The Great Floor Debacle. Part 1

To everyone who warned me not to do this. To everyone who claimed I was getting into what could be a complete disaster.  To my friends who thought ripping up my floors would lead to all sorts of ridiculousness. I say pftttt. You’re a bunch of dolts.

Does that look like a disaster to you? I think not.

Any realtor will tell you that a basement skylight is a very sought after selling feature.

Speaking of which. Anyone wanna buy a house?

Just kidding.  My mercury glass Christmas snowman (which you can see covered in dust and rubble to the upper right of the photo) has never been easier to access.

At most this was a hiccup. A burp.  A slight bump in the road.  More of a hole in the road I guess. One of those car eating sinkholes that insurance doesn’t cover because you parked your car on what you knew was potentially a great big sinkhole.

Sit back, relax (in your home without poltergeist holes) and let me tell you how I got to this point.

In case you aren’t caught up to this point you can read this post which explains how just over a week ago I removed 1 of the 3 floors that are laid in my foyer.  Because I was curious about what was under it.  Then I was curious about what was under that next floor.  Which brings us to where we are.


After careful thought and realizing there is no fighting my curious nature I decide to remove the maple floor in my foyer (which just 2 weeks ago was covered by box store pine flooring).

12 p.m. 

Begin removing maple flooring.  Feeling quite sassy.

6:00 p.m.

Finish removing all maple flooring and am happy to see there are very few repairs to be made.  Doubly sassy.  Remove the last of the floor remnants.

6:15 p.m.

Take a good look at the floor underneath.  There is original paint from a century ago around the perimeter. This was when painting floors was the poor man’s way of finishing their floors. Those who couldn’t afford a carpet would paint their wood floors.  Nowadays people who can’t afford nice wood floors install carpet.

6:30 p.m.

Momentarily fancy myself artsy enough to leave the floor exactly how it is and just clean it up a bit with washing to bring up the colour.


6:31 p.m.

Come to grips with the fact I’m not that artsy. Finish cleaning up and a bit of floor removal in the closet area.


No idea. I have literally NO idea what I did Thursday. I have a feeling I may have blocked it from my memory and it probably involves centipedes.  Or possibly a basement toad.

Seriously. Toads are notorious for living in basement crawl spaces.  It’s a thing.

Hold on. I just remembered what I did Thursday. I removed nails.  Lots and lots of nails.


11:00 a.m.

Place hands on hips and assess situation.

As can be seen in the photo above, there’s only about 2 square feet that need to be patched.  So don’t ask me why at …

12:25 p.m.

… I did this.

I just kept ripping up floor.  I have a feeling I did this because the support underneath the floor needed to be reinforced.  It had something to do with the threshold into the dining room.

7:33 p.m

Complete basement skylight.


9:00 p.m. 

Start creating support for plywood subfloor by screwing 2x4s into the joists. This will allow more support for the shorter pieces of flooring.





Take a quick look around for my sass.  It is nowhere to be seen. I even look outside.  Nope, it’s not there.  I’ve lost my sass.

I did, on the other hand, discover exactly how many floors I needed to remove to satisfy my curiosity.

All of them.

To be continued …


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  1. Hey! I was curious about what was under that next floor.

  2. Dana Studer says:

    You are right about seeing other peoples’ dirt. At Christmas, I used an upstairs bathroom at a family member’s house. The cat food bowls were next to the toilet. Behind the toilet was hair and all kinds of fuzz that looked like it was stuck to the floor with hairspray. There was also mouse poop there!

  3. Robyn says:

    This is so exciting! I am jealous of the old floors that are going to be gorgeous and grateful that I don’t have the mess in my house. Been there done that. After they sand the floors there will be sawdust EVERYWHERE in your house. Just sayin. Enjoy the process and thanks for sharing!

  4. charlotte tataryn says:

    Karen, you are amazing, albeit sometimes, not in a good way, but your perseverance is to be admired, everything withstanding. I’d have you in my corner, any day, although I’d not let you near my house with a hammer, and/or a crow bar.
    This is, by far, the most interesting rant you’ve been on, I’m sure at some point, and perhaps once or twice already, you’ve wondered “what the hell am I doing”, but again, I admire your tenacity, f not your common sense.
    End of day, I enjoy, have and will always, watching, and reading your adventures with your house, and can’t wait to see what wonders transpire until you are done. Hopefully you got your root veggies out of the ground and have literally nothing else to do. Yah, just kidding about that.
    Keep on trucking – you are one fun, and funny, individual.

  5. Lez says:

    These are the things that struck me Karen!
    I also couldn’t see the snowman!
    I wondered what was behind those doors, I have NEVER seen a door in front of a staircase before!
    A downstairs window without burglar bars! Unheard of in South Africa!
    And… a spool of what looks like turquoise embroidery cotton? Just wondering why!?

