Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Lived In.

Posted on | January 4, 2013 | 12 Comments

In the process of taking down the Christmas tree and attempting to sweep and vacuum pine needles from every conceivable area in the dining room (In the curtains?  Really, how did they get in the folds of the curtains?), I made an alarming discovery.  The wood floor in the dining room had finally been compromised.  I was shocked.  After all, compared to the rest of the flooring in the house, the dining room was practically pristine.

The kitchen and family room wood floors have looked like this for years:

On the day we moved in, I dropped a can of beans on the kitchen floor while stocking the cabinets and it left a huge dent.  Which was the first time that I realized that pine floors were very soft.  It was all down hill from there.  By the time we had 4 kids and 4 dogs, a guest at a dinner party noted the floors’ condition.

“Nice!”  he exclaimed as he peered at the various scuffs and scrapes.  “Is this reclaimed farm house flooring?”

“Um, no.  It was nice and new when we put it in.”

“Ah,” he replied.  “I think I saw this effect on HGTV.  The homeowners put in new hard wood floors but then beat them with chains to get the  ‘lived in’ look of reclaimed farm house floors.”

“Huh,”  I said, wondering who this guy had arrived with and if there was no end to the stupid things that rich people on television home decorating shows were willing to do.  “We just lived in it.”

The dining room floors were the only well-preserved flooring in the house because they were protected from the damage inflicted on the rest of the house.  Primarily because the dining room was just a junk room used to store projects-in-progress, boxes of out of season clothing, overflowing piles of children’s artwork and documents to be filed, and unused exercise equipment.  Every once in a while, I would shove a box out of the way in order to add something to the mountain o’ crap on the dining room table and I’d notice the softly gleaming floors under my feet.

The flooring in the dining room was so lovely.  And it might have stayed that way.  Except for that whole Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac thing.

You see when the government bailed out Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac I lost my shi, um, marbles.  I couldn’t understand why The Other Half and I were living within our means, cramming 2 kids per bedroom, and having to use our dining room for storage because we were having to build our house on our own, one bit at a time, whenever The Other Half had time off from work and we had the extra money to do anything.  Clearly, the rest of America bought homes that were completely finished, had a room for each of their children, a fully useable dining room, and when they couldn’t make the payments, the government made the payments for them.

Well, isn’t that just the American dream?

That’s when I realized that debt free living is only for Suzie Orman and the rest of us suckers.  And, really, who was I to stand up against the American way of life?  Which is how I ended up with a loan payment, a contractor, a home addition, a separate office/exercise/garage/guest room to store our crap, and the ability to finally sit down at our dining room and eat as a family.  Amen and God Bless debt-ridden America.  I’m not really worried about it.  Because as soon as Obama fixes it so that I get free health care from the government instead of having to pay for my health insurance, plus the health insurance of everyone else who doesn’t have a job, I’ll have plenty of extra money in my paycheck to pay off the loan.  And if that doesn’t work out, perhaps I’ll just start balancing my checkbook Congress-style.  I bet if I make tacos and fresh ice cream for dinner I can get a majority vote from my family to raise our debt ceiling.

The downside to my financial revelation was that the dining room floors were finally exposed to the destructive forces of daily life in our household— chair scraping leaving scuff marks, shoes with a trapped piece of gravel making gouges, dropped forks and glasses causing scratches, and dog nails creating indents.  I guess it happened gradually.  Because I really didn’t notice until I was sweeping up the last of those pine needles.

Imagine that!  The “lived in” look without all the time and effort of beating it with chains or socks full of nuts and bolts, or (what the hell are people thinking???!!!!) a blowtorch.  Perhaps I don’t need a higher debt ceiling.  Perhaps I could rent out my kids and dogs to rich people so they can add a “distressed” or “vintage” finish to their hardwood floors.  Perhaps I could soak in said rich people’s hot tub or swim in their pools while my kids and dogs are working.  Hmmmm….I wonder if craigslist is the right place to advertise for this type of service….

In any case, the “lived in” floors of my home go along perfectly with the “lived in” look of our kitchen table….

(which looks like this up close)

….and the “lived in” look of our chopping block table

(which looks like this up close).

And we didn’t even have to walk on those surfaces to “distress” them.  Just standing and sitting next to them was distressing enough.

I know what you’re thinking.  Overkill.

Please, people.  It’s called a decorating theme.  According to Decor Girl, themes are the unifying idea which defines the character of the interior design of a home.  Around here we are unified by our ability to distress things.  Apparently, it’s our superpower.

Because when I realized the bank could not be bribed to raise my debt ceiling with tacos and ice cream, I had to settle for vinyl instead of hardwood floors in some areas of our new construction.  I went for vinyl in the mud room and entrance hall, of course.  But the 2 new bedrooms for the kids got vinyl, too.  I figured it looked like hardwood, could be swept and cleaned easily like hardwood, but wasn’t as susceptible to damage.  Here’s what those areas ended up with:

The contractor was surprised that I decided to put vinyl in some of the bedrooms.

“Well,” he said.  “When the kids grow up and move out, you can replace it with real hard wood ’cause they won’t be here to damage it anymore.”

