House renovations, take one: The Floors

Oh, hey! Just coming up for air over here and I feel the need to report on some major home renovations that have taken place in the 3 weeks we've owned our house. I feel like we are machines with all of this DIY-madness and yet our pesky 'real jobs' are seriously affecting our ability to get things done as quickly as we'd like. There are only so many hours in the day, right?

Remember that there are the Big Three projects we want to complete prior to moving into the house: 1. The floors, 2. The kitchen, and 3. Painting. This tiny little list is a little deceiving because simple words like 'do the kitchen' actually means spending hundreds of hours on various projects within the four kitchen walls. A little word like 'paint' doesn't really capture the fact that we are painting every wall in the house, the ceilings of some rooms, the crown molding, wood trim, etc etc etc. I am about painted out, my friends, but we aren't quite finished yet.

And so, 'part one' of our renovations shall be documented here. Because one of out of our three big projects is complete!! The floors are done, holla!! And so a big chunk of our budget is also gone:)

1. The Floors.

Well, if you do remember, our entire house was carpeted with blue wool carpeting including the stairs and every bedoom on the second floor (well, technically the bedrooms and hallways up there weren't blue but whatever.) The kitchen contained some awesome 70's linoleum that was a lovely creamy/gray color. And yet we knew our entire house MUST have original hardwood flooring hiding underneath the carpet and linoleum. So on the second night of owning our house, after Truman went to bed, I went over there with Nate and my father-in-law while Lois listened to Truman's baby monitor at home. And the boys on that carpeting.

They pulled every single strip of it up on their own in two nights. Then they had to remove all of the little boards with eleventy billion nails and staples across all of our floors. They only cussed a few times and I think the worst of it was on the stairs, where there were seriously about a million staples just hanging out on our wood. Then they had to gather up all of the nasty carpet pieces, the deathly splintered wood strips, and the numerous nails/staples and they hauled it off to the dump in a friend's big truck. I think it took about 3 loads to get rid of it all and I actually did help gather some of it up because I could tell that this project was getting VERY old to the men:) I don't think any of us were too terribly sad to say goodbye to that wool carpeting and I know Nate's allergies were really giving him hell after all of that work. But the good news is: by having the boys do all of this prep work for our floors, we saved about $600 bucks! The hardwood flooring company that came in later said the guys did a great job and it was a total money saver on our end and so I declare it was worth it. :) They did not touch the linoleum in the kitchen, though, since it was 3 layers deep and full of black tar that I was worried contained asbestos. We gladly paid an extra $150 to have the pros remove that junk.

(the uncovered hardwood discovered! And the kitchen linoleum, too)

So next step was getting the professional company to come and give us an estimate. Because our floors were 'protected' by the carpet for the past 40 years they were in really, really good shape. But man, that varnish was pretty freaking ugly and we knew the floors needed a good sanding, then a stain, and then a finish. The company we chose was super fast with their work and it only took them two days to sand the entire place, one day to stain, and then two days to apply the finish. Amazing. If we had attempted this task on our own I think we'd still be sanding our life away.

(after day one of!)

After they did the sanding we could immediately see the lovely potential in our wood floors---which have very narrow planks at just 1.5 inches, compared to the typical 2.25 inches you see. The entire house has red oak wood except for the kitchen, where it's maple instead. I was beyond stressed when I had to pick out the stain all by myself on a day Nate was working. They showed me these three options and I was sweating bullets about this decision. Although Truman was present during the turmoil he was mostly focused on his Elmo DVD and didn't exactly help me out too much.

(nutmeg, golden oak, or natural finish without stain. I picked the middle 'golden oak' after much debate between that and the nutmeg. I really did love the darker stain but was worried it was a bit ashy. Plus the hardwood dudes thought the golden oak would look best and swore it would turn out darker when applied to the entire floors, along with the top coat finish. Seriously such a big decision!)

We knew we'd want the oak in the majority of the house to be stained, but the maple in the kitchen should always remain natural, apparently. After being really worried that the kitchen would have a lot of damage to the original wood, considering the layers of linoleum and years of being totally hidden--there was only one small repair that was needed in there. The rest of the wood was in 'excellent shape.' The repair required the company cutting down 'standard' size planks to our narrow width, sanding, and finishing it off. I am so glad we had them repair that patch for us. Again, money well spent, in my opinion.

