Diamond In The Rough

February 20, 2012   //  Posted in: Flooring, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  22 responses
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Girl Scout’s honor, we found a diamond ring beneath the kitchen floor when I removed it this weekend. Before I even get into the demo-fun that ensued in the process, what in the world would you do if you were in our shoes? Track down old homeowners? Or sell it to offset the price of the new floor?

Ooh, sparkles.

Diamond ring in the rough.

I’ll admit it, I’ve been drop-dead nervous about replacing the kitchen floor. The existing laminate’s not old. It’s not in bad condition. And from my thrifty-minded brain to yours, I knew that removing a perfectly good floor to appease my aesthetic senses meant that I was reaching a touchy point on the crazy/stupid/spontaneous scale (not to be confused with the Vicky Mendoza Diagonal). Pete would like me to remind you that we’re also still in the midst of the bathroom renovation, and starting another project wasn’t exactly on the agenda yet.

Brushing off the bathroom trim for another day, I spent a few short hours on Friday morning taking the kitchen floor from looking from this, all light-colored, smooth, and universally desirable:

Kitchen, pre-floor removal.

To this, covered in stacks of laminate and a handsome layer of Armstrong Vapor Lock moisture barrier:

Oh, it's a happy day. Buh-bye, pergo.

To this, a ragged-out but temporarily functional, overly-mastic’ed to its subfloor, probably asbestos-filled vinyl sheet that has clearly seen better days (but not since 1950):

Uggles. 1940's flooring.

Clearly, I’ve taken a step backward to go forward, and you can call me whatever you want for making the decision to replace what most would consider pretty faux-wood laminate with vinyl concrete tiles (something I wrote about on Friday), but I still think it’s going to be fab.

If you’re thinking about doing something like this yourself, it should be super, super easy to remove Pergo-like laminate. I started by removing the quarter-round trim that finished off all edges of the room with a pry bar and some gentle lovin’, carefully preserving each piece as I went (and marking them with blue painters tape so that I knew what wall they came from in case I decided to paint and reinstall the same trim later instead of splurge on base shoe (it does run upwards of $1.50/linear foot, not quite as appealing as zero dollars).

Removed and labeled each piece of quarter round.

Because pergo-style laminate floats on top of the moisture barrier and hooks together with a tongue and groove system, there was no glue to get through. No nails or staples to wrestle with. With the thresholds removed, I lifted the floor boards out one-by-one, exposing the black foamy moisture barrier that rested beneath the laminate and on top of the old, old linoleum.

Oh, it's a happy day. Buh-bye, pergo.

Because the laminate ran below both the stove and the refrigerator, I wiggled and jiggled these appliances (and the center table island) out of my way as I went.

Oh, it's a happy day. Buh-bye, pergo.

Each board came out cleanly, without damage, and within a sweet hour, the kitchen was free, and a stack of flooring sat against the wall in the dining room (although clearly, I waited until sunset to snap this picture). That little stack – that’s a-l-l of it, approximately 120 sq. ft., sorted into one 10″ pile. Amazing.

Flooring removed, stacked.

We’re not just taking it to the curb, I should note. What makes me feel better about removing it is that it will go back into society productively:

1. 30 sq. ft. of it will likely be installed in Pete’s parents’ bathroom.
2. 90 sq. ft. will be Craigslisted and sold to the highest bidder, or dropped off at our local Habitat’s ReStore.

With the flooring cleared out I also decided to salvage the moisture barrier. I rolled each piece up like a burrito, partially to keep it neat and orderly, and partly to capture all of the dirt that had accumulated on it throughout the day. It was easier to unfurl each dirty piece on the deck in the breeze than to try and sweep it off or vacuum it in the house. Efficiency, people. I like efficiency. And burritos.

Moisture barrier burritos.

Side note: We still hadn’t found the diamond ring yet at this point in the clean up. If you look straight back to the dishwasher in that above picture, it was sitting on the vinyl just beneath the cabinet overhang, but not out of sight. And true story, even though I swept that room about 3 times over the weekend (observing at the same time how well the grungy floor hid muddy dog footprints), we didn’t actually notice it’s presence until Sunday night. How’s that happen, yo?

With the original flooring exposed, we’ve been in awe. In awe, and also eager to get it covered back up. I have no real reason to believe that this isn’t the flooring that was installed with the house in the 1940′s, but I have a hard time believing that it was once desirable. While it’s in fairly good condition (meaning no holes, tears, shreds), it screams dingy, filthy, and unattractive. In person, the greenish-brownish-gray floor doesn’t compliment the natural hardwoods that extend through the rest of the house, so it’s really hard to imagine what the place used to be like as a new construction model.

Looking forward to next steps this week, I’ll be back soon with an update!

Editor’s update, 6/23/2012: A woman stopped by our garage sale, mentioned that her sister used to live in our home, and began to describe who slept in what room, the holidays they spent here, etc. Before she walked away, I asked curiously if her sister ever lost any jewelry, the woman replied without hesitation “Her diamond engagement ring. We turned the house upside down looking and never found it.” It was a good karma kind of day, as we promptly handed it to her and she excitedly drove off to deliver it to her sister. Cheers!

