The Dining Room Floors are Done! Raw Wood With a Matte Finish.

The dining room floors are sanded, sealed and finished.   They’re also perfect.

On the morning of August 26th I sank into my couch with a cup of coffee in my hand.  It was the Sunday after my street’s annual block party, which means the rest of my neighbours were still sound asleep or creeping quietly into their bathrooms in search of aspirin.   The neighbourhood was quiet and it was a moment I should have savoured.  I should have sat quietly like everyone else reflecting on the night before; the baskets filled with charred, herbed street corn, the plates of salad and lawn chairs dotting the road.

I didn’t sit quietly.

I began ripping up my wood floors. On a whim. The way a normal person would buy Honey Nut instead of regular Cheerios on a whim.

It started by lifting one piece of flooring to see what was underneath out of curiosity and ended with me ripping out all of the wood floors on the lower level of my house to reveal the original pine below.

It was 3 months ago that I lifted the first floor board and just a couple of weeks ago I managed to get the last coat of finish on my final floor, the dining room.

The finished dining room floor turned out to be very different than the foyer or living room floors because it didn’t need to be professionally sanded.  There was no finish on it and it it was fairly smooth.

It was hidden beneath a layer of perfectly respectable, relatively old, oak strip flooring.

I wanted to retain as much of the original patina and discolouration as possible and the only way to do that would be to hand sand it as opposed to having a professional come in with a big sanding machine.  It’s the   the imperfections that make this floor perfect.

The square patch right under the dining room table that looks like an escape hatch for instance is my favourite thing.  I have no idea what it’s doing there, but I like it.

That’s one of the areas I had to repair actually. One of the boards was completely cracked and none of them were particularly stable, so I fixed that.  In the process I had to lift all of the boards of the square up which was about as terrifying as removing my own intestines.

You see, underneath my dining room floor is a dirt crawlspace.  Which we all know is where mice, rats, centipedes, spiders and poltergeists live.

Turns out there was nothing crawling around under there so I’m considering turning the “square”  into a trap door and building a box underneath it for storing things like heads.

I mean potatoes.

This is what my dining room floors looked like before, with the oak strip flooring.

 

As I said they were perfectly respectable.

A bit shiny.  A bit orange.

Now they’re a lot more stained, a lot less uniform and a lot less shiny and orange.

 

Later, probably in January I’ll do a post on how exactly I finished the floors and what products I used and why.

But for now I’m just going to sit quietly and savour the moment.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

86 Comments

  1. corbin sweeny says:

    gorgeous, really really very nice, and yes, the matte finish was the superb choice. and please do make a special box down there and store a head or two! such fun! love that you are alive, and bother to not only do these things but write about them with pizazz- thanks.

  2. Suel Anglin says:

    Wow Karen! The floors are magnificent. I love the idea of using the trap door as storage for potatoes. There was a similar door under my great-grandmothers dining room table which had been covered up by one of those ancient asphalt/linoleum “carpets”. It was long forgotten until my cousin removed it to do a similar restoration. I was helping that day and after scraping up the old linoleum and carefully prying the lid open, we found a collection of very old silver flatware. Here’s a picture.

    We think she was hiding it from the Yankees…

    • Karen says:

      That’s so GREAT! How fun to find something! And that’s my current cutlery, lol! I collect it. The spoons that is. Well now I really really want to make a trap door! ~ karen

    • cathy Reeves says:

      that is beyond awesome!!! finding that silverware would be the highlight of my life. Do you know how old it is? what a find.

    • Mimi says:

      Woah! Love that!

    • Grammy says:

      She was surely hiding them from someone! What a wonderful discovery.

    • Katie C. says:

      OMG! That’s amazing! That’s like one of my secret dreams. I’d love to take down a wall or rip a floor and find a treasure.

      I guess I need to buy an older house.

      • Eileen says:

        well awesomeness! All I found when I tore out the basement ceiling in my 1925 bungalow was a meathook…which fell on me…and resulted in my helpers deciding that there were sure to be body parts to follow and hightailing it. There weren’t. I had it hanging in my home office for years until a local theater company was looking for one.

  3. Meg says:

    oh WOW that makes an enormous difference. what a lovely floor.

