An orange without a peel

Our story so far: We successfully sanded and finished the original wood flooring in the master suite and second floor of the old Methodist church we were turning into our dream home. And then we got to the former sanctuary floor we were converting into our great room.

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Wait, back up, Driftwood turned the floor orange?

Not exactly.

We thought we had settled on Driftwood stain after testing a small area. After investing in a gallon of it, Tyler tried it on a larger area and judged it to be too green. So he sent me back to Sherwin Williams to get more samples. His uncle and I spent nearly two hours there getting three more quarts of custom mixed stain, and still Tyler didn’t like them. Too dark, he decided.

At this point, I refused to go back to get more stain just to have him reject it, so Tyler went. He was a man on a mission, determined to get this enormous floor stained so he could move to another task, so when he was told he’d have to wait a couple of hours to get a custom mix, he chose what he perceived to be a lighter colored stain from off the shelf: Golden Oak. And he had had enough with quarts to test; he bought two gallons of it.

It was our first mistake. It was the wrong color.

He applied Golden Oak to one thousand square feet of 126-year-old sanctuary floor. That was perhaps our second mistake, not taking into account the age and dryness of the floor. It drank up that stain like it was the Sonoran Desert. One hundred percent saturation.

After it had dried and we looked at it the next morning, it was … well, golden oak. Not exactly what we were going for, but not too dark, either. Okay.

So Tyler applied his sticky concoction of Douglas fir sawdust and polyurethane to fill the cracks. That was our third mistake. The polyurethane emphasized the red in the Douglas fir. If you remember your third grade color wheel, you know what you get when you combine yellow and red: Orange. We had combined Golden Oak and red Douglas fir, and the result was as orange as my stepson’s fingers after eating a bag of Cheetos.

orange floor
Here’s a shot from the balcony of our sanctuary floor after a coat of Golden Oak stain and a coat of sawdust-mixed polyurethane.

We tried to like it. We told ourselves it would improve after Tyler light-sanded again. We were committed. We could make this work. I even applied Golden Oak to the edges of the fireplace and the base of the spiral stairway while lying on the floor with a watercolor brush.

After getting an ant’s eye view of the entire expanse during that tedious task, I called Tyler who had stolen a few moments away from the work of the church to attend a local mud bog race.

“I’m sorry, honey, I just have to tell you this,” I said as gently as I could over the roar of the off-road engines. “I hate the floor in the great room. It’s orange. That’s all there is to it. And orange isn’t part of our color scheme. We have to do something about it.”

“You know what this means, don’t you?” he asked with as little rankle as he could pull together. “It means sanding the floors down to the wood again. Is that what you want to do?”

“There are no other options?” I pleaded. “Can’t we try another coat in a different color?”

“No,” he said. “I applied poly to the floor. We’re past the point for another stain. We have to sand it all away.”

“Well, then, yes, I guess so,” I said. “We have to. I hate it. I can’t live with an orange floor.”

It was a mistake that cost us hundreds of dollars in wasted Golden Oak stain, floor sander rental and sandpaper.

Frustrating, no doubt, but not the end of the world.

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Today’s headline could be a punchline in a joke, because if you can’t laugh at yourself, someone else will, right? So this orange walks into a bar. Bartender looks him over, thinks about it and says, “You know, I like you. You got a lot of a peel.”

Tomorrow: If not Driftwood and not Golden Oak, then what color stain? See what we chose here.


There’s a fine line between looking tan and looking like you rolled in Cheetos

Our story so far: We spent months renovating an old Methodist church to turn into our home/ We finally finished sanding the floors, and we were beginning to see some finishing details come to fruition.

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Chapter 34

Chapter 34At some point in eighth grade, my stepson was assigned by his English teacher an exercise to create similes for every color of the rainbow. My stepson is smart as a whip (see what I did there?) but not exceptionally creative. So his first attempt was something like “as green as grass” and “as yellow as the sun.” I pushed him to try again—to think of unique similes. I recall being inordinately proud of his teenage simile for orange: “As orange as my fingers after eating a bag of Cheetos.”

