When we bought the 5-year-old split-level house we now call the TreeHouse back in 1987, we were pleasantly surprised to find wall-to-wall carpeting in every room except the kitchen and the bathrooms. Our first house on Grant Place in Lexington was an antique (1820s vintage) fixer-upper with wide-pine floors and poor insulation, so we looked forward to the comfort, warmth, and relative quiet of wall-to-wall carpeting. There were many things about the new house that we wanted to change when we got the time and money to do so (hideous wallpaper in the living room being on the top of the list), but the carpet was a good color – speckled brown – to hide dirt and other spills from small children and clumsy adults.
Fast-forward twenty-six years. Many of the house upgrades on our list have been taken care of (ditching the living room wallpaper was one of the first), but the original carpet still remained, 31 years after installation. It had worn bare in spots on the stairs, so we installed a stair-runner carpet on top of the worn-out carpet a number of years ago to cover up the visible wear; the carpet pile had crushed and worn thin in the hallway so that the vacuum height setting for the center of the hall was unusable along the edges; the butt-line strip where the carpet met up with the kitchen linoleum in the dining room had worn out and been replaced – twice. But living with kids – and eventually a dog – we just couldn’t bring ourselves to spend money on new carpet when it would continue to be abused by our everyday life.
But now the kids are adults (one has carpet of her own to worry about) and the dog has been living by that big hydrant in the sky for four years now, so it was time. We shopped around a bit and decided to go with the flooring company that’s been advertizing heavily for the past few years (LUNA), picked out a Mowhawk brand carpet that was very similar in color to the previous carpet (why mess with success) and the best under-pad we could get, and scheduled the install for a Wednesday in late October. The salesman said that the installers would move furniture as part of the install, but we had to get all the non-furniture stuff out of the rooms to be carpeted; lamps, electronics, books, CDs, breakables, appliances, nick-nacks, tchotchkes, contents of closets, etc. It’s amazing how many non-furniture items weasle their way into your living space without notice!
About four days prior to the install day we began the migration of non-furniture items out of the pending “war-zone.” Since almost every room in the upstairs of our split-level was getting new carpet, there weren’t many “safe” places to park things; bathrooms (the bathtub was prime parking space), kitchen (but we still had to live here so that couldn’t be over-packed), and Lynn’s quilt studio (a former bedroom that got laminate flooring 6-8 years ago to keep pins from hiding in the carpet). We packed up our collection of 2000+ CDs in a manner that would hopefully assist in their return in the same or similar order, emptied four closets into either the family room downstairs or Goodwill donation bags (there were a lot of those), I cleaned off and organized my bureau (also known as a horizontal waste-basket) and disconnected and semi-disassembled the stereo tower cabinet. It took us all four days, but we made it… barely.
The last step for us was to mark on the old carpet where all the floor-squeaks were (places where the nails holding the plywood underlayment had loosened) so I could slice openings to expose the underlayment and insert 4″ big-head screws in flush with the plywood to pull the underlayment down tight to the joists. I bought a box of 50 screws and used about 35 (we had a lot of squeaks).
The day of the install arrived and two pleasant hispanic gentlemen showed up in a cargo van (just two??) about 10 a.m. One spoke some English, the other not so much. They introduced themselves and got to work measuring everything one last time. After moving most of the furniture from the living room and dining room into the back of the dining room and all the furniture from the master bedroom into the guest bedroom, one got to work slicing up and pulling up the old carpet and what was left of the old pad (not much), and hauling it out to the cargo van. The other hauled rolls of carpet out of the van, and began rolling it out IN THE STREET (!) to cut it to rough size! They vacuumed up 30 years of dirt that had sifted through the old carpet and pad before laying down the plush new pad and then the new carpet on top. The room was wider than the carpet roll, but the seam they made between the two pieces of carpet completely disappeared like magic. One worked in the living room, and the other worked on the other end of the house in the master bedroom. They worked inward toward each other, meeting at the top of the stairs. Then one of them worked on carpeting the stairs (a much more involved process than flat floor carpet laying) while the other worked cleaning up and vacuuming the new carpet, putting the furniture back in place, etc.
They finished up a little after 6pm, gave us our receipt and a number to call to pay for the install by credit card, and were gone. The carpet looks and feels great, the install looks high-quality, and surprising to us there is no telltale odor from the new carpet at all. We were expecting that we’d be living with all the windows open for a few days or more to let it air out, but there was no need!
The only thing left to do – and it will be on-going – is to sort out all the books, breakables, nick-nacks, tchotchkes, etc. to figure out what needs to be put back and what can be parted with; a start to the decluttering required before we move to Maine permanently in a few years. That process will take years!