Uh Oh. Here We Go Again. 🙄

I have one of those ideas in my head that I should ignore.  But I don’t think I’m going to.  Uh oh.  Here we go again.

me, two years ago just before Christmas when I decided to build bookcases in my dining room.

It has been exactly 2 weeks since my house has looked like the bottom of a dumpster. I’ve been out of a major mess, (after finishing my new, old dining room floors) for exactly 14 days. That mess involved floor sanding, floor finishes, paint trays, paint brushes, stained clothing and plastic hanging in my doorways to contain the sawdust blizzard to one room.

I am always in a mess.  Not sometimes, not usually, – always.  Mainly always anyway.  I’m definitely in a  mess more often than I’m not in a mess, as anyone who has ever come into my house on any day other than the day a magazine is shooting here will tell you.

And actually even then it’s a mess, but it’s not my mess, it’s the photographer’s mess.

Let’s review just a few of the messes I’ve gotten myself into over the past couple of years shall we?


A Look Back at Some of My Extraordinary Messes


This is my backyard mess from building my pizza oven.


This is the mess from building my library/dining room bookcases 2 Christmases ago. It’s actually the clean up of the first mess (putting in the bookcases), before the starting of the second mess (cutting and installing the trim and crown mouldings).



The redoing my kitchen mess.  I remember it fondly.


The more recent “I’m just going to pull up one floor board to see what’s under here mess.”


The “I really like what’s under those floorboards, I’m gonna rip up ALL THE FLOORS IN MY HOUSE!!!“, mess.

This is just a small sampling you understand and doesn’t include less significant messes like tearing out walls.

Now, with Christmas just moments away I’m considering getting into another mess.  It’s my dining room table.  I love my dining room table. I had it custom made from antique barnboard. The entire tabletop is only 2 boards.  One of those boards is  27″ wide!

My dining room table at Christmas a few years ago. The photo is desaturated a little bit, so the table is actually more orange in real life.

But when I had the table made I thought the man making it would leave the original patina.  I mean, that’s why you buy 150 year old pieces of wood, right?  But he didn’t. He sanded that wood down to a glossy new finish and I’ve been disappointed with it ever since.  He did a beautiful job finishing it and building it. It’s a masterpiece.  It just isn’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted a table made of old wood that looked old.  But I didn’t convey that well enough. Also.  It’s orange.  That’s the thing about pine.  Finish it in any way other than a water based finish and your lovely pale pine goes orange.

From the day it landed in my house I’ve said I was going to refinish the table eventually.  And now I don’t think I can stop myself from doing it.  I want to strip off the finish and stain and bring it back to a natural wood.  Right now.  Moments before Christmas.  I blame it on my new/old dining room floor.  I love the floor so much and it’s the look I’ve always wanted for my dining room table.

I just don’t want the mess.

Have a good weekend!


  1. Lois says:

    This is what happens when you prepare for Christmas in November! Just saying😉. It doesn’t pay to decorate, bake and shop early so a girl can lolligag in December 😂. Have fun with your project. I am up to my armpits working on the basement reno because I took that stupid November Christmas challenge…haha!

  2. susang says:

    here’s a xmas decoration for your girls house

  3. Ann Brookens says:

    Hey, wasn’t this the whole point of the Christmas Pledge: leave December free to refinish your dining table before the festivities? It’s two weeks away…you have plenty of time! We believe in you, Karen! Have fun! Keep us posted! Make a mess!

  4. Darla says:

    I understand completely! It has to look out of place with the new floors.

  5. Stefanie Barrett says:

    Your photos inspire me and give me hope as we prepare to put new hardwood floors in our upstairs where EVERYTHING as to be boxed and moved. Hopefully our after photos will be as nice as yours! Thank you for inspiring me every week. Merry Christmas!

    • Karen says:

      thanks Stefanie! And good luck with your floors. That’s a HUGE pain to do anything like that on the bedroom floor! ~ karen!

  6. Jen says:

    I’ve often wondered if you were happy with the patina. Seriously! A beautiful table but of course you have to fix it now that the floors are done. This is a relatively small mess, if you think about it.

  7. Lianne says:

    Why seal it at all – why not leave it like the floors? Or stain it with the vinegar/steelwool formula?