(before--in the kitchen, after sanding, discovering the missing patch of wood.)


(after--note the new replaced wood on the bottom right corner of this pic. Fully refinished without stain in the kitchen!)
We chose to 'upgrade' our finish to the top of the line, strongest/hardest brand out there. It only needed two coats and it should last us a VERY long time. I have to say that I am obsessed with our hardwood floors now and it was money well spent (although it did cost a pretty penny). And what a blessing that the floors were in such great shape under the carpet and that even the kitchen turned out so wonderfully. We were worried the kitchen might be in rough shape and we'd have to tile it or lay down engineered wood instead. But nope, all original stuff, baby. (Besides that little patch in the kitchen)

Final reveal photos!!

(Main room before we moved in...)

(After removing the carpet...)

(After sanding...)

(Ta Da!! Stained and Refinished)






I just realized I haven't taken any pictures of the upstairs bedrooms with the refinished floors. I promise that we also did the entire second floor, too. You will see more pictures of the upstairs in my future 'painting posts', though, don't worry.

And so, project #1 out of 3 is done. And of course, this is the only one that was done mostly by the professionals. The kitchen and the painting is pretty much all us. Stay tuned for updates on those babies!


  1. That really looks nice! I love hardwoods....really looks clean!

  2. Looks awesome!!! We just reno'd our great room/kitchen area, so I hear ya on coming up for air.. lol!! Great work!

  3. Absolutely beautiful. We just undid the linoleum in our 20s bungalow, maple underneath, refinished without stain, just like yours. It's just so amazing to me that people would cover up such awesome floors with ugly tile and carpet!

  4. HUGE difference! Looks really great! Also, looks like you've been a busy bee with painting:)

  5. So beautiful! Great job, and I would have also hired that out considering all the rooms you did.

  6. Beautiful!
    Seriously, why would anyone EVER put carpet over wood floors! Ugh!
    What a blessing that they were still in such great condition.

  7. I seriously love it! They did a great job. I had all sorts of memories of when we refinished the wood floors in our first house.

    Also? I'm jealous you've already painted. I've painted only one room after being in our house for nearly a year. I am such a slacker. But I really really really hate painting!

    Can't wait to see more!

  8. Wow, gorgeous! I just wanna rip off my socks and run barefoot all over your beautiful floors, can't wait to see more!

  9. Wow, your floors look amazing!! You have inspired me to wanna get to work on fixing up our hardwood;)

  10. It looks awesome. I am jealous of your ability to visualize the potential in a house.

  11. The floors look fab! Even though you only crossed off like1/50th of your to-do list, the house already looks different and way more modern. The end result is going to blow us all away, I'm sure :)

  12. It looks amazing, Julia!

  13. Beautiful! I'm another who will never understand who had the bright idea to start carpeting over hardwoods-and with BLUE carpet to boot!

  14. I LOVE your hardwood floors! I didn't peek at your stain selection and chose the one I would have picked - and I would have done the middle one as well! :) It looks AWESOME!

    Your house is coming along - so exciting!!!

  15. That looks so nice! We are renovating our house right now too, and we're doing it all by ourselves. It's so much more work than you think it's going to be when you start! We're finally about finished, and our last step is finishing the hardwood floors (which were covered in carpet and a layer of GLUE. Don't even get me started on how mad it makes me that someone covered beautiful hardwood with glue!!! And then we had to scrape it all off by hand. haha). Anyway, it looks great, and makes me excited to finish ours!

  16. They look sooo nice :) Maybe I missed it but are you moved in already or are you doing all these upgrades and then moving in?

  17. wow. GORGEOUS!!! You guys are putting in some serious work, and it shows!! Again, looks absolutely gorgeous. So nice to have it all done before you move in....

  18. Wow! Those floors look amazing! Congrats on getting that done!!

  19. This totally gives me flashbacks to when we moved into our house, except ours is much smaller :) And our carpet was poop brown/tan and BRIGHT ... teal?? 3 layers of linoleum in the kitchen too. But seriously, so similar even in the types of wood and widths of the pieces! I love our floors still, 6 years later.

    PS Is it just me or have the word verifications here become a lot harder?! Maybe it's sleep deprivation :)

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