Monday, January 27, 2014

Basement and Tennis Arm

Another project in the making, the basement. I don't know where the name comes from, a base and then they added c'ment and turned it into basement without a "c". That would explain the pain we had with this ground level floor/room, that is not really a cellar, nor souterrain, it's just a basic room, ground level with a lot of uneven cement to tackle. 

However, let's start from the beginning. The so-called basement. The project we wanted to tackle. This is how it looked before we started. 

Since we never intended to shoot 1970's porn movies, nor that we are or ever want to be a new trend that admires the look and feel or the lifestyle of the '70s, we thought this is not us, it doesn't even turn us on, so just lets get it transformed into something more suitable and less of an obvious statement. A nice room, light and bright, shouldn't be to hard, the walls were there, a ceiling, some doors and windows, a half bath, walls in place and even a solid cement slab under the carpet, this should be an easy fix. Some demolition to get rid of the 5 inch long fuzzy carpet, rip off the fake wood paneling, maybe some patchwork to do, paint it and done. This was before we started though ... ;-)

So let the fun begin, rip it all out! Which led to this huge pile in the backyard, tons of carpet, wood paneling and an assortment of what we found left behind.

Not too bad might one think, but this is only what we carried out, the rest that we found is still inside, and it's still a mess. Since I have to get used to the way they construct houses in the US, compared to Europe - or should I say Germany - where houses usually are made out of brick walls, built by a mason, here it's usually a wooden frame that sits on a foundation, covered on the outside with wooden boards, and the inside with sheets of drywall, that's it. Or to be more precise, in our case they covered the inside with a mixture of old stucco, quite a huge amount of big holes, which means missing pieces of stucco (drywall), since -  obviously in the '70s - one thought some fake, plastic wood-paneling might do the job as well, and this is how that looks like.

Welcome to the world of modern archeology! ;-) You'll never know what you'll discover, nor what it is or meant to be. Unfortunately there is no picture from the cement slab that I mentioned earlier, but quite frankly, it had some similarity to a topographic image from the Grand Canyon area, only in a smaller scale. Which means we only had difference of around 2 to 3 inches, which can be easily leveled with a 1970's 5 inch long fuzzy flokati rug- rather than something that can be considered as an even floor.

At this point we actually got a bit overwhelmed by the amount of upcoming troubleshooting, that we - for the first time since we lived in the house - decided to get some external, professional help. Just to avoid covering up holes again, maybe with some wallpaper or plastic bags and advise every visitor not to touch the walls if they don't want to fall into the crawlspace next to the holes.

Thankfully the helpers were able to help, and execute some necessary repairs as well as put some new drywall up, some more cement onto the floor, to make the surface more like the Bonneville (Salt Lakes, Utah) rather then the Grand Canyon. And they did, even though we had to convince them not to bother with any kind of texture, as they wanted to cover the walls with, which looked more like crocodile skin rather than a smooth wall.

They might have been disappointed in not being able to provide us with any more relics of the '70s style, but to be honest, we are quite happy with it and restarted the process of finishing it up by giving it it nice and bright paint job. Bright white ceilings - even though I still admire every painter who gets a consistent white surface under the ceiling - mine always differ a little, I don't know how those guys do it, but mine always have quite a variety of whites that I even never knew existed.

I think this is where the tennis arm comes into play. After I discovered that even after the second coat, the ceiling didn't appear in a consistent white, I tried a third layer ceiling color, this time with primer, but still didn't get it consistent white, so now it's white - yes - but more like the different shades of white you find at Lake Tahoe in the winter snow. I'm fine with it though ... ;-)

A coat of primer for the walls and another 2 layers of white for either, made at least them shine in the brightest white I've ever seen, nice job. Feels like we're getting close to calling this room/project done. Yes, there are some details left, the trim still needs his paint, so do the doors, but if nothing unforeseen happens - which I doubt - we should be able to finish the basement by the end of this week, let's cross the fingers.

As of now I call it a day, quite happy with the accomplishment, a tennis arm from 6 layers of paint, now ready to get some rest. Tomorrow we'll tackle the rest, we'll post when done, hoping it turns out as nice as we're hoping for. A first glimpse of how we envision it below.

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