Super Base

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Hi there. Oh, it’s February, is it? You’re wondering what’s happening with that living room? Hmm. Got nothing for you. I’ll probably write a separate post on why rug shopping is SO HARD (shed a single tear for me) and there are other various not-that-great reasons I haven’t gotten to writing about most of the things on that list. But ANYWAY! You’re here for progress, right? How about some other progress?

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We have baseboard! If only emoticons worked in WordPress, I would put the happy dancing one here. Now, this is not something that people particularly notice when they walk in to your house. Especially if, like us, you paint the baseboard the same color as the wall. Maybe when you don’t have any, they think to themselves, “hmm, something is a little off here, but I just can’t put my finger on it.” But they make me SO HAPPY. We’ve owned this house for two years now, and the whole time we’ve lived here without baseboards which means 1/4″ cracks where the flooring stops short of the wall. Cracks that fill with dirt, dust, and where bugs run to hide when we try to catch them (not that our house is full of bugs, but I digress). It was one of those little things that bugged me, but was a lower priority than stuff that needed REAL repair, like plumbing and electrical and doors and so on. Before the baby’s born, we said. And then he was born and we were like, well, before he starts crawling. At least in his room. And then he learned to crawl like 5 months ago and was always sticking his fingers into these little cracks. Every month that passed, it bugged me a little more, but it just wasn’t one of those important things, like figuring out how to care for a tiny human. We kept saying we would just do it ourselves. I mean, it’s time-consuming but not complicated if you have a nail gun and a miter saw, and we do. But we didn’t have a pickup to use to go buy all the super long lengths of baseboard, and Kyle didn’t particularly want to spend a week on his knees killing his back, and so you know what? In the end, we waited so long that we saved enough to hire it out. It took our favorite handyman Ricardo 4 days to buy it, paint it, install it, patch it, caulk it, and touch up the paint. I can’t imagine what it would have taken us (ok, I can, let’s assume four times as long). And let me tell you a funny story. I was talking to Ricardo one of the days that he was here, and he was talking about adding an addition to his house, but how he was taking a long time to get started on it. I said something along the lines of “oh yeah, it seems to always be so hard to find time to do your own stuff, right?” And his response was “Well, actually I don’t do very much of my own work. It makes more sense for me to be making money at a higher rate, because I can pay someone else a lot less than I make to do most of the stuff.” (Wait, can you give me the number of those guys that do it cheaper? Just kidding. Ricardo is amazing). The reason this is funny is because that is the EXACT SAME argument Kyle uses with me for why we should pay someone else to do something he doesn’t enjoy doing (like, say, baseboard, which is NOT FUN AT ALL) rather than him using his time! And so it goes right down the line. I’m sure Ricardo does have guys who can do drywall for like ten bucks an hour, but we’re happy to pay a little more for a reliable, detail-oriented guy that we trust.

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Anyway, back to the baseboard. Its nothing fancy (in keeping with the original feel of this house, simple and unfussy), just 3-1/4″ rounded top wood base. Ricardo painted it with a semigloss version of our wall color, so it’s easier to wipe down (and I can say unequivocally that this has already come in handy, since Owen runs his little car into it all the time, and the smudges wipe off easily). Since our floors weren’t perfectly level (ahem, 60-year-old house), he also had to plane the bottoms of the base in places to keep it from having big gaps. You’d never know by looking at it, but that’s another step that would have made it take forever for people like us who don’t do this all the time. So, it’s simple. But the rooms feel so much more finished. And no more crevices full of dirt and weird stuff. Hooray!

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In the photo above you can see (in addition to the dire need of paint touch ups on the old door frames) one of the only remaining issues with the base/floor: small gaps where the flooring installer assumed that base would cover holes right at the door frames. However, the mid-century style of this house means that the original door frames (which are actually cool) are trim-free, and we’re leaving them original where we can. Instead of having molding applied around the edge of the door frame, the doors are slightly recessed. It’s an interesting detail, but we never caught that disconnect until Ricardo was installing the baseboard. We looked at the option to wrap the baseboard around that area, but it looked strange and created weird details in a couple of tight corners, so instead we’re going to get some similarly-colored wood flooring putty and fill in the cracks around the six doors. The one I’ve shown here is one of the worst – some aren’t big. So we’ll let you know how that goes, but it seemed like the lesser of two evils at the time. The other place we were a little worried about was the fireplace, where the block hearth meets the floor. In this case the flooring installer knew that it didn’t call for base, and Ricardo just caulked it and it looks good.

Just for comparison, here are a couple of before and afters. Hallway to our bedroom (where, clearly in the before photo I was framing the photo to try to hide the lack of baseboard a little):

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Living room:

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So glad to have that finished. Well, almost finished. Our master bedroom isn’t done, because we need to replace three doors and frames and it’s kind of all got to be done at the same time. So, as always, more fun ahead. But 90% ton is a heck of a lot better than 15% done (which I’m counting, because our two bathrooms were completed when they were overhauled). Yay for progress!

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