This Little Miggy Stayed Home: A New Floor or How Miggy Got Her Groove Back

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A New Floor or How Miggy Got Her Groove Back

This is part DIY, part self-analysis.  You've been warned.

I've been in a slump lately.  You may have noticed.  Or not.  You've got your own stuff, I get it.

Last week I actually felt sad.  Genuine melancholy.  Blue.  And the word that best described this particular brand of sadness was homesick.  I miss San Antonio, our friends, our routines, our haunts.  And perhaps it's not a San Antonio specific homesickness as much as it's a tired of starting over just when I'm feeling settled sort of homesickness.  Either way, slumpsville.

What has added to this slump, if you've been paying attention (again no worries if you haven''s not all about me!), is the adjustment to 3 children, longer work hours for the husband while trying to find time to settle into our new home.  Now that we finally own a home we'll be in longer than 2 years I can really truly make this our home.  Except that I can't seem to make it happen.  All day long my wheels are spinning and it seems like I'm barely able to get the necessities done.  One of the projects I've been wanting to tackle the most is the studio.  We put shelves up a long time ago and I've been working in there on and off, but I would not, could not really commit to putting it all together.

I hate that carpet.  I do not want that carpet in there and I feel like I can't really settle in there until the carpet is gone.  B had heard me saying this over and over for a while.  At first I think he thought I meant "someday" I wanted to get rid of the carpet.  It was becoming clear that someday was immanent.  Last week he said, Well start moving stuff out.  Thank you.

It's not like I needed his official permission in a way that one seeks permission from a boss or higher authority, but I need his permission in a way that one would seek from a friend or mentor saying, It's OK that you want to do this... now go make it happen.  Coupled with a pep talk from a dear friend, I found that hidden motivation I'd been lacking and I started.

Life lesson #1--Just start.
Thursday afternoon while Zuzu napped and the girls were at school I just started taking things out of the studio.  I didn't have a master plan at this point and I didn't know how far I would get, I just knew that I felt the motivation and so I needed to DO IT NOW.  Because once I started I knew it would somehow get it done.  Because B and I, we get shiz done.  B wasn't super excited, but he was willing.  Which is why it makes it all that much sweeter that he would do it.  That guy.  Anyway it seems like some of you on instagram think I totally bamboozled him... I didn't.  At least not totally.  Before long the studio floor was empty save a few heavier items like my easel and a filing cabinet.  I'll just wait until B gets home and he can help me get these out, I thought.  Then about 2 minutes later I was all, Whatever, I can get these out myself.

Life lesson #2--You're stronger than you think.  Sometimes I just need to remind myself of this.  At this point the baby was up and both big girls were home.  Somehow I just kept working.  At last... bare carpet.  I have never ripped up carpet before, but I liked it.  Therapeutic you might say.  I grabbed a box cutter and started cutting away and had the carpet and the pad out of there in probably 20 minutes.

In no time at all the room went from cluttered, to empty, to carpet less:

Earlier I had called home depot and placed an order for 5 sheets of plywood (too few) cut the long way in 8" wide planks (They cut them 7" wide.  A mistake we would not catch until the next day when the floor was 3/4ths of the way done and we had to call and order more wood.  And then cut those 8" wide planks down to 7" wide planks to match the first ones.  This mistake cost us a few hours.)  By that evening B had picked up the planks along with some other supplies while I had removed the backboard, the staples and nails and vacuumed the floor.  We were ready to go Friday morning.

Having seen this DIY wide plank floor using plywood around the internets I knew this is what I wanted for my studio floor.  Something inexpensive (because studios get messy) but still beautiful.  I really love mixing rustic/bohemian and modern.  So these floors were perfect.  I primarily referred to these two posts when tackling this project: Little Green Notebook and Picklee.

