Mike and Lindsey’s House of Good Taste renovation — the first unexpected cost

Report #3 on their new Retro Renovation journey

House of Good tasteWhile Pam and I were off enjoying ourselves at The Hukilau, Mike and Lindsey were up to their eyeballs in work, continuing the fast-paced the restoration of their Edward Durell Stone House of Good Taste.  And, they experienced their first unexpected expense. In today’s installment — the third in the series — Mike and Lindsey share the tale. And, they ask for our ideas for a secondary flooring material to complement the original terrazzo floors in many other parts of this gorgeous 1964 house.

unexpected-expenses-during-remodelingMike and Lindsey write:

Our heads have been spinning the last few weeks with all the progress on the house and craziness in our lives. Terrazzo floors are finished (note: Mike will be giving us the full run down about the floor refinishing process in the next House of Good Taste update) and have been covered for the rest of construction, the kitchen build out is just about finished, we are starting to pack up our current home, and move in is only five weeks away.

redrywalling-ceilingWith the demo completed, our first task included electrical and wall/ceiling work. We placed the carpet back down over the terrazzo to protect it during what we knew would be messy stages of construction.  We probably won’t see them again for a while :(. With our house in shambles, we have already looked at each other a few times and said, “what have we gotten ourselves into?”  Truth be told, I think we both secretly love a little chaos in our lives.

This next phase has brought us both good and bad news. The good news is that our current home went under contract before it hit the market! Our realtor has some clients that he suspected might love our house and he was right, we got a full price offer and the best part is that they love our two vintage pink bathrooms. We’ll get to the bad news in a bit.

ceiling-tear-downWe realize electrical and drywall work don’t carry a whole lot of retro fun, but bear with us through these nuts and bolts stages, we know the fun stuff is just around the corner.


We initially though that the scope of electrical work would be fairly minor, but after being able to spend some time in the home we realized that the lighting situation was a bit of a mess and we had an opportunity to use the lighting to accent the special features of this home. This was our first taste of “might as well do it the way we want it and not regret it later” aka “we are going to blow our budget”. Because the house has a flat top roof, we really do need to do all electrical work now, as you can not just drop in new electrical in from the attic at a future date. Adding new electrical later would mean having opening up the walls and ceilings.

new-drywall-and-lightsThe plan consist of layered ambient and accent lighting. For ambient lighting will be installing 4″ LED recessed cans down the hallway from the front door and in the kitchen, 4 strategically placed pendant lights in the main living areas, and ceiling fans with lights in each of the bedrooms. Accent lighting will consist of wall sconces down the hallway, 12 strategically placed 4″ recessed gimbal lights that will illuminate the interior stone walls and fireplace, and redoing the lighting in the recessed ceiling that currently utilizes florescent tubes to make it softer and dim-able. We also want all of these areas to be independently controllable and dim-able, which means going from about 4 switches that controls everything to 15 switches and figuring out where to put them so they make sense, all at the same time of having to work around all the stone walls.

new-drywallSo what was the “bad news” we mentioned earlier?… we had our first OOPS :(. With not having any prior experience with a flat top roof home, we had the scraping of all the popcorn ceilings done as part of the demo. Well, after the first week of electrical work we realized that it would take about a month to finish all the wiring unless we pulled most of the ceilings and walls completely down. Without access from a attic, we had no idea what anything looked like behind the drywall and we were running into issue after issue with the framing and how the original electrical was done. So with humble sadness we were forced to pull down nearly all of the freshly scrapped ceilings and a whole lot of the walls too…. OOPS. But in the end it was probably a good thing as we found several areas of unsafe electrical and some termite damage we were able to repair, which we never would have known about if we did not pull down the ceilings.

  • Precautionary Pam reminds: Readers, the layers of our of old houses may contain vintage nastiness such as lead and asbestos; be sure to consult with your own properly licensed professionals to determine what you are working with so that you can make informed decisions. Please also know, I do not permit such advice to be doled out on the blog — again, get with your own pros regarding what is in your house. 
  • Editor’s note #2: “Unexpected costs” are to be expected, yup: See our story about readers’ 140 real life stories about surprise home repairs.

popcorn-ceiling-and-textured-wallFloating out the walls and ceilings

The house has a mixture of wall textures from room to room, and one of the things we personally don’t care for is heavy wall texture.  We have seen a few homes with completely smooth walls and ceilings (not just drywall with no texture, but fully floated out), and we felt they would really look great in this space.  We agreed that having flat walls would only enhance the texture provided by the stone walls. Floating walls is a labor intensive process that will require at least three coats and sanding between each coat.  We are crossing our fingers that it turns out the way we imagine in our heads. One bright side, pulling down so much of the existing drywall for electrical, allows the floating process to go much faster with the new drywall.  Those areas will not need the existing texture knocked down and should require less coats.

redrywalling-ceiling new-drywall-installedFlooring!!??