Comments
  • scott
    3 years ago - Reply

    perhaps pete planted the ring? so odd that I would be under floor boards. odd that even if that house has seen a female DYIer like yourself in the past (which is highly unlikely) that that type of labor would yank a ring off of a person. maybe someone placed it under there on purpose, a broken hearted man that wanted to burry his feelings of rejection and to keep a surprise for someone in the future. was it by the sink area where you found it? maybe it was placed on the sink by the owner who took it off to wash dishes then the thuggy man of the house in the midst of a new floor install acidentially brushed it to the floor during the install. quite the puzzler. in fact it would be cool if you had a puzzler everyday like on car talk;)

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      Not planted by Pete, I asked. It was by the sink, it’s just hard to imagine how it fell and was never found. It’s the home-talk-puzzler-of-the-day, that’s for sure!

    • Pete
      3 years ago -

      Way to make it awkward, Scott. Although not as awkward when I said “Hey is this a diamond ring?” and she came in and I’m on my knees holding a ring out and SHE said “Did you plan this?” and I had to say “no”.

  • Erinmakesstuff
    3 years ago - Reply

    I’d probably at least try to track down the original homeowners. Can you imagine how cool it be if you found them and heard their story? Maybe it’s juicy.

    • Liz
      3 years ago -

      My thoughts, too! I wouldn’t feel right selling it without at least trying to track down the owners, and I’d also be really curious as to their story…

  • Cait @ Hernando House
    3 years ago - Reply

    That’s crazy about the ring! I would definitely see if it’s possible to track down previous owners!

  • Tonya
    3 years ago - Reply

    I agree with everyone else. At least, try to find the owner.

    Made me think of this story. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16374283

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      I love that story. I’m not sure I have a good way to get in touch with the previous owners (I’m hoping my neighbors who have lived in the area for decades maintain connections)… I do know that several families had lived here over the last 20 years. And then if I get the contact info, I’ll have to figure out how to phrase it so someone doesn’t just ask me to mail them a ring that doesn’t belong to them.

  • Carol
    3 years ago - Reply

    Maybe the ring was thrown across the kitchen during the last DIY makeover….? Just a thought but a great story no matter what!

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      All I know is that some dude probably got in biiiig trouble.

  • kit @ DIYdiva
    3 years ago - Reply

    Finding jewels in the kitchen can ONLY be a good omen for this project!

  • Maureen Mueller
    3 years ago - Reply

    Definitely try to track down the owner…excellent karma opportunity!

  • Maureen Mueller
    3 years ago - Reply

    I brought my heat control knobs from my car in to wash them two years ago….one disappeared from my kitchen counter – i knew exactly where they had been sitting and scoured the whole kitchen (I thought). I concluded that I had accidentally thrown the missing one away….until I relocated my refrigerator last week and guess what was under it. Now there is no way that any trajectory could have landed it there from where it was positioned, yet somehow it did. Ya just never know how things fly!

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      Amazing! How does that kind of stuff happen? Ghosts.

  • Jody
    3 years ago - Reply

    Wow, quandary! I say put out a feeler without mentioning the ring to neighbors, the ring IS yours now, I think doing a search for previous owner is polite, but I wouldn’t stress/worry too much about it. Pete, love your comment about awkwardness, made me laugh (sorry). Personally, keep the ring and don’t sell to defray cost, wear it as a memento (or attach as necklace). Listen to the Universe, perhaps it is rewarding good works.

  • Megan
    3 years ago - Reply

    First off… that is hilarious that your man found it and was on his knees… and wasn’t actually proposing!
    Second… your site rocks… and I don’t think you’re crazy for taking out your flooring. I have this exact same situation. Everyone says oh, I like your flooring… well that is only because it is newish vinyl… but I hate it! It shows every paw print and dirt and it doesn’t match the original hardwoods we discovered in the adjoining dining room… so your post has inspired me. Thank you!

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      Thanks for the nice note, Megan! I can’t wait to have the floor finished, but it’s so nice to be underway… the blonde wood in the kitchen just felt really “off” and made the room feel so disconnected. Can’t wait to begin installing the new stuff, hopefully this weekend!

  • Callie
    2 years ago - Reply

    Ha that’s crazy! It is totally possible to lose a ring during a big renovation – When my parents redid the kitchen that we had in one house that we lived in (around ’96) my dad lost his wedding ring. As far as I remember, at some point they just realized it wasn’t on his finger, but then couldn’t find it anywhere. It must have slipped off at some point during all the work, but we never found it. Under the floor? Down the wall while installing an outlet? Eternal Mystery.

    If you found the original Owner of the Ring they would probably remember! You could say “Did you lose a ring while living at this address…” and if they said they did then you could ask them to describe it to you. Don’t mention the diamond, the number of diamonds or the cut. Let them mention it. That way they can describe the ring to you so you know you found the right person. It would make a great story!! :)

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Good call. I’m hoping that my neighbor keeps in touch with them and might have their contact info so I don’t have to go digging through records; I seem to recall that she kept in touch with them. Will let you all know how it works out!

  • Callie
    2 years ago - Reply

    Oh and I think you can look up previous owners in public records at your town hall? ot positive bu I think so :)

  • Ali
    2 years ago - Reply

    Jumped over from YHL – I have to know what happened with the ring saga?? Did you hunt for previous owners? Did you give up? This is like waiting for a new season of a show :)

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Haha! It’s STILL in my possession. I’ve taken steps to find the old homeowners, I have the names, but it seems like they’ve moved a lot which makes it harder to pin them down. Most promisingly, my neighbor is just hoping to run into them in Wegmans to get their new contact info. I’m just hoping to be able to ask if they can describe any jewelry that was lost! ;)

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