The Kitchen Floor.

With my vision obscured by the rose-colored glasses that I evidently donned before every viewing of our house, I’d failed to properly take note of the condition of the kitchen floor. I knew something had to be done about it, but I wasn’t too concerned about exactly what. I figured I had a few options that involved either painting or covering up the existing vinyl tiles, but figured I’d just evaluate the situation properly once we got there.

floorbefore

But then we got to the house. And the floor was like this. Yeah, parts of it were missing. Parts of it were crumbling. The rest of it was horrifically filthy. It was really, really bad.

In the process of cleaning up the crumbly bits and disposing of the tiles that had already completely separated from the subfloor, I realized that none of the tiles were really stuck down. Over the course of 50-60 years and the past two winters of the house freezing, all of the old adhesive holding the floor down had failed. So up came the tiles, one by one, with relative ease on our second night in the house.

floorduringpaint

And then we were left with the old plywood underlayment. I thought briefly about removing the underlayment to expose the original pine-plank subfloor, but then I realized that there was actually a whole second layer of linoleum under the plywood underlayment, with an attending second layer of plywood underlayment over the original pine planks. There’s really no telling what kind of condition the pine subfloor will be in, but at BEST I would have had to sand and refinish or paint it (a decision I’m not really ready to make), and at worst I would have had to cover it all back up with something else. And because these layers of flooring run underneath the base cabinets and the radiator, we would have had to remove the base cabinets, the sink, and the radiator, then figure out the floor situation, then reinstall everything, and have the plumbing for the radiator altered to make up for the height difference between the old floor and the new floor, and…well, you see how complicated things get.

So, paint to the rescue! Paint fixes everything! Always! Right? This was my big plan:

1. Clean the underlayment.

2. Prime the underlayment.

3. Paint the underlayment.

4. Hooray new floor! Maybe throw a cute rug on top, and it would look great. (and by “great,” I mean good enough to see us through until we gut this whole crazy room someday.)

So I cleaned. And I primed. So far so good. Then I painted. Admittedly, we were doomed from the start because I did not buy the right type of paint. I should have bought a paint formulated especially for floors (usually called Porch & Floor Paint), which is much thinner and more durable than regular old paint. It should have been something like a satin finish. Instead, they didn’t seem to have that at Lowes (the paint person looked at me like I had three heads), and instead of figuring out where to buy the right thing, I just panicked and bought a can of Rustoleum Oil-Based Black Gloss paint.

When I decided to start painting (in the middle of the night, like you do), I thought maybe it looked kind of awesome and amazing. It was fun seeing the floor black instead of disgusting or white, so I felt like I did a good thing.

Then the next day rolled around. I went to inspect my handiwork.

In a matter of minutes, I worked myself up from “OK, so it’s not what I had in mind,” to “it definitely makes the seams and imperfections more noticeable…” to “Oh man, I walked on it and it immediately looks like a filthy garbage monster,” to “OH GOD MAKE IT GO AWAY MAKE IT GO AWAY PLEASE.”

floorafterpaint

I had not done a good thing.

Now, I’m not the type to cry over shit like this. But if I were, I would have been sobbing. I hated my floor. Max hated my floor. My dogs looked at me like WTF is this, I hate you and your dumb floor. I could see it in their little judgmental dog-eyes. This was probably the lowest point in the whole kitchen renovation. On top of confronting my own failure as somebody who is generally OK at making ugly things look not-ugly, we also had Max’s whole family in town during this ordeal who witnessed how bad my floor looked. Everyone could see that it was bad. There was no hiding how bad it was. So there was personal failure, there was shame, and there was also a heat wave.

Oh yeah, the heat wave. When the weather first started hinting at getting hot, Max and I bought a window A/C unit for our bedroom, and figured that’s all we really needed to survive the summer. I can deal with a little heat during the day, so I wasn’t too concerned about the rest of the house heating up like a sweat lodge. But then it got hotter. And hotter. And hotter. And I was putting in very long days in the kitchen. And it was so hot. And I got SO. CRAZY.

After living with the newly painted floor for about 24 hours, something had to be done. I begged Max to let me rip it all up and expose the subfloor. I pleaded. The conversation was kind of like this:

Me: I HATE THIS FLOOR.

Max: Yeah, it’s not good. Sorry.

Me: PLEASE LET ME RIP IT UP.

Max: But you said that was a bad idea?

Me: FORGET WHAT I SAID LET ME RIP IT ALL UP I HATE IT.

Max: How are you going to get the cabinets out? How are you going to get the sink out? How are you going to get the radiator out? Maybe you should sit down.

Me: I’LL WORRY ABOUT ALL THAT TINA BRING ME THE AXE.

Max: I think it’s time to take my family out to brunch? We should go?