With the house tore up and feeling like it may never be put back together, we have attempted to distract ourselves with flooring decisions and researching companies who specialize in terrazzo restoration. The terrazzo covers the entire open living area but the rest of the floors are just bare slab. We thought the Retro Renovation community might have a few thoughts on what to do with the rest of the floors? We generally prefer only one or two flooring types in a home, so we are hoping to find one material that will work in the entire rest of the house rooms. We also do not want anything that will visually compete with the terrazzo. So what are your thoughts on a good secondary floor that might complement terrazzo?


Mike and Lindsey need a second flooring material to complement the original terrazzo floors.

Readers — what would you suggest?

Read all of Mike and Lindsey’s stories about their Edward Durell Stone House of Good Taste

  1. Lou says:

    I had a house that was MCM in style down in Florida. Built in 1956 and I had the original white with malachite and pink & black marble chips floors restored. Unfortunately there was some original Cuban tile floors in the Florida room and entry foyer that could not be salvaged. I poured white concrete floors and polished them and sealed to a satin finish. They really blended very well with the white terrazzo and did not compete at all. The house was a beach pad and the all white floors and walls (chalk) looked fantastic. I did paint the ceilings a pale shade of sky blue. The space took a very ethereal look and feel. I had cove up lighting and new accent recessed lights installed around the room’s perimeter to light up the art hanging on the walls. Very similar to what you guys are doing. The concrete is made by MAPEI the product is called topcrete if I remember right. Not the cheapest but really the only thing out there that can take the traffic and it really was the only thing that truly blended with the terrazzo. I searched high and low. I am a naval architect by trade and super picky for what I choose. Everyone that came into the house was always asking what the white flooring was. The stuff is very strong in fact it is designed to be applied as self leveling concrete and can take warehouse forklift traffic. I think it was 7000 psi when fully cured so polish ASAP as it becomes very hard to polish after full cure. I hope you look it up and consider it. I promise you will not be disappointed. It can also be tinted since it’s white base to suit your terrazzo base color if it is not the same shade of white. I was lucky that my floor was very close and the blend was almost exact so I didn’t have to play with the tinting.

    Good Luck! House looks great!


  2. Gwen says:

    Definitely cork if transition will allow and the slab is fairly level. Any dips or bumps in the slab will seriously affect flooring choices.

    I have it in a huge living room/ dining room area with terazzo in a raised ‘room’ next to the living room.
    We used a floating floor system (planks) which went down fast and easy. I’ve had the floor for nine years now and still LOVE it. The pattern I have will cover a multitude of sins if there is ever any damage. The only ‘special consideration’ this floor gets is felt pads under all the furniture legs. We traipse through the house with sandy shoes daily.

    The positives are Quiet (especially in large areas. Terazzo will amplify noise), Comfort (soft on the feet AND temperate), Cleaning (industrial size dust mop is fast and easy), and Choice (many colors and patterns.). Plus I believe that cork will be a timeless addition with a retro vibe.

    My cork works well with knotty pine panelling, stone, tile, terazzo and mosaic tile flooring.

  3. Christa says:

    This is such a wonderful series, thanks for sharing your trials and triumphs. For the complementary flooring I agree with some others here that hardwood is the way to go. If you want it to seem original to the house. Where I live that would mean face nailed red oak in narrow 2- 1/4 inch width.

  4. Frank says:

    Call me crazy and impractical , but I have a soft spot for white wall-to-wall carpeting. It would complement the terrazzo and be in keeping with the midcentury aesthetic.

  5. carol says:

    Shame on me for not reading the older comments! Two people have already suggested the Armstrong Striations. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one smitten with this flooring! And it was Atmosphere for the color, Thanks Douglas.

  6. carol says:

    Roundhouse Sarah and her parents may be able to help you out on the kitchen flooring if you can’t find it on this website. They put down the most amazing floor in the kitchen. It was pale grey streaked linoleum planks laid on a herringbone if I recall correctly. I think the color was called atmosphere. It is stunning and very subtle, and would look great with the terrazzo. As for the other floors, a clear stained maple like gymnasium floors (mom’s whole house is this), or maple in a medium brown stain would look nice. Maple doesn’t show much grain which is very period correct for a house of this style. I’m sure whatever you choose will be perfect for the house considering the tasteful makeover on your pink master bath in your previous house. Thanks for showing us the progress on the house.