    Love that strip gel that scraps off like a breeze – it’s so efficient. I vote do it!

    • Karen says:

      Yes I’ll be using something like circa 1850 or some gel remover. The floor actually does have a sealer and matte coat on it. So I’m proclaiming it raw based on the fact that it has no stain on it and nothing that changes the old patina at all. Which really isn’t the definition of raw, lol. But yes, that’s how I’d do the table as well. Possibly just wax. ~ karen!

      • Suzannelh says:

        I covered a walnut table with bowling alley wax, when my kids were young. It doesn’t turn white when it gets wet and very tough. When it got worn in places, just added more wax. Buffed with sheepskin drill topper disk. Gorgeous.

  8. Get a Festool sander with the vacuum attachment. You can take it down, in place, in under a half a day, ready for finishing. We use them for in-house and anything marine. Check out the Festool fan clubs all over social media. We even took down a marble countertop and cut the ogee, in place, in a 350K kitchen with no problems and no mess.

    I live in a constant state of construction, so I know how drug-like it is. We are restoring a 4 Square farm house on 20 trash filled acres. Go for it!

    • Karen says:

      I have a Festool sander. :) Love it. Didn’t get the vacuum attachment because I didn’t think I’d be doing that much sanding in my lifetime. Blink, blink. LOLOLOL! Yeah, I always think whatever project I’m doing is the last project I’ll need to do. Ha! ~ karen

  9. Megan Geiger says:

    I do believe we have the same sickness, as in I just stripped down my mantle instead of decorating it sickness. You just need to destroy the house a little to make it better, which is why my husband always threatens to bolt the furniture to the floor. I love the way your house looks so you should go for it but if you can contain the sickness wait till the new year. New Year new table.

  10. Katt Philipps says:

    Orange and cookies doesn’t quite sit right. I say go for it! Santa’s cookies need a better-finished table!

  11. Kim C says:

    OMG just DO IT !!! You’re bonkers and a bit of bonkers is what’ll get that table looking even more fabulous! DO IT!

  12. Linda in Illinois says:

    Do it!!! You will love it.

  13. Jane Doe says:

    Here’s to moving towards better.

  14. Kristi says:

    NO! You wanted us to be your voice of reason during moments of insanity or weakness… For just once, STOP, grab yourself a glass of wine and a gingerbread, S L O W L Y walk through your house and just ADMIRE it. Don’t look for new projects. Don’t fix or move anything. Don’t complain about the things you don’t like. Just drink, eat, wander and admire what you’ve created. Maybe even stop to smell the oranges?

    • Karen says:

      “You wanted us to be your voice of reason during moments of insanity or weakness…” … I did?? When did I say that??? I refuse to believe I ever said anything like that. ~ karen!

      • Ann Brookens says:

        Hey, wasn’t this the whole point of the Christmas Pledge: leave December free to refinish your dining table before the festivities? It’s two weeks away…you have plenty of time! We believe in you, Karen! Have fun! Keep us posted! Make a mess!

      • Ann Brookens says:

        Of course you never said any such thing! We are your cheering section, boosting you on to your amazing messes! “Do. It. Do it. Do. It. Do. It!!!!!”

  15. Stephanie says:

    I remember one December we were set to leave for Key West. The night before when I should have been packing, I decided to completely rearrange every bit of furniture in every room while getting out and putting up EVERY Christmas decoration I owned–this was before “simple” was in. After that mania I vowed to never do anything like that again. So each year when I have something happening, I take up another project. Sound familiar? Go for it! I must say I really haven’t regretted it but I do take a bit longer to recover. So glad I’m not the only one who does this stuff–strip that table! You won’t rest until you do!

  16. Peg says:

    THIS is actually an argument for not following your Christmas Pledge! If you were still busy prepping for the holiday, this would have to wait till after New Years. ;)

  17. Debbie says:

    Please, please do it!!!! I have lived with a “dining room table” for the past 20 plus years that I absolutely HATE! It was given to me by my folks so it has sentimental value (some what). I have not found a table I wanted to replace it until last year. Of course, I need to win the lotto to afford it!

    Your table redone will be as fabulous as your floors. DO IT NOW!!!!

