The Dining Room Floors.

Starting a reno job is not a problem, ploughing through a reno job is not a problem.  But stopping halfway through a reno job and expecting to start up again? That’s a problem.


The worst thing about stopping a home improvement midway through a job is that even though you absolutely, without a doubt plan on returning to it, you don’t. Well you do, but it might be a year later.  You see, when you’re fixing or renovating something in your house you get taken over by Renovation Mode.

Your tools are scattered around the  house, your grubby clothes stay piled on your bedroom floor so you can easily throw the dirty old things on in the morning, emotionally you’ve become accustomed to living in a flop house.

Raw Wood Floors

You’re in reno mode.  I was in reno  mode.  I was ripping, tearing, cutting and hammering my way through redoing all of my downstairs floors when Thanksgiving happened.  Since I was hosting Thanksgiving I thought it best to put away the power saws and hammers in case someone got drunk and fancied themselves a drunken power tool juggler.

So a day or two before Thanksgiving my floors and I had one last hurrah.  I ripped out the floor that was on top of them (strip Oak) and pulled up all the nails to reveal the somewhat beautiful antique raw pine floors beneath.  A few repairs later and the floors were ready for company (insofar as there were no gaping  holes where someone could fall into the basement and no nails were sticking up to rip through the sole of someone’s foot.

Not that I’m opposed to a quick Thanksgiving trip to the E.R. – I paid a visit to the E.R. myself this year in fact. And it just happened to be the day before I had 15 people for Thanksgiving dinner.  Click here if you’d like to see my stitches.   Did you  know when you cut yourself and they have to give you stitches that they stick a long needle right into the raw, meaty part of your cut?  ‘Cause they do.


All this to say that as of the day before Thanksgiving my downstairs floors were 85% complete.  All I had left to do was to hand sand the dining room and finish it.

That was over a month ago and the floors are exactly how they were then.  I haven’t done another thing.  I haven’t had time, but I’m also not in reno mode anymore.  My tools are away, my work clothes washed and neatly folded somewhere under my various 80’s band tee shirts.  And now it’s time to get ready for Christmas decorating.

The good news is I like the floors exactly how they are.  There are a few different ages of flooring and different colours and as is the case with most older floors, there’s a dark border around the outside and a lighter wood in the centre where a floor cloth would have been.

But they’re rough and a bit splintery. So they need to be sanded down enough to smooth them out but not so much to remove all the patina. I kind of love the raw wood.  A lot.  So I’m wishing I could leave them that way. The only problem is then the finish will be different than it is in the foyer and the living room which has a matte finish, but it is a noticeable finish.  It wouldn’t be confused with completely raw.

After I’ve done the hand sanding I can refinish them (or not) put some trim on the bottom of the baseboards and call it a day.

Which day that will be, I have no idea.

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The Dining Room Floors.


  1. Lauren says:

    I’m right there with you! Pulled up the carpet and realized the floors were going to need professional help, so here we are, 2 weeks later…

  2. Cussot says:

    I learned that needle-plunged-into-wound life lesson when I was four. Very practical. Never waste an opportunity to skip a step.

  3. judy says:

    Your home is sublime,can’t wait 4 the Xmas decorations. I don’t think I’m going to do any this year. 78 and tired,son says- I Will put them away Mom…do I believe this? probababy without a doubt- no! I must say I was surprised that you went to the emergency room when I know you could have stitched that up yourself with intricate needlepoint affect while making a ham sandwich with your spare hand or your left foot. I am convinced that nothing is beyond your skill set and gutty determination. Your example of “just do it” has become my mantra. Oh damn- that means I gotta do Christmas. After 59 years of marriage,I have way way too much Christmas, including disco balls!

    • Karen says:

      Yup, you’ve gotta do Christmas. :) Just a little bit. ;) I have since purchased steri strips for doing my own stitches next time! ~ karen

  4. Lesley says:

    Yep, painted a couple of walls a spectacular teal colour. Loved it. Reattached all the grates and re-hung all the pictures and washed all the paint stuff. About a week later the sun came out and … both walls need a third coat. That was mid-September. I’m living with it by closing curtains and dimming lights. Once you’ve lost the momentum …

  5. Mary W says:

    So you had chick fillet sandwiches and chips for dinner? After all that you should have called in sick! I would say that even you could not have pulled off a dinner but then I thought again – you probably did pull it off with style. Super Karen to the end. Assume sisters helped and others did the dishes. Please tell me they did.

