Starting with a Clean Slate
Before I could move into my home, I had to tackle 2 major projects: 1) smoothing all walls and ceilings; 2) removing all existing flooring. Both of these projects would last about 4-to-5 weeks. The '70s fully embraced big, bold texture. Yarn-like shag rugs, sculpted brutalist style furniture, faceted mirrors, and in my case, orange peel walls and popcorn ceilings. Seriously, who ever thought either of those were a good design decision?
There's something rather unsettling about heavy plaster spatters in mid-mod design. With clean, crisp lines and a minimal approach throughout the home, I was having nightmares about these unsightly wall warts surrounding me at every turn. The solution: Scrape the ceilings and have all the walls re-mudded. Warning: This project creates so much dust. Even with proper masking and a team of professionals, you will be cleaning up long after your walls are finished.
Call in the Professionals
While I was considering the fun of scraping popcorn texture, the vaulted ceilings required time and scaffolding that I just did not have, so I hired Interstate Companies to handle my wall projects. They worked tirelessly for over 2 weeks -- scraping, mudding, sanding, and sanding some more, every day starting at 7 AM. I went with a perfect smooth finish throughout, which was a multi-step process. Once wet mud was troweled onto the walls, it would have to dry for several days before sanding could take place. Once sanded, more mud was applied to cover any additional texture, then sanded again, and so on until a smooth, even finish was produced. My walls now have few (if any) imperfections, and the results are just what I had hoped for.
The moment I set foot in this home, I knew I wanted to change the flooring. A beech finish wood laminate was laid throughout the main areas of the house with a mix of carpet in the bedrooms and tile/linoleum in the bathrooms. I debated for some time as to which areas I would redo with hardwood or carpet, but after visiting several MCM homes in the Palm Springs area, I was turned on to the idea of polished concrete. Streng Homes were designed specifically for Central Valley living, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. With temperatures reaching 115+ in July and August, I am all for anything that keeps me feeling cool and comfortable when the mercury is boiling.
A friend referred me to Prep Concrete to manage this job. Like my wall crew, they were strictly professional. Matt and his team were in the house at all hours, chiseling away original '70s linoleum (textured, of course) with razor scrapers, busting up 1/2-inch thick ceramic tile, tearing out baseboards, and hand-scraping flooring glue from the concrete slab. I helped wherever I could by tearing up existing materials, but the crew really had a solid handle on every aspect.
The process involved removing all existing baseboards and flooring from the house (yes, even in the closets), scraping any glue/residue from previous flooring, filling holes and cracks, making an initial grinding pass to remove any debris, then additional grinding, staining, sealing and polishing. Altogether, the floors were ground down about 1/8", and finished with 800 grit diamonds, revealing beautiful, reflective salt and pepper finishes as well as some larger aggregate patterns. I had a dark charcoal color custom mixed, which consisted of 2 parts black and 1 part clear.
From a practicality standpoint, concrete is a brilliant choice for flooring. Apart from dry dust mopping and the occasional wet mop, there is little-to-no maintenance involved. From a design perspective, using this single flooring material throughout the entire home definitely brings a feeling of unity and continuum from room to room that also enhances the appearance of furniture and artwork.
Having these two labor-intensive projects tackled right at the start made the most sense for both my time and budget. I can't imagine having moved in only to move out and have this renovation done at a later date. The dust. Seriously, THE DUST! With both walls and floors now completely transformed, I feel like I have the foundation for a space that accurately represents not only my style, but the style of my home despite the texture-rich era in which it was built. Now, onto cutting period-appropriate baseboards!