The next morning, I awoke early with a hankering for some soul-searching. I got in my car. I stopped to get iced coffee. I drove. I drove really far. I wanted to put as much distance between myself and my failed kitchen floor as I could. In a dramatic movie version of my life, this would have happened at night and it would have been storming and the water rushing over my windshield would have mirrored the tears flowing from my eyes. Also, I would have had a real problem like a break-up or a dead child or bunions, instead of a crappy paint job, but we do the best we can with what we have, am I right?

Heat wave. I was so tired and so fragile.

water

In the real version of my life, though, the weather was beautiful the Hudson River Valley is a gorgeous place with mountains and trees and blue skies and water, and none of this helped me nurse my bitterness. I also forgot that at some point I deleted the playlist off my iPod I filled with depressing songs I have to aid me in my periodic bouts of shame and failure, so I didn’t even have the right soundtrack. All of this nice stuff was super frustrating, since I really just wanted to feel awful by myself for a while. Stupid iPod. Stupid sunshine. Stupid mountains and beautiful lakes.

In the midst of all of this, I had a moment of clarity and I knew what needed to be done. Kind of. I knew enough. So I went to Lowes, and loaded up on black VCT (Vinyl Composition Tile) flooring, adhesive, and trowel. Then I got home.

Max: Where were you?? I got worried.

Me: I don’t know. I went for a drive. I got us a floor.

Max: OH THANK GOD CAN YOU INSTALL IT RIGHT NOW.

Since questionable decisions often beget more questionable decisions, I decided that I really didn’t need to worry about installing my floor 100% by the book, which is why I will not be posting instructions for this particular project. The deal with VCT is that it really should have a very even surface to adhere to, so you’re supposed to fill any seams in the underlayment or nail holes or anything like that with a special patching compound, wait for it to dry, and sand it all smooth. Any raised bumps in the flooring need to go, since they’ll end up looking about a thousand times worse through the tile, approximately. Then you’re supposed to figure out the center of the room and snap a series of semi-complicated math-y chalk-lines to show how your tiles should be aligned, since you shouldn’t really use a wall as a guide since walls are notoriously not-square, particularly in old houses. It’s all a little intimidating, but manageable, and in retrospect, I probably should have done everything right instead of cutting corners.

But…heat wave. Desperation. Failure. Shame. Here was my logic:

1. Well, I’ve already messed it up by painting the floor. This adhesive specifically says it isn’t supposed to go on top of paint. But some dude I found on some random message board on the Internet said it was probably OK, so I guess it’s definitely OK.

2. Whatever, so the floor will have imperfections. You know what else has imperfections? Oh, I don’t know, how about EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD (except Martha Stewart)?? I mean, seriously, what makes this floor so goddamned special?

3. Notwithstanding the incident when all of the tiles decided to crumble and pop up all at once, this subfloor was perfectly fine for the vinyl tiles that were here before. It did it once, it can do it again.

4. Realistically, this floor just has to look passably good and last somewhere between 5-10 years until we install the Dream Kitchen (hopefully?), so I guess I’ll just start spreading adhesive and making this thingy happen!

So that’s what I did. Adhesive. Let it tack up. Lay tile. Roll out the seams. Lather, rinse, repeat, for many hours.

About an hour into this process, my friends Anna, Evan, and Ilenia decided to drop by the house to see it for the first time and have a nice little visit. Because Anna is a VCT-laying veteran herself and master of doing things VERY WELL, I was anxious about her seeing the beginning stages of my handiwork, but hoped she would just tell me it would all be OK. She did not.

Anna: Oh! Ohhhh. Hmmmm. Yeah. Um. You know you’re supposed to start at the center, so the whole floor isn’t crooked? Like you really can’t rely on that wall.

Me: I know.

Anna: And, um, can you even use this adhesive over paint?

Me: I don’t know. KartRacer23 said probably, so I’m hoping it works.

Anna: You don’t think you should at least prime it again first?

Me: I don’t know. No. I don’t want to.

Evan: It’s, like, REALLY hot in here.

Max: RIGHT? THANK YOU. I’ve been telling Daniel that we need an A/C unit.

Anna: You don’t have an A/C unit??

Me: We have one in the bedroom.

Anna: But nothing down here?? Oh, that’s…bad. It’s probably too hot for this adhesive to ever dry.

Me: It’s fine.

Evan: Dude, you really need an A/C unit.

Me: I DON’T NEED ANYTHING I’M FINE JUST LIKE I AM EVERYONE LEAVE ME ALONE.

[Anna picks up one of my VCT tiles; it bends and breaks in her hand.]

Anna: Daniel, it’s so hot that the tiles are melting.

Me: THAT’S JUST HOW THEY ARE.

Anna: Are you OK? Do you need a little break?

Me: WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME LIKE THIS I’M TOTALLY FINE I’M JUST GOING TO LAY THIS TILE NOW.

Anna: Evan, will you drive Max to Best Buy to get an A/C unit? Get the big portable kind.

