Around the House: New carpet!!

Sorry for the quietness last night. We have a crazy weekend this week and we’re hosting Thanksgiving here next weekend, so I’m running around a bit and trying not to get crazy. But back to our regularly scheduled programming… I promised you an update of that big project that we started last weekend that knocked me offline for a couple days and led to our discovery of a note from Alex. Well, here you go!

Do you have one thing in your house that is extremely embarrassing for you? Like you don’t have people over because you’re afraid they’ll see it and judge you? No? Just me then..?

Well, for me that ‘thing’ was the carpet in our reading room. And in our case, it was more a question of smelling it than seeing it. Maybe you remember the lovely photos from this old post (almost exactly one year ago) when we tore out half the carpet in this room? (Our dining room and reading room are really just one big open space.) Try not to be sick.

Annyyywaaaayy… the smelly cat-pee carpet, the bane of my existence, is no more! Yippeeee!!

Maybe I should back up a bit and explain why we’ve been living with cat-pee carpet for three years, hm? Well it all started when we moved in and literally the whole house smelled like pee. Not a great ‘welcome home’ to say the least. I’m pretty sure Yankee Candle wouldn’t make millions on a cat-pee scented candle. Back to my story. We cleaned all the carpet thoroughly, and it was better but still not great.

This was the point where I started crawling around the house sniffing corners and I narrowed the main offenders down to two rooms. One of them is our guest room upstairs (sorry overnight guests!), and the other was the reading room. Which happens to be the room that is closest to the front door and really gives you that slap in the face when you walk in. So I deep cleaned these two rooms with vinegar, dawn dish soap, and baking soda. And it actually worked! Kinda.

The smell was barely there for quite a while, but it would slowly come back if it’s too humid or hot. There has always been a lingering fear though, that as soon as I replace it, Lu will get sick again, or miss his ‘territory’ and we’ll be back in the same boat. Plus carpet isn’t exactly a cheap or easy project for our DIY skills and minimal budget. So finally I settled on what I think is a brilliant solution – carpet tiles.

Here are the list of pluses in my mind in making this decision:

• We can easily replace one if Lu gets crazy in there or a kid (or husband) spills something.
• They are pretty affordable…
• and very easy to install ourselves.
• I like the low profile- easy for rolling our office chair around on.
• I can add a colorful or fluffy rug for some more interest and softness, without that weird rug on carpet feeling.

So despite my sister’s comment “Tiles? Like in an office building?” I drove all over town trying to find carpet tiles I liked. I wanted to find some at Lowes to get my 5% Lowes card discount, but no luck. Apparently Omaha Lowes don’t carry them and you can only buy them online (a fact that none of the store associates apparently know, since they each sent me across town to a different location before I came to this realization). Home Depot does carry them though, and that’s what we went with, in a deep charcoal color that I love. So much drama! And such a welcome change from the boring beige that we had in here before.

The charcoal actually makes the walls look more blue and I love the dark-on-dark color scheme. Luckily this room has huge windows and gets a lot of light. Probably the only room in our house that can pull off this carpet and wall color together.

As an alternative, we did look online at buying the higher-quality Flor tiles, but the price point was just too high for the amount we needed and our budget for the room. Not to mention buying extra in case of any accidents.

I’ll spare you all the details of clearing the room out and just show you a few process shots:

We basically just moved everything out of the reading room into surrounding rooms and our house looked like this:

Then, as you can see in the above photos, we tore up the carpet and pad, pried all the tacks and staples up (again, you can get a detailed process here), and I scrubbed the stink out of the subfloor with a combo of white vinegar, Dawn dishsoap, and baking soda.

Once that was dry, I painted Kills primer over the subfloor, just like in our last floor replacement. It blocks any lingering smells from seeping back out into my (FINALLY) clean smelling room.

After all that prep work, I was itching to get the carpet down and the house cleaned up. So as soon as the paint was dry I got to work. Sticking these tiles down is literally as easy as peeling the backing off and lining them up. Around the edges, I used a utility knife to trim them to size.

We knew the seams would be visible because of the low nap of the carpet, so I decided to go with it and emphasize instead of trying to hide it. These tiles have a ribbed texture to them, so I rotated every other tile in the opposite direction to get a grid effect. I love the way it turned out. Unfortunately, I don’t have finished final photos, but for good reason. I’m committing to putting baseboard in here before we put the bookshelves back (baseboard finally!!), but they will be back in place before we host Thanksgiving here next weekend. Yippee!! I can’t wait to have my little library put back together and actually be proud of this room for a change. :)

For now, you’ll have to make due with these semi-finished shots of half the room:

The photo above looks like they are different colors, but it’s just the way the light plays on the ribbed texture, which is visible in real life, but for some reason shows up way more in photos. Like I said, we purposely laid them opposite ways to get that effect.

So far the carpet is holding up great and we have an entire box left over (16 tiles) in case we need them. We ended up using exactly 5 boxes for the whole room (80 tiles) which cost us about $180. Not too shabby. In case you’re curious that amount of tile from Flor would have run us a minimum of $500 and probably more than that (definitely a big factor in our decision). To be fair, the ones we chose aren’t super high-quality (I’ve heard Flor tiles are awesome), but considering our needs and the fact that we plan to cover a good portion of the floor with a soft, decorative rug, I’m glad we went with the cheaper option in this case. I’ll let you know how they hold up over time, but they do have a three-year residential warranty and so far have been fantastic. Even Lu approves.

Have a great weekend. See you again on Monday and I’ll do my best to have finished room shots next week!



  • Designing Dawn | What's been going on in the Reading Room • Designing Dawn

    […] for a while, you’ve probably seen some of the updates we’ve done in there, such as replacing the ratty carpet with carpet tiles, building shelving for the office, and (my favorite) that time I scored a beautiful vintage […]

  • amber m

    What an awesome solution! I love your blog because it is so practical – not all of us have tons of extra money to do all of our fix ups. I just really appreciate that you have such a beautiful home, and family, and do it in such a practical way. Thanks for that, and all the inspiration!

    • Dawn Sailors

      Amber, thank you so much! That is seriously the best compliment I’ve ever gotten. I appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment, and I’m glad to know that there are other people out there who can’t just spend spend spend to get their house in shape! Sometimes you have to get creative, haha. :)


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