The house we’re living in now is a big old mansion. The owners maintain it as well as they can. All the essentials are here, so no complaints.

But there are a few things that we’ve had our eye on for improvement. The sort of things that go beyond “livable” to make a place “like home.”

One of them is the front stairs and hallway. They’ve had this ugly pinky-taupe wall-to-wall carpeting that had seen better days (if a pinky-taupe wall-to-wall carpet can have a better day).

Who knows how long it had been there. And it was covering up a couple spots in the floor that, when we walked across them gave just a little bit. Just enough to make you wonder if one day when you walked across it, maybe it would give way and you’d end up somewhere in the basement.

It was old enough, too, that we noticed it was starting to stink. Like a pet had peed on it just a few times too often.

So, now that the weather is finally nice enough that we can open the windows and have fresh air blowing through, we decided it was time.

Yesterday we started. Lots of dust. The padding underneath had deteriorated into a green powder. Lots of nails and staples to pull out. But underneath, except for those two spots in the hallway, the floor was in surprisingly good shape.

It took us most of the day yesterday and a few hours again today. The next mystery is, why did they have to cut those holes in the floor where the plywood has been put down? It seems to be sturdy, but not properly supported underneath, which accounts for the “give” when you walk over it.

There’s still plenty to do. The stairs need sanded, re-stained and the kick-boards scraped and painted. We’ll have to deal with the plywood-covered holes. But already, it’s better: the front of the house no longer smells like pee! And that alone is worth the time and effort.