First I sanded each plank with the electric sander.  Plywood is rough so I wanted to smooth it out a little and go around all the edges essentially beveling each one.  But I knew I was going to be coating these in poly, so I didn't worry about getting it super smooth.  One problem is that I thought I was using 80 grit sand paper (which is rough) but realized later I was actually using 120 grit (which is substantially finer) thus the sanding took longer than it should have.  If I were to do it again, I'd get a rougher grit paper.  Each board took about 3 minutes on average.

Then B cut and laid each board for me.  He placed a little bit of liquid nails on the back of each board and then nailed each corner and about 8"-10" apart on each side using a finish nailer with 1 1/2" nails.  He's the woodworker of the family so I just let him do his thing.  He had to make cuts to accommodate awkward closet spaces, but other than that it's pretty straight forward.  (Jenny of Little Green Notebook gives a little more guidance in her tutorial on this aspect.)

It took almost all day on Friday, but we did it!  We did it in time for date night even.  We actually would have finished around 4 (instead of 7) if we didn't have to re-order wood (bad calculation) and then re-cute the new planks to match the other planks that were mis-cut.  Oh well.  I did one last spot sanding on the floor to make sure scuff marks and any other sharp edges were removed.

Saturday was whitewash day.  Although both tutorials and my floor were all white washed, I think this floor would also look fantastic in a more traditional wood stain as well.  However, one of the problems with my studio is that it happens to be one of the darkest rooms in the house.  The brown carpet wasn't helping.  I really wanted to lighten it up with a whitewash--this part was easier than I thought it would be.  Just don't over think it.  I grabbed some old white primer we had laying around and added 2 parts water and mixed.  That was it.  Primer works great for that chalky, worn look.  The application is probably where I differed the most when compared to the other tutorials.  Just make sure you vacuum your floor really well before laying paint.  Dust and paint are not friends.

I rolled the whitewash on and immediately thought it was too thick.  So I used a rag and just wiped the excess away.  Since I do this quite a bit when painting on canvas I wasn't intimidated by this process at all.  I mean the great thing about this floor in general is that you're going for imperfection--so it's really hard to mess up whether it's sanding or painting.  Seriously, the warps, gaps, knots, color imperfection all add to the charm.  So that's what I did the whole way across--paint it on, wipe it off.  I would do about 3 boards at a time and roll the whitewash on.  Then starting at the top I'd wipe it off.  It was good to let it soak in a minute or two, so I didn't wipe right away.   (You can see this process in the photo above.)

When the first coat was dry it looked good, but was way too yellow and pink for me.  I decided to add some grey tinted primer to the second coat to see if that would tame it down.  It did!  And I LOVE the result.  You can see from the photo above the half grey tinted whitewash and the yellowness of just the plain whitewash from the first coat.  Same method, apply the wash about 3 boards at a time (edging with a brush first and then rolling on with a roller that had a long handle attachment so I could do this standing up) and then wipe the paint away.

Next I used this water based satin poly finish.  I'm so glad we got water based--oil based poly goes on a little yellow and overtime oil tends to yellow anyway.  This stuff goes on milky white, then dries clear.  So I did 2 coats the first day and at this point I was so smitten with these floors I was ready to make out with them.

2 coats of white wash and 2 coats of poly I was ready to call it good.  B insisted that I lightly sand the second coat, then apply one last coat of poly.  Annnnnnnd he was right.  This time I sanded with a very fine 220 grit by hand--no electric sander!--just to get a little smoother finish.  Then the last coat of poly went on perfectly achieving the smooth satin finish, because for some reason the other 2 coats had left it more glossy.

And it's done.
The obligatory before and after shot:

I love this floor.  I la-hov this floor.