  7. Cysco says:

    I would vote against cork. I put it in my last place and it ended up being so fragile. I went with the snap together planks you often see and within a year, they looked terrible with just normal wear. Perhaps the glue-down cork tiles would be better, but I wouldn’t risk it personally.

    The obvious issue you’ll have with wood is the transition to the terrazzo Unless your slab accounts for it, you’re going to have a rise, which is probably not welcome.

    My vote would be for FLOR Carpet Squares. They’re thin, durable, modern looking and you can make a design that complements your terrazzo. Best of all, if you change your mind about anything, or you need to replace a tile, you simply pull them up and put a new one down.

    1. pnutlaf says:

      I second the FLOR squares. They’re just about the right height for your bedroom transitions. They offer sound abatement and a softer touch under foot. I put hardwoods in my bedrooms which originally had carpet and if I could go back I would have kept the carpet.

      You aren’t going to put carpet in the kitchen so you will probably end up with 3 different floors, but I think that’s ok. Seriously consider the new vinyl wood look planks. The quality of the good brands are really impressive. It would add some warmth to the house that might need just a little.

    2. Sam R says:

      There are a lot of residential and commercial cork installations that have been in place for 50-70 or more years and still look great. It sounds like you got a poor quality product.

      1. pam kueber says:

        I agree. I have original cork on my 1951 floors — and they are gorgeous, still. I don’t know about the newfangled installations they sell today…

        1. ineffablespace says:

          I think there are a number of things about cork that determines it’s acceptability as a flooring material. I had a client for which it was the perfect solution in a lot of ways, He lived in a building with concrete floors and metal doors and frames that couldn’t really be just trimmed down. The existing floors were a sort of hollow-sounding inexpensive laminate and carpet right on the slab.

          He takes his shoes off at the door and while he likes to walk on something resilient, he does not like wall to wall carpet. (He was moving from an antique house with very soft worn pine floors and Persian rugs in most rooms)

          So I thought cork would be perfect, right? (1) he didn’t go with the highest quality cork available because of price and (2) he has perfectionist tendencies and did not like *at all* that furniture legs made indentations in it. It’s resilient so furniture will indent it. But he sold the Cherner dining chairs and bought something I thought was sort of ungainly looking because they didn’t have thin legs with small caps on them that dimpled the floors.

          So, to some people things like this are “patina” and to others things like this are a defect.

  8. jay says:

    That is going to be one amazing new home inside a beautiful vintage envelope. If the concrete slab is level with the terrazo, perhaps as others suggested – staining the concrete. I like the look of cork, it’s period appropriate but have often wondered about wear and tear. Perhaps vinyl tile which I have often seen laid ajacent to terrazo floors. You need a material that has minimal height and can be adhered directly to the slab or you will have jarring uneven finished floor elevations. It will be interesting to see what you decide.

    1. Mike and Lindsey says:


      You put that very well, better than I probably have. “new home inside a beautiful vintage envelope” is exactly what we are doing. But to further define it, the new home is going to be very respectful of its original surroundings. We are not necessarily going to be building it out with vintage materials and surfaces, but using finishes that give a nod to mid 60’s modern and redoing some elements in the house that mimic the original but with a current feel. I don’t want to give away some of the details we have planned, but some of those who have questioned why we removed some of the things we did I think will be pleasantly surprised with what we replaced when with.

      You also touched on a important aspect to our floor decision, which are the transition points from the terrazzo to the slab. There is about a 1/8″ drop from the terrazzo to the kitchen and bedrooms and about a 1/4-1/2 drop from the terrazzo to the hallway. Ideally we want the these transitions to flow completely smooth and we are adverse to having thresholds.

      We will let everyone know that the floor decision has been made and can’t wait to show everyone in our next installment.

  9. Jared says:

    As it looks like you had tile in at least some of the areas, there will need to be some slab prep. With that in mind I would recommend a Cork product at well. In working in several old buildings with less than perfect floors I have used Wicanders cork floors before. It is cork on a snap together tongue and grove plank base, and it floats right over the existing floor.

  10. justmyopinion says:

    How about cork floors? If you don’t want carpet it still provides a warmer, less hard surface than terrazzo or tile.

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