A New Floor

comments: 303


Friday was so great.


It's strange how much I love watching the Home being Improved.


I got a little emotional about it, actually. When we bought this house ten years ago, we had just come out of a truly terrible two years during which we'd moved to a city where we barely knew anyone, I'd almost immediately been in a serious accident, had six surgeries in six months, my parents had sold their house and moved across the country to be near us (and my sister and her family), and my father had passed away. So many things felt so suddenly broken or lost. I remember thinking that, like others in my family at that time, I was a refugee in my own life; almost everything in it (except, of course, for Andy) was new and strange and sad, and I felt utterly vulnerable, like a piece of dandelion fluff that might easily be lost to a strong wind. I barely recognized myself, or anything else. We had gotten married just the year before. Our wedding picture hung on the wall in our room, across from the bed. I remember staring at the picture and telling myself, over and over, "That is you. That is still you. That girl is still you." I told myself that every single day.

We started house-hunting in February 2000, after about two and a half years of living in Portland, and we didn't really enjoy it at all. I was surprised, because I had wanted my own house all of my life, but when it came time to find one, we weren't really in the right shape for hunting. Nothing on the market in our neighborhood (and we wanted to stay in our neighborhood) was even close to being right, and, if it was "right" it wasn't affordable. It was dreary and pouring rain outside. I just wanted the whole thing to be over with as quickly as possible so I could lay down.


A few weeks into it, this one came on the market. It definitely wasn't updated, but it wasn't really a fixer, either. Apparently there had been one couple before us that had gotten there first and had really wanted it, but as they pulled their car out of the driveway they bashed into the rock wall that edges the (very skinny and slopey) driveway; they drove away and never came back. We saw it immediately after them, and it was one of those things where you walk in and after one nanosecond you're like, "Oh, okay — this is fine — where do I sign?" It was clear from the front door that this one would be fine. But then when we went to the back and saw the studio (which was built as an addition by the previous owner who used it as a painting studio, and which is why we've just always called it "the studio"), it was obvious to both of us that this was a room that could help build a new life. You wouldn't necessarily think that one room could do that. But oh! how it did. At times even this (average-sized) house felt much too big and overwhelming (and we had almost nothing in the way of furniture, or curtains, or curtain rods, or pictures, or . . . anything that we needed to fill a whole house). But the studio was my first real room of my own. And it became my world, at a time when the real one outside seemed too scary and uncertain.


Cleaning out this room this week, ten years since arriving in it, has brought it all back to me, somehow. Those particular days feel so far away now. They left behind, after all was said and done, a residue of overwhelming gratitude. Our life has changed so much here. Being in this room with Andy again, moving, cleaning, building, dreaming, figuring, fixing, fussing, listening to music, talking, laughing, watching him. I love it so much. We have done this a lot by now, in many different spaces together. But this room is special, and both of us feel that. I leaned out the kitchen window and said to Floor Installer Guy #1 as he was cutting a board with the big saw on Friday, "This is one of the best days of my entire life!!!"


He goes, "Wow."

[Cue Andy sputtering.]


When the floor was in and the Guys were cleaning up, I said excitedly to Floor Installer Guy #2, "Don't you think this the prettiest room in the whole wide world?!?"

Photo by Andy Paulson, Master Mechanic.

He goes, "Er . . . top ten" [more giggling from Andy]. Guy #1, who was outside, said, "Does anyone know that there is a dog out here?" indicating Clover Meadow Paulson, who was outside sniffing around unsupervised near the wide-open back gate. I glanced up and said, "Oh, yeah, but I can't watch her because I only have eyes for my new floor!" [looking around smiling, pointing out new floor to Guys].


So. So. Wonderful.


On Saturday, I sat in a state of bewildered awe/borderline catatonia while Andy built all of the furniture. He insisted that it would be easier without my help. SPECTACULAR. Then he went back to work yesterday (Sunday) to "get some rest" (har). I started putting things away yesterday and got about one-third of the way done. I still can't believe this is my room.



