So after pondering its uselessness for four years, we had it removed. We did think about keeping the flue and putting a modern burner in but it was too close to the window - apparently legal in the 1970s but not at all now. It all came out - including the brick hearth - leaving a great big gap in the carpet and a square of chipped and flaking bricks in the lounge room floor. Here's the before shot - we normally have the gap covered with a rug. Well, half of it covered, we never did find a rug big enough.
We needed new flooring - but what? I like carpet in general, but this is in our living room and dining room, where we eat all our meals (we don't have a formal dining room and then somewhere else where we actually eat most of our food, I've never understood that). So the carpet in the dining room was deeply trashed, and I really didn't want to put more down. Even with the boys a bit older there are still spills ... and a couple of red wine lunches and it would look like crap.
We thought about a hard floor, but I'm not a fan. I don't like tiles or wood - noisy, unforgiving if you drop something, and cold. If we had a 19th century villa with fabbo original boards then I would probably use them, but putting wood down on top of a 1970s concrete slab? Nup. So I looked at rubber, and linoleum, and vinyl, and cork ... and no-one in Canberra really does them, and I wasn't sure I'd like the look anyway. And around we went for FOUR YEARS unable to make a decision.
And then we bought the beach house, which has vinyl loose-lay planking that looks like wood. Perfect for a beach house, but after a year in it, we realised it is perfect for anywhere. It is wonderful stuff - hard wearing, soft underfoot, easy to clean and quiet. So we bit the bullet and ordered it in for the lounge and dining room at home.
We ripped up the old carpet and tack strips ourselves - a bit backbreaking because they had nailed the tack strips to the slab, but very satisfying. The old carpet was DISGUSTING!!!! And the layers of sand on the underlay? What the hell? I was very happy to see that get picked up for the tip. Here is the naked concrete floor shot - the slab was a bit beaten up. It had had a felt underlay glued to it at one point, and there were patches of sticky hairy stuff. Nasty.
But the guy who laid the floor was completely unfazed by it all - scraped it off, filled the bricks with concrete, put a scree over the top; and when it was dry came back and put the vinyl down in a morning. We got the expensive stuff which he said was much easier to put down because it's thick and cut square. Because we have so many feature brick walls, and a wooden ceiling, we went with a very light wood - limed, or greyed-out.
And it is awesome! I know it's bogan flooring to have vinyl in the living room but it looks great, it feels lovely and (hopefully) will be resilient and hard wearing. I bought some new cushions but, like all new things, it makes the rest of the place look shabby. Next decision is a new sofa ... another eight years?