    And thanks for the revelation that orange may be the reason I don’t like “wood” finishes. I don’t mind wood, probably. I more likely mind the fakey overpowering attempt at plain wood. Probably why I like darker finishes as they easily go towards brown not orange!

  4. Kipper says:

    There was a design show on recently where there was a trap door type thing in the mud room. The designer turned it into a wine storage thing! A pulley and rope lifted the “door” and secured to the underside of the door was a box with shelves to hold probably 24 wine bottles, which came up with the door. My only thought was they’d better choose the wine for the evening and then close the wine cellar ..you don’t want slightly tipsy guests bashing into the wine case or falling into the cellar!

  5. Kimberly says:

    YESSSS! It looks SO MUCH BETTER. So much more “high end”. Which of course 200 year old wood floors are wont to. 🤷🏼‍♀️😆

  6. Lois M Baron says:

    I just finished reading your egg & toast holder post. Am dying to know: Is ending up living out your life in a van down by the river a Canadian thing?

    So many questions spring to mind when I read that phrase — so funny!

    • Ann Roberts says:

      Lois-

      That was actually a reference to a Saturday Night Live Skit. Very American. Not that Canada doesn’t have wonderful humorous people. After all, we have Karen!!

    • Laura Bee says:

      It must be. I will admit I lived in a 1968 Dodge Dart for a week or two and a van would have been much better.
      And we were actually quite close to the St. Lawrence River in NB. Haha.

    • Kelly says:

      It’s less a Canadian thing and more of a Chris Farley/Saturday Night Live sketch sorta thing.

    • Karen says:

      Lol! No, it’s a famous line from Saturday Night Live. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Aurigny says:

        Let’s not forget that Lorne Michaels, the originator of SNL was Canadian, as were participants Dan Aykroyd, Howard Shore, and Paul Shaffer, so the phrase could have, and likely was, written by one of them, referring to living down by the Don River under the Gardiner Expressway.

  7. Sabina says:

    Gorgeous! Drop dead gorgeous!

  8. Vivian Pavek says:

    Karen, my husband and I did basically what u did a year age. We did a 17×16 room that was over 100 years old that when we moved in it had been covered in carpet for all of the 37 years we lived here. Ours ended up being a maple floor but it looks very much like what your does. We have all the wonderful imperfections that make it perfect too! I adore the floor and feel that room has a happy grateful feel being restored to it’s original state of over 100 years ago. Now we did all the sanding ourselves and it was pure dreadful work but so worth it! My favorite room in the house!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Vivian! Sanding is definitely miserable work, and I imagine even harder on maple! But yes, like you I love my floor. 🙂 ~ karen!

  9. Grammy says:

    Stunning floors. I would enjoy every single moment eating in that room, with all the spirits of those who came before to gather round a table and share food, conversation, their lives.

    In a long list of wonderful things you’be done to your home, this may be the best. It would take a lot of nerve to strip the very nice floors you had to discover the character of the house that was. Beautiful.

  10. Dan Russell says:

    They look great! And the boards are now aligned in the proper direction. The oak running across the room was discordant. The pine pulls your eye to the bookcase and right up that wall. Nice!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Dan! The floors were all over the place before, lol. Yes, now everything is not only the same flooring, but it’s all going in the same direction. Which is oddly comforting. ~ karen!

  11. Elissa Rioux says:

    Fabulous Karen! Definitely worth the effort.

  12. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Fabulous!

  13. There is always beauty in imperfection.

  14. cherie says:

    Wow it looks fabulous – and yes to the hidden storage! I’m so glad YOU love it – thanks for sharing the journey

  15. Renee says:

    Karen,
    Your floors look beautiful. You’re so brave! On another note, I wanted to let you know that last year I bought the coat you recommended and have been wearing it this winter. I get at least one compliment a day on it. I love it! It’s warm, I love the placement of the hand pockets, and all of the other pockets are great for carrying things around. And the zippers! Love them too! Thank you for the recommendation!

  16. p says:

    perfection, really!

  17. Bonnie Harris says:

    Our 1895 small-town-Ontario house looks quite stately from the street, but it has a partial 6′ basement under the kitchen with a trap door on the floor for entry. The rest of the house has a 3′ crawl space just enough for vents for central heating and the only access is through a square cut out in the old wood floor in the main front hallway. Just like yours, so maybe at one time it was your access? When we bought the house 3 years ago, we wanted to see down there to make sure it was dry. We had to pry up the floor boards in the square and then nail them back down after. I love battered up old wood floors, and have really enjoyed following your project, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Bonnie! And yes I suspect that’s exactly what my square is for. It’s where the duct work runs for the “newer” part of the house. ~ karen!