Listen to your friends, folks. Max and Evan returned with the biggest, baddest A/C unit around. And iced coffees for all.

floorduringinstall

Things improved from there. I got the floor down. It looks terrific. Everyone was happy. Linus approves.

The floor is slightly crooked, and there are a couple little bumps here and there, but overall, I’m really happy with it. The adhesive seems to be holding on just fine, and I feel overall very optimistic about this floor surviving as long as it needs to and looking pretty great doing it.

I added new quarter-round around the baseboards and lower cabinets to finish everything off. It looks awesome.

after2

Here you can kind of see how the black of the VCT relates to the grey-black-blue cabinets. I dig it. I still have to polish the floor with a special VCT finishing treatment——it comes with a slight waxy factory-finish, but it’ll be much shinier and a bit darker and better-looking after the polish. I wanted to wait until we were done creating crazy amounts of dust and debris in the kitchen before getting to that step, though (which I just finished doing yesterday. Hopefully. I think.). Aside from looking good, all of the VCT and supplies only cost about $200 (I used Tarkett brand, which is $.66 per square foot), so I feel good about going for a brand new floor and avoiding spending heaps of money. It’s also super easy to clean, and the pattern adds a nice little somethin’-somethin’ to the kitchen, I think. Much better if it was just painted, which would look really flat and unfinished, even if I had bought the right paint.

after1

I’m intentionally being very vague about these after pictures because…the kitchen is almost done! I have to save a FEW little surprises for the reveal, right? Speaking of…I still need to do some final painting and beautifying and reattaching hardware and stuff, but I really want to have a reveal post up on Monday! Can I do it? I don’t know!

No, seriously, I don’t know.

Want to read about the kitchen renovation from start to finish? Pregame the reveal post like so:

1. Inspiration and a Plan!
2. The Kitchen Begins!
3. Endless Prep Work
4. Paint and Tile!
5. Cabinets and Grout!
6. DIY Wood Plank Countertops!


113 Comments

  1. OK, I have actual tears coming out of my eyes from laughing over the heat wave/air conditioner/iced coffee scene. That tile breaking in my hand was kind of a metaphor for the entire summer.

    I do want to go on record and say that this was the SECOND time I went to your house, not the first. I would never criticize someone’s floor-laying technique on a first visit — that’s just rude.

  2. You are a wizard!!!!

  3. So funny. Bunions. Good luck this weekend.

  4. “Me: I don’t know. KartRacer23 said probably, so I’m hoping it works.”

    HAHAHAHA I am dying!!

    If you ever need another Nora/Anna/Evan/Friend/Minion named Shannon… CALL ME PLEASE. KTHX.

  5. So sorry about the travails (amusingly told, as always) and so glad about the solution. Sneak peeks are looking a bajillion times better, like, not even the same room. Yays for vision and sweat equity! Yays for well-timed visits from sensible friends who understand the miraculous healing properties of iced coffee and a/c. Am rooting for success in meeting your self-imposed Monday deadline for The Big Reveal.

  6. Is that what I sound like? Nevermind, don’t answer that. Looks great, guys!

  7. Oh how I love this blog. This post was perfection. PERFECTION. Can’t wait for the full reveal!

  8. Now that I have stopped laughing so hard I thought I was going to die…thank you for making me feel better about every single crappy decision I have made while we’ve been redoing our house (which is, like, a lot of them). I am linking to this for The Friday 13 RIGhT NOW and man, if I could link to this with ponies and unicorns and shiny sparkly objects and a disco ball, I would.

    You da MAN (as always).

  9. I’m excited to see what hardware you’ve chosen.

  10. So your kitchen tile invervention paid off. You got a new floor down and an AC unit. Most people just get car rides to the airport after interventions. Good work.

    I lol’d at that KartRacer23 line. That guy knows everything.

    Floor looks great, that’s all that matters. Carry on.

  11. ugh the first part sounds like a nightmare! I have VCT tiles in my kitchen as well, #protips
    – we never waxed them and they still seem fine 3 years later
    – we had a few uneven bumps that were super noticeable and awful for like the first year but they’ve become much better and more settled as time progressed
    – this color and flecky texture hides way more dirt than it shows so it’s awesome for muddy dogs but gets dirter than you realize.

    It looks awesome! I love your new place!

  12. OMG. I have been wanting to do something like that over our sheet vinyl nasty kitchen floor FOREVAH. Question: How tight are the seams between tiles? Wondering how easy it is to keep clean. That’s the ONE nice sheet about the big sheets!

  13. oh, the drama! thank goodness for anna & evan and their cool ways.
    can hardly wait to see the final reveal!!

  14. This blog is like an episode of my favourite TV show – I get a bit too excited when I realise there’s a new post then I’m always left wanting more after finishing it. The kitchen reveal is like the season finale during sweeps. Will they pull it off? DUN DUN DUN (of course they will).

    • I don’t know, this one felt like sweeps (Part 1 of 2?) to me, between the dramatic Hudson Valley drive (which I have totally done by the way) and *special guest stars* Anna + Evan.