Pretty descriptive, right? You know that unnatural orange, made of neon seasonings and various dyes that are named with numbers. It’s lethal to clean clothes and furniture. Very clever. As orange as that.

Well, that’s sort of what color our sanctuary floor turned into after we stained it.

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Tomorrow: Wait, back up. Driftwood turned the floor orange? Read the missteps that caused this here.

Dressed in white

Our story so far: After nine months of elbow grease, days with the satisfaction of finishing a task at the old Methodist church we were turning into our home were becoming more frequent.

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Ah, yes, the laundry room. Oh, how I missed a nice clean laundry room I could call my own. When we lived in the RV, I used a different laundry room at every campground, some fresher smelling than others. Then when we lived in the rental house, I used the dank, scary cellar laundry room with an exterior entrance to do the laundry. I was tired of other people’s laundry rooms, tired of collecting quarters and tired of lugging bulging baskets of clothing from place to place.

My new laundry room was inside my walk-in closet. Talk about convenient—no hauling clean or dirty clothes anywhere but across the room. It would be so convenient even Tyler would be able to throw in a load of laundry once in a while!

Looking back through the mental file, we realized neither of us had ever purchased a brand new washer or dryer. We always inherited them in the houses we purchased, or we splurged on used models because as far as appliances go, washers and dryers were usually repairable. But with the laundry in the master closet, we wanted the appliances to look as good as they functioned, so we had determined we would splurge on new matching ones for the “chome.”

Shortly after assembling the cabinets, Tyler and I went shopping one day while we waited for the sanctuary floor to dry. We weren’t shopping specifically for appliances, but we had laundry on our minds, and we found a floor model dryer on sale for a price we couldn’t pass up. It had a big pink sign: “Display Blowout!” Plus, we could get an 11 percent rebate! So we invested in the matching washer, too. On top of everything else, we could save an $80 delivery fee if we hauled them ourselves. We tasked the painter with doing the closet first, persuaded the electrician to drop by with a GFI outlet, and a few days later, I fetched the washer and dryer.

As usual, we experienced a tiny hiccup during installation that required an emergency trip to the hardware store (actually, I made the first emergency trip and Tyler ran the second, ultimately successful errand for parts) but in no time, we had an operational laundry room. It was the first, fully functional room in the house.

Never before had it felt so satisfying to wash a load of clothes.

laundry room before
Our laundry room was situated in what I called the overflow space of the church. This corner is just off the sanctuary; you can see the accordian wall divider on the left and the original maple floor.
laundry room after washer dryer
Here’s that same corner, nearly finished. We don’t yet have lighting, ram board protects the floor and tools are being stored where our clothes will eventually hang, but the laundry is open!

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Tomorrow: Chapter 34 opens. You might have noticed I never posted a picture of the finished sanctuary floor. Learn why here.

Laundry … a never ending story

Our story so far: My husband assembled cabinets he acquired from an online retailer for the old Methodist church we were renovating into a home.

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white cabinets in laundry room
Who need fancy cabinets to store soap in a laundry room?
laundry room cabinet hardware
Here’s the cabinet hardware I chose for the laundry room.

A few days later Tyler’s uncle paid us a visit, and Tyler looped him into helping assemble the cabinets for the mudroom and laundry room. (Mental note: More cabinet hardware needed.)

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Tomorrrow: Chapter 33 wraps up with the story of the washer and dryer. Read it here.

Some assembly required

Our story so far: After a middle-of-the-night phone call from the security company in April, Tyler threw on his clothes at our rental house and drove to the old church we were renovating to find a dozen boxes filled with cabinets stacked at the front door. And then a cop showed up.  

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I’m no policeman, but I can only imagine the officer found it strange that a bedraggled old(er) man would be loading his pickup with boxes in the middle of the night outside a church that was widely known in the village to be a construction site.

