One Thing Leads to Another

I know. You’ve been wondering when I’m going to get around to doing another big project at my crappy house. It’s all you can think about. (Besides thinking about your own life and stuff.) The problem with the big projects (besides funding…) is that they’re related to other big projects. There’s a chain of events that has to happen before I can get to the really big ones. This post is about that chain. (All about that chain. ‘Bout that chain. No project.)

This is  my kitchen. (Using the term loosely there…) I desperately want to have a real kitchen, but I can’t even think of that until I do the floor.

Having an open floor plan means my kitchen and living room will have the same floor. It will be wood. I am in love with walnut, but I hear it’s a very soft wood and I’ll probably be sorry if I install it. I’m trying to decide if I care more about the beautiful color and grain than the durability. The jury is still out. But I don’t need to make a decision yet because before I can do the kitchen and living room floor, I really need to do the dining room floor.

I’m going to put some sort of tile in here. I have some ideas, but nothing definite. So why is it important to do the tile floor first? Well, because tiling floors is messy. And before I can even do the tile, I have to level the floor with concrete. Concrete is abrasive. I don’t want to install beautiful wood floors only to have them ruined because my messy, abrasive tile project overstepped its boundaries. So what’s stopping me from tiling? This.

I bought a pool table. It’s totally in the way. It’s eventually going in the basement. Why didn’t I put it down there to begin with?

Because this is what’s happening in my basement. These boxes have been packed for the last 5 years. I don’t even know what’s in them. I need to bring them all upstairs so I can open them and sort out what to sell in my monster yard sale this spring. The stuff I’m keeping needs a place to go, so I really need to organize my garage.

I have storage ideas in mind, but I can’t build anything until I finish taping and spackling the walls. And I can’t finish the walls…

…until the weather gets warmer. I’m too dainty to spackle in the cold. I am a delicate little flower.

Yeah, right. You know I’m a bad ass. I just really hate the cold…

So, there you have it. Remember the old lady who swallowed the fly? (I don’t know why she swallowed a fly. Perhaps she’ll die.) She’s a distant relative of mine…

There once was a girl who waited for spring. Winter sucks, so she waited for spring… She waited for spring to spackle her walls. She spackled her walls to organize her garage. She organized her garage to make room for the boxes. She moved the boxes to make room for the pool table. She moved the table so she could tile. She needed to tile before installing the wood floor. She installed the wood floor to get a kitchen. I don’t know why she wanted a kitchen…

She doesn’t cook.

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  • Kristen

    As always, you are hilarious. You have your work cut out, but like you said, you are a badass. Looking forward to seeing all the finished projects leading up to the kitchen!

  • Carol D

    This is SO true! There is so much I need to do, but before I do the thing I want most, need to do others. Just like your post.
    Keep going – we’ll get there someday!
    I enjoy your blog.

    • My Crappy House

      It sucks how everything is so dependent on everything else. If I can get the dining room tiled this year, I’ll be happy!

  • Carole Strom

    Love watching your progress – LOVE the pool table – eating is over- rated! One thing does lead to another. Flow chart complete, you’re going to LOVE that kitchen!
    PS: I would tile around the table and leave it where it is! Much better to play on main floor!

    • My Crappy House

      You’d be surprised how much clearance a pool table needs to be able to play! I absolutely would keep the pool table in the dining room if the room was big enough, but, unfortunately, it’s not. To the basement, it must go! But my basement is going to look awesome one day, so it won’t be so bad.

  • Andrea

    Very funny post! But couldn’t you move the pool table over onto the place where the wood floors will eventually go while you tile? Then once the tile is set you can move it back there. Then you don’t have to wait til the basement is cleared out for the rest of the chain.

    • My Crappy House

      That would definitely work in theory, but the time it will take me to do all of that other stuff is the time I need anyway to save the money to install my beautiful floor. Plus I need to change my mind on the floor at least another 47 times, so I’m in no rush.

  • Kim

    My husband and I have done enough renovations to know exactly what you are talking about. Put it this way, I don’t use the word EASY anymore, because it never ends up the way I envision. Well the end result does, but on the way there, something always comes up or happens that was unforeseen.

    Look forward to your future posts. Always entertaining.

    • My Crappy House

      Things NEVER go like I think they will. Remember, I’m the girl who gutted her entire house 2 months before moving in and seriously thought she could put it all back together INCLUDING A REMODEL by herself. Now I add in extra time for naivete…

  • Missy

    Your best post yet! Loved it!! If you need help moving boxes later in the spring, call me. I’ll give you the phone number to someone who can help.

