I’m glad I was able to share some of the more beautiful rooms in my house with you all on my last post Happy House: A Year in Progress before we head downstairs to the first floor and take a frightening look at the destructiveness known as (cue scary music):
Oh, boy, where do I even begin?
Let’s back track just a little bit. When we were first looking at potential homes over a year ago, there were a few things I had in mind that were my absolute requirements: a tub in the master bathroom, a fireplace, a decent size backyard (for the kids to play in), a neighborhood pool (for the kids to play in), and a playroom (for the kids to play in).
As you can see, the first two requirements met my need for serenity, the last three, my sanity.
Now, as a mother and a teacher, I recognize the importance of playtime in a child’s life. I know children need to play. I know they need unstructured opportunities to explore their world, to use their imagination, play with their toys, and even (ugh) make messes. The issue with our previous home, as seen in How We Sold Our House in a Weekend, was that we just didn’t have the space. Thus the little living space we did have was often inhabited by their play world. It was not at all uncommon to find an entire armada in our bathtub, a replica of U.S.’s national train system in our family room, and Lego Land about everywhere else. And if you know anything about children, you understand that once they create these alternative worlds, they need to be able to play in them for several days on end before the process of deconstruction can occur. The problem this presented was that Hubby and I craved structure and cleanliness (or the process of losing one’s mind would occur).
In short, we wanted to find a house where our space could be our space, and their space could be their space. And this, my friends, is how the playroom became a major deciding factor in the purchasing of our new house.
So much so, in fact, that when we first looked at this house we have come so much to love, I actually said…..Na.
What??? I know. It’s crazy even for me when I look back on it. The house has everything we were asking for and more.
But the one room downstairs, the room that would have been designated for our potential playroom, had already been converted into a mother-in-law suite, and when you walked in you saw this:
Please note: These photos were taken prior to moving into home, on my ipad, and do not reflect high quality photos, but rather a quick effort to help me remember what each room looked like after I had left.
I have a thing about LARGE items blocking a perfectly good window. And here we were, staring at the back of a kitchen cabinet. It was weird. It was awkward. It broke the flow of the room.
I just didn’t like it.
And furthermore, I honestly did not see Hubby helping me get rid of it. Hence, the hesitation.
Here are a few more pictures to give you an idea of the space:
Now, I know some of you may be thinking, Wow! A kitchen in the playroom. No, you may really learn to like that. Just think of it….the kids can have their own space. When they get older, and they’re teens, you won’t even have to worry about them…
I considered it. Briefly.
And this is what I saw in my near future: Playmobil men melted on the induction stove and my house burning to the ground. And in my future future (should house still be around): rancid, moldy pizza found weeks later under a couch, sticky syrupy unknown substance in microwave and on counters, and roaches…lots and lots of roaches. Hell. No.
But the room did have potential! Besides the garage, it was the only other room on the first floor, so it was quite large. It had laminate wood flooring, so easy clean up for spills and the like. It had a full bathroom. It had a large walk in closet.
All in all, it really was an ideal space for a playroom.
June 2014-April 2015
Obviously (thankfully) the house won out, ugly-weird-mother-in-law-kitchen or not. Life was good. Hedlunds were happy. And, aside from adding major shelving to the walk in closet for toy bins, the playroom went virtually untouched for about ten months while we worked on other rooms and various projects throughout the house.
Then sometime around mid-April the thought I’d like to tackle the playroom entered that wild brain of mine.
And so it began…
Welcome to the Danger Zone
The first thing I truly wanted to do was get rid of the window-blocking upper cabinet. I just didn’t know how to do it by myself. Amazingly enough, one Saturday I asked and Hubby agreed to help (I love him). This part was a little nerve-racking, and honestly, no photos were taken during this process as Hubs and I went into survival mode, a.k.a. avoid being crushed to death. You see we quickly found out that the upper cabinet was hanging from the ceiling and that the supports were fake (Hubby nudged them out with a few bumps of his elbow).
