Our DIY Den Project


Since our lines are buried next to a tree, we were told by our electric company that they got tangled in a tree of heaven on our property, instantly denying our claim, explaining that since the tree is on our property, the power surges and resultant losses were our fault.

Tree of Heaven on our property
The tree of heaven in the distance before being removed.

This all started in July 2019, and initially what was damaged were the older or oldest appliances we owned or that came with the house, however that was not the end of the impact the power surges had. In October my washer flooded while I was at work.

My second daughter was at home with my youngest while my husband was out of town; I got a text from my daughter around 4 pm, saying she needed me to call her, so I did, whereby I found out that she loaded clothes and soap into the washer before leaving to do something else. When she walked into the hall later on, she heard the water still running so she went to check it out, passing through the den to the laundry room. Her feet got soaked.

When I got home I didn’t get to or have to see the immediate mess that my daughter cleaned up in her quick thinking, as she borrowed a Shop-Vac from a neighbor, though she couldn’t take care of everything on her own.

The carpet was still quite wet, so I took over trying to get the water out of the den. My daughter didn’t take any pictures, but it wouldn’t have mattered since we already had a claim paid from 2017 and we never replaced the flooring. She told me that it was probably a couple of inches deep in the laundry room, and even though some of the furniture got wet, thankfully none of it got ruined.

We did as much as we could, set fans in the den to run all night (in order to help it dry out), and then went to bed.

It might have been the following day when I started smelling ‘the smell’. You know, the smell of cat urine, though it isn’t really cat urine at all? It pervaded the house, all the way to my bedroom, which is one of the furthest rooms away from the den. Instantly I knew it was the carpet, and it wasn’t going to be salvaged this time.

We rolled that thing up ourselves and carried it out to the carport; it was heavy, because it was still pretty damp, and then we rolled up the carpet pad and took that outside as well.

The concrete underneath had wet spots in places. I cleaned the floor really good, and then I tried out my washing machine. After a few minutes I determined that it was not user error; that it needed to be replaced. I had the set for a few years, and I bought them used.

When my husband got home we started discussing options of replacing the floor once again, however he wasn’t home only a couple of days when our new washer sprung a leak in the laundry room. He looked at it after turning the water off, and the guys who installed the set didn’t set it up right. Thankfully it wasn’t a big deal, and after my husband fixed it, we haven’t had an issue since, although my daughter and I were still a bit jumpy.

Well, due to the water issues arising from the laundry room, we both vetoed going with wood floors in the den. We entertained the idea of staining the concrete for a time period, though with my husband’s neck injury and the various marks on the concrete we weren’t really sure how that was going to work out. So we did nothing for another year except talk about it.

Once again we got busy; as I mentioned before, the power surges caused more issues, such as a month or two later when our well pump stopped working. It too was on the older side but not so old. Well pumps last anywhere from 8-15 years. Ours was only 5 or 6 years old. Looking at the appliances we lost since the power surges, it was entirely too much to be coincidence, because it was only a couple of months later.

Paul, my husband, started calling and emailing our electric company and their insurers, laying out our claim. It was an arduous task, and one the electric company was happy to ignore, however when a neighbor informed us about dead appliances and power surges at her house around the same time as ours, we knew we shared this issue, and so encouraged her to file a claim with the electric company’s insurance company.

It took around 3 months to finally get settled with our electric company, and they didn’t pay us full value, however they did come out and cut down the troublesome tree so hopefully we won’t have to deal with that again.

We had laminate tiles in the kitchen, bathrooms, and hall, while the living room and bedrooms were/are carpeted, so we ripped out the carpet in the living room and the tiles in the kitchen, hall, and hall bathroom. On the days my husband was working, our girls and I would scrape the glue off the floors and wash the floors with Goo Gone.

If my husband didn’t have his neck injury, that he sustained as a fireman, likely he would have gotten the floors finished in only a couple of days, however as it was, it took about three to four weeks, making slow but steady progress.

Back to the den: The floor was now in, and we ordered a couch from Mathis Brothers Outlet, after donating the old one. My husband then purchased a barely used massage chair from someone in Dallas, and all we had left to do was sand and re-paint the wood furniture.

When we first moved in, I originally painted the furniture with chalk paint, so I decided to do that again, however I had some prep work to do first: I lightly sanded all of the furniture, especially where paint was starting to flake off, and then cleaned it all with soapy water, letting everything dry thoroughly before painting. I chose Rustoleum Linen White and Charcoal as my colors since the couch is a light gray color. I worked from 8am-5pm a couple of Sundays ago to get it done. I then wanted to distress the pieces, so I had to wait until they were dry.

I whitewashed the charcoal pieces while dry-brushing the white linen ones, both techniques for distressing furniture.

It’s very easy to use chalk paint, however I’ve also worked with other types of paint as well, and what drew me to the chalk paint again was the minimal prep work and the ease with which I can make the look distressed.

I have read several instances where normally it’s not required to sand prior to using chalk paint, and that was true the first time I used it. The reason I did this time was because I had prior chalk paint on the pieces I was wanting to redo and some paint was flaking, so I wanted a good finish. I didn’t have to get out my sander though; I just used some sandpaper and did it by hand with 80 grit to get it done faster.

It didn’t remove all of the paint, just made it smoother, and then I cleaned the furniture with soapy water, letting the pieces dry before I started to paint. I only had to apply two coats of chalk paint to each piece, but that might be due to the fact that with each piece I repainted using very similar colors that they already had. I let them dry 8 hours before distressing them. I used the opposing colors on the furniture: White Linen on the Charcoal and vice versa, but my techniques were different.

I whitewashed the Charcoal furniture with the White Linen chalk paint, using some water and paint, making sure the paintbrush moved easily over the furniture. You could use a rag if you wanted to, but the idea is to distress the furniture with a mixture of water and paint to the desired look.

With the Charcoal furniture we did dry-brushing using the White Linen chalk paint, where you dip your paintbrush in the paint, but before applying to the furniture, you wipe off all of the excess. You don’t want your paintbrush soaked in order to get the dry-brush look.

Then I waited another 24 hours before putting a clear coat on all of the repainted furniture.

That’s the end of our DIY den adventure, and I’m glad we finally have a floor in there, because it was a long time coming! Please feel free to share your own mishaps with home projects; I’d love to hear from you!

Published by KS

I'm sharing my stories from a small town in Oklahoma: Chickens and other birds, cats, bees, a bunny, and art.

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