      That being said, can’t wait for the big reveal. Whee!

  15. “Whatever, so the floor will have imperfections. You know what else has imperfections? Oh, I don’t know, how about EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD (except Martha Stewart)?? I mean, seriously, what makes this floor so goddamned special?”

    I died over this–so true! This sort of thing is what makes your blog wonderful and hilarious.

  16. I CANNOT WAIT ANYMORE! The suspense is killing me and I need to see what this kitchen looks like!

    Also, love the new floor! As someone who is newly moved into an older apartment, I wish I could cover the horrible things up and pretend they don’t exist. I have the MOST HIDEOUS pink and white faux-marble counter in my new bathroom, and I can’t replace it or paint it without angering my landlady. Sigh…

  17. You are AWESOME!! You get many points just for sheer determination and excellent taste! (I still think your trials and travails are book worthy.)

  18. I rarely comment, but this post really had me laughing! Love the way you wrote about it, and the floor looks great!

  19. I laughed so hard reading this! Then my boyfriend got home and I read it out loud to him, and he and I laughed till we cried. Then I sent the link to a friend, and she’s laughing on the other end of town. Now I am looking at my own old, crumbling linoleum floor tiles a little less shamefully. Thank you.

  20. Ahhh that shot with the cabinets looks so sexy, I can’t wait for the reveal. I never would have chosen this colour scheme (dark navy and black?!) but now I’m in love with it.

  21. best.post.ever. seriously, couldn’t stop laughing. anyone with a home, new/old/big/small can relate to the joys and sorrows of projects that look right in our head and then turn so wrong so quickly.

    iced coffee really does make everything better.

  22. You make it really hard for me to read your blog inconspicuously at work because I am just cracking up laughing out loud the whole time I’m reading. Looks fantastic as always and I’m looking forward to the reveal!

  23. Your traumatic floor experience is hysterical. Sounds exactly how I act. Glad it worked out for you, looks pretty spiffy.

  24. “KartRacer23 said probably” ahahahaha! Love this post!

    Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see the big reveal, sometime next week :)

  25. The floor looks fantastic! And I hope you got lots of hugs after the AC kicked in because, damn. You are a trooper.

  26. I love how you tell it how it is! None of this glamourising house renovation – it is really like how you describe it- we have all been there. Can’t wait for the next post!

  27. I think the floor is beautiful. I hope you’re taking well deserved naps.

  28. I have VCT tiles in my kitchen and did everything right, and there are still some funky spots where I had trouble getting the seam tight, or that tiny piece in the corner by the door that kind of came unstuck in the heat. I never got around to waxing the floor because I thought i had to remove the factory finish and I was so overwhelmed by the idea of stripping it with ammonia and toxic fumes and death. Now six years later the finish is in terrible shape and it’s hard to clean and maybe i should use a mop and not just a rag on the especially noticeable dirty spots.

    I used all of this as an excuse to purchase a vintage eureka floor scrubber/buffer off ebay to clean and buff a new wax finish on my floors. I haven’t done it yet…but I’m really excited to try it.

  29. As we are in the middle of cabinet-painting hell, this post made me feel much better. Thanks for keepin’ it real. (And a little crazy. Thanks for keeping it a little crazy, too.)

  30. all that to say, your floor look better than mine.

  31. “I mean, seriously, what makes this floor so goddamned special?” – that line made me lol. good show all around.

  32. Ahhhh it looks sooooo good!! You are hilarious, loved this post.

  33. I can’t wait for the next post!

    I think the only thing better than your writing voice would be audio of you reading the posts!

  34. a tease. you are a tease!
    an edge of a stove
    the bottom of a cabinet…
    ;o

    that you can see the humour in your obsession with renovation is what makes us love you all the more. not that any of us are obsessed (um pot.kettle.black).

    countdown to monday starts now!!!!!!!!

  35. VCT is underrated and under appreciated. There’s a reason why it’s in the supermarket and your high school chem lab.

  36. Wait, so all the bloggers with sexy shiny painted floors are hiding the awful truth from us? They are actually the worst thing ever??

    I loved the description of your soul-searching drive. It IS hard to wallow without an appropriate soundtrack.

    • Oh, I don’t think so!! I think there’s just a HUGE difference in a) the amount of prep I did and products I ended up using for the job (not a lot, and the wrong ones!) and b) the aesthetic and functional difference between smooth floorboards and disgusting rough old plywood underlayment covered in old dried-on adhesive. I’ve seen Anna’s floors in the flesh, for example, and they’re absolutely stunning, and look just as great in real life as they do online. Painted floors can absolutely be fabulous; there were just too many factors in this case that made it a bad choice!

  37. Looks amazing! You Rock! Can’t wait for the whole reveal!!

  38. Best post ever. EVER.
    And yeah, everyone knows that when I repeatedly say “I’m fine…Really, I’m fine” in what I am very sure is a calm, rational manner that it really means “I’m Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic & Emotional…” and that it’s time to slowly back away.

