Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Change of design plans

Oh, that Mother Nature.

Here's what our basement setup could have looked like once we move in a couple of weeks. We actually have a couch that's similar in color -- a base from the red family, with a pattern that can be described as slightly flowery and somewhat swirly -- that will be placed in the basement on moving day. We'll eventually remove the fake brick paneling and the shingled lower covering on the lower wall to avoid the confusing sensation of looking at the outside of a house while actually inside -- and below -- it. I get the impression that most of the basement decorating will be left to me because, as Casey likes to say, it will be my Man Cave.

So Mother Nature -- specifically Sunday's 100-year storm -- decided that waiting to pull up that tan carpet is silly when we can pull it up sopping wet and lay down ceramic tile before we move in.

I stopped by the house yesterday to drop off some things, and as I descended the basement steps, I noticed a new smell. And not a good one. I didn't have enough time to register the scent of wet carpet before my feet were squishing along like those of a Soprano in a far-off, secluded corner of the Meadowlands beneath the New Jersey Turnpike.

I didn't handle it well. It was about 1 p.m., I hadn't had lunch, and I was hungry. I expected to drop off some things, check in on a few items, and head out. Instead, I lost my appetite and couldn't control my thoughts before they started racing. Shit, now we've got to pay to remodel the basement! The carpet's ruined! We're doomed! DOOOOOOOOOMED!

Luckily, Casey was much more level-headed than I, and after talking with her, the solution was rather simple: Pull up the carpet and padding so that they didn't create a dank, musty, mold-infested den and pick out some tile that we can lay ourselves in the next two weeks. Even if we don't get it done by moving day, we can keep the furniture to one side of the basement while we lay half the tile, then move the furniture onto the completed side while we finish the rest.

Despite the fact that I was planning to wear my clothes to work -- nothing fancy, just jeans and sneakers, a t-shirt beneath a long-sleeved shirt on top -- it wasn't a particularly difficult job. Had I been dressed nicely, I would've been in trouble, or at least constrained more by time. In the end, my jeans were wet from my thighs down, my socks were soaked and my sneakers soggy all the way through.

I started in one corner, cutting the carpet into three-foot-wide strips, rolled it up, and lugged the sopping, dripping rolls out through the Bilco doors to the patio. It wasn't long before I was sweating, panting and aching, but wanting to finish in time to eat something, get back home and change before getting on the bus to work, I pushed on. It took roughly an hour to pull up approximately 230 square feet of carpet and padding. It got particularly nasty at the end, when the section of foam padding appeared to be either melting or deteriorating after sitting in the puddle for two days. That, or some glue had broken down and mixed in with the padding. In any case,

In the end I was left with a puddle a half an inch deep roughly in the area of the couch in the photo (after taking everything outside through the door in the back of the pic). A dark-red subfloor was now exposed for the first time in years, and over near the stairs a smaller section of the finished area had once been covered in cheap plastic tile made to look like a red-brick Italian piazza.

When my friend Dave pointed out that a tiled basement can tend to be a bit cold, I was excited by two things. The first is that such a scenario may help keep the basement cooler in the summertime. Those windows in the basement are not big enough for an air conditioner by any means. We can also get an area rug or two to warm -- and soften -- up the place a little. I have just the thing in mind.

Who knew that Mother Nature had a better decorating scheme in mind for the Man Cave than I did?

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