  18. Cathy Reeves says:

    Meh, it’s just a table, right? I mean, how much time can it take? You’ve got a solid 17 days, 16 if you have plans for Christmas Eve. But it’s just after 8 am here, so I imagine you’ve at least got your tools out and a corner of it sanded down, #amiright?

  19. Ella says:

    OMG YES! Do it! It’s only the 7th of December. You have scads of time!!

  20. LeeAnne Bloye says:

    If you do this just remember: Kick ass it. Always.
    No one will ever accuse you of needing a hobby.

    • Karen says:

      This year my mother said she didn’t know what to get me for Christmas. I said HOW?? I have more hobbies than anyone in the world! She said, “You do? Like what?”. LOLOLOL. Oh lord. ~ karen!

  21. Teddee Grace says:

    This sounds like a perfect post New Year’s eve project! Hang in!

  22. jaine kunst says:

    I think we need to do an “intervention.” LOL

  23. Mary W says:

    A Christmas miracle!

  24. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Go for it ,you will anyway🤣

  25. Tracey says:

    Do it!! You definitely won’t regret it! But, then again, I decided that this month was a great time to sand my floors and start a kitchen renovation… Have you tried connecting your sander to a shopvac? The mess is so minimal.

  26. Suzette says:

    Throw a tablecloth on it and wait until after Christmas!

    • Alena says:

      I think it would be worse than having a mess in the house over Christmas. I would be so annoyed that didn’t start the project and I would not be able to think of anything else the entire time. Nope, that suggestion won’t fly!

  27. Nicole says:

    Wait, where’s the linen tablecloth? I was thinking (well, there’s my first problem) that you should hold off on doing it until after the holidays, to combat the post-holiday blues. I mean, we all know you won’t, but it’d be an idea. :)

  28. But aren’t you tired yet? Maybe just relax for a while…get a massage or manicure??? Oh you are insane in the membrane (insert sleep for me).

  29. Sideroad40 says:

    MINWAX WATER BASED OIL MODIFIED! I’ve been stripping lots of orange pine as of late and using this to seal the raw blonde beautiful surfaces. I’m told it’s way less prone to turning orange over time and so far so good. Goes on like a charm….recoat in 2 hrs. Great to work with.

  30. Carrie B says:

    Oh man! The patina’s the whole point. Gorgeous table though. There’s only two of us but I wish I had a table like that. It makes me think of large opulent dining parties of days long ago. (Yes! I’m a Downton fan😊)
    It’s only the 7th and Karen, we all know how you work so get sanding girl!! Can’t wait to see it finished…again.😁
    BTW, every time I see that painting (Margaret? Is it?) I want to know her story. She looks hauntingly sad!!
    Well, happy holidays all🎄🎄🎁🎁
    Also, this spring,if we don’t start on my very own pizza oven….I will combust!🍕🍕

  31. Maura says:

    YOU are making me very anxious 😟

  32. Carrie says:

    On man! Of course you want the patina! That’s the point. It’s a gorgeous table though. There’s only two of us but I wish I had a table like that.it reminds me of large opulent dining parties of days long ago. (Yes! Downtown fan for sure😊)
    It’s only the 7th so get sanding girl!! We know how you work Karen, there’s plenty of time! Can’t wait to see it finished…..again😁
    BTW, every time I see that painting (Margaret? Is it?) I want to know her story. She looks hauntingly sad!
    Well, happy holidays all🎄🎄🎁🎁

    • Karen says:

      I have a tiny bit of information on Margaret on the back of the painting. When I first bought her, I looked it up on the Internet but the Internet grows so much every year that I bet there’s way more information to be found now. I should try researching her again! ~ karen

  33. Alice says:

    Thanks a lot! By letting us know that refinishing pine with WATER BASED varnish will banish the orange, you’ve given me an idea! Actually, a brain worm. I have enough to do already. But oh no, this knowledge is going to sit in my brain, nagging me everyday, until I give in and try it. It never occurred to me that I could get rid of the orange color in older, but not antique, pine pieces.

    Seriously, I can’t wait to see how your table turns out!

    • Karen says:

      Just remember that pine will always age and it will always age in that warm, orangeish way. But it’s the polyurethane that makes it REALLY day-glow orange. Also always do test runs with whatever finish you’re using just to make sure. They all act differently on different woods even of the same species. ~ karen!

