Archive for January, 2012

Decisions, Decisions: Basement Edition


Hardwood Floors

Ask and ye shall receive – pictures!  I started the process of ripping out the nasty, nasty, NASTY carpets in the house.  I was so angry that the cleaning lady cancelled on me for the third time, so stared destiny in the face, bought a pair of leather work gloves and decided to tear up the dining room:

Now, I knew there were hardwood floors underneath.  What I didn’t realize was how nice they were:

My rage had dissipated..and curiosity took over.  So even though I was ill, I figured I could at least start on the foyer:

And I was glad I did.  That stain on the carpet was really worrying me – but as you can see, the carpet seems to have protected the flooring after all:

And by the end of a mere 3 hours of very minimal labor, I was rewarded with this sight:

I can’t wait to rip out the rest of the carpet!  Such a simple task, but such a dramatic effect.  And satisfying.  It was like I was finally getting to know my house.  And it me, if that makes any sense.

Proper cleaning, sanding, refinishing will happen once all the other work is done (kitchen/plumbing/electrical upgrade), but this is the first thing that I, ME, MYSELF have done to the house.  And I’m very pleased.  That’ll do pig.  That’ll do.

Home De(s)pot

No home renovation blog would be complete without a post (read: rant) about Home Depot.  So here is mine.

I would first like to start by saying that if I had to rate my confidence with a drill and hammer, I’d give myself a 7 of out 10.  For the most part, I know my way around power tools and between theater sets and the Peace Corps, I don’t shy away from DIY projects.  Show me how to do it once or twice and send me on my way.

That said, the sheer volume and scale of Home Depot can’t help but be daunting.  There is a Home Depot in the District, and I appreciate them for opening a location in my city.  I will continue to use this store when necessary, as their staff are friendly and helpful whenever I have a question.

The Home Depot in Falls Church, VA, however is a completely different story.  My friends and I asked a staff member for help three times, but he kept telling us to wait for “the drill guy.”  When the drill guy didn’t show up, he came back to us to ask what we needed the drill for anyways.  When I said I was mounting a TV on to a brick wall, he literally laughed in my face.  “Who is going to do this?  YOU? Hahahahah!”  I’m not a particularly sensitive person, but between their complete lack of helpfulness and this blatant sexist reaction – I was pissed.

When “the drill guy” finally showed up, he said any drill would do and walked away.  Then finally another employee walked in our direction and basically confirmed our finds to be “adequate” and we got the hell out of there as soon as we could.

I’ve heard a number of people say, “I hear Lowe’s is better.”  I’ve also heard that you can actually go online at or and pre-order all your things and they’ll collect it all and have your order ready for pick up at customer service.  I haven’t embarked on any substantial projects that would require pre-ordering…but it’s definitely something to think about once I start with the flooring.  And the paint.  And the kitchen.  And the basement.  And the windows.

PS – I love Strosniders.  And if I had the money, I’d use their services for everything related to my home.  But at is stands, I can’t.

Happy Thomas Crapper Day!

Today, January 17th is the anniversary of the flush toilet.  Don’t believe me?  Well, I heard it on the radio this morning and it made me smile.  For two reasons:

1) The name of the gentleman attributed with the mass production and popularity of flush toilets is named “Thomas Crapper.” Which, as far as I am concerned, is the reason we have developed the phrase, “taking a crap.”  How amazing is that?

2) It falls perfectly in line with my latest adventure involving home ownership.

Without going into too much gory detail, I needed a new toilet.  So upon the recommendation of a friend who lives on the hill, I contacted Grayton Plumbing.  Now, this probably goes without saying, but friends, be sure to take referral considerations from people within your own tax bracket!  Grayton was perfectly convenient, nice and for the most part, on time.  Thomas the Plumber, when he arrived 10 mins after their 2 hour window arrival time expired, was very accommodating and helpful.  After half an hour of being unable to unclog the toilet, it was clear that the only alternative I had left was to replace the whole toilet.  Which, he was conveniently able to do!  Their truck was fully stocked, but for one minor detail.  A toilet seat cover.  So that said, they’ll have to return to fit my new toilet seat cover on the thrown of my new house.  But all in all, a fairly painless experience, with the minor exception of the price tag.

Several people told me a toilet should only cost $100, plus service for another $100.  I was expecting to just buy a used one from community forklift for $15 and have a friend show me how to install it.  But getting this toilet sorted all of a sudden became very important to me at 4pm.  I was hell bent on accomplishing SOMETHING yesterday.  So, $560 later – a new toilet was installed.  And I must say, I’m glad I did it in time to celebrate Thomas Crapper Day.

I Have A Dream…

…so I think it’s rather appropriate that I start this whole adventure over MLK weekend.

Hi.  I just bought a house.  I don’t really have a “dream” – but I do have some goals.  To eventually move in, live and be happy in this house.  Quite a tall order, but it’s the start of a new year, and I’m feeling optimistic.

On Moving In

On Monday, MLK day 2012, a National Day of Service, no less – the renovations begin.  Master Electrician Tony D. is coming to overhaul the electrical system.  Carmen the cleaning lady is going to give the place a quick 4 hour scrub through.  My friend Will will help me rekey and or relock all the external doors.  And I’m still looking for a plumber who is willing to service my pipes. Ha! Yes, my cast iron pipes need servicing.  Anyone…?

Carpets need to be pulled up and thrown out…and then the floors.  The glorious 1925 Brazilian Cherry Hardwood floors need to be cleaned, sanded and finished.  THEN – only then will I be moving in.

As for the other ambitious goals to live and be happy…well, you’ll just have to get to know me better before I go into those plans.