  39. Honest to gawd, this post is why I love you. To echo Connor’s comment, I do feel like I’m watching a TV show, and when I tuned in today after work expecting the kitchen reveal, you threw me for the unexpected loop with a priceless kitchen floor story, just like a well-written TV drama – the unexpected. You keep us on our toes with your unpredictability and for this, I thank you.

  40. Looks great,but you’ve made me very very nervous about painting our floors now!

    • No!! Just do it right and don’t be trying to paint 60 year old brittle pieces of 4×8 plywood covered in old dried up adhesive and passing it off as a finished floor and you’ll be fine! :)

      • Daniel, you had the right paint!!! I’ve painted horrible floors with Rustoleum oil high gloss black. And, I didn’t even sand properly (just got off the big pieces of crud).

        The trick is two thick coats, rolled in different directions (so all nooks and crannies are filled). The first coat always looks bad.

  41. i love this blog so goddamn much.

  42. How do the VCR tiles hold up to dog nails?

    I can’t wait to give them a try – Daniel style of course!

    • Super well!! VCT is the same stuff used in hospitals and schools…it’s extremely hard-wearing and tough!

  43. Oh god, I’ve gone through this at a couple different houses. Well, not the heat wave / no air conditioner part. But pull up some floor, do something with it, hate it, hate myself, pull up some more floor.

    One decent temporary solution I’ve found is Allure Traffic Master from Home Depot. I think Lowe’s has something similar. The key is you can lay it over existing linoleum. There are several patterns that are pretty yucky (stay away from the faux ceramic tile!), but a couple that are not bad – kind of similar in pattern to what you used. Not having to scrape off sheet vinyl with a chisel is a mighty good thing if you’re not planning to stay too long or planning a major redo later.

  44. Joly Moly, this was such a great post. I was literally laughing out loud.

  45. That’s really funny. We’ve all been there, kiddo — but you have the fine distinction of sharing and documenting it for the world to share you pain/count our blessings that we’re not doing it/provide a road map for future generations of budget remodelers. Thank you for your service.

  46. Is it bad that I get super excited when things start to go wrong for you? It’s just that you’re the funniest when things go sideways! It’s a refreshing change from all those perfect designer blogs I’m used to reading. Keep writing forever!

  47. I keep saying wow in regards to this kitchen of yours, but wow! At first I thought you were just sharing a stuff up with us, and even then I was amazed at the black floor! But like any sensible literate person, I kept reading and boom! Those tiles!! Beautiful! I’ve never seen VCT flooring ever though! So I have no idea if its good :-) but I sure think so.

    You are a wizard of doing house things.

  48. You can do it!!!!! Keeeeeep going!!! If I can go to Home Depot 3 times in 2 hours, getting various pieces of wood cut for two stupid planters… you can get that hardware installed. Do it!! I can’t wait to see the big reveal.

  49. I misread part of your opening line as “nose-colored glasses.” And I liked it.

  50. Oh my! You are such a funny man. Please keep the posts coming. I really enjoy seeing the progress on the house. This was the best post yet!

  51. Have been constantly following your story since you redid the crazy, long, green hallway in your apartment, but never, ever comment on anything. So this is a first! I have to tell you – if I’m on the computer and laughing to myself, my 14 year old son says “Are you reading Daniel again?” Then I read your latest post out to him. I knew we had both become addicted when I got home from work one day to find him all alone laughing hysterically at your badass moment in chopping through your nailed up doors! Love your writing, your style, your house, your dogs (Irresistible Linus!). The iced-coffee fuelled floor is a triumph, and we are waiting with bated breath for Monday!

  52. i KNEW you weren’t going to live what a painted floor for long! the perfectionist that is Mr. Kanter simply could not live in such squalor. as soon as i saw that instagram of the doggies laying on the VCT, i just knew you had given in…my social media stalking skills are very finely tuned.

  53. Believe it! I love VCT floors and have used them when I could afford something pricier. I love the look, the feel, the colors, the wear, the possiblities. I once did about 900 sq.ft. in black and white check on the diagonal in a townhome. My friends went nutz over it and couldn’t believe that it was “school floor”. You did the most common-sense thing and that is why I love Mrs. Kanter’s boy. He’s a practical, tasty, get ‘er done guy.

  54. Mannnnnnn. What a journey. Glad that it ended up looking great! Can’t wait for the reveal!!

  55. Dan, you need to spend some more time in Europe! And get some friends from over here ;-)

    I really can’t see what’s wrong with your painted black floor, and I don’t know of any non-american interior decorator on the right side of 40, who would go for vinyl tiles :-P (unless they were powering something using piezoelectricity, or in a super funky pattern) I think you should’ve stuck with it, and celebrated the ease of a project done.