I was  kind of insulted.  When the kids leave will my life really be so boring that my floors won’t looked “lived in” anymore?  Will I never get a wild hair to drag the the furniture to the opposite side of the room (without emptying the drawers first)?  Will I never kneel on the floor to cut through something with the box cutter and forget to lay down a sheet of cardboard first?  Will I never drop my cordless drill, bit first, onto the floor while in the midst of a home improvement project?  I mean, I like to think of my motherhood years as my years of responsibility and maturity.  Who knows what I’m capable of once those little guys are gone??

In any case, I thought vinyl was the kryptonite that would finally shut down our distressing ways.  Looked like hardwood, but couldn’t be scuffed or dented.  But then the farm fridge in the mud room sprung a leak and when I dragged it away from the wall to check if the hose to the ice maker was detached, this happened:

Really, we’re amazing.  We can’t be stopped.  “Lived in” isn’t just a style of decorating for us.  It’s, well,…. a way of living.  That’s our superpower.  What’s yours?


12 Responses to “Lived In.”

  1. Scott McCandless
    January 5th, 2013 @ 6:15 am

    When my wife and I moved into our current residence (a perq provided by my employer), we noticed lots of circular, 1/4″ indentations in the pine floors of the dining room. We couldn’t figure out what had caused them until one of the organization’s long-term employees told me, “Oh, those are dents from high heels. [The boss’s] daughter loved to wear stiletto heels!”

    Another point: We recently renovated a building used for public contact. It had been an old barn that had pine planking between the upper and lower floors. We considered taking up the vinyl tiles that had been placed on the floor when the building was originally converted from a barn to a visitor center and then refinishing the pine planks, but our contractor talked us out of it in favor of a new vinyl floor. Guess what? Though visitors are very complimentary of the renovations, the feature about which they remark most frequently is the new vinyl floor (which DOES look remarkably like wood, but it so much easier to clean and maintain). Go figure.

  2. Lisa D
    January 5th, 2013 @ 7:27 am

    We must have the same superpower as your family. Oak is not much tougher than pine. Throw in a couple cats who ice skate across the table when you’re not home, and it’s distressed all the way. We even like the effect on our fabric furniture and drapes!

  3. Puzzled
    January 5th, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    I’ve always wondered why pine flooring is referred to as “hardwood” floors…?

  4. Annabelle
    January 5th, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    Thanks Stevie! I’ll embrace the lived in look. We just moved into our home and put laminate floors in till the boys get bigger. Ive already been stressing about our super old dog drooling in puddles and the fact that boys pee everywhere!

  5. Lin
    January 5th, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

    “Outdated”–that’s our style. And it’s gonna have to be for a few more years as the last kid begins college at a very expensive college in the fall. sigh.

    So, yes, we have the crumbled concrete driveway, but a very lovely new front door. We have the scuffed up wood floors too, but I have some nice new everyday dishes. And while I can’t remodel the bathroom for a few more years, I did just buy a new mirror to make it seem okay again–IF you squint and just look a the mirror. Big stuff has to wait, but I can scrimp up some dough for little finishes and niceties to make it a tad more bearable.

    You aren’t alone, my friend. And just as a side note–I can’t bear to watch Suzy Orman. She just makes me feel awful about myself.

  6. The witch
    January 6th, 2013 @ 11:35 am

    What a post, I love distressed wood and have lots of it. Hell I even beach comb to get more of it for craft projects. Imagine a life when you are so afraid to put 91 wooden domino’s on a table and swirl them around with your children to play the game only to find out they scratch the table. No worries the table is already scratched,dented,and loved with lots of memories.
    Just like your floors.

  7. Rose
    January 7th, 2013 @ 8:17 am

    OMG! Hilarious! I love the bit about tacos and ice cream for dinner so you can get a vote to raise your debt ceiling. HAAHA! Brilliant!

  8. Jocelyn
    January 8th, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

    My superpower seems to be bringing People Who Never Cry to tears. I swear, I don’t hit them or anything. I just talk and then listen, and before you know it, WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH.

    Anyhow, back to those distressed floors. I wish you’d told the party guest that you save all your best chains for beating the children.

    That would’ve cleared the room quick-like.

  9. admin
    January 9th, 2013 @ 5:08 am

    Oh, I so wish I had said that about the children!!!!

  10. Laura
    January 9th, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

    Haha. Love it. Like getting a new car the first scratch hurts the most, then you can relax. There must be some superpower glue with which to fix your vinyl…

  11. carolyn
    January 12th, 2013 @ 5:46 am

    Our pine floors (upstairs) were scratched up the day we moved in, by the boot heels of the lovely man who helped us move in. excellent lesson in detachment from perfection. Our oak floors downstairs look just like yours. Even before kids, we used shepherd dog nails to distress them for the lived-in look. I want to know: can I charge others to distress their floors?
    ha, c

  12. KGMom
    January 12th, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    My husband and I have lived in our house for 31 years. It is a very modest house in an unassuming neighborhood.
    In that time, we have: 1) paid off our mortgage; 2)sent both of our children through college INCLUDING graduate school, and paid for it all without any student aid or loans; 3) managed to do traveling to Europe every year for 15 years; and 4) give generously to various charities, including our church.
    In that same time, we have seen many of our friends and acquaintances move to McMansions, refuse to help their children go to college, and buy 2nd homes for “vacation.”

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