Cat Creek is all about the little fixes and improvements I can make by using what is already on hand, building on what already exists, and making low cost and low impact choices.

We are undergoing a major renovation to our home (some might say “major” is an understatement); expense and consuming can’t be avoided. We are certainly producing more than our fair share of garbage, and buying a lot of material with all that entails: packaging, carbon footprint, gas spent on trips to the store. When we started this endeavor three years ago, we had an idea of how it would unfold. That didn’t happen, and we have had to re-assess repeatedly, adjust for what we could afford, change plans, revise the timeline.

For three years, we have been living in a gutted house. Rupert and I have certainly had our disagreements about the situation, but for the most part, we keep the long term goal in perspective and keep reminding ourselves (or each other as one or the other of us falls into despair about the situation) that we are doing this so that we can have a wonderful, beautiful family home without going into excessive debt. We choose to go slowly and do the work ourselves so that it remains affordable. Important, too, is the pride and accomplishment we feel, the new skills learned, the success and triumph over challenges like hanging drywall on hopelessly crooked framing. By living in this bombed-out looking space, we’ve learned more about the house and become rather intimate with its peculiarities: the way air flows, where the natural lighting is best, where the floors creak, how we move through the space, and how we would prefer to move through it.

Our plans have grown and changed as we’ve settled in. I’m glad we didn’t have it all finished before moving in. If we had, we’d have a bar where I now have my desk, and I’d have my desk in an upstairs room, which would mean less interaction (or more likely, less time spent at my desk); we’d have a smaller kitchen with an L-shaped counter separating it from the dining area. We wouldn’t have a wood stove on the main floor. Many little things and some big would be different, and not as convenient. There is definitely something to be said about taking your time. Oh, spontaneity is good, too. Spontaneity is Rupert’s domain. Mine is slow and thoughtful. I let ideas brew. I may not look like I’m planning anything, but the ideas are working themselves out in the back of my brain. 😛

So here is the real reason for this post: the floor of the main level of the house.

Making do. Necessity the mother of all invention. Thinking outside the box…

The main floor is open concept. We demolished walls and erected big wood beams to support the upper floor. The only part of this level of the house that will have walls is the bathroom (someday it will be a bathroom, but for now it’s pantry and recycling… something I will miss). Still, there are four distinct areas: The fireplace end, the living room, the dining room and the kitchen.

We spend most of our time in the living room, as this is where the comfortable seating is. The living room is where we have the nicest view outside, as there are large windows on the two walls. The floor here is bare plywood secured by a million nails. Previously, there was carpet — the carpet was the very first thing we removed. The plywood floor of the living room is the same as that in the dining area. It is not unpleasant to walk on, although some of the nails are coming up and they catch on socks or slippers. The texture and porous nature of the wood makes it very difficult to keep clean. I can vacuum up the dog hair, but dirt is ground in.

In the winter we are most often in front of the wood stove. The floor in that area was previously some kind of tile. We removed that immediately, also, but are now left with a layer of cardboard/paper stuck onto the plywood. This area is particularly heinous. I have to use the carpet setting on the vacuum, and in places where the floor has gotten wet (dog puke spots, the area where I had the birth pool for Twinkle Toes’ birth) the paper has come off. It’s really ugly and extremely difficult to clean.

I also spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen which has retro pink tile. I like that flooring. It’s funky, unusual, and most importantly, I can mop and sweep! There’s nothing quite like a freshly mopped floor to help clear a cluttered mind…

Soooooooooooo… now that we have a baby who is not content unless she is crawling or walking, the filth is painfully obvious — all over her knees and the feet of her sleepers. I’ve barricaded the living room area so that she can move around, but be contained in a mostly safe area, but she’s crawling all over dirty plywood. I got to thinking about how to solve the problem. Carpet is out of the question because the dogs will make it theirs. Same thing with those popular interlocking foam mats. Then, OMG, it dawned on me. What I really need is something like a varnish. Something to make the floor washable.

A trip to Canadian Tire made it immediately obvious that varnish is the expensive way to go, but floor paint — floor paint is the shizzle. The paint guy tried to sell me on the ugly industrial grey, saying it would hide the dirt. But, EW. I will most likely have to live with this floor for another couple of years. (And if Rupert agrees, then it probably means I need to revise that to another four years.) So while I don’t need to have perfect floors, I don’t want to hate looking at. The other colour option is white. (Tempting, in a beach house kind of way.) But then the paint man told me really I could have the white tinted any colour I like. He gestured to the wall of paint samples. “Any of those,” he said. “No extra cost.”

Suddenly a world of possibilities opened up and I was frozen by the many options facing me. It’s a nice feeling, sometimes. Options, that is. Indecision, not so much.

So what would you do?

I’m thinking — in terms of minimizing the number of paint cans required, and minimizing the work — of a simple two colour design. A base coat, with a stencil on top. But oooooooooh the colour choices! Green? Sage? washed-out white? Dark burgundy? Brick red?

I’m thinking of a green and white for the living room. I’m thinking of a deep red-purple with rust or orange or yellow for the dining area, and something dark wood, espresso… not sure for the fireplace area.

I’m all ears if anyone has suggestions!

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