Our embarrassing old, worn, DIRTY carpet. Much worse than we realized

DH = Dear Husband

Frugal living with old, worn stuff

I just did a search to find out when I first mentioned our carpets on this blog. It was three years ago – in the post “Mickey Mouse and His Broom: Debt Illustrated in Fantasia”.  “After fourteen years, a household shows signs of wear,” I wrote. “I’m noticing stains on our carpet . . . The furniture in the family room is visibly worn . . . DH and I have no shortage of material wants.”

We ended up getting some of our carpets cleaned – but not the one in DH’s home office. A 10′ by 10′ space, it was filled up by desks and chairs and the equipment he uses to run his business. It would be impossible to clean that carpet – with the exception of a small area in the middle where people actually walked or sat on chairs. We could see that area was in need of a clean, but it didn’t seem worth the expense to have another “room” cleaned, when it would only be a fraction of that room.

Our evolving renovation plans

Three frugal years later – three years of accepting the old carpets and worn furniture in the name of debt-reduction – we’re making changes. I’ve written about our renovation plans – and about the evolution of those plans – a few times over the past six months. In a nutshell, DH outgrew his 10′ by 10′ home office space, and we’ve moved it to what used to be our living room and dining room – an area more than twice the size at about 24′ by 11′. His former office space is going to become our living room. Our family room is going to become our dining room.

Initially, our renovation plans gave me the kind of shopaholic, dopamine-release brain-buzz that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. “I was high on visions of tile, hardwood, and leather furniture,” I wrote for that first post about our renovation project. “I don’t even care how shallow that sounds!” I’m so glad we didn’t act upon it immediately! We would easily have spent twice as much has we needed to. No exaggeration there.

Four months later, we had a “sobered” renovation plan. Among the ways we were going to cut back on our initial ideas was this one: “Instead of installing two new floors, we’re going to install one – in what will be the new dining room. The new living room? We’ll have our old carpet cleaned and keep on using it. That’s about $500 not spent.”

The carpet cleaners

When we moved everything out of DH’s old home office, we were shocked by the carpet. With all of the furniture and equipment gone, the still-pristine areas of carpet – covered for years and protected from feet and rolling office chairs – were now exposed for comparison, and only then were we able to see just how bad the rest of it was. It was disgusting.

Thursday of this past week, the professional steam cleaners arrived. They took one look at that carpet and said, “We can’t clean that. We don’t perform miracles.” So they left.

Back to Plan A – with a difference

So much for our “sobered”, frugal plans! We’re back to plan A: We will rip up the carpet of the old office and install hardwood. DH wondered if it might be less expensive to go with new carpet, but since he wouldn’t be able to install it himself – and he can DIY hardwood installation – hardwood it is. We’re going to buy it today.

What’s the moral of this story? I think there are a couple:

  • Life doesn’t always unfold according to the plans we make. Even the frugal plans.
  • Sometimes, in our efforts to be frugal, we set ourselves up to need to pay more later. Three years ago, we chose not to have that small area of carpet cleaned. If we had taken on a minor expense then, maybe we wouldn’t have to take on a major one now.

But it’s hard to say. Maybe we would still be ripping the thing out. And in the end, although our current intention looks more like our original “high” plans than our modified and more frugal plans, they’re not the same. The dopamine isn’t there. We’re looking forward to getting rid of that gross carpet and to setting up a new living room, but not under the influence of a brain-buzzing rush. It’s Plan A sobered up.

Have you ever “saved” money – only to set yourself up to need to spend more? Does furniture removal in your house reveal dirty carpets? Your comments are welcome.


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  1. LOL It kind of looks like a Bigfoot crime scene. I can almost see the chalk outline. 😀 Yeah, that kind of thing happens all the time. Trying to save money often ends up costing more in the long run. Hey, all you can do is work with the info at hand at the time. We make our best guesses and soldier on. I like the idea of putting in the hardwoods. Enjoy the rush. You’ve earned it! 🙂

  2. I have been where you are at. While it is possible to save money by going the DIY route, there are often those ‘gotcha’ moments after starting a project that end up costing more money than anticipated; and there are some situations/projects where just going with a professional service is the better move.

    1. I’m glad you can relate to this. It’s really hard to determine where that fine line is sometimes! I don’t think we’ll forget this lesson as it applies to carpet cleaning though. Until all of the furniture had been moved out, we had no idea how bad it was.

  3. Have you considered laminate (like Pergo) rather than hardwood? We’re to the point where we can install a room in less than six hours (including ripping up the old stuff and cleaning). It looks good, is cheap and lasts forever.

    We’ve definitely gone too cheap in the past. I would say our biggest cheap out mistakes have to do with putting off car repairs for too long.

    1. Yikes! I guess it’s better to have to get a new floor when you consider having to get a new car. (Is that what happened when you put off car repairs?) We thought about laminate and “engineered wood” (a new one for me) but have decided to go with hardwood. Six hours is pretty impressive! That speed must come with practice : )

  4. Wow quite a difference in the carpet shade. Looks like you got a lot of good use out of that. I was kind of thinking what Hannah was thinking that laminate would be cheaper, but it sounds like you guys are going with the hardwood. I’m sure it will be beautiful. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Tonya. DH got a lot of good use out of that carpet. 6 years of business since the last cleaning it got. Standing, sitting, rolling chairs, customers – all in a very small space. I think that you would love his new office space since his business is familiar to you. Let’s see if we can wear out the flooring there too : )

    1. That’s a good way to look at it, Brian! The one thing I’ll take with me as we move forward is that it’s worth it to spend the time and money necessary to look after things before they wear out.

    1. I promise we couldn’t tell how bad it was until all of the office furniture and equipment was out of the room! You are right about the dangers of “fixing things up”, Holly. I am bracing myself for a longing to “fix up” other parts of the house once these renovations are done. My plan is to stand strong though. No other major changes until the mortgage is paid off!

  5. My wife and I were just talking about this idea today, that “the cheap becomes expensive” when you have to replace it or do something twice to get it right. We’ve been in the market for a new front entry door and storm door, and while the one contractor gave us a fabulous price, we’re not convinced of the quality. So we went with the contractor who gave us one of the middle-of-the-road estimates and now we’re confident it will get done properly the first time. As for our carpets, they are in dire need of replacement, but unfortunately that’s not on our list to be done anytime soon. Glad you have a plan in place to complete your renovations.

    1. I’m with you on that, Gary. “Wise” money management doesn’t always mean going with the cheapest option. Having confidence in the product and the quality of the service you’re getting is worth the price. And being able to wait before buying – as you’re doing with regards to your carpets – allows you to buy what you really want when the time comes.

  6. Our home is also in need of new carpet……we’ve been in the home 12 years with kids growing up and two cats that tend to hurl on a daily basis. We had someone come and give us an estimate for replacing some of the carpet and we were SHOCKED at how much it would cost. We’ll be waiting a little longer. 🙂

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