 90's feel about it, so I immediately set about exploring flooring options that would really bring our house into this century.  We liked the idea of a hard floor all the way through (as opposed to carpet which holds a lot of dust).  We looked at retiling the whole house… Pretty darn expensive (even if we tiled over the top of the existing ones - because apparently we could since our house is on a slab, but I have seen tile on tile 10 years later and although there are success stories, there are also definite failures - too scary!!)  I decided to head up to our mate Harvey Norman and see what they had hanging around in our price range….  I wasn't exactly sure what our price range was yet, but I knew it had to be cheap!  I looked at all the cheap laminate flooring options… nope, didn't like them.  And then this flooring started to call me from across the room….  Krrrriiisssppyyy….. Krrrriiisssppyyy..!!! 

Image from

Isn't it lovely?  It's Ekowood 'Fine Winter'.  As I stood in the shop gazing at it, I was already picturing myself gliding across it from my bedroom into the kitchen to make my morning pot of tea and pouring it into my Royal Doulton cups… light streaming in airy white curtains, sitting gently on a big, soft sofa, surrounded by my tasteful modern decor (cue sound of needle being ripped across the record!  Anyone who knows me well knows that I don't glide, and I don't sit gently! Lol)  OK did I mention that I wasn't sure what my budget was yet?  Well at this point I also wasn't sure what my square meterage was either, so I grabbed a brochure from the salesman who very helpfully informed me that it was on sale at the moment (yippee!!!!  Must be fate!) and hightailed it home to get busy with the measuring tape! 
The next half hour was spent measuring, measuring, measuring… then calculating…. subtract the 5… carry the 8….. add the underlay…. and…. WHOA NELLY!  $14,000 to cover our floors in this wonderful timber?  Seriously?  I didn't recall the salesman mentioning it was made of 18 carat gold, so I did all my sums again…. And yes, it was right - and I hadn't even added the cost of labour or the edging stuff (sorry I don't recall what its called… I was too traumatised!)  Did I say fate?  I meant total and crushing disappointment :'(   I didn't know what my flooring budget was yet, but I was almost 100% sure that this would blow it significantly! 
Back to the drawing board….  And this time let's start with the budget!  Boofy and I put our heads together and figured out that we weren't going to get our dream flooring, or anything even close.... so if we could make the most of what we had rather than changing all the flooring, we would have more money to spend on other things and perhaps do a few projects that we weren't originally going to get to (like the retaining wall for the vegie patch, or extending the shade structure out the front).   So we decided that the cheapest option would be to live with our pale terracotta colour tile throughout the house and fill in all the bare cement areas, redo the area that was currently teal green, and tile the lounge room in the same tile.  But when we went to the cupboard garage, the cupboard garage was bare!  (So to speak).  We had a grand total of 4 spare tiles in the garage… I'm all about making things go further, but it definitely wasn't going to do it I'm afraid!

We picked up our friend Terry the tile and carried him all over the Gold Coast… and I mean everywhere!  If there was a person with a tile to sell, he got an introduction to Terry!  We heard the same thing over and over again from every new place - each person dated the tile bang on (around 15 years old) and said it was a generic import and we had about as much chance of finding another one as June Dally-Watkins has of shaping Julia Gillard into a well spoken lady!  But still we persevered, just in case there was some hoarder with a big pile of this tile sitting in a storage container somewhere (you never know, right?)  At this point, our enthusiasm waning, we conceded it would be best to carpet the lounge room (big bang, less bucks) so that at least we would be looking for a smaller amount, should we miraculously find some more of Terry's clan!  So as you know, we carpeted the lounge room in a cheap sisal (with a carpet square rug in front of the lounge) to get us through the next couple of 'crazy little boy in the house' years!  So to re-cap, the lounge room went from this:

To this:

Much better, right?  You can't see the whole room in this shot, but the carpet actually goes all the way to the four corners of the room - hooray!  But shame about the rest of the house.. it was still looking like some sort of odd patchwork quilt!
In between all of this, we contracted Kitchen Connection to redo our kitchen.  They moved walls and put cabinetry in different places, which covered some of the bare cement, but left gaping holes in other areas… sigh... so we were back to square one on the tiling front.  In the end, we decided we just couldn't keep up the search for Terry's family forever (especially when it seemed so fruitless)...  Terry was devastated, but reluctantly understood.  We found a tile that was a bit darker and decided we'd fill in the gaps and cover the new darker tiled areas (in the kitchen and the old entryway) with rugs of some sort.
We got ourselves a tiler - an agreeable, talented and professional young man called Ryan - who we were told specialised in small jobs, which was perfect for us.  We spoke to him about our whopping big gaps and he agreed to fill them in with our chosen tile.  I also procured a stone border tile to go on that bare concrete step between the lounge and the dining room, and decided since we were left with an odd gap underneath the dining room side of the bench, we should put it in there too (rather than cutting up our darker tile and putting a line down there - the white border tile looked more deliberate I thought).
So we arranged a time with Ryan to do all the tiling…. and he did.  And then it was done…  And it wasn't anything against Ryan, but we were underwhelmed with the result (not the tiling result, which was fantastic, but the overall look)….  Especially in the kitchen... so I promptly threw a big jute rug over the top and that was that.  I know you can see what's coming, can't you - we'd just paid all this money for a brand new kitchen, and then we put a mismatched checker board floor of crazy tiles down and covered it with a jute rug… hello!!!  I loved the way the jute rug looked with the kitchen mind you, but mismatched tiles poking out the sides?  Not a good look…..  Its hard to see in this photo, but if you look closely you'll see that the tiles poking out of the left hand side are much lighter than the ones poking out of the right hand side.

Meanwhile though, I was loving my new border step…. Awesome! 

And I think the border tile along the bench was the perfect solution also:

After a few weeks of mentally kicking myself for my stupidity (because its not as though several people hadn't suggested this to me!  But did I listen?  Nooooo.....), I called Ryan back and asked if I could pay him for another whole day or two to rip up all the tiles in the kitchen and lay a completely different tile.  And if he could get any of the existing (older) tiles up intact, then replace the dark ones in the old entryway - even better!  Again he agreed to do his best (I told you he was agreeable!)  I went shopping for tiles again.  I bought a tile that had the same sort of pattern/texture on it as our existing tiles, but a totally different colour more in keeping with the kitchen, and a different size (so lining up wasn't an issue).  I wasn't 100% but Boofy liked them, so we were also systems go.  I also bought more of the white stone border tile to put across the entry to the kitchen to separate old and new.
So Ryan came back again to rip up his previous handy work and lay my boxes and boxes of  new inconvenience tiles!  And a wonderful thing happened….  I was out of the house with Alex (I can't deal with tile dust and figured it wasn't good for Alex either) when Boofy called to tell me that Ryan had managed to get about 20 of our existing tiles up from the kitchen completely intact!  And he would be happy to rip up his previous handywork in the old entry way and re-lay them there so that all of the floor (with the exception of the kitchen of course) would now be the same tile, with no need for oddly placed rugs!!  Hooray for Ryan!!!  (By the way, if you're local and you want Ryan's number, leave me a comment and I'll get it to you!  He really is very, very good!  How many tilers do you know that would try really hard to get tiles up intact?  Not many I'm waging...)
When Ryan had worked his magic (for the 2nd time) on our floors, this is what we ended up with.  An entry way with no clue that there was ever anything other than these tiles there:

And a completely retiled kitchen that now worked in well with our new cabinetry:

But stepping into the confessional here... I won't lie...  I kind of think the tile in the kitchen is more like something my Mum might choose (case in point - she absolutely loves it!! Lol) but even though I would have loved to go way more adventurous in there, we had to make it work with what we already had, so I think we did pretty well under the circumstances....  But it does annoy me....  A tiny little bit....  Don't tell Boofy, but there is every chance he may come home one day and find the jute rug back in the kitchen (it did look good there after all!)  but at least the tiles that poke out the sides will be nice and uniform!  Bwahahahahaha!!!
Bye for now :)