  • Cheryl

    LOL!! I am doing the same thing. We just put down Allure plank flooring and love it! Ours is in oak and I don’t know if they have walnut but it holds up great with two oversized dogs. It is the type you lay on the floor and has a very sticky backing. No prep work as far as doing anything to the old floor except make sure it is clean. We have had our Kitchen flooring for a year and a half and just put down the bathroom and living room right before Thanksgiving. We are loving it and it was very easy to install and very inexpensive. Love your crappy house and all you have done so far.

    • My Crappy House

      While I’m dead set on nailing down solid hardwood in my living room and kitchen, you’ve definitely got me thinking about the basement. I was thinking tile, but maybe vinyl is the way to go. Hmm…

  • Cecile Lowrey

    I see you! I have lived with my sister for 9+ years now and we are trying to get this 1950 house under control. After a few years with only the inefficient fireplace and space heaters we got a furnace installed a couple years ago. Best thing ever. We may get it paid for before we kick off?! The wood kitchen flooring has been acclimating for about three years now, my sister wants the dishwasher in first but we have to reconfigure the cabinets, reroute the electric, on and on and on. The garage is full so the house is filling up too. I am slowly getting my sister to part with some things, like our deceased 10 years now brother’s filing cabinets of papers!! I could go on but I better not.

  • Sharon Turner

    Rather than thinking about all that remains, just look at your new bathroom and office and sigh with relief. You’re nearly there. And the living room is coming together … hell, you just put in a brick wall. Doesn’t that count for something? By the way, I have a wonderful comfy (not chic) kitchen in my rental, and it’s my favorite room. I don’t cook either, but I love having my morning coffee there and admiring all of my red accessories (I love red!). So, in actuality, cooking has absolutely nothing to do with having a wonderful kitchen! Are you somehow going to keep your fantastic kitchen sink?

    • My Crappy House

      Oh, don’t get me wrong! I know I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m definitely not whining. I’m just keeping everything in perspective. I absolutely agree with you about the kitchen. I’m sure my favorite thing about it won’t be the function, but how it looks. Although, I might really enjoy both the form AND function of a dishwasher… I’ve been doing my dishes by hand for the last 20 years of my life. I’m soooo ready for a dishwasher…

      I would assume you’re kidding about my plastic laundry sink, but in case you actually do think it’s fantastic, you can totally have it when I’m done with it

  • mom

    LOL you are so funny. I’d like to take credit for your sense of humor but you blow me away. By the way, Missy sounds like my type of person I can see why you’re friends. Just think Spring is just around the corner.

  • John @ AZ DIY Guy

    Excellent post. You’ve perfectly illustrated DIY paralysis. If you are like me, and put your mind to it, you won’t stop at waiting for Springtime.

    Indeed, further barriers can be found on this path that will inevitably lead you, full circle, back to the beginning. You’ll know it when you get to,“… and before that, I really should finish the kitchen.” aaaaghhh!

    • My Crappy House

      Oh no. This will get more elaborate? I thought the kitchen was the pinnacle… If this loops around, we are definitely in The Matrix…

    • My Crappy House

      You are right on both counts. But, as woods go, yeah… walnut is pretty soft. There’s a hardness scale called Janka where each wood has a rating based on how many pounds it takes to embed a (roughly) half inch steel ball to half it’s diameter into the wood. Black Walnut is only 1010. White Oak is 1360. Hickory is 1820, which is considered very hard, but Brazilian Walnut is a whopping 3684! Lots to consider here…

  • Sharon Turner

    Excuse me … is that sink really plastic?! Where on earth did you find that? It is really funky looking. Wish you could send that to me, but I live in Greece! (BooHoo and YayYay … both apply)

    • My Crappy House

      Lucky you, living in Greece! Greece is too good for a cheap, plastic laundry sink anyway…

      I bought it at Lowes. $100 bucks included the faucet too. It will definitely be a Craigslist special one day…

  • spiffi

    Oh this made me laugh!

    I don’t have anywhere the length of chain you have, but every time I look at my horrible kitchen counters, and think, “I should just replace them” – I realize that I really should replace the sink too, and the cabinets need to be refinished or replaced, and …I do nothing.

