Adventures in Flooring

A project I have wanted to accomplish from the day I acquired the Unicorn was to get the floors sanded and refinished. I admit the worn look was charming in an old world cottage kind of way. The project was huge and daunting and I managed to put it on the back of my list for years. That is until the floors took a turn for the worse in 2008 and even the charm of the worn look started to look like a shoddy excuse. I knew the project would require the Cafe to be closed for a few days and as we are slowest towards the end of December I got quotes and went for it. I decided on Nature Flooring- they were recommended to me and reasonably priced. Adam the head man was upfront with me that there would be sawdust everywhere and that when they arrived the cafe would need to be totally empty. We were scheduled for the 30th and 31st with January 1st scheduled to clean and put the cafe back together.

The evening of the 29th I began taking everything down from the counters and shelves and packing it into the kitchen. Trillia and Brendan helped with this process. My fiance,Scott, came a few hours later to help move all the tables and chairs into the garage next door. The Orrington Garage was kind to let us store our stuff there for a few days so I couldn’t complain when the space they gave us was two flights down without elevator access. I’d like to thank all the muscle that helped carry marble tables. Marble tables are heavy. It is now a proven fact.

I met Adam at 7:30am the next morning at the cafe. It was bizarre going into an empty cafe at 7:30am. It felt wrong and made me a little uneasy- especially when I left again and saw some of our wonderful regulars walking down Sherman. I experienced heartache to imagine them having to go elsewhere for their morning coffee. This was precisely how I managed to put off doing the floors for almost four years. I hate disappointing our customers.

All new Years eve I was anxious about the floors. What if they didn’t turn out? What if they couldn’t sand them again? What if one of our staff walked into the cafe when the finish was drying? These fears were put to rest when I walked into the cafe on the first. They were beautiful, pristine and perfect. I had no idea this shiny golden surface was under the dark worn look of our floors. There was sawdust everywhere but we had done a really good job taping things beforehand so it wasn’t as extensive as I had imagined- though still a full days work.

On January 2nd I opened the cafe and am so happy to have been there to hear the positive comments people had about the floors.
“Wow, should we take our shoes off and wear booties?”

“This is incredible!”

or one of my favorite dialogues,

“Did you guys get new rugs?”

“No, we actually had our floors redone.”

“But you got new rugs too?”

“No, same rugs.”

“Huh, the rugs look new.”

I think maybe this person just never saw the rugs before because they blended in with the dark blah color of our pre-2009 floors.

The floor is already scratched and the first of these scratches was like a scratch on my own heart…but I’ve made peace with the fact that it is a floor, people walk on it and it will not be pristine forever. These imperfections are what make the cafe feel good; the scratches are evidence of people and the times they spend in the cafe. So come and add your experience to the Unicorn before the end of the year when we have to buff and refinish it again.


3 comments on “Adventures in Flooring

  1. I had no warning of this until I came by for The Usual, looked in the window and saw…nothing. I thought you had slunk away in the night like a Ponzi-scheming banker, leaving us to the tender mercies of Starbucks!

    I was so relieved when I saw the little sign on the door,

  2. I’ve been a regular since the Unicorn opened (well, with some stretches in between where I left the country to go sow some oats or something…) and I have to say, the floors are SPANKING! Woot!

    In 2007, I bought a co-op (like a condo) that had these gorgeous wood floors hidden under natty, 1970s carpeting – I hired some Polish dudes to redo the floors before I moved in…OMFG, it was awesome and gorgeous and just opened up the space so much. You’ve made an excellent investment, Tracie – wood floors are gorgeous and last a lifetime (when cared for, of course). 🙂 Love, Ali.

  3. Love the floors!
    Thank you Unicorn!!!

    love that place


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