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New Carpet Smell

Started: 2008-12-15 08:02:02

Submitted: 2008-12-15 18:40:12

Visibility: World-readable

As part of my fall home-improvement plan, I carpeted my basement last week. I wanted to make my basement a more comfortable place to linger, both for festing and for my home office. Visitors to my basement will remember the cold concrete slab partially covered by a pair of thin area rugs. Except for a few small areas of the basement (in front of my furnace and under the stairs), the slab is covered by ample carpet, changing the quality of the space and making it feel much better.

Clearing out the basement to accommodate the carpet install was no small feat. In addition to four year's worth of accumulated stuff, we had boxes dating from childhood, cubicle partitions, shelving of various quality, and three heavy appliances. The first part of my plan was moving Ziyal and Hiro up to the second floor, which I did before Thanksgiving before I made the final decision in favor of carpet. Next was boxing the stuff on my desk and on the shelves, which occupied my evenings on the first week of December. I took down the cubicles (after taking note of their configuration) and stacked everything to be ready to go.

On the first weekend in December, I carried everything out of my basement into the garage. I swept out the garage and began carrying up boxes, starting with the new boxes I filled and moving on to the numbered and cataloged permanent storage boxes. I carried the the cubicle components into the garage, leaving only the big and heavy things I couldn't move myself.

I recruited a coworker to help me move the freezer, washer, and dryer into the garage. I rented an appliance dolly from my friendly local UHaul, which turned the task of lugging the appliances into something two engineers could do in an afternoon. Kiesa emptied out the freezer and we lugged it up the stairs into the garage. Kiesa refilled the freezer as my recruit and I returned to the basement to tackle the dryer (which was easy enough to carry without the dolly) and the washing machine (which was still easier than the freezer). That left a few scattered shelving units that we made quick work of, and at length the basement was empty and the garage was full.

Basement stuff stored in the garage
Basement stuff stored in the garage

I turned next to the task of cleaning the floor. The space under the washer and dryer were covered in lint and litter; The rest of the basement was a bit cleaner but still dirty. I swept and mopped the slab, filled the expansion joint cracks with something I found at Lowe's for that purpose, and marveled at the sight of the empty basement for the first time in the four years I've lived there.

Basement empty and ready for carpet
Basement empty and ready for carpet

The carpet installers came on Tuesday. It snowed that day, so I was happy for the excuse to work from home and avoid snowy traffic on the Diagonal. (One downside of loosing my garage to the stuff formerly located in the basement was having to put our cars on the driveway in the snow.) The team of two took four hours to carpet the basement and the stairs. As they worked, I stole occasional glances down the stairs as the carpet advanced up the stairs and across the basement floor. When they were finished, I descended into the basement and stared at the carpet and how much it had changed the way the basement felt.

Looking up the stairs in the newly-carpeted basement
Looking up the stairs in the newly-carpeted basement

With the time-critical task of emptying and cleaning the basement for the carpet install complete, I turned to the task of figuring out where everything should go. I started with measurements of my appliances, shelves, and cubicles and began modeling the basement on engineering paper until Kiesa suggested SketchUp. I wasn't convinced that using SketchUp was worth the effort, but I installed it in my Windows VM and started modeling the basement itself and the furniture I wanted to install. The large appliances would only fit in one place -- I only had hookups for the washer and dryer on the wall adjoining the stairs -- but everything else was freely redistributable. I took most of the week to figure out my ultimate plan for the basement; I wanted the plan to be complete before I executed it so I didn't have to relocate anything once I carried it downstairs.

I also had the advantage of getting a bit more cubicle hardware in the past month, including three corner desk sections I wanted to use. It took me most of the week to get my model up and figure out where I wanted to put everything. I ended up with an arrangement not entirely unlike the old arrangement, with various desks laid out on the northern edge of the wall. I claimed the north-western corner of the basement and arranged the cubicle partitions so that I could see out of the window well for the first time since the last time I rearranged the cubicles. (There's not much to see out of my window well but it does let in more light when it's not blocked by partitions. I need to clean the cobwebs off the outside of the window, and now it occurs to me to wonder about the merits of a tiny, dark-tolerant window well garden.)

monarch.festing.org, floor 0, in SketchUp

This is my basement in SketchUp. North is up; the front of my house is to the bottom. My desk is in the top-left corner. Here's the full SketchUp file (version 7), if you're bored.

With the final plan in place, I began implementing last weekend. I started with the permanent storage boxes (which I needed to move out of the way so I could reach the interior of the garage where I had a few key tools boxed away (specifically the charger for my cordless drill) and some of the important cubicle hardware. I started in the north-west corner of the basement and started building south and then west.

In addition to extra desk sections, I also acquired a set of cubicle power harnesses, which I used to wire up the main stretch of partitions on the north wall. This may reduce the daisy-chained power strips running along the desks.

I enlisted a former Morphlix coworker for the final phase of moving back into the basement: moving the appliances (and the last few things I couldn't carry on my own) down the stairs. We had gravity on our side; while moving the freezer (the heaviest and bulkiest of the appliances), all we really had to do was get the appliance dolly on the stairs and push and make sure it didn't hit the walls. (It was a bit more complicated than that, especially to get the freezer in place to begin with.) Unpacking the freezer was easier as well; a major cold front hit Longmont on Saturday night, dumping roughly three inches of snow on my lawn (and the cars parked on my driveway) and pushing Sunday's daytime high in the teens. Sunday night's low was forecast at -14°F (-26°C) -- a seventy degree (Fahrenheit) drop from Saturday's high of 56°F in thirty-six hours. This meant I could leave the frozen food in the frozen garage without any ill effects while I waited for the freezer to recover from being pushed down a flight of stairs.

Unpacked basement, now with carpet!
Unpacked basement, now with carpet!

The current plan is to hold Megafest 7.2 at monarch.festing.org the week after Christmas. This home improvement should make the standard basement Festing grounds that much more comfortable.