Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Project one: Taming the mint green carpet monster...

Dream house or no, the mint green carpet had to go. I almost gagged the first time I saw it. Sure, it was nice carpet, if no stains equals nice carpet. But the color- very 1980s Midwestern mom who also likes mauve Avon lipstick and country crafts. It had to go, because it was putting a serious crimp in my decorating style.Leopard rugs do not look good on a canvas mint green. Unfortunately, removing carpet can be a huge job, and Erich wasn't totally on board. Almost all of the first floor of the house-- the hallway, two bedrooms and the living room-- were covered in it, and we didn't know what would be underneath. I pulled up a corner in one of the bedroom closets. Score! The original wood floors were under there. Of course we didn't know what condition they were in, but I insisted we go for it anyway. Like a good hubby, he gave in.

Tearing up carpet was time consuming, but easy. You only need one of those razor blade cutting knives from the hardware store, a hammer and either a screwdriver or a stiff metal putty knife. Oh, and some tape, to hold the carpet in rolls. I cut the carpet in sections in each room. I hoped to freecycle it, (I can't bear throwing perfectly good stuff in the landfill) so I tried to cut it into the largest pieces possible, so whoever still likes mint green could reuse it.

We rolled the carpet first. Then we pulled the padding up. It's stapled down, but you can pull it up gently without damaging the padding. We rolled that too. Soon, we had pretty wood floors in every room. There were only a few damaged spots and a couple of scratches. Nothing too difficult to fix. But we still had one big problem: carpet tacks. I think these guys thought they were getting paid by the nail. Carpet tacks lined every wall in every room, hundreds of them. It was terrible. They are tough to remove, and they tend to poke and stab you because there are nails hanging off of them in every direction.

To remove a carpet tack, we put our putty knife under the nails holding them into the floor, hammered it under, and pried the tack off. That's probably not the right way. We left a few scratch marks on the floor as a result, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The realtor came over while we were doing all of this, to drop off his obligatory "thanks for the commission" house-warming gift. He almost dropped it. "The floors are beautiful," he said. "I think you already raised the value of your house." Such a sweet-talker.

We vacuumed-- a lot. All of that carpet freshener stuff that people put on their carpet doesn't end up in the vacuum cleaner. A lot of it filters down to the floor underneath. I think we swept up about 20 years' worth. Icky. The good news is some folks did come pick up the carpet. People were fighting over it on the local freecycle site. Who would have guessed mint green would be such a hot commodity? We decided to give it to a family with four kids, who couldn't afford to buy carpet for their basement. They hoped to turn it into a playroom, but without carpet it was too damp, dusty and cold down there. Mint green would do just fine, they said. •

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