Did you know that the San Fernando Valley was “bedroom and vegetable garden to Los Angeles” in 1946? That’s what I learned looking through an issue of Look Magazine we found underneath the corners of our living room floors.
I know what you’re thinking… “Wait, underneath the living room floors?”
Before little Gaspar came, Polly was nesting. Nesting hardcore. Nesting like, “Let’s get rid of this disgusting carpet!” nesting, which made sense, because the carpet was nasty. We didn’t want to bring a brand new baby home, new to the world, to such a gross carpet. So, a plan to replace the old carpet with nice Pergo was put into motion, with plenty of time before baby was due!
Our living room was going to go from something like this (actual picture):
To something like this (dramatic interpretation):
But things didn’t quite go according to plan.
The old linoleum. One question: 'Why?'
Did we mention our house is a little over 100 years old? 100 years is a long time – longer than most people’s lifetimes – which is why when we began to peel back the layers of carpeting, we found roughly 100 years worth of home improvement shenanigans. The carpet has been laid over linoleum (an almost camouflage-type pattern which was covering the entire first floor of the house), which was on top of plywood, which sat on top of the original old-growth Douglas Fir flooring from so far back in the day, it was nailed in with square nails. Didn’t know they made square nails? Apparently that’s the shape they came in when they were made by hand.
Holes cut in the floor for no damn good reason (ok fine, it was probably for heating at some point).
Unfortunately, the shenaninagns didn’t stop there. A wall had been built, or moved at some point, and had no support underneath, so a portion of the floor was sunken. Another portion on the floor was up too high, supported underneath by pillars too tall, and another portion of the floor was… well, let’s just say it’s been a pretty great lesson in old houses and building techniques from years gone by.
I’ll be kind and sum up a few of the things we’ve learned about our house here:
- It was moved here from somewhere else at some point in the past.
- It was originally a lot smaller, and had been built on to to add things like: a kitchen, a bathroom.
- Pretty much everything in the house is made of wood, including the walls, composed of tongue-and-groove Douglas Fir, just like the floors.
- People who have lived here in the past had a lot of gusto and gumption, even if they did lack things like common sense and building know-how.
Before the Pergo could be laid down, the floor needed to be leveled. We called around and spoke with a few contractors, and found one who was able to decipher the thoughts, actions, and sins of builders gone by. We still had at least 2 weeks before
Piper Gaspar was due, plenty of time for me to do a bunch of demo and prep work for them to come in and make things right. The day after I shook hands with the contractor, Little Gaspar came.
Our little bundle of joy put us a little bit behind schedule, and unfortunately as I write this, Polly and me and little Gaspar and, sometimes, Jojo, Petina, Canelo, and Carson, are holed up in almost 2 rooms on the second floor of the house. The first floor looks a little something like this:
I’m actually very thankful things worked out the way they did – I’d hate to see a 9 months pregnant Polly teetering across these balancing beams. It’s bad (and funny) enough to watch the puppies try to navigate them. For Carson, on the other hand, it’s become her own personal cat fun house, crawling under flooring here, coming out under walls there. She’s even found an open hole to the outside world, her own impromptu cat door.
Hopefully all this will be sorted out soon, and we’ll look back from a sofa on our dark, warm-colored flooring and laugh and laugh and laugh. Even in spite of all this though, we’re still having a fantastic time as new parents. I can’t really explain it – I guess Polly and I have been through enough together, and work well enough together, that we’re able to adapt and adjust. But, we’re going to be really, really happy when it’s all said and done.
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