    And remember: Most parts of the world keep it cool without a/c. I’m in Southern France, and there are fewer than 10 houses with an a/c unit within a radius of 50 km. It’s seen as a primitive blemish on a poorly kept house. Insulation, positioning and basic ventilation’s kept humans cool for thousands of years ;-)

    Spend some time observing the wind pattern, and make sure the walls and crawlspace is sufficiently insulated. Install some ventilation grills, and enjoy a tempered house without a powersucking a/c.

    • As I’ve said in a couple comment replies above, there’s a huge difference between my painted floor and nice painted floors that are common in Europe (and becoming more common in the states)–namely that I was painting rough 60 year old pieces of 4×8 plywood covered in dried up adhesive and nail holes that was never supposed to be flooring. I think that picture looks pretty shitty, but maybe you just had to see it.

      And yeah…wind patterns are great and all, but tell me how that’s working out when you’re working inside all day in a 150 year old house (which IS insulated…with brick and mortar) in the middle of 105 degree and humid weather. I’m really not a baby.

      • I really didn’t mean it like that. I’m very sorry. I was only trying to cheer you up. My point re insulation and ventilation was simply that there’s a cheaper way than a/c. I’m a big fan of yours, and thought I’d give back by sharing some international experience.

        My house’s a bit older, and scored F on the EU energy performance scale when I bought it last year. Being a stone building, it handles 100°F nicely, but it doesn’t handle winter well. I’m more yuppie than hippie, so I’m energy improving for lower operating cost and higher resell value. The aim is A+. I’ve never heard of brick and mortar insulation, but I’d recommend checking the U-values.

        Using a cheap laser-thermometer, I’ve identified one side of the building as the highest energy consumer, so I’m going to implement a rockwool-cover. I’ve also brought ceiling and crawlspace up to the Danish building code, which I think is amongst the most demanding. It requires 30 cm insulation with a heat transfer coefficient 0,13 W/(m²K). As far as I understand the interweb, that’s around R-46 in US terms. NY requires R-30 (2010 Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State, 402.2.2).

        Insulation keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer :-)

      • Rasmus, it didn’t read like a criticism, so don’t worry.

        As a parallel example, here in Melbourne I live in a very old house which looks very charming but has no insulation, and with no consideration given to siting, light and airflow. We have a legacy of this type of design here. The extremes of climate existed here when this house was built, and when the current owners occupied it from the 60’s. The houses were built this way (and in the US too) on the model of English style houses (of course modified a bit over time). Yet the climates are very different. But it was possible to do this because energy was cheap, and you just used energy to heat or cool the house to comfort level, no matter how inefficient. These kind of houses need a lot of work and consideration to bring them to an energy-efficient state- just even the little things like opening them to the breeze.

        These houses (I mean the charming old one I live in) are a living example of different attitudes to energy. I think in some European countries, people are getting ahead with their attitudes to energy, because they are seeing how much it costs, and that it will only go up. I have a friend who lives in a very old farmhouse near Grenoble, and she doesn’t even have a fridge – just a fish pond, which you can also use to chill the wine. It’s a nice way to live but these old Aus and many US houses are designed almost the opposite way, and it takes work to uncover their best energy features…

        Anyway Daniel… great work so far! I’m seeing some beautiful chairs on your instagram, the furniture finds alone, and the place to put them, are worth it?! It will be so nice to see what you are writing about this house as the seasons go by and you make it more your own.

    • I think the climate in the south of France is quite different than in NY, and much of the Eastern and Midwestern US, actually, which gets incredibly hot and humid during the summertime. People actually, literally die every year because of heat exhaustion. This year especially they had a horrendous heat wave and everyone in NY was basically melting. To hear that Daniel was working without AC in that heat makes me feel he is lucky he didn’t end up in the hospital!

    • I agree entirely with what Angie said, especially since houses in upstate NY, unlike houses along the Mediterranean Coast, are simply not designed to stay as cool as possible in the summer. I live in an A/C-less attic apartment in an 1874 row house in Cambridge, MA, and when it’s 100F outside, it’s about 95F inside. That ain’t kitchen renovation weather!
      Also, I didn’t realize there was a “right side of 40”! And it would be a pity if it were really true that all non-Americans were prevented by snobbishness and ageism from availing themselves of the cheap, practical, and TOTALLY BEAUTIFUL flooring solution Daniel found for his kitchen! (Luckily, I doubt that’s true – I’m half-German and have lived in Europe for many years, and I’m sure I know lots of people who’d love your floors, Daniel, as much as I do!)
      I also wanted to say that though I’ve never commented, I’ve been reading your blog since you first built that desk, and I love it. Thanks for performing a public service, and good luck with all the plans you’ve got percolating for the rest of the house!
      Having said all that, good luck to Rasmus too, with his impressive-sounding energy conservation plans.

