Just about two years ago I walked through this really lovely house with a huge, unused attic. I’m a city kid. The whole idea of leaving 100-plus Sq meters of attractice space unused was unthinkable. In San Francisco, in Paris, you don’t just let that kind of space sit empty. So I got the house and told my architect to include plans for a master bedroom suite in the attic. He said what, the four bedrooms downstairs aren’t enough? He brought in a contractor who said yes, absolutely, it will be gorgeous. All we have to do is sand the floor.
The architect is gone and the contractor remains. One reason he is still here, two years later, is this floor. It wasn’t so flat after all. We couldn’t just clean and wax it. We didn’t figure that out until the bathroom was plumbed and the kitchenette cabinets delivered. Oops.
So, as I kept writing unbudgeted-for checks, the guys screwed down the existing floor, with screws at about 7 cm, roughly 3 inch, centers. With the existing floor as flat as possible, they poured a layer of this self-leveling, lightweight, fiberglass/concrete mixture. On top of that, the layer of green foam pads, to give the floor a bit of spring. Finally, you can see part of the oak flooring that Xavier is installing.
When he is done, obviously all you will see is the oak floor. And how much hidden money, in the form of all those layers, will you be walking on? I don’t know. Maybe this time next year, I’ll be able to tell you. Maybe in 5 years, I’ll figure the amount will be worth it, for all that extra space. Maybe.
Not much to look at but it does represent progress. This is the living room with the very beginnings of the stone floor installation. The walls have been painted Little Greene’s Urbane Grey. The guys call it battleship gray and they do have a point, though this gray has just a hint of blue in it. I wanted nothing to compete with the TV screen, so I went for this grey. In general the walls are coming out a good shade or two darker than I had envisioned, so I’m glad I went for white ceilings and this light stone floor.
The stone is Pierre de Bourgogne. When it is sealed the color will darken a bit. The pattern is called Roman mosaic, I think. It looks random but it is actually very precise. By this point in the installation the guys have worked out the repeats and all. I had to leave but they had started to move pretty quickly.
This stone will cover the entire ground floor. It will be laid, grouted, sealed and allowed to settle for a bit. The electricians are working to make the final connections for the geothermal system. In three weeks we will begin the slow process of warming up a proud old house that has had no heat for five years.
After all this time I am happy to see finishes. This is by no means the expensive part of the project, just the part that makes it look expensive.
So, this is my entry hall, where you will go into the living room. Someone said she’d like heated floors. The contractors replied, “We love doing those,” and got to it. At the moment the living room has no floor at all. When the shutters are open, you look from the floor of the basement right to the ceiling. In this photo of course you just see a dark spot that eats money. The finish floor of the entry is long gone, along with about a foot of subfloor. On the wall, out of range of the camera, is a construction detail; paper is so easy to lose, after all. The detail shows layers and layers of waterproofing, insulation, heating coils, concrete subfloor and, finally, the finish floor. When the guys are done, expect to see pretty limestone tiles with little black cabuchon insets. Once the finish trim is in and the walls are painted, the entry should look very 19th century, as if we did nothing. However even on the coldest day, you will feel nice and toasty warm.
Speaking of dark spots that eat money, we drilled a hole behind the house, the better to estimate the amount of water available for the geothermal system. It turns out that there is plenty of water, much more than we need, even now, in the dryest part of the year. This means we can go ahead with the geothermal refurbishment — we don’t have to build one from scratch. At last we have identified a way to save some money.