Interior Design

Renovations Part 1. – Floor Make-Over

After months of research and weeks of preparations, our living, dining and kitchen finally have new floors. We are still missing bits and pieces (like the skirting boards) and our bedroom floors will be done next week, but I wanted to share a little bit about our experience so far.

When we bought the apartment over 6 years ago, it already had floating timber floorboards in the large living area and the kitchen. The bedrooms were carpeted, so we had them removed straight away and installed matching floors with the living area. In hindsight, we should have changed the floors in the living area at that time. We were busy planning our wedding, so the floors were not a priority at the time.

After years of whining (six years to be exact) my husband finally agreed to install new flooring (I was doing the whining, just to clarify). We looked into sanding and staining the existing floors, but the colour was too dark and would not have looked even with the stain. The floors had a lot of sun damage and were quite “stripy” as a result.

Long story short I started looking into getting oak floors installed. They turned out to be way too expensive and with a four year old running around, would have given me constant stress and anxiety (I could just imagine the spilled watercolour stains, food stains and everything else that comes with a child). I knew laminate had come along way in terms of looking and feeling quite realistic, so we decided to look into laminate flooring.

The next step was to find the right boards. Easy, I thought, but was proven wrong as soon as I walked into the first flooring store. There were not just so many brands available, but with all the different looks, finishes, colours and board types, I was left confused. I quickly learned that not all flooring store staff is necessarily knowledgeable in anything but selling. I had so many questions, but was getting very few answers. At this point I gave up my research and thought I’d be stuck with our floors until we one day decide to sell and move out.

After a short hiatus, I picked up a few flooring samples and got bitten by the renovation bug again. I wasn’t happy with the samples, so I went back to different stores and finally saw one I liked immediately. At this point we had also decided to go with a much wider, longer board (which are a bit more expensive, but especially in a large open area, look much nicer). So there was progress! We have the floors, I thought, and yet again I was wrong. You will need underlay (what thickness, are there noise restrictions in your building, are you on the top floor – yes we are), you will need scotias (what colour, thickness, material and where exactly) and trims (they are different to scotias and where would you put these, also there are different materials and colours available). I felt like we were back to square one.

Luckily for me, at this point my darling husband stepped in. He measured all the rooms, even drew a fancy floor plan, came up with exact measurements of the floors, underlay, scotias and trims (including wastage!). Bless his cotton socks. We had a plan.

Until this point, we had only been dealing with one store, so we went ahead with getting a quote and decided to order the floors. We had already agreed with a carpenter friend to install them for us, so we only needed the material. Husband makes the phone call and says he is ready to go ahead with the order. “Is there any room for negotiating?”, he asks politely. We had been told that at the time of ordering, they would be able to offer a better deal for us. The salesman offers him a 4 dollar discount. “Umm, are you able to do any better than that?”, husband asks trying his hardest to keep a friendly manner. “I might be able to take a further twenty dollars off, but I will have to ask the big boss and give you a call back”. “Ok, lets do that. Give us a call back when you can.”, husband says and hungs up the phone. “FOUR DOLLARS???”, I said. “He offered you a FOUR DOLLAR discount?!”. I could not believe it. “Why don’t I just quickly call another store and see what price they can give us”, he says. He calls another store, gives them the measurements and gets an instant quote that is $1,000 cheaper than the other one we were going to go ahead with. We finalise the order there and then. Half an hour later the other guy calls back saying he can give us a further twenty dollars off the price. We tell him we have already ordered elsewhere…

Lessons learnt:

  1. Do your own research before stepping into any flooring stores. Better yet, ask a professional you personally know (and has nothing to sell) to help you with any questions you may have. We learned pretty quickly that everyone has their own opinions on how things should be done and it can make you feel pretty confused! We went around to a lot of flooring shops and realised they don’t all have knowledgeable staff, making things even more complicated.
  2. Hand in hand with no. 1, but try and talk to (a lot of) people. Get different opinions, but keep in mind most people are trying to sell you a product or a service, so take any advice with a grain of salt. We were lucky to meet some (!) honest people along the way who gave us great advice and helped save us a lot of money, too.
  3. SHOP AROUND – You might be able to save a lot more than 4 bucks.


More photos (including before and after coming soon, I promise!!)