    • Karen says:

      Ha! Well, for Thanksgiving everyone brings something so it wasn’t too difficult. I was responsible for the buns (I made brioche buns), the turkey, mashed potatoes and something else I can’t remember. Plus getting the house/table ready. And yes, Fish Pedicure did a LOT of the dishes after the meal. :) ~ karen!

  6. GerriAnn Constantino says:

    Hi Karen, What can you tell me about the small (cedar-looking) box on your bottom shelf at the end of your dining room table? I have one similar that I’ve had since childhood and I think a grandparent gave to me. Thanks — GerriAnn

    • Karen says:

      I believe it was my grandfathers! Either that or my father’s, but it’s filled with my grandfather’s papers and things from when he came here from Denmark. It’s missing the right brass trim which bothers me. Mainly because I’d love to now what happened to it! ~ karen

  7. Katie C. says:

    Tell me about it! We enclosed our breezeway and started doing the floor tiles ourselves. We tiled all but 3 rows of the floor… And haven’t touched it since April. 3 rows… approximately 12 tiles… and the grout… that’s all that’s left.

    However, we did just rip out the carpet and replace it with bamboo in the bedrooms and we finished that this weekend… The breezeway though… Still not done.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Well … My plan is to *hopefully* tackle it this weekend, so feel free to do the same. If it doesn’t get done this weekend it won’t get done until January. ~ karen!

  8. Kipper says:

    My living room walls were painted an ochre color 16 years ago, with touch ups in interim. I like to burn candles in the fall and winter which caused annoying soot marks near the ceiling. The marks would not wash off. Bought paint/same color/different paint company in March. Finally one month ago I painted the living room. It took about three days due to needing help moving furniture and a very large and heavy antique picture and frame. Room look great now. Sherwin Williams makes great product! Only casualty was a broken toe when I stubbed it walking into aforementioned antique frame while it was down. Must remember to wear shoes while doing DIY.

  9. Eileen says:

    omg. I KNEW it was a mistake to wash my “so dirty they stood up by themselves” work clothes yesterday. Now I’m wrestling with myself to get back into them to continue with the endless saga of a dining room and bedroom with plaster repair and repainting. Ask me about plasterers who miss half the cracks – and then don’t come back for 3 weeks – and then STILL miss some. Now doing them myself. And realizing my work looks better than some of theirs. Then discovering the painting sins of all the predecessors (1925 bungalow) which means scraping and sanding and priming with Kilz…oh, and recaulking all the windows. I have decided that the 5 (!!) doors and 2 doorless frames and their trim will have to wait for spring. In the meantime the dining room stuff is in the living room and the bedroom stuff is in the guest bedroom and I am ready for the funny farm. Next time I hear someone say: painting is a quick, easy and inexpensive upgrade…..

  10. Alena says:

    Hah! I know exactly what you are talking about. I think I have mastered the art of living with unfinished projects, I am the queen of them (even if I say so myself). I think partly it is psychological because once you get the job 90-95% done it looks like it is done and the little bits that need to be finished here and there just fall into the ‘oh, that’s nothing, I can do that any time’ category.
    When I redid my kitchen, I lived for about 2 years with no backsplash tile. The main reason was I could not decide what tile I want (I had a few ideas but for one or another reason there were con factors such as price, or having to order the tile (sight unseen) online and pay horrendous shipping costs and taxes (most of tiles I thought about would have to be ordered from the US). The walls were painted so it was not a huge deal and any splatter was easily wiped off.
    Then I finally purchased the file and eventually, I installed it. But, the switch plates were not put back on the switches because the sockets were a bit too deep in the wall and had to be brought forward with spacers. So I tried once and it was a horrible job, I felt like my fingers turned into sausages and out of frustration, I left it like that for a couple of years. Yes, it bugged me but I kept postponing tackling it again – until suddenly, a few weeks ago I had enough. Some of the sockets needed as many as 4-5 spacers and it still was a horrendous job but got the hang of it and suddenly it went easily.
    I have tons of projects like this around the house!

  11. Anne says:

    I have a 3000 sqft of mid century modern oak floor that hasn’t been touched in decades. Like you, I like the patina and didn’t want/couldn’t afford to have the entire house refinished. Then I began pondering the old herringbone floors in France and England. They were hundreds of years old and looked great. The solution? Wood floor cleaner (Bona)and paste wax (Briwax) and a 1950’s electric floor polisher. Took time to find the replacement scrubbing/polishing/buffing pads, but finally found them. OMG. I felt like June Cleever. But the floors came back to life and are beautiful! The dog has finally learned to not run through the house.

