I’m living in a hotel because of my concrete floors

November 12, 2012 — 25 Comments

In what has become tradition around my house on Sunday nights, I am sitting down on the couch working on the computer and putting together a post or two for ‘Life of an Architect.’ There is one notable difference in tonight’s routine … I am not actually at my house. I’m in an extended stay hotel in downtown Dallas. I am in this hotel because we are entering into the final stage of my Life of an Architect World Headquarters renovation – the grinding and polishing of the existing concrete floors. Supposedly this process will start Monday and be finished by the end of this week, I’m hoping that’s the case, otherwise I am in for some “extended stay” pain. I could make a Mother-in-Law joke here but since I actually really like mine, I would just be pretending.


ladder and home remodeling

While I’m sure that most people are getting quite exhausted by all these renovation updates, they won’t have to wait much longer for the project to be completed – I don’t think I can survive much longer either. While my contractor has been amazing in getting things done quickly and to a construction standard that (and let’s be honest) exceeds what I am paying, living in your house during any sort of construction is a massive drain on your life force. The house is always messy or out of sorts, there are supplies and organized piles of debris laying about, AND you have to make the your bed every morning or the workers will think you’re a slob. Then there’s all the work you (the handy homeowner) has to put in after already putting in a full day at the office followed by taking care of your kid(s).


In preparation for the work being done on the concrete floors, we had to move out of our house for a week … and I don’t mean just move-out-somewhere-else sort of move out. I mean get ALL your stuff out of the house sort of move out. In context, the only thing worse than moving out of your house for a week is like moving to a new house that is only 2 blocks away – close enough to think it’s easy, far enough that you still have all the same problems.


packing tape

That means loading up boxes, making reservations at the kennel, arranging to have your freezer food live somewhere else for a while, rent a mobile storage pod, and hire movers. That’s right, I said “hire movers” because the days of me and my wife yelling at each other to “lift your end of the couch higher … no wait, wait, … put it down, I’m about to drop it” are gone. Hey, you don’t stay married for 17 years just because your “hot.”


renting a storage trailer

So I rented a mobile storage pod for a month because that’s the shortest amount of time they’ll rent one to you. Where I live, if this thing isn’t gone in 7 days I will be lined up against the wall and shot. Oh yeah … despite the amazing weather we have had here for the last several weeks – and will continued to have for the next few weeks – it rained today on moving day. Not all day, just for two of the three hours we were moving. Karma, you are hilarious … (my wife must have done something).


concrete floors in the Den

So here it is, my house with all the furniture moved out. Since the likelihood that the house will be this empty again is pretty low, I thought I should document the “before” spaces. While I have pictures of all the rooms, I’ll spare you those photos. Starting tomorrow, I have FloorRescue coming in to grind all the floors to remove the color. Saying “all the floors” doesn’t sound right, I have just one floor – but it is the  e n t i r e  house.


old and new concrete floors coming together

This is a look at where the existing floor (mottled brown) meets the newly poured concrete floor (gray). Since we don’t know how the old and new will look after the grinding process we are waiting to determine if we need to come back and stain the floor before waxing it to a high shine. I think we will end up going dark again, but more of a black than a brown.


the renovated space

The revised space has turned out wonderful – everything I had envisioned. The space has opened up the main room, the new window has allowed a substantial amount of light to come into the space, and we will finally have a comfortable room to host meals with family and friends. Before (since this house didn’t have an official Dining Room) those meals took place in the kitchen which was nice but still the kitchen. It’s hard to finish a nice meal and just sort of kick back and relax when that big ‘ol mess of pots and dishes is sitting there eyeballing you … and if you get up to clear the dishes, everyone else jumps up to help (because we have decent people in our lives) but they are your guests and you don’t want them to get up and help. We ordered our 104″ long table last week and I should receive my pendant fixtures sometime this week.


the main hallway - addition to the right

Here is a view that helps convey how the renovated space relates to the main room. Looking at this picture you can really see the difference of the concrete stain. The dark part on the left has been under a white shag (don’t judge me) carpet and as a result, I vacuumed this area instead of mopping it like the middle section. Since the original concrete isn’t stained (the sealer and wax topcoat were tinted) every time you clean the floors you lift a little bit of the color up. The middle section shows what 50 years of mopping will do. (To help give you a sense of scale, the distance from the far left to the far right is around 38′)


the main hallway - addition to the left

This is the same space but now the view is back towards the front doors. There is very little gypsum board in my house – most of the walls are either plaster or cedar boards-on-board. That’s part of the reason this renovation was a little tricky. Everything is exposed and the structural elements are also the decorative elements so any change almost has to be holistic in its consideration because it relates to everything else in the house in some way or another.

Starting tomorrow, the grinding will begin and I am more than a little nervous about it. I hope it’s because I am anxious rather than thinking I made the wrong decision. Either way, the train is leaving the station and the conductor is grinding the concrete!