  18. Jen Topp says:

    I LOVE it.

  19. Cussot says:

    A pomme-de-terrarium. The technical term.

  20. judy says:

    former floor-mediocre,conformist and not pretty,new/old floor like its’ owner, original,daring and who combines glamour with awe inspiring feats of accomplishment that would challenge a football linebacker and who seems not much larger than Tinkerbell. I applaud you with a standing ovation. And I wish my 8 bookcases looked just a little bit like yours. If this seems too effusive it comes from a 78 yr old who finds rising from a chair an athletic event.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. I hope once I’m 78 I still have enough energy left to get in and out of a chair. At this rate I’ll have used all my energy up by the age of 60. ~ karen!

  21. Joe says:

    Being an x floor layer, the floors look pretty good to me Karen. If i may i deserve a little credit due to the fact that i gave you the “get off your butt” comment hee hee, that possibly motivated you. Just kidding Markus the Trump genealogist.
    Congrats, way to go Karen and everyone have a lovely weekend!

    Joe

  22. Maryann says:

    I have serious envy for your dining room. Perfectly respectable before (as you pointed out) but you had the vision to take it to fabulous. Wow!

  23. Tracy Martinez says:

    I love them and the perfect imperfection!

  24. Katie C. says:

    Those oak floors are definitely respectable, but the pine floors are more you, Karen. I love it.

  25. Megan Geiger says:

    Lol I don’t know why it bugs me so much but the oak is running opposite of the pine so it looks like your flooring changed directions!

  26. linda in illinois says:

    I love the floor.. the trap door… sooo coolllll… definitely do something exciting with it.

  27. Debbie says:

    It is FABULOUS! I love your floors! Just beautiful! Enjoy and rest (ha! do you ever rest?). Congrats on a job very well done!

  28. Kim C says:

    Absolutely fab decision to redo the orange floors. They look spectacular. Sometimes when I am reading your posts I imagine you as the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes. You know…the crazy, whirling dervish with a big, soft heart!!
    I don’t know where you squeeze in enough time to read all those great books you recommend!

  29. Oriah says:

    These look fantastic and being the technical nerdy sort, i have a question. Did you remove and reinstall the bookcases to removed the underlying flooring or did you just rip out around them? If you ripped out around them, how did you keep a clean edge? It looks like you added new quarter round at the bottom of the bookcases and my curiosity is piqued.

    Cheers!….and time for potato chips.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Oriah! I cut around the bookcases with a dremel multi tool. There would really be no way to remove the bookcases, they’re completely built in. I haven’t added any quarter round anywhere, I still have to do all the finish work. Maybe in january, lol. I’ll probably use some piece of flat trim for along the bottom. 🙂 ~ karen!

  30. Jackie says:

    I have always loved wood floors. When I was growing up, carpet was move expensive & few houses had it. Now the big money is in hardwood. I really – really love your floors. Every time I think there is nothing more you could do to improve your house, you come up with another great idea/project. Love It.

  31. NikiDee says:

    To. Die. For! So much prettier than the original. Thank goodness for type A personalities. You make me feel normal.

  32. Jill says:

    These are truly amazing. The before photo looks lovely, but the after brings it to a whole other level. No longer just a pretty room, now it is unique and simply stunning. Those floors are a conversation starter. I can’t imagine having a conversation about the non-original oak floors you started with (lovely as they were) 🙂 Well done and thank you for the inspiration!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. That’s a good point. The other floors really never would have started a conversation. Other than maybe … hey … look at those adequate floors. ~ karen!

  33. Mary W says:

    I just adore how you finished them. They are gentle, warm, and beautifully full of history. Just like me – except they probably are not swollen (fat), also. I was never a fan of your chairs BUT they look perfect now – just the touch to make the room a GREAT room. You really are something else at decorating. When I see that something looks good, I will never change it but you keep on ‘fixing’ the looks and that must be fun as well as providing excellent experience in getting the right look. Just keep on doing Karen – you do it so well.

  34. Stephanie says:

    I think that the floors are stunning and they tell the story of your house!