Of course, Tyler—who dressed in a hurry while still half asleep—didn’t have his wallet or ID with him.

But he proved his ownership of the church by punching in his security code and unlocking the door. He and the officer tiptoed through the church looking for the housebreaker who set off the alarm, and they found nothing. Whatever small talk Tyler made while on patrol must have assured the officer that yes, indeed, he was the owner not an interloper, and the cop made his getaway before Tyler could talk him into helping load the boxes of cabinets into the pickup.

We assume the cabinet company had hired a fly-by-night delivery company. Literally. And the delivery company thought it would be OK to leave the boxes outside the church at eleven o’clock.

In any case, these boxes of cabinets sat unopened in the rental unit for a couple of months before Tyler hauled them back to the church basement to assemble them.

Compared to sanding floors, putting together cabinets was easy work, but Tyler required all day to put together the drawers and cabinet pieces for our 132-inch bathroom vanity. In the basement, they looked black, and I initially thought we had received the wrong ones, just like with the errant kitchen cabinet. But no, in daylight, our espresso cabinets were the perfect color. (The other thought I had when I saw the assembled cabinets for the first time was, oh yeah, we need knobs for those cabinets, too. Another item to add to the to-do list.) After the countertop was installed, the upper cabinets in cream would flank the gently arched vanity mirrors on order from the glass guy.

master bath cabinets
The lower cabinets to the master vanity in place. Above on the plywood, a sheet of the tin from the basement we plan to use as the backsplash. (In the dark there, you can see the cabinet fronts from the kitchen stored in our shower.)

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Tomorrow: More cabinets. For the laundry room. Wait, there’s a laundry room? See it here.

Special delivery

Our story so far: We entered the phase of getting to admire in the evenings the nearly finished elements of part of the old church we were turning into a home.

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With the floors in the master suite finished, it was time to install the lower cabinets of the vanity in the bathroom.

But first Tyler had to assemble them.

Tyler ordered these cabinets months ago from an online retailer. They arrived in nearly a dozen boxes at eleven o’clock one Sunday night in April. Near as we can figure.

The boxes certainly weren’t there earlier in the day when we locked up the church and headed back to the rental house. Long after Tyler fell asleep, the security alarm sounded at the church, and Tyler groggily answered the phone when the security company called to determine whether it was a false alarm.

We had, by this time in the project, experienced plenty of false alarms. We knew from the experience of just driving by the church at night that our headlights in the windows would trip the motion sensor. So we had become a little immune to the security system’s push notifications on Tyler’s phone. But rarely had an alarm progressed to a live phone call from the security company.

Nope, he didn’t trip the alarm, he assured the caller. Must be a prowler. Tyler pulled on a T-shirt and shorts—no time to locate underwear so he went commando. He stepped into his slippers. He located his car keys. I wished him luck from the comfort of our bed. And he headed back to the church to find not a prowler but a dozen large boxes stacked in front of the main entrance to the church.

How odd.

A little detective work revealed the boxes were filled with our online cabinets.

While grousing under his breath about the retailer’s peculiar delivery system, Tyler began stacking them in his pickup to haul to our rental unit when a cop arrived.

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Tomorrow: Did Tyler get arrested? Or did he convince the police officer to help him load cabinets? Find out here.

Everything is really about lighting

Our story so far: Our carpenter trimmed out our master bedroom tray ceiling with crown molding and tin salvaged from the old Methodist church’s basement ceiling. 

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crown moulding rope lighting
Supernight, indeed. Someone hopes so.

To tuck into the crown molding of the tray ceiling, Tyler invested in some high-tech rope lighting that changed colors and could be controlled from one’s cell phone—because he’s a romantic like that.

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Today’s headline is a quote from Robert Denning, a 20th century American interior designer.

Tomorrow: How the bathroom cabinets came to be. Read about it here.