(what?!?   that didn’t make any sense)

The last post on the renovation will be on the concrete floor process – hopefully you have enough interest for one more post – thank you for tolerating me during this time. Since I come home from work and spend my evenings ripping out cabinets, etc. this is the only topic I have been able to focus on.








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  • MikeT

    Thanks for sharing. I love the photos of the transformation. Great blog!

  • Fascinating posts Bob. Really enjoy reading the blog. Some great insights into the er, um “design” process we call life.

  • Jwkathol

    So cool to see you doing this – and happy for you – especially after going back and reading your floor post from 2010!

  • Lundy Wilder

    Interesting post and interesting home. I’d like to know exactly what brands of sealant and wax end up on your finished floor. We go round-n-round testing sealants and waxes…so we have a keen interest. We’d also like to know how your brands were chosen….attributes. Please ask the floor rescue guys and give us all details in your “after” post. Best wishes.

    • absolutely.

      I think we are simply going to keep the floors natural and apply a paste wax but I’ll let you know the details.


  • I can’t wait to see how this comes out!

    • you and me both. I am telling you, working on your own house is way more stressful – maybe it’s because I have a out of control demanding client?

  • I imagine grinding will kick up a LOT of dust. Don’t forget to turn off your HVAC! Are they going to be taping everything up to protect it?

    Thanks for the updates and pics. It must be quite stressful trying to get this done in time for the upcoming holiday.

    • the dust is CRAZY!!! They put a lot of plastic up but after the first day, I came back through and spent 4 hours adding even more.

      Re: stress … I think I have my first zit(s) in 25 years

  • Carrie Stallwitz

    Bob- I read this quote last week. “The days may be long but the years are short.” In a year (decade?), just think how much you’ll enjoy looking back on your beautifully ground concrete floors. And remember when your wife used to be patient with your projects.

    It’s looking great!!!

    • Thanks Carrie – that’s a great quote. I will have to add that to my stockpile.


  • I definitely find the reno interesting, but I beg to differ on one point – I think 17 years wouldn’t make me un-hot. I’m totally hot and no-one dare contradict me.

    • the dead can tell no lies sort of thing?

  • Hey Mr. Borson, the home renovation posts are pretty awesome, don’t stop 🙂

    I have a question: are you not conserned, that a dark floor combined with a dark ceiling will suck the new found light out of the house? The side of your house with the white shag (no judgement – my stepma got one too) carpet seems really dark… but then again there’s no window… Anyway, I’ll have to wait to see until it’s finished, won’t I?



    • At this point, since I have concerns over how the stain might look between the old concrete and the freshly poured concrete, I think we are going to stay simple and just wax it and leave the stain off.

  • Sheila Rice

    Bob, I love your posts. I find them interesting, well-written and they always leave me smiling! Your house project looks marvelous…and worth moving out for a bit!

    • Thanks Sheila – that is super nice of you to take time and say something. I was over by the VCR Forest lane offices the other day and mentioned you to my friend, seems so long ago.

      Hope things are well – cheers

  • Kurt S.

    As with any good construction project on my home… you are behind your originally posted schedule by 2 weeks. Unfortunately, with mine… It’s about 2 months. Yay for doing all the work myself.

    • Yay for you is right! In fairness to my contractor, since the price is coming in lower than what was budgeted/estimated, I have been adding a lot of scope.

      Big surprise right – owner caused delays (a contractors 3 favorite words)

  • Whatever happened with painting those dark beams white? Now would seem the perfect time to get that job done.

    • I decided not to do it. I struggled with the idea for so long that I decided to listen to what I was trying to tell myself. Now that we have added this large window and the floors will get re-done, the house seems substantially brighter.

      Painting the ceiling and the beams white would have made the space extremely casual and more industrial feeling – not what I really wanted (which was really a brighter space)

  • @PaulDGerber

    I feel your pain Bob, although the work being done at our house is only painting, the house is open concept on the ground floor so once you start….

    And to add to the pain, the area around the stair to the second floor is a two storey vaulted space…so right now there is scaffolding set up in there that you have to crawl through to get to the stair (posted a couple of pics on Twitter yesterday). Of course half of the living room furniture (desk, bookshelf unit and china cabinet type tower unit) are still sitting out from the wall due to the stairwell painting.

    Like you said, there is nothing better than working a full day, then coming home mentally tired and having to do DIY work until late in the evening and then all weekend long. I think the only thing keeping my fiancee sane is the fact that she is getting to CLEAN the house as the painting finishes in an area…and with 4 boys and a girl, all 14 and older, there is always something to clean!

    • I used to love painting – it wasn’t all that hard, my back was younger then and I could paint for days. It was an inexpensive way to change how a space felt. Now *shudder* painting just about kills me and I can’t imagine what it would take for me to paint off of scaffolding. Good luck with all that!

  • Wow, Bob, you have transformed your living space, well done!! here’s to new life through excellent design. You’re work is almost done here. thanks much for sharing the process! Cindy @urbanverse