    Crazy, brave lady! You are an inspiration to us all!

  6. Marcia Middents says:

    Forget the floor…I want to know how you keep nail polish and nails with all the projects you do. My nail polish chips when I just think about doing something crafty.

  7. Diane Walters says:

    Lol I love the laugh out loud chuckles you give me…thank you once again. Good laughs can be hard to come by at times!

  8. Mark Puett says:

    Reminds me of the time that I sccoched into the crawlspace under my 100+yr old house to come face to face with a wasp nest about the size of a volleyball. Fortunately for me… it was vacant. The Wasp nest, not the house. After cleaning up poop, in a sealed up crawlspace… I put down vapor barrier and stapled up batt insulation against the sub-floor. I think it made a difference in that bedroom having the extra insulation. Certainly makes a difference not having the wasps that were subletting at one time.
    Keep the faith!

  9. Celeste says:

    Well, I must be dim. I don’t see the snowman. But I do see what looks like a small book. Need to know!! What’s the book?? Is it an antique primer from days long past? I looove old books!

    • Karen says:

      It’s probably the Snowman you’re looking at. :) It’s in a cardboard box with a picture of it on the outside. ~ karen!

  10. leo muzzin says:

    Hi Karen: that could be lead paint on the floor so I would suggest you take precautions, even if you don’t do the refinishing yourself.

  11. Suel says:

    Thank you for all the photos! AND your commentary and level of sass. I’m basing my restoration of my antique garden shed on some of your discoveries and solutions.

  12. Bunguin says:

    Have you considered putting in some kind of decorative work (like antique/salvaged medallion or carved border, or metalwork, or coordinating wood, but not pine) to frame out the repaired/patched area and ‘extend’ the usefulness of the original pieces you do have.

    I’m stupid, I’m sure you thought about it, But here is what I meant anyway….something like these:

    • Karen says:

      I do like those accents when they’re done well, but for this house I’m thinking I’d like to keep the floors relatively authentic. So chances are my patch job will just look like a patch job because that’s how things would have looked then. :) ~ karen!

  13. Noëlle says:

    Place hands on hips and assess … lord I need more coffee! I thought you forgot how to spell asses.

  14. karin says:

    Ok so this is bugging me; why is there no sub flooring by the threshold? And why was the pine patched there in the first place? Was there an alternate entrance to the basement? A giant heating grate in the floor? What was going on there?!?!

  15. june says:

    Okay, I have a simple solution for your basement skylight. Set up your former Xmas decor storage area as a wine cellar. Add glass over the floor hole. Problem solved. Google and Pinterest can provide plenty of pictures.

  16. Joyce says:

    If things get too weird, slip across the border and come stay with us in Vermont. I can find things to keep you busy. Do not bring along your Thanksgiving guests, however!
    Good luck on the project, you have way more “ cajones “ than I!

  17. Aimee says:

    I am loving getting your floor saga. It will be so pretty when you are done!

  18. Cheapdiva says:

    JUST had the brand new carpet – in the house I closed on last week – ripped up from the living floor yesterday. The perimeter of the flooor, about 18” from edge of room to center of room, has been refinished. But the rest of the floor is a purple-ish mess. Now I have to get that redone by Friday when the movers come with my worldly belongings!

    Not nearly as bad as your mess, but wish me luck in getting it done in 4 days – or I may go with having carpet put down just in the middle of the room. Ugh.

  19. Suz says:

    It’s just like “Alias Grace”! The access door and the little rug over it! Or the Priest Hole in many old places! Or maybe they had to cut it out because of the bloodstain…..

    My story involved the handpainted linoleum trim that I discovered under the carpet in the master bedroom AFTER we had accepted the offer to purchase…….

  20. Jody from Turkey Point says:

    You are fearless girl!! Good for you. There have been many projects I have wanted to do but the other half always says No. I now wish I would have ripped down the kitchen ceiling to see the tin ceiling. Guess I didn’t have enough sass. I can’t wait for the reveal of your beautiful floors. Your my hero .

    • Mark Puett says:

      Go for it Jody!
      We have a 100+yr old house and for some reason in the upstairs bedrooms the ceiling was not the fabulous 9 1/2 feet like the rest of the house! What was there was this skanky drop ceiling at 8ft. At some point someone put in paneling that was only 8dt and in order to match the ceiling was brought down to 8ft. We ripped all of that out, skinned the plaster and lath walls with sheetrock, rewired for ceiling fans and put in crown moulding. What a difference!
      What’s the worst that can happen? You end up with a whole in your floor like Karen? Worse things can happen!
      You can do it!