Beautiful story! Beautiful room!

could you please write a book. full of your beautiful words and photographs. i love your stories so.

congrats on the new room ... the new floor. i'm glad your survived your bumpy past.

i never thought i'd like blonde wood floors, but you have a way of making them look fabulous!

congrats again.

It's looking gorgeous! Very inspiring!

I love your new blue - it's perfect with the floor! i recognize those little Ikea 'dowels' in your organizer! they connect ALL the pieces of ikea furniture! and you better not lose one, they don't give extras!! Your glass door-cabinet is beautiful! can't wait to see it filled with all your pretties! well done!

Your gratitude makes me love your writing (and you!) even more. You write about the beauty of life and remind us that we can all have your attitude, even if we don't have your paint color. I heart the new studio!

i know what you mean about a space helping define what feels unrefined and uncertain. that was our first house, which we left 4 years ago, after living in it from the time we were 9-month old newlyweds til 2006. it was hard to say goodbye, and this new house, while nicer in many ways, just doesn't have the personality. it also doesn't have the same stories to tell that that old 1912 one did.

btw, i'd like to see a picture of that newlywed couple sometime. is it already posted somewhere?

Oh, Alicia! I'm so HAPPY for you -- this is just wonderful.

Thank you, as always, for sharing yourself with us here.

The Fine Art Library in Central Library in Edinburgh has its staircase in EXACTLY your blue. "Thank-you for painting the stairway in my favourite colour!", I gushed to the guy behind the desk. I think he thought I was a mad-woman.

Thank-you for painting your beautiful studio in my favourite colour :)

Best Wishes

Congratulations! It looks awesome. I love that shade of blue; it's very similar to what is in our bedroom. It is very calming, yet has this energetic, uplifting feeling as well (not sure if that makes sense). Your home looks like a great place to hang out. You and Andy are doing a great job.

i love your little corner of the world, alicia. thank you for letting us take a peek. it IS the prettiest room in the whole wide world!! xoxo

Very nice so far! Love the floors also. Maybe one day I will get the time and money to re-do my room. Thanks for letting see how things are coming along. :)

Thank you for posting that story. I read faithfully, but feel too sheepish to comment mostly. But this so resonates with me. I'm two years married, coming out of a very difficult batch of years (definitely did the "that girl's still you" thing), about to move into a place we're buying where I'll have my first room of my own (cue Virginia Woolf), and I hope for similarly lovely things to happen to me as have happened to you. The new room looks gorgeous. I wish you more hope and beautiful things.

You did an awesome job and I can't wait to see the final project. Thanks for your post....it gives me hope that one day I can buy a house and know that it fits me and my husbands personality(sorry the one we have right now does not but I am grateful for it none the less).

Hilarious! Love the "Wow."

Congrats on your new room. It looks lovely!

I know exactly what you mean. My studio is my refuge from the world. When the world seems ugly and dark I shut the blinds; when it's friendly and sunny I open them and let the outside look in. I don't know what I'd do without this room of my own!

And yours is looking so very nice!

xo Jill

Oh i love it -and i love it when you tell us a story!
It actually brought a tear to my eye...just think what a happy, inspiring and joyful room it will be as your little lady grows up there too!
Really excited about seeing the finished photos xx

The studio is looking gorgeous! Currently my little room like like a bomb went off. If I could find the floor I'd vacuum. I'm envious of those wood floors. Someday...

Virginia Woolf (and all of sisterhood) is celebrating for you--it is beautiful.

May I borrow Andy for future putting together of IKEA furniture? Because there's nothing I dislike more than the putting together of IKEA furniture, which is why I won't allow myself to buy any. But if Andy was available...

PS - Andy, you are a GOOD MAN.

beautiful room! isn't it amazing how healing the perfect space can be?

Those blue walls are so soothing, I would just sit a stare.

You deserve such a wonderful space. Enjoy!

love the cubbies, can't wait to see what you fill them with!

This is truly a beautiful room. I wish it were mine! I am unfortunately where you were 10 years ago, and I'm just trying to get my life in some sort of order. It's hard. I tell myself I will get there every day too.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com