Department of the interior decorators

October 25, 2001

We are setting aside the paint swatches, tile adhesive and parts lists long enough to bring you this month's much belated newsletter. Yes, the Gehlkes are busy in the home improvement department once again, only this time we have turned our attention indoors. So much has happened since our last update, both at home and in the world around us. But in our efforts to keep this an upbeat and enlightening read we won't waste electrons on national and international affairs, which have mostly been negative and of which we have little first-hand knowledge. So enough of that.

Recently we told you about our new living room set, which we purchased in July from an Antioch furniture store that shall remain nameless and forever infamous with us for what we consider its bait-and-switch tactics. We ordered a leather sofa, loveseat and chair in blue fabric, but after much delay and many excuses by the owners we wound up settling for black fabric. This seemingly minor inconvenience sparked a whole series of events that has led us to our latest project.

With the living room set finally in place in mid-August we at last had our first "planned" furniture arrangement. This brought us to the realization that it just wasn't complete without a coffee table. We had gone through 13 years of marriage without a coffee table and done just fine, but then we had never had a sofa, loveseat and wing chair clustered around an empty living room floor before and it was a noticeable absence. So after trooping through several furniture stores (excluding the one that started this whole thing) we purchased our first coffee table -- a cherry wood-colored some-assembly-required job from Kmart. Don't laugh, it really is a good little table!

The addition of the new sofa, which was much larger than our old one, necessitated the removal of a shelf we'd had attached to the main wall of the living room. Once the shelf was gone, we soon noticed how bare the wall was. This called for more shelves, where we could place curios and little plants and other items to brighten the room. We purchased three 4-foot pine shelves from the craft store and arranged them on the wall. What next?

Well, our 20-inch RCA TV set that had served us faithfully since before we were married was finally beginning to show its age. With the tuner going on the blink at more frequent intervals, we realized the time had come to replace it. After a lot of discussion we decided to upgrade rather than simply replace, so soon we had moved the 27-inch tube from the living room to the bedroom and in its place installed a 36-inch big screen set. The new set, naturally, would not fit in the existing enclosed TV stand, so we moved the old stand to the bedroom and got an oak-colored open top unit to accommodate the larger set. Now we had the makings on a home theater. But still there was something missing.

Because we had moved the old TV cabinet from the living room there was no longer a place to house our stereo and CD player or speakers. We got one of those prefabbed cherry-colored tower shelf systems from Wal-Mart. Then we decided that the TV and shelf tower looked naked against the wall, so we picked up another 4-foot shelf, some silk ivy baskets and a framed picture to add to the display. All this decorating and adding of black fabric and dark wood products created a dramatic new look for our living room, but it made us realize that our country peach living room paint scheme no longer matched.

Roni had been reading up on faux finishes, so we got daring and tried to create a look of tanned leather on the wall behind the TV. We picked up some English mustard paint and a couple gallons of faux glaze and, using color-washing techniques, managed in an afternoon to give the TV wall a unique new look.

Seeing all of this together made us realize that our dirty wall-to-wall carpets were out of place, so we began thinking about what we might do to replace them. We checked out several options including tile and hardwood, and have gradually come around to the idea of installing Pergo flooring, which has that wood look without the hassle of real wood installation. All the information we have read makes it look easy enough, but Glenn thought he might want to "practice" his flooring abilities on something a little less challenging. So we decided to tackle tiling the bathroom floor, which the builders of our home in all their wisdom thought should be covered with carpeting. 13 years of carpet next to a leaky shower stall added up to a mildewy morass that had to be scrubbed away before the real work could begin. Glenn spent an afternoon and evening scraping off old adhesive and carpet tack strips and patching concrete before mixing up a batch of thin mortar and laying his first ceramic squares. As of this writing he has done the easy work of laying whole tiles; however, he has discovered that scoring and cutting tiles is more of a challenge, so a weekend trip to the rental center for a tile saw seems to be in order.

All of this just because the living room furniture came in black instead of blue!

Ben has been busy as usual. He has become interested in dinosaurs and is immersing himself in books and games that involve them. His favorite game du jour is "Power Pete," which came with his computer when Dad reinstalled the system software this month. Ben has become hooked to the point that he now goes online to seek out Power Pete game playing tip sites. He is eagerly trying to conquer every level. We hope he does soon and moves on to something else! We have occasionally noted that Ben is a very good reader. Lately he has been getting into the Encyclopedia Brown series of children's mystery books, occasionally trying to read three of them simultaneously. We have tried to tell him that it doesn't work so well to read three stories at once, but he isn't yet convinced.

On Oct. 12, we joined Ben at his school for Family Day. He and his class put on a series of skits, poetry readings and songs. Ben played Mr. Rodgers from the Amelia Bedelia storybook series. He dressed for the part, donning one of Glenn's old work shirts and a tie, and got into his character by lowering his voice as he read his lines. Perhaps we have an actor in our midst.

Oct. 5 was dentist day for Ben and Glenn. Ben got his first checkup and passed with flying colors. Best of all, he got to go home with a new brush, a box of dental floss and a used dental mirror. Glenn's experience wasn't quite as pleasant, which was expected as he needed a crown to repair a broken tooth and some fillings to repair some grooves that had been caused by over brushing. (Let this be a lesson to you, kiddies, you CAN hurt your teeth by brushing too hard, just as you can by not brushing at all!) Now that most of the dental visits are behind us we can look forward to Halloween and scavenging the neighborhood for goodies.

We hope you scare up some fun on this year's fright night. Lord knows we all could use some right now.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

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