Friday, October 21, 2011

The basement: Part 1 - The floors

For the past five months, our basement TV room has been a bit of a mess, while we wait for a heavy rainfall to assure us that the leak is fixed and that the basement will stay  dry.  This past Wednesday we apparently had over 30 mm of rain overnight - so I take that as my cue.  The basement is dry.
The entire east wall of the room is missing 2' of drywall off the bottom of the wall, the baseboards are all in a pile waiting to be put back into place, and the carpet has been temporarily rolled back into place.

Unfortunately though, the carpet doesn't look like it will ever be the same as it used to.  As soon as we noticed the basement was wet, we covered the carpet in baking soda to absorb some of the moisture and as a preventative measure against mustiness.  We then rolled it back and put an industrial fan aimed at it to dry it out.  But when we rolled it back down into place later, the carpet was hard, creased, and lumpy.  The underpadding was also a bit sandy - likely from the water seepage, but also from the work that was done. 

We vacuumed the death out of both... but I just don't ever think I'll be happy with the carpet anymore.  It just doesn't feel cozy and clean anymore.  I don't think it will ever quite reach the edges of the room like it used to, and at the doorway to the room, the seam has gone frayed.
So I have been contemplating other options for flooring, and would be open to suggestions! 
Here are the caveats:
  • The floor is not level.  And by not level, I mean that it has valleys, hills, and even a couple mountains.  I've read that some flooring options require the maximum variation in levelness to be 1/4".... I think we're dealing with a FEW inches at least.
  • Our basement ceiling is LOW.  We don't have any inches to spare.  It's a very usable basement, but Matt's head just clears the ceiling. 
Some of the ideas I've thought of so far are:
Flooring Option
·    Easily stretches over dips & valleys
·    Warm & cozy
·    Difficult to repair
·    Wouldn’t want it to ever get wet

Carpet Tile
·    Easy to replace select squares if any of it is damaged. 
·    Warm & cozy
·    Wouldn’t want it to ever get wet

·    Not sure if it can be installed on unlevel ground?
·    Cost???
Cork Flooring
Really know nothing about this, but would like to know if it’s an option?
Polished/Painted Concrete
·    Would actually gain some height rather than losing height
·    Not an issue with the dips & valleys
·    No concerns about it getting wet
·    Cold!  Would definitely require some area rugs
·    Can look cool and industrial (which is appropriate for our basement), but might also just look unfinished and rough?
·    Does the concrete have to look nice before it is painted/polished?  Because I think ours is a bit patchy looking!
Vinyl Plank Flooring
·    Easy to install
·    Probably easy to replace if some sections are damaged
·    Can handle getting wet
·    Cold!  Would definitely require some area rugs
·    Might look cheap.  We installed about 15 square feet in our basement powder room, and it looks nice, but an entire basement of it might scream “cheap”. 
·    Not sure that this could be installed on unlevel ground?  That wasn’t an issue in the powder room.

Here is some inspiration I've found too:

Carpet Tile from InterfaceFLOR.  This looks so nice and flat... I only WISH our basement floor was this flat.

Carpet Tile from InterfaceFLOR.  Looks cozy.

Painted concrete on Pinterest.  LOVE this pattern!!

Painted Concrete on Pinterest.  A fun pattern and kind of industrial... suits a basement.

Painted Concrete on Pinterest.  GORGEOUS!

Stained concrete on Pinterest - looks so much cozier because of the warm fire and bright windows.

Stained concrete on Apartment Therapy... again, I think this room looks cozy because of the lighting and a fireplace (which we do not have)

Any flooring experts out there have any great suggestions for how to handle this?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Starbucks, won't you be my neighbour?

About a year and a half ago, when we were in the process of purchasing our house, I contacted Starbucks to enquire about any plans they had to expand in our new neighbourhood.  There is a complete lack of Starbucks in our area - and this is an oddity in Toronto.  Even in areas where you would least expect a Starbucks, they have appeared over the years. 

It's no secret that Starbucks are believed to be associated with higher property values.  So I will admit, that was one thing on my mind.  But I also just like the idea of a Starbucks nearby: sometimes I will go out for a walk, just for the purpose of getting out the house, and I like to have a destination, and Starbucks is just that.  Don't get me wrong, I also LOVE independent coffee houses (which our neighbourhood also has a shortage of), and I, by no means, think that Starbucks is the be all and end all of coffee.  But there also seems to be an (irrational) stigma about living in a Starbucks-less neighbourhood.  Is it underdeveloped?  Undiscovered?  Or just plain not worthy?

The reply I got from Starbucks was a canned, albeit friendly response thanking me for the suggestion.  And it was signed "Jesus".  I kid you not.  (There is a God and he works at Starbucks?).

Fast-forward a year and a half, and still no sign of a Starbucks on its way.  I've watched a new Tim Hortons drive-through open up, a new RBC on a previously empty lot, and numerous high-end condo sales centres.  But still no Starbucks.  I found this map, and it assured me I am not insane - there is a void!

So I decided to do a little research to find out some of the demographics of the area.

My little disclaimer: I take no responsibility for incorrect information.  I do my best, but that's all I can promise!

I can only draw so many conclusions from the limited information I had available to me.  But from what I can tell, this area has a higher percentage of people of working age (25-64) than is the average for the City of Toronto as a whole.  I would imagine this to be Starbucks' target age range.  Additionally, the Stonegate-Queensway area is well above the city's average for Household Income, and both areas I researched are higher than the city when looking at Median Family Income.  I would think this is tied to greater disposable income and increased likelihood of spending money on the ever-increasing cost of coffee. 

I also went out on a limb, and presumed that couples with one child or no children would have greater disposable income than those with more than one child.  Again, among couples in this area, there is a higher percentage with one child or no children than is the average across the city.   

I would love to know the exact definition of Starbucks' target market, and how closely this area matches.  If this isn't the cause for the void, I'm not sure what else it could be.  There is easy access to highway, and ample parking in the area (unlike this one, this one, this one, and many others).

So tell me Starbucks, won't you be my neighbour?