The photo above shows part of our sunken living room. It's a long, narrow room, which widens out at the far end, accommodating a fireplace and an entrance into the dining room.
It has always been a challenge for older family members or physically challenged friends to have to step down seven inches into the living room and then back up the same seven inches to exit the room. My 90-year-old aunt spent the last month of her life here, about 12 years ago, and it was a real challenge to get her in and out of the living room.
And, now, Doug and I ARE older family members.
A few weeks ago, I was carrying something from the living room to the kitchen; and the toe of my Birkenstock sandal caught on the edge of the wooden floor of the entryway, which I now refer to as "the landing."
That incident evoked a confession from Doug that he had taken a similar tumble a couple of months earlier.
But, even before we became officially old, we had reason to question the wisdom of sinking the floor of any room of a house seven inches below the rest of the house. About 10 years after we moved in, during heavy rains on semi-frozen ground, water seeped into the living room at the corners of the room where the low floor joined the higher floors.
We pulled the carpet back, dried everything out, and had the carpet reinstalled. And there were no more water problems for another 10 years. Then it happened again. This time, we replaced the carpet and prayed that at least another 10 years would pass before any more water problems occurred.
But that wasn't to be. This time, the interval between water incidents was only two years. Last May, after heavy rains for three days in a row, the water again came in.
Drying the carpet after the last water damage
We spent the entire summer talking with contractors about solutions and eventually settled on one to do the job. But he was busy with bigger projects and didn't get to our problem before the cold weather arrived, so the outside work had to be delayed until spring.
Knowing that there was a good likelihood of more water problems in the spring, combined with the tumbles we had each taken, we decided to have the sunken living room filled in with concrete.
That work was done yesterday.
Sunken no more
After 23 years of stepping down when entering the living room, it's hard to retrain ourselves. It feels so weird to be able to walk on a level floor from one room to another. But the biggest surprise is the humidity in the house right now as the moisture in the concrete is steaming up our windows and making our house feel like a sauna.
The fireplace hearth is lower; the patio door is lower; the electrical outlets are lower; the patio door curtains are going to have to be shortened; but it's going to be much easier to dust that ceiling fan.