We had to find a way to support the cabinets while unscrewing the top from the ceiling without having it crashing to the ground. Luckily, the microwave was about the same height, so once we removed it, we propped it under the left side of the cabinet and used the two fake supports for the right side. Then we began the precarious process of unscrewing the cabinet from the ceiling. This turned into a little guessing game as, on three different occasions, we thought we were removing the final screw only to have the cabinet remain intact as if by magic. Seriously, at one point, I began to worry they had glued the damn thing to the ceiling, but sure enough, one more hidden screw would be found. Finally all screws had been removed, and the cabinet dropped a smidgen (thank you, microwave) to the base. Sigh of relief. Little did I know the difficult part was yet to come.
It was now time to bring the cabinet down to the floor.
This was, in a word, terrifying.
The cabinet was cumbersome, top heavy, too tall, you name it. Every time we lifted it, it would start to tilt, I would let out a horrifying scream, my husband would laugh, we’d catch it and start all over. This is when I became very girly and shamed brave women everywhere I can’t do this! Aghhhhhhhhh!!!!!! You need a man helping you! Oh my God! We’re going to die! I’m not strong enough!!!! It’s too heavy!!!! Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I should note that our two children (and a friend) were upstairs playing while all of this was going on. At no point did the bloodcurdling shrieks of their mother alarm my kiddos. I’m not sure whether they couldn’t be bothered, or I’ve desensitized them to project-mode hysteria. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
We finally got it to the ground without it crashing through a wall or crushing us. Here it is, sitting in the garage. I seriously don’t know how we did it; it was so heavy.
Removing the upper cabinet immediately opened up the room, so I was very happy I did it!
I decided to keep the bottom cabinet (I loved having the storage for all of my art supplies) as well as the sink area. Since I was already planning to build a large craft table for that side of the playroom, and we were now keeping the bottom cabinet, I decided to simply use the cabinet as the base of my craft table. The only issue was that it was awkwardly placed in the room. I wanted it to be more centered. This posed a problem because that would require us to move the bottom cabinet. We did not know whether or not the laminate flooring had been installed before or after the cabinets. Hubby worried we would move it, have a big gap, and have to replace floors. He didn’t want to touch it. But we had already come this far. My thought was this: Go for it!
It’s About to Get Ugly
There is a plus to being a risk taker. We don’t tend to settle on just any this or that. We push for more. In truth, I did not want to have to work my space around a stationary piece of equipment. I wanted the piece to work for my space. So in the end, I convinced Hubby to try. I will warn you, though, it will get ugly before it will get pretty.
Out came a knife (to cut away the caulk), a huge pry bar (to lift the cabinet), and a flashlight (to check out flooring status). We quickly figured out two things:
PRO: The laminate flooring had been installed first.
CON: It was very much attached to the bottom cabinet via glue from hell.
Thus began the very slow process of prying, scraping, lifting, prying, scraping, lifting. We did this as much as we could until it was time to get aggressive. The center of the bottom cabinet was glued down well and wouldn’t budge. As we tilted the cabinet, the flooring would lift with it. It was very bizarre to see my floor lift up like a hill. It made me extremely anxious. Hubby (probably tired and sweaty) finally decided that some pieces of flooring would have to die for the greater cause and brought the cabinet all the way to its side with a few sickening cracks of wood.
Overall the damage was not bad. While we had pulled up some of the flooring, we only had two pieces of wood we couldn’t use at all. The others were definitely salvageable, especially once we scraped the glue off the top.
I positioned the bottom cabinet where I wanted it. I decided to turn it (about 90 degrees) to face the rest of the room. My decision for this was twofold: I could easily access my supplies, and I could watch the kids play from where I was working.
Once it was determined where the cabinet would be, I marked it off with blue tape, and proceeded to lay flooring back down. I knew there would be some gaps now that we had lost two pieces of wood. I just wanted to make sure those gaps, as well as the damaged pieces, were under the bottom cabinet. I slid out various pieces of wood and re-positioned them to make this work. I also cut some pieces down to make sure everything fit back, leaving the only gap directly under the cabinet.
Hubby was amazed to see I accomplished this without us having to buy replacement wood. Here are a few photos of the finished floor.
To Be Continued…
Stay tuned for Project Playroom: Part 2 where I tackle paint, more paint, and even some stenciling.