The floor itself is lovely and I can honestly say it turned out even better than I imagined.  But equal to the love I have for this new floor is the love I have for just doing it.  I know I mentioned this before, but decorating my house and actually having it look the way I want--as opposed to 'it's good enough' or 'it works' or even 'it's nice, it's just not my style' kind of gives me a little anxiety.  Like am I trying to show off?  Do I care too much about material things?  I know the answer to this is no.  There are a lot of good reasons for wanting your home to be beautiful and a beautiful reflection of yourself and your family, but for various reasons I still struggle with this sometimes.  Which is another reason this floor feels so good to see this finished.  I did it because this is what I wanted my studio to look like.

Additionally tackling this project was good for my soul and my psyche.  I was reminded that I can tackle a big project and make things happen.  Completing this project has definitely boosted my spirits all on it's own, but also I know I can chose to do something about my current state of sadness and feelings of being overwhelmed--I did it with action.  I started.  One step at a time.  And it feels great.

Anyone else have this problem with finishing your home how you want it to look rather than just settling for 'it works'?  Of course time and money always factor into these decisions, but I'm not talking about that....I mean when you have the resources do you still have guilt?  Maybe not for your home but maybe it's your personal appearance, or even how you spend your time?  


  1. It looks really nice. Was it a lot less expensive than hardwood. You will settle in, it takes times esp. out of state. Ohio is a great place to live. hugs

    1. Debby--Yes it is A LOT less expensive. This comes out to less than $1 per square foot. And yeah I know we'll hit our stride, it just takes a while. Thanks!

  2. Hi Miggy! (I'm saying your real name in my head) You guys rocked the floor! I LOVE IT! I'm sorry you were bummed last week; I know we're new friends and there's something about being older and making new friends where you don't wanna be a sourpuss and unload but please if you feel down again, let's get together & explore this place together! There are still so many things I want to see/do, I'm not over and certainly not above anything! Also, I haven't moved in a looooong time, this is our first house and we are pretty much done w/ major changes to it, so I can't say I've felt your stress yet w/ rehabbing a home w/ children, but I know it's coming some day in the future. And then I will be like, "Migs was/is a SUPERSTAR!" And I'll be calling you. xo

    1. Jill--yes we definitely need to get together again soon! If these little rug rats weren't sucking all my energy--sheesh!--we could be hanging more often. But still lets do it.

    2. I know, me too! I only seem to have time in the mornings for making a crockpot meal for dinner and then lunches, then pick up Leo, then eat, fit in some playtime for both, naps, etc.!!! I really did forget how much the preschool rat-race affects the whole schedule! Also, Leo's back at his old school (long story) M-Thurs!

  3. Awesome. We have looked into this a lot, but it's our main level (living, dining, kitchen, all fairly open) so it seems risky? There are a lot of differing opinions on the web about plywood floors.

    1. Kristen--I haven't seen the differing opinions, but yeah if I was doing this for my main living area I would probably be cautious as well. I think the look is great, but if you want it to last for super long time or for resale... it could be problematic. But who knows... maybe it would be just fine.

  4. Love it. And I love that you don't just do things, but think about why you do things and what they mean to you. And yes, I struggle with the same type of guilt on and off. I wrote a post on my blog about one big breakthrough I had with this type of guilt on a trip to Belgium a few years ago: Note that I am currently in the process of divorcing the man referred to in the post, and that throughout this process, I have learned time and time again the importance of feeding my spirit.

  5. So sorry you have been homesick... I have been going through that a little (ok, a lot) here and there, and just have to keep reminding myself that I felt like that when I left NY too, although it is a little different because I never truly felt settled in NY due to so many student friends at that time coming and going. About home decor... I just feel like for the last ten years I have made due with "good enough" or "nice, but not really me or the ideal" because of financial concerns and so finally I really want things the way I want them. I do feel guilt over that, mainly due to the sheer amount of time it takes to put the look together. Thanks for sharing.

  6. It's gorgeous!!

  7. Hi Migs, hope I'm not prying here but I have been trying to find some info of Reagan and Pip. How are they doing, if you don't mind me asking? I can't find anything more recent than 2012 and i'm just concerned.

  8. I love it! and I love you.

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