    I have started saving a tiny bit of money every month to pay for all these things though – so there’s that…

    • My Crappy House

      Well you can’t do any of it without the money, so that makes doing nothing perfectly valid. I love when I have a valid reason for inactivity other than just being lazy

  • Jim Wulforst

    You rock. Been traveling the world for the last 32 days with the USAF and am dying to get home to NC again. Looks we had as much snow there as you had on LI. Keep the blog going. It’s awful weather here at Ramstein AFB in Germany and you made my day with your updates! Sincerely, jim

    • My Crappy House

      Hey Jim! Thanks for the kind words. I suspect the snow you got in NC is gone or nearly so. Not the case here in NY. This winter has sucked big time! I have snow rage…

  • Jengland

    I thought all renovations go that way- I have 90% of my household belonging in storage for almost a year now because I need to build shelving in the garage! That is where my chain reaction starts. Also look into that vinyl plank flooring for your basement. I did the click planks. Very diy friendly- few tools -hard to mess up-Holds up to my 4 legged family-easier than laminate or tile to install. I’ve just finished 1200 square ft of it. (Sore knees)

    • My Crappy House

      Gotta have knee pads! I’m really considering the vinyl for the basement. I have to investigate and see if there’s moisture in my basement floor. I’m even considering just doing polished concrete as well. Of course I need to get all of these stupid boxes out of there before I can do anything… That damned chain!

  • Whitney of WorthyStyle

    LOTS of work. If it makes you feel any better, my husband and I bought our house in 2009, I graduated from college in 2011, and it’s only now that we are starting on ANY home projects. Okay, so we redid the dinky deck the previous owner had, but that was more replace rotting boards than anything else. So… lady, I feel you.

    • My Crappy House

      I might be in a better position had I not gutted my entire house at once, but I wouldn’t do it differently. At least now every project gets me closer to having it whole again. It’s nice you have a DIY team. You and your husband should be able to plow through some projects in double time

  • sadie_sonic

    feel free to make your kitchen a different flooring than you living room. an open floor plan doesn’t mean you have to have the same floor for everything. there are plenty of ways to make the transition from one material to the other look beautiful. i work in interior architecture, so i’m happy to give advise. or just listen to all the crappy stuff you don’t want to do. it’s gonna rock, girl! keep going!

    • My Crappy House

      Oh, I know they don’t need to be the same floor, but they will be. I think a seamless floor opens up the space visually. It’s always been my plan to have wood throughout. It’s going to look awesome! (Someday…)

  • Amee

    We have gutted and restored a two-story four square house over the past few years. We have heart of pine original floors upstairs that we were able to save and refinish but we couldn’t save the original floors downstairs so we went with wide cut white oak. Although both are beautiful, the difference in durability is striking and something we hadn’t anticipated. Drop a coffee mug on the pine floor and you have a new dent. Push a chair instead of lifting it and there’s a nice long scratch adding character to the floor. Not the case with the white oak, at all. We’ve had so much heartburn over the lack of durability of the heart of pine floors – definitely exacerbated by our desire to preserve them for the long term because of their vintage character. Our concern over protecting the floors has limited our activities and furnishing selections and resulted in more rugs than I’d normally use, just to protect the floor (which kind of defeats the purpose)! We’d really be in trouble if the soft wood was on the first floor where so much additional activity takes place. They are definitely beautiful floors, though, it’s just worrying trying to keep them that way. That’s been our experience – I realize walnut is harder than pine. One more thought – if you haven’t already, check out Waterlox for a possible wood floor finish.

    Good luck – they will be beautiful regardless of what you select.

    • My Crappy House

      When I was a kid my mom’s dining table was pine. I could dent it with my fingernail. You’re so right – I don’t want to worry about how I live on my floors. A friend of mine who is a “floor guy” told me only his rich customers get walnut because they can afford to refinish it every few years. I’m certainly not a rich customer… And who the hell would even want to refinish a floor every few years?? I know I won’t end up doing walnut, but I’m so mad at mother nature for making it a soft wood. It’s so pretty! Hickory has a beautiful grain, but it doesn’t take stain well and it’s too light for me in its natural state. I might play around with some samples though – maybe a wood conditioner will help. I may very well end up with white oak with a walnut stain. I’ll definitely check out Waterlox. There’s so much to consider. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. It helps to hear from people actually living with the softer floors. I can’t even imagine having a pine floor!

