Friday, August 18, 2006

a week of getting laid

A home improvement diary (12-16/08/2006).

Days 1 & 2


I feel so hip and trendy: bamboo, baby! Of course, I didn't feel either when rushing to the hardware store to make some last-minute purchases, sweaty and hair caked with saw dust. Seeing the pretty and well-dressed (or, at least, clean) young couples who had the foresight to buy everything they needed before DIY-ing (or had not yet had the chance to have their lack of foresight exposed), I found consolation by reassuring myself that they weren't cool enough to have bamboo floors.


Trendiness aside, there's the sheer relief of finally getting rid of the horrible tiles and old, sunken wooden floor we inherited from the previous owners.


We're lucky to stumble upon the excellent idea of starting with the kitchen and dining-room, which are tiled (see below). Work continues monday and tuesday, which I have off work. So much for the four-day week-end, this is more tiring (and less blog-friendly) than a day at the office.


Day 3

Disaster strikes. The DIY gods had smiled upon us for two days, but now an ill-intentioned one has taken over (translate the Zeus-Hera relationship to the DIY pantheon). The little that had been done in the living room is torn out when we realise it isn't straight.


Very few of the walls in this house are straight, so a little creativity and grade-school geometry has to be used. Lesson learnt: it's much easier to lay flooring over tiles than old, irregular wood. A long, exhausting and frustratingly unproductive day.


Day 4

Some progress made in the living room, but even more in the bathroom, done in an evening. All that remains is the bath tub's casing, which IVN has elaborate plans for.


Day 5

It's Wednesday and I'm back at work. Work mornings are particularly painful now, as we've removed two radiators and therefore have no hot water. Spraying bone-chilling water on yourself at 6:45 AM is, shall we say, character-building. It reminds me of when we first moved in and there was no running hot water: we'd boil some water in the electric heater in the kitchen and wash in the basement with a bowl and a bucket, next to a hole in the ground (that, fortunately, can be covered) that accesses the sewer.


Actually, that just-moved-in feel is everywhere, from the empty rooms to the late-night huddling in the upstairs guest-room (if you're in Belgium and need accomodation...) to eat Vietnamese take-away or bizarre, bottom-of-the-fridge meals (e.g. half a cucumber, a carrott, half a ciabatta and two yoghurts).


When I get home I help IVN finish the living room (we finally got the hang of the nail gun and irregular floor. The nail gun is hardly the effective monster-killer Doom would have you believe). The kitchen and dining room have been sanded and given their first layer of oil. It looks stunning. I stand back and admire our handiwork.


Then I remember that we need to apply three layers of the stuff and each layer needs 12 hours to dry and that the radiators won't be back in place before that happens. At best, I'll only have one more cold shower morning.


Measuring and cutting a bunch of little planks to fill gaps along walls, chimneys and inside door frames stretches the job well past midnight. I'm yawning as I saw. Meanwhile, IVN spends a huge amount of time cleaning dry glue-encrusted tools. A necessary, yet thankless, job.