  56. Goddamn, I like you, Daniel. I basically never comment on blogs, but I just had to tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your corner-cutting and “good enough” mentality. I’m not the only one!! I can’t tell you how reassuring that is. Keep up the amazing work; best of luck this weekend! I can’t wait to see the reveal.

  57. Brilliantly written post, Daniel! How I laughed! But if I’d been there, I’d have given you a hug. You are a sensitive soul, and that’s alright. It’s a very good thing, in fact.

    Well, if Linus approves of the floor, who cares what other people think? I, for one though, think it looks great, so much more together than the painted floor would have looked. I like the light, random pattern as well, because it lends the floor space both texture and depth.

    Nice finishing touch with the rounded edging against the cabinets and baseboards, and the little silver discs around the radiator pipes.

    ROLL ON FULL KITCHEN REVEAL!

  58. Hilarious but also helpful post, Daniel! I especially related to questionable decision #1, since I often make snap decisions about things that really matter based on some random post by experts such as misskitty873, for example.

    Anyhoo… keep at it, kiddo! You’re inspiring me to take on projects that I didn’t think I could do myself.

  59. Are you a writer for Bob’s Burgers? I could swear Bob Belcher was reading your lines in that kitchen scene.

    It really looks great and can’t wait for the big reveal!

  60. A home reno and a comedy show all in one. Love it! Thanks for sharing your stories with us!
    Jordana

  61. Hilarious! We live in a super elderly house as well and nothing ever goes according to plan, does it? I think it all looks great though and can’t wait for the reveal on Monday. I hope you are working hard to get it all done!

  62. I love how you make us laugh at what I’m sure wasn’t all that funny to you at the time – the heat, the stress, etc. And thank god for good friends who can help you get a grip, right?! (Anna & Evan seem like awesome friends)

    Thanks for not being afraid to show us the mistakes & the trial/error process! Can’t wait for the big reveal.

  63. I’ve had trouble with painting floors too!! When we first moved into our place we asked the landlord to paint the plywood floor in the bedroom white (it was painted grey underneath). Immediately after we moved some stuff in the paint started peeling and showing the grey underneath. I read online that they very best stuff is boat paint or oil-based outdoor paint. I went to Home Depot, and of course they didn’t have boat paint or oil-based outdoor paint. I bought latex outdoor paint & we added another 2 coats to the floor. It of course nicked through in places, but definitely not as bad as the first job. BUt, I should have held out & ordered the boat paint online!! Patience is tough to muster when you have an ugly floor situation– I sympathize!

  64. Your’s is so the opposite of all those others, those blah, blah, blogs.

    A book is in your future.

  65. First time comment just to say I love this blog, this saga, I find it endlessly entertaining and inspiring and I drag my partner over to show and explain things and he’s starting to worry I want to buy a house, but gosh anyway, your writing is so good you make people want to mortage things xox

  66. That’s the difference between you and me. When I freak out, I just eat a bunch of ice cream or something. When you freak out, you have two different floors within a week. ;) Looks great!

  67. After all that, your kitchen floor looks awesome. You have done an amazing job on a tight budget. Nothing worse than doing a “patch up” that ends up costing about half the cost of the proper job. I am sure you will get your money’s worth in the 5 to 8 years till the dream kitchen goes in!

  68. The floor looks like a real floor, good call on the VCT. Jesus, I would have lost my mind working in a non-A/C’d house during a sticky heat wave. Thanks for turning the experience into such entertaining reading. :)

  69. THANK YOU FOR BLOGGING ABOUT YOUR FUCKUPS. I mean, truly: I get sick and depressed when I read things like “First we painted everything gray and then we spray-painted this one thing pink and it’s perfect!” over and over.

    I have a few messes of my own to fix (hello, tiling!) and it makes me feel so much better to know that somebody I admire has messed up, too.

    MUAH.

  70. Floor is fabulous! I love your writing. Your tantrum ending in LEAVE ME ALONE was great — we have all been there, even if some of us don’t like to admit it.

  71. This is what happens when I’m not there.

  72. I loved this post as we have all been there! Can’t wait for Monday or Tuesday’s reveal – whatever the case may be! I’m glad you have Max and great friends, too.

  73. If you only knew how beautiful the heart pine flooring waiting for you underneath is very likely to be. You will not get over having lived on it covered up for years. A friend of mine took off old sheet vinyl for some foundation repairs and was moved to search for a few matching replacement pieces so he could keep the entire kitchen floor uncovered. He refinished/finished–as it was installed as subfloor and the natural beauty takes your breath away. Old heart pine flooring is is a surface unto itself. Care for your subfloor as you would the finest features in the house until you can perform that reveal.

    • Oh, I’m well aware of how great they’ll probably be (assuming they aren’t super rotted or anything…)! We have pine subfloor in a couple small spaces in the house (including the kitchen pantry), and they’re going to be gorgeous refinished. Someday! I hope it’s understandable why it really wasn’t an option right now.