  • the misfit

    I know you’re not looking for suggestions here and this is mostly comic relief (and very comic it is, too), but I get antsy when I have a long to-do list for the house, so my inclination is – where can I put a break in this chain? Obviously you can spackle on the first warm day, because spackle is cheap anyway (and I would recommend this), but while spackling is unpleasant it is straightforward, and your garage WALLS will be done in no time – but that says nothing of the storage. To do the storage, you have to make many decisions. That could be a year-long detour, and then what will become of the kitchen? This is not the path I would take. I would look to shortcut something else. The weak link looks to me to be the basement – you could stack those boxes into a corner and fit the pool table in there. There wouldn’t be enough room to PLAY pool, but there also isn’t in your dining room. You could also invest in some rosin paper for your kitchen/living room floor when you redo the floor in the dining room, enabling you to tackle the wood flooring first of all. That’s actually where I’d go with it – when all the projects are large and daunting, do the one about which you have the most passion. Then, the remaining list is collectively less daunting, plus you have one (more) impressive finished project to remind you that you can, in fact, do anything.

    I nailed down oak floors on my porch and they appear to be indestructible. They were cheap, too, and much easier to install than I expected. (Tongue-and-groove that I face-nailed so I didn’t have to rent a floor nailer.) And you can stain them dark – I actually diluted some “American walnut” stain (Varathane) but at full strength it would be quite dark.

    • My Crappy House

      Thanks so much for actually putting some thought into my predicament! I have to confess that I did leave out a crucial piece of the puzzle for comedic effect. The REAL reason I can’t move my pool table downstairs is because I plan to finish the space one day and once I put the table down there, it will be very difficult to lay down a floor. So I’m actually trying to get those boxes out of there so I can put down some tile or something. (I’m actually planning to write a whole post on that going over my options.) For the tone of this particular post though, a picture of the pile of boxes worked out much better to help make my chain as long as possible. (Because longer chains are more hilarious…) I’m totally going to break the chain, btw, though I think I really do want to tile the dining room first. I work soooo slowly, that I’d have rosin paper on my new wood floors for a very long time. That would A) make me said because I couldn’t look at them, and leave a bigger window open for something bad to happen to them.

      It bodes well for me that oak is doing well on your porch. My front door opens directly into my living room, and therefore directly onto my future wood floors. I worry about how they will weather the weather… I’ll probably end up with white oak with a walnut stain.

  • Tam

    I dont know how I missed this masterpiece, it is priceless! Having gone through this years ago, this really triggered memories that I would just rather forget, but you are so correct about the proper order for the projects. I am just glad you had the fortitude to see them before the bad juju started happening. Great job!

    • My Crappy House

      Masterpiece? Wow, thanks for the huge compliment! But how am I going to top masterpiece… Ruh roh.

  • dbmojo

    Priceless. Love the idea of wood floor in the kitchen instead of tile, look forward to finding out which one you go with.

    I had a bunch of boxes like that *before* moving into My Crappy Apartment. The only thing that worked was a forced purge. I was sentimental, but really it’s just “stuff”. It took me a summer to get rid of it all, and the funniest thing is I don’t even remember what I donated/sold/left on the curb.

    Speaking of forced purges, next up: closets!

    Good luck with your Spring Monster Yard Sale!

    p.s. the funniest thing is your Monster size fridge with all the cerial boxes on top…:)

    • My Crappy House

      Haha when you don’t have a real kitchen, cereal is key. Oh, who am I kidding? I ate a ton of cereal even when I did have a kitchen. I just added Honeycombs and Cocoa Puffs yesterday

  • Anita Cain

    Like your blog. Gives me a laugh after a long day in my own not so crappy house anymore. I didn’t have a floor for (lost track of the years). How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (That became my motto.) UR doing a great job.

  • Malachainn

    Just have to say that in reading your posts (sorry, I just found you, my bad) I feel your pain. I, too, bought a fixer-upper, with the same two month lead time. 8 years later, most of my improvements have been done, excepting the kitchen. While I do now have one, it is NOT ideal. I remember the days of a toilet in one bathroom, a shower in another, and the sink in the kitchen being the total of my plumbing, and a gas grill being my cooking source (no refrigeration for months). I applaud your spirit and determination to build your home your way. Keep up. And keep writing, you’re hilarious.

    • My Crappy House

      Thank you! I hope my improvements don’t take 8 years, but it’s been 4 already, so it’s quite possible! Time flies by so fast! It’s amazing what you can get used to during the process. The first time I cooked mac and cheese on my hot plate I was like “wtf did I do!”, but now it’s totally fine. More than any appliance, I can’t wait to have CABINETS! It sounds like you had it rougher than I. I’m sure your house is beautiful

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