    We restored the 100 year old fir floor in our Craftsman cottage. We used Diamond Varathane and its stood up for the last 20 years of hard wear. We used Satin so not to have too much gloss.

    How did you clean the seam lines in your pine floor?

    • Sarah McDonnell says:

      I was thinking the same thing! My parents used Waterlox in our hundreds year old farmhouse when I was a kid and the pine floors wore like iron despite the fact that it was heavily trafficked with kids, tricycles, dogs, cats, goats, small horses, none of which ever remembered to shut windows when it rained. Its easy to work with but has a distinctive odor that sort of burns your nose hairs out. Best to wait until after the holidays

  12. linda in Illinois says:

    I love the floors just as they are too..
    the stitched up hand, made me cringe.. as if I felt the pain for you.
    I know the poodie clench well, my nephew went through a glass door and that is what they did to his face.. yeowwwww, however, I have never seen white stitches. awesome – another scar in life to tell your story.

  13. Markus says:

    I didn’t know Trump had a twin brother named Joe

    • Joe says:

      Markus, I was just poking a little fun at Karen in her style which can be crass and hilariously funny. Sometimes one needs to be motivated, in weird ways. Been their. But, Trump’s twin, come on that is hitting below the hairline LOL,LOL.
      Hope this reply helps.
      Have a great day!
      Joe Trump

  14. Joe says:

    Boy Bertelsen was i wrong. You came across as a woman who knew exactly “How To Get It Done” a no nonsense person, no lame excuses lady and just did it. A type of woman who men admire. Come on Karen you can do better, get off your butt, lets go and GET IT DONE!!

  15. Sabina says:

    Totally relate. When I moved in my ex was going to refinish my wood floors. I waited three months with furniture scattered in various parts of my little house and garage that takes in water. One day I got fed up and my daughter and I rolled out the rug and moved everything in. 15 years later they still haven’t been touched, ho hum…

  16. Ursula Foster says:

    You’ve nailed the description of reno mode. I’ve recently moved into my fourth “charming character” house and am eyeing the Laura Ashley borders with bad intent. …knowing full well that when I lift those corners and the fake paneling, there will be plaster on the floor, in my hair and cereal for some time. Thanks for confirming that I am not the only one with a pile of experienced work clothes at the ready…and for the frequent outbursts of laughter.

  17. Susie says:

    I had a can of paint sitting in my bathroom for months because I got distracted before I could finish painting the door frame. My friend (Karen!) spontaneously painted it for me — mere hours before I had 40 people over for a fall party. And as I’m typing this, I realize that I have no idea where the paint can went. All I know is that it’s no longer in the bathroom where it most certainly would still be had matters not been taken out of my hands!

  18. Sue says:

    Thank you for the pootie-clenching description of the pre-stitch needle being inserted into your wound. I can’t get the goosebumps to lie flat now . . .

  19. Madeleine Whitfield says:

    I can relate. I’m living with a half-finished renovation and practically no furniture and I’m getting so used to it, I don’t want to change a thing. Your floors are lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Madeleine. I wish I could get them cleaned up before I decorate for Christmas but it’s not looking likely. :/ ~ karen!

      • Miriam Mc Nally says:

        I know the feeling too! Got2 rooms painted, and now the clutter is cleared, I don’t want to put anything in there. Empty shelves are the new trend, Yes?
        Quick question, did you fill the gaps between the floorboards? I have awful draughts between mine, want to fill them but floor guy disagrees.
        Anyone got thoughts on how to fill them- bits of wood/ paper/glue???

      • Suzanne Reith says:

        My question would be about the creepy crawlies escaping from the basement. How are you dealing with that? Seriously?

      • Karen says:

        I didn’t fill mine other than the odd piece where you could literally see into the basement below. Those I filled with strips of wood. But prior to this my floor cracks were filled with a mixture of sawdust and wood glue. A lot of it lasted for 10 years in those cracks, but other stuff popped out. So it wasn’t consistent. The old fashioned and original way to do it would be to fill the offending cracks with rope. You just smush it in there and it expands and contracts with the floor. ~ karen!

      • Annette says:

        I have antique heart pine floors with some big gaps in places and I’m thinking I might test an area by filling with clear resin. Has anyone tried this?

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