Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Project Bug

Do you know about the Project Bug? It's a sneaky little creature that will creep up on your from time to time. One moment, you're just cruising along, enjoying life and feeling content, but then the Bug bites and suddenly all you can think about is the project you must do. It may be a small DIY idea for your afternoon, or it may be a remodeling event. But once the Bug bites, it doesn't rest (and neither do you) until the project is completed (or put off for the near future, or decided against... whatever the case may be).

The Bug bit us hard on Monday. But first, let's talk about the rest of the weekend.

We had only two goals for Memorial Day weekend: get the new bathroom faucet installed (that was not from the Project Bug; it was being done out of necessity) and spend some time by the pool every day. We accomplished both. We did the faucet first, and it ended up taking up most of our Friday evening and a little of time on Saturday morning.

Neither David nor I is very handy, but part of the time spent "working" included a trip to Lowe's to return the original faucet when a piece broke off (note: don't buy the $30 faucet made by a company you've never heard of, because you'll just end up returning it and spending twice as much on one that's made by a reputable company and does work), a separate trip to the local hardware store to buy a new wrench, and a 45-minute break for a late dinner. And the hour or so the next morning was just to check and make sure everything was tightened properly and there were still no leaks, and to try (unsuccessfully) to get the stopper to work. That didn't happen, mainly because there was so little space under the sink that it was practically impossible to get the metal thing and the plastic thing (those are technical terms, by the way) to fit together properly, so eventually we gave up and decided that maybe we'd try again another day.

Anyway. The faucet was fixed (to our satisfaction), and then it was time for the fun of the weekend to begin. We went to the pool all three days. We swam. We got some sun. We grilled out for dinner. We had friends over. We played cornhole. David and his brother tried the beer they'd brewed and pronounced it a success (although his brother left shortly after with a stomachache.... I hope that wasn't beer-related). We had a great weekend. We were productive, got to lay low and have some fun, didn't spend much money, and ate like pigs. Success.

But despite the three days of success, that last day of the long weekend also dealt with the Project Bug. It started Monday morning, as I was spending some time on the couch with my Kindle and David was looking something up on his iPhone. He got up off the love seat and walked through the dining room and into the kitchen. He began walking that route back and forth, not exactly pacing, but close to it. Several times, he walked over and peered curiously in the direction of the kitchen sink. More than once he consulted his iPhone.

I knew something was up. The conversation went like this:

Me: You're antsy. You're looking for a project, aren't you?

Him: I want to replace the kitchen faucet.

Me: Why? We already replaced one faucet this weekend.

Him: I'm not going to do it today. But soon. I really think I could.

Me: Well, the sprayer doesn't work, and it hasn't since I moved in, so that may be a good idea.

Him: Want to go to Lowe's?

Since I was in the market for some new hardware for the kitchen cabinets (from a slightly smaller Bug that had bitten at least a year ago that I'd yet to do anything about) and I'd already seen the hardware at Lowe's, I asked if we could go to Home Depot instead so that I could check out the kitchen hardware there. David agreed.

Spoiler alert: The kitchen faucet was not the Bug that bit us. Oh no. That bite came after we got to Home Depot (and does leave me wondering how the rest of our day would've gone if we'd gone to Lowe's instead).

We looked at faucets and found a couple we liked. We examined the boxes, as well as the instructions in a box that had already been opened, and David pronounced the project "easy enough" to do. However, since we didn't want to drop $100 or so on a faucet we didn't immediately need, especially when we're building up our emergency fund, we decided to wait until we got that amount to where we wanted it before putting in a new faucet.

We checked out the hardware and then just wandered around the store a little bit, until we saw it. IT. THE display. It was right in the middle of the aisle, impossible to miss. Laminate hardwood flooring, on sale for .71/sq. ft.

We both felt the bite, but it felt less like a bite and more like a set of teeth gripping hard on our arms. The Bug had bitten. We had to take a look at some flooring.

We'd already talked about taking out the flooring in our dining room, kitchen, and half-bath and replacing it with laminate hardwood, but we hadn't done more than just casually discuss it. And now, seeing this stuff on sale ("this stuff" being a laminate flooring locking system, which meant no glue and therefore probably an easier project) really made us think again about it.

We consulted a friendly Home Depot employee, who had no idea what he was getting into when we approached him, but who cheerfully spent the next 15 minutes telling the two of us, step-by-step, what we needed to do to install the flooring. We talked about moisture barriers and underlayment and installation kits and spacers and miter saws and much more. In the end, we looked at the rest of the laminate hardwood that Home Depot had to offer and decided we might be better off with something besides the cheapest of the cheap. You get what you pay for, right? We'd learned that with the faucet just a couple of days ago.

We left Home Depot a little later, empty-handed but our minds full of thoughts of new flooring.

A couple of hours later, we were sitting at the pool. Again, I was accompanied by my Kindle, and David by his iPhone. After some research on different types of saws (we don't own any sort of saw and know next to nothing about them, or about any power tools, for that matter), he put the phone down and turned over on his lounge chair. I continued reading. Sometime later, when I thought he was asleep, he turned to me and said, "I have an idea."

"About the flooring?" I asked.

"Yeah. You may think I'm crazy, but..... what if we put that stuff in the whole downstairs?"

I considered it. "The whole downstairs" included the kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and family room. We'd already discussed putting the flooring in all those but the family room. Our carpet is gross and needs to be replaced anyway. I'd assumed we'd replace it with new carpet, but why not flooring instead?

"What about the foyer?" I asked. When you walk in front door of the condo, you're in a small foyer with real, lighter hardwood.  From there, you can go up the stairs to get to the second floor, or down two steps to get to the downstairs portion of the condo. "What would we do about those two steps? Would we redo the foyer floor as well?"

We pondered these ideas for a few moments, then David returned to his nap and I returned to my book.

On our walk back home from the pool, an idea came to me. "What if we used darker laminate for the whole downstairs and those two steps?" I said to David. "Then we could leave the foyer the way it is, and the darker flooring on the first floor would contrast well with the lighter flooring in the foyer."

There was a pause. Then David said, "Yeah, I think that could work."

At the pool, I'd already decided that I wanted to go back to Lowe's and see what they had in the way of flooring. The Bug had gotten me, too. So after we got home and changed, we headed to the store.

We looked at the flooring and picked our favorite, a darker type that would cost more but that came with attached underlayment. We also looked at carpet prices to see if that would be cheaper for the family room. It looked like they'd cost about the same, with the carpet maybe running a little more because of installation.

We headed over to the tools section, where we got a brief tutorial on miter saws from a friendly Lowe's employee. We found a couple we liked, but we didn't buy anything. Not yet. Again, that emergency fund is waiting, and therefore, our projects are waiting.

The Project Bug may have bitten us this weekend, but the new flooring will probably wait a year or so, until we have our emergency fund money saved up and have done some other projects that we want to tackle first. But in the meantime, we'll be thinking about what kind of flooring we may want and imagining just how good our downstairs will look once the new floor is in place.

Has the Project Bug ever bitten you? Have you ever tried to tackle a project that you knew very little about? What do you know about power tools? How was your long weekend?

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