  21. Teri on the wet coast says:

    Hmmmm. I know you will figure this out. Because you are resourceful and enterprising.
    I would likely be sitting in a heap weeping softly into something alcoholic.
    You are my heroine!

  22. whitequeen96 says:

    Well, all I can say is “I hope you’re happy!” Really, I do. :-)
    (I’d be going nuts, but you’ll probably make something gorgeous out of it!)

  23. Actually, it wasn’t really the poor mans way but rather wall to wall carpeting didn’t arrive until much later. Instead large rugs were the norm so of course you’d need to paint around the edges up to the wall.

    Hmm, re the ‘trapdoor’. Looks like there are a few things going on under there. You’ll just have to weigh up the likelihood of anything going wrong under there (where you might need access), but if it’s just vent pipes and the like, I’d probably ignore them. You can always take up the new repair pieces if you need access again. Not easy but not impossible either, and way better than an ugly removable square ‘trapdoor’… Don’t forget to have fun :-)

    • Karen says:

      In these worker cottages it would not have been an actual rug. It would have been a painted floor cloth or painted floors. The only homes that had actual carpets were in homes of the affluent. ~ k!

  24. Lynda Loy says:

    Well after leaving my comment I realized it wasn’t a Santa but a snowman!! I need to go to bed…

    • Karen says:

      It is indeed a snowman. It’s not my favourite, so I let him fend for himself. I’ll find out at Xmas if he survived. ~ karen!

  25. Lynda Loy says:

    What I’m curious about is did you rescue Santa?!🎅

  26. TucsonPatty says:

    Karen, sometimes you scare me. I am so very curious about so many things. One thing I will never have to worry about is what is under my floors. They were carpet and vinyl flooring when I mived in, removed carpet and found asbestos tile flooring under that, and then plain ordinary concrete under that. Then the hardest dirt known to man – caliche. There are no basements in Tucson, because you need dynamite to make a hole here. (Only a little exaggeration.) There are definitely things I would like to know exactly what the heck is in there, or under there or how did you make that, but now I have google. And Karen and TAODS and Lo, I am happy. Thank you, my dear. : )

  27. Patricia O'Riordan says:

    That fake trapdoor idea isn’t bad.

    • linda in Illinois says:

      I was just going to suggest an escape hatch for the apocalypse when the zombies are upstairs hunting for nourishment. lol

  28. Grammy says:

    Isn’t your Thanksgiving coming up soon? Don’t you always host a large group for Thanksgiving? Did you do this to get out of hosting duties this year? Or are you just punking us and the whole floor reno is already done and you’re feeding it to us in small episodes so it will be even more dramatic when in only a few days you will go “Ta-DAH!” and show us the fabulous “new” floors?

    Whatever it is, I’m fascinated with how your gorgeous old wide-plank flooring looks when you’re all done. I know it will be beautiful, but I’m interested in the details of fixing existing door mouldings and threshholds to make it all perfect.

    Also, we haven’t forgotten that apothecary cabinet you bought for the kitchen…

    • Karen says:

      Funny story. The cabinet is going to be ready for pickup … this week. And yes, I am indeed hosting Thanksgiving much to the surprise of most of my family. ~ karen!

  29. Lori says:

    You could always put in a trap door!!!

  30. ecoteri says:

    I am beginning to appreciate my free bathtub (and accompanying $60,000 to $80,000 renovation)/. At lease I know my edge-grain fir flooring has nothing underneath it – because my basement lets me look up at the subfloor. Not going there, nope nope nope. just replacing knob and tube and all the plumbing and the sideyard and the septic and the well line to-and-from and the and the and the. yep, no flooring on this Reno.

  31. judy says:

    I love you Karen because you make me laugh out loud and you may be an alien sent here to teach us how to do a couple of things ourselves cause some of us (moi) are developing more butt than is essential for sitting on our arses – we gotta have remotes and a thing that will turn the lights on and off and turn the car on so we can run from warm to warm and get all of our junk delivered from the bigly mart in the sky. Shades of Idiocracy-where’s my recliner with the built in crapper? Also girl you are certifiably c00c00!

    • judy says:

      Forgive the weirdness of the above comment. I am an American? and I live in weirdness every single second of my day and night if I can’t tear myself away from the news. “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon gawd they made”.

  32. Susan Hollier says:

    Thank you for making me grateful to be 95% sure that the ugly, carpeting in my house is hiding nothing but plywood subfloor that I will eventually strip, de squeak and lay new hardwood over the top. Of course, you have also made the other 5% of me curious to pull up a teensy corner of the carpet just in case there is some treasure underneath. I am sure your place will be gorgeous when done.

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