    Bravo! I knew you’d end up here (I bet you did too!) but it’s a process getting there!
    I thought I liked the Oak Floors prior to this restoration but now, the Original Floors make the Oak look, well they look like a renovation and dated.

    I had the same situation with my bathroom tile. A young couple bought the 100 year old house and ripped up the original hex white tiles and changed them to cheap ceramic white with a gold vein running through. The finish on the tile had worn off and it was nasty. They did have the foresight to use the original tiles as drainage for the raised herb beds they installed (that’s how I knew what was there). Luckily you can still get the same size hex’s and now that is what is on the bathroom floor. It just “feels” right and looks great! Just like your floors now feel right!

    Congratulations!

  35. Jane says:

    Now I can see the dining room table.

  36. Paula says:

    Karen, that look fantastic! I live in an Ontario century home too and we have a spot that looks exactly like your trap door. An 88 year old lady stopped by and told me this was her Aunt and Uncle’s house and his parents had built the place. She came inside and as we toured the house, she showed me the spot where the wood stove was and it was on top of the ‘trap door’. Perhaps there was something else under the wood stove other than wood, like stone and they filled it in after the stove was removed? I really have no idea.

  37. Robyn says:

    They are gorgeous !!! I hope you have a relaxing weekend admiring their beauty!

  38. OK. I didn’t mind the floors before, at all. These old new floors are maybe a bit to rough for my taste. Orange floors don’t bother me. I’m usually looking at the decoration of the room, and whether they have good taste or not. If they don’t have taste, I don’t care about the floor. I have beautiful old oak floors in my 1948 cottage which are covered with rugs. The crappy fir in the bedrooms is covered with carpet. Maybe if I lived in an old home like yours I might appreciate this more. However, I don’t think it is a great idea for people to rip out their orange floors when what they have is serviceable.

  39. Marcia says:

    Very nice! We had oak floors when I was a kid, and my Mom used to have me sit on a suitcase that was on top of a towel and pull me around the floor to polish them after she’s waxed them.

  40. Melissa says:

    Karen,
    These are gorgeous. I have often wanted to do this to ours as we have the same oak over pine situation. I just showed your before and after to Bob and he just laughed and shook his head. Which I am certain means “what a great idea, let’s do that”.

  41. Leslie Barnard says:

    I’m looking forward to the January post on the specifics of your floor treatment! One thing I’m curious about- do you have a subfloor or are those pine boards the only thing between you and nature/poltergeists?

  42. Betsy says:

    I thought the oak strip looked nice… until I saw the original. Good call!! Totally worth it 🙂

  43. Danni McLaughlin says:

    Since many people are commenting about the orange floors and many people don’t have charming zillion year old wood under their OTHER wood floor, I thought I’d mentioned that when I added some new hardwood
    Flooring in my 1990s house and thus, had to refinish and restain the rear of the main Floor, I too, was despairing of the orange tone. I wanted old barnwood-looking floors but couldn’t bring myself to tear out 1500 sq ft of red oak, so my floor guy and I tried every grey stain out there and in the end MINWAX grey stain over red oak give you a luscious RH browny grey that is absolutely stunning. Matte finish.

  44. Kate says:

    Thanks! Really looking forward to hearing about what products you used & why. I know the post will be very informative & educational. Thanks for giving us a heads-up that you’re going to do this in January!
    Wishing you joyous holidays!

  45. Desiree says:

    No! You can’t end it like that. I have to know what you see used to seal them. I’m in the process of redoing my pine floors too and I need to know!

    They look gorgeous though. You did such a wonderful job Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Desiree! All of the products I used were from the Bona professional line, but there were all from different lines of the Bona line, lol. Mainly to save money. Just so you know they aren’t the same Bona products that you get at Home Depot or any home improvement store. And the matte isn’t as matte as I would have liked. There’s a tiny bit of glow to them, but they’ve grown on me. ~ karen!

      • Desiree says:

        Thank you for sharing Karen! That helps so much. You’re the bomb, lol! Love knowing that there is someone out there that is “passionate” about home projects and does things on a whim just like myself.

  46. Kristin says:

    I’m the kind of person who still has bare walls after 3 years because I can’t decide what pictures to put up or where. Karen, your courage (or impulsivity?) is inspiring. I salute you!

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