The original rumpus room in Handyman deputy editor Frank Gardner’s home had been revamped in the mid-90s when his children were still teenagers.
‘Back then we needed a living area that would withstand two kids,a dog and a cat,’ says Frank.
Over the years the room became less a family area and more a storage space for unused bits and pieces. ‘The idea for a makeover developed as things went wrong,’ says Frank.
A leaking water heater that created a welcoming environment for termites was the first catalyst. This led to the removal of timber framework, leaving unsightly gaps in the original floor tiles.
Next, the adjacent bathroom underwent a major modernisation complete with new tiling. ‘The new tiles made the original area look very shabby, so it was time to finish the job,’ says Frank.
Frank’s five-year-old grandkids visit on a regular basis so the rumpus room needed to be kid-friendly.
The old apricot tiles were broken and cold underfoot, so needed to be replaced. Lots of wear and tear was certain, so carpet tiles were chosen.
‘With carpet tiles you can always move any damaged ones to a less noticeable area,’ says Frank.
Many of the spring-loaded clips for the downlights had broken, allowing them to work loose and pose a hazard, so new recessed downlights featuring energy-saving CFLs were installed.
The makeover plan
‘We needed to make the room warm, light and neutral without spending too much money,’ says Frank.
The floors, walls and lighting all needed attention. To save time and money, Frank patched the holes in the floor instead of pulling up all the tiles.
When the repairs were finished the room was repainted in a neutral palette, with the promise of tasty refreshments luring friends and family to lend a hand.
Says Frank, ‘After two coats of Dulux White Pepper on the walls and gloss acrylic in the same colour on the timber trim the room appears much lighter. We also freshened up with two coats of Ceiling White.’
Frank chose 1000mm square polypropylene carpet tiles, about $24 each, from Bunnings, as they can be cut using a utility knife and laid DIY.
‘We only messed up one tile while cutting because we forgot to check the laying arrow on the back,’ he says.
To finish, an electrician was hired to fit new low-wattage downlights then the room was furnished with comfy seating, bookshelves and custom-made low line cabinetry.
‘The Tassie oak cabinets were made by my brother-in-law and give the room a classy look,’ Frank says.
Lay carpet tiles
Use a pry bar and timber block to remove all skirting boards. Lay a carpet tile offcut on the floor and use a sharp handsaw to undercut the architrave and doorjamb, creating a recess for the carpet to slip under.
Choose a starting corner for laying the carpet tiles using the 3-4-5 method to check for square. Measure and mark 900 and 1200mm along adjacent walls from the corner. The distance between the two marks should be 1500mm.
Position the first row of carpet tiles along the selected wall butted tightly together, then continue laying rows, keeping the carpet grain consistent. Check the laying arrow under each tile points in the same direction
Sketch full-size templates of doors and other tiling obstacles on thin cardboard, marking the cutout from the carpet tiles already laid. Position the carpet tile and template, cutting using a straightedge and utility knife.
Work the cut carpet tile carefully into position around the obstacle, checking all edges are butted neatly with the surrounding tiles. Trim where necessary then finish laying any remaining carpet tiles.
Clamp the skirting and mitre one side of each internal corner at 45º with a compound mitresaw. Cut along the profile with a coping saw, removing the internal mitre so the skirting butts against the face of the adjacent trim.