      • Of course! If I read correctly, the subfloor is visible from the basement side, which wasn’t an option in my friend’s kitchen. Someday when the dust settles, you could do a close inspection of the boards for rot, stains, etc. on that side to get some sense of the overall condition of the wood. Just don’t forget about that resource while enjoying your current sparkling new kitchen.

      • Yes, it is! I’ve looked at it a bunch of times from the basement, and it looks pretty good…there are going to be lots of nail holes from the various layers of flooring that have been put over it over the years, but otherwise it seems to be in OK shape. I was able to see a *little* bit of the edges of a few boards when I removed a baseboard near the chimney, and there was a fair amount of surface rot, though. Hopefully it’s only limited to a few areas and can be repaired or even just sanded out when we do get a chance to expose it!

  74. Never thought I would laugh so hard at a home reno/decor post. This floor is a great solution for now and I’m sure you’ll find a gorgeous rug to add some design flair to it. I already love how it goes with the grey-black-blue cabinets.

  75. LMAO! Great job, looks amazing.

  76. You really need to keep writing (and posting it).

  77. You make me laugh. And I dig your new floor.

  78. sir! your blog posts are always amusing but this one takes the cake. if I hadn’t been trying to be quiet at work I would have been laughing so loud.

  79. This is exactly what happens every time I undertake any sort of project which is why I am too lazy to ever do anything to my tiny duplex with burgundy colored carpet and no art on the walls. Or move out.

  80. Perhaps I am the only person who didn’t laugh while I read this? I must have been really feeling your pain! I am so relieved that it ended up looking great though!

  81. I felt so angsty on your behalf while reading this! Glad to see that you found another solution without too many tears.

  82. I get it – I have been there, too. It gets better. I once put a product (stain/poly mix) on the wood floors in my foyer, dining, and living room – took me forever and only when I was throwing the cans away(outside,at around 2AM) did I see(by streetlight) – “not for use on floors.” WTF. It then rained for 3 solid days – I left the windows open because it was 105 degrees that day…now,couldn’t get across the floors to shut the windows. Floors were horrible, awful. When it all dried out (2 weeks)I just gave them another coat of the same product – yeah, I know, not for floors, blahblahblah. Weather was great, dried perfectly, floors looked outstanding. Happy ending. Love your blog and thanks for sharing this experience with all of us! You really do have a great looking house – its going to be so good and worth all the angst.

  83. Hello,
    First I want to say that I LOVE your blog, I just found you while googling DIY wood countertops. I read a couple of your post and I can really relate with your kitchen post :)

  84. You have a talent in both worlds: decorating and writing, don’t let it go to waste…Really glad that you are writing (and posting) more.

  85. Best. Post. Ever!

    When I saw the black paint going on, I thought, this is going to be gorgeous! It might be the wrong kind of paint, but Daniel will make it work, like he always does, and then I scrolled down. It was so sad but also so funny. Stupid mountains and beautiful lakes.

    And then there was even more drama and even a happy end. It does look gorgeous. You made it work! I’m so looking forward to the big reveal.

    So don’t cry. It will all be alright in the end!

  86. Crying. Crying!

    Don’t you love how one person on some forum in the great big interwebs will say what you WANT them to say, so you use that as your fuel for the entire project? Been there, too.

  87. This is my first time visiting your blog and I’m so glad I found it! I was literally laughing out loud at this post. I’ll definitely be back.

  88. I love, love, love your blog. I’ve read this post three times now, laughing all the way at how expressive and creative you are. The tiles look awesome next to the cabinets! Can’t wait until the full reveal!

    How is it possible that you have been able to make SO much progress in a house where you live only part time? You are a remodeling force to be reckoned with!

  89. Ahahaha this is the funniest and most accurate depiction of what DIY is REALLY like. I had a friend recently said to me, ‘God I’d love to live at yours, it must be like living in a magazine’ I had to break it to her that I was still picking tile adhesive from my hair and from under my nails that morning. Not glamorous. But sometimes hilarious. And well done for getting there in the end xxx

  90. That was seriously enjoyable. Laughed out loud several times. Can wait to read more of your blog!

  91. I am in the middle of my own 1920’s house reno and while looking around for inspiration to get out of bed and work on the plan some more before I have the electrician and plumber to start (sick of working 7 days a week on the plan, while working 5 days a week on the demo and framing), I found your site. I have read almost everything you have posted about the house and OMG you are awesome. Well, I better get back to work, or I won’t be ready with the next back of questions (e.g., do you want a sliding bar in the shower for the hand shower or do you want a adjustable hook?) to waylay him with on next trip home from the city.

    p.s. I know this post is old, but I wanted to say, of all the posts you have done, this one is the best because it’s so comforting to not feel alone. And anyone who has done a major reno has been right where you were. The memory of this post will comfort me the next time I am alone in the house, covered in drywall dust or whatever else, feeling totally defeated and desperate to fix the problem that seems like bad on top of bad with no end in sight.

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