Coming to terms

Pinterest lies.

With the bright rooms, white walls, Moroccan rugs and reclaimed industrial work stools. Ombre this and Ikat that and repurposed mason jars and teapots with neon-dipped handles. I have a board called “rooms” that is filled with images like this:

wood floors from cottage-gardens dot com

The wood floors. We wanted (I wanted) light, natural, clear wood floors. A solid expanse of the palest blonde wood, to brighten the space and lighten our steps, the calming underfoot palette for the happy clutter of our lives. I would CURATE our space, I would. Really, this time. And the floors were going to anchor the entire thing.

We’ve had a lot bound up in this simple little house. In the vision of this house. Fresh wishes and hopes are bound by its walls. Do-overs are tucked under the eaves. Leaps of faith–successful ones–are promised by the long stretch of yard. Joy dangles down, tempting us to pluck it, from the high branches of the juniper grove out front. We’ll hang a swing from those branches this summer, teach the kid to go high and higher, letting her sandals fly off her feet at the apex, underdogs and jumping off for popsicles in the grass. Cue soundtrack.

The floors are being installed, right now. Probably half done, today. We stopped by last night to check on progress, and there they were, the planks laid out through the entry and down one side of the living room. I smiled and ohhhed and smiled some more, and remarked on how perfect the paint color is, and clapped my hands. But later, to the spouse, I confessed.

The floors are exactly what I didn’t want.

The color and grain variation is super pronounced, far more than I expected, so that the floor has a kind of … checkerboard effect. Blonde to reddish swaths, over and over. It’s distracting and pulls the checkerboard of the randomly painted fireplace brick into this wash of visual chaos.

Then, as is my wont, I started to spin out. I spin out in the face of being placated, which is what the spouse does when I’m upset. He placates, I escalate, he placates, I spin out, until I’m yelling and he’s stomping off to bed without saying goodnight and I’m googling results for keyword search “interior design for intense wood floor grain variation that doesn’t suck goddammit it all to hell.”

And I started wondering how long it would take to sell the house and start over because OMG how could we liiiiiiive liiiiiiike thiiiiiiiis!

Entirely silly (and, frankly, out of line, in so many ways I’m ashamed of, not the least of which is my awareness of how privileged I am to worry about something like this). I know.

Still, when the single highest expense of your fresh-start dream is a huge, irretrievable disappointment, it’s hard to process. Especially at midnight.

Then I fell asleep. And this morning, I know that even though it matters, it doesn’t. We will fill those walls and the floors beneath them with lightness and creativity and kindness and play. We will practice sock-slides across those floors, shuffle in bedtime slippers across those floors. We will sit criss-cross applesauce on those floors to build puzzles and teach the kid checkmate. We will wipe spilled milk from those floors and stomp temper tantrums on those floors. We will roll up the rugs and turn up “Brass Monkey” and have family dance party until we’re sweaty and hilarious and staying up past bedtime on those floors. Who knows, maybe when it’s all done, we’ll even like those floors.

And later, maybe many houses from now, we will remember that time we learned lessons about renovating a house on a tiny, lucky budget and the (disem)power(ment) of (too much) choice — or we won’t remember at all. Because life is so much bigger than and beyond what’s underfoot.

maple floor installation

6 thoughts on “Coming to terms

  1. Did the advertised flooring look like this? Did it include the colour variation? Is this what was described in either image or print? If not, ask for something else, at their expense. Be sure all bundles have been opened and mixed to ensure an even distribution of the grain colours.
    My opinion? I think you will find it to be an interesting feature, something that will embrace the many colours of your life. It is natural wood, with very pretty waves of colour, quite nice, actually.
    Rugs, furniture, art on the walls, the busy traffic of life…under all that, it will look great.

    • You know, I think the flooring industry is a big scam. Or something. The samples in the stores are always totally clear (except when they’re not supposed to be, by style). So we canceled our original hickory order after I happened to google images of hickory floors and saw how contrasty they were. We considered birch, but it only seemed to come in solid planks — we were advised to get engineered planks due to temperature contraction/expansion issues. Then we fell in love with stranded bamboo, but whoa price. So maple, that looked good. Great, even. By then I was too tired of the whole thing to get super crazy picky or do any more research, so, fine. And then. Voila. Basically the hickory thing. One saleslady got really snippy with me when I described what I wanted, explaining that wood is WOOD, it has grain. Part of our problem is that we are totally off-trend with this light/natural choice. Everyone’s going in for the very dark finishes, apparently. Which eliminates the variation issues. If we had a ton of cash, we coulda probably found entirely clear maple or oak or some such. This maple was under $5/sq ft (plus install).

  2. Pingback: The Kitchen Recap, Part II: No guts, no glory | This Bendable Life

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