      • Carswell says:

        I’m interested to see how it comes out – I too have a custom made harvest table from old boards. The tabletop must be the sister to yours, it is 39″ wide and only two boards, one wider than the other.

        Mine were planed, but I opted to leave the worm holes and knots unfilled (which require a periodic excavation of crumbs with some toothpicks) but mine was never varnished. It has only ever been waxed.

        It has aged to a deep reddish gold and since I have no other pine I can live with its colour – but I hear ya on the orange hate.

        • Karen says:

          At least that would be the naturally aged colour which looks … natural! The unnatural orange look is from the oils in stains and finishes. I’m sure yours is nice. Nicer than mine anyway. ~ karen!

  34. Shauna says:

    Did he refinish the underside of the barnboards? Maybe you could flip the table top and have the original beautiful patina.

    • Karen says:

      I know! He sort of, kind of finished the underside. It’s not sanded down as much. But that would involve taking apart the entire table, the legs, the skirts, everything, so basically it means rebuilding the whole thing. :/ ~ karen!

  35. Ecoteri says:

    I want to read all the comments but I need to put on my iPhone iplashlight and go out to sleep in my trailer because the ‘free bathtub’ renovation is still not complete, my own bed has a pile of clothing on it because access to the clothes closet is necessary for the Asbestos remediation, the knob and tube electrical remediation, and eventually when they are done I might actually get insulation in my attic and scuttles…
    So, I personally won’t be taking on any more projects because I have learned that a free bathtub can be a very expensive offering….
    And I sure hope that by the time #1 daughter is kicked out of University Residence for winter break, we have a bedroom for her – the trailer is a bit small
    just saying…. sadly…
    Oh, and, it is really cold here for Vancouver Island – like – REALLY cold, chicken water frozen cold. so the trailer is cold.
    but Karen, go ahead, redo your table. I will enjoy your posts while I look at the piles of a spare twin bed and a collection of sound muffling devices that seem to have taken up residence in my living room. Who needs 4 sound muffling devices that are 3 X4 foot and covered in black fabric, if one is not a musician?
    Oh, clearly I am complaining again about #1 son and his penchant for leaving weird things in my rather small house.
    At least I know that my floors are almost 100 year old fir floors and in very decent shape, as for decades they were covered with some kind of awful wall-to-wall, which was removed about 10 years ago… So decent floors. yucky plumbing, electrical and insulation, mind you…..

  36. Michele Morrison says:

    Karen, enjoy your new project, I’m sure we will love hearing about it. And you probably already know this, but if you want to use the table for Christmas, factor in the “fully cured” time or it will start looking banged up sooner rather than later.

  37. Kate says:

    I hate orange pine. Please do it.

  38. Meg says:

    I say do it! Nothing like a good deadline to get the oomph to fling yourself out of bed directly into a dust mask and gloves! Besides, if you were the normal type of person to schedule this when you had spare time, you wouldn’t be nearly the person you are.

    Moments from December, I brought all the furniture from my large storage unit into my apartment. Thereby creating a Klotski puzzle of epic proportion. Furniture jammed in every walkway, on the furniture I already had, pieces piled on each other. I had done a floorplan first, to make sure everything could fit somewhere… It seemed like a great idea a couple weeks ago. It’s been days now and I’m tired of moving heavy things through this mess. But the deadline of family and friends dropping by at the holidays is a /strong/ motivator!! hahah.

  39. Addie says:

    Go for it!!!!! …….are you having company for Christmas???? Ahhhhh…GO for it anyway!!!

  40. Paula says:

    Do it! I have some very wide barn boards out in our very old barn…hmmmmm.

  41. Everything you touch turns to gold. I mean, pale pine. Your table is going to be beautiful. Can’t wait to see the transformation! Your CAN DO attitude inspires me, Karen.

  42. Teri on the left coast says:

    Do it. You know it will be exactly what you want and it will be your Christmas present to you.
    Besides what are you going to do until Christmas if you don’t have a project. We, your loyal followers, know you don’t find relaxing, relaxing.
    And it will be inspiring for the rest of us just to know you are creating.

  43. Cynthia Grogan says:

    Karen, you just about stole my very own saying: The 4 most feared words for my husband to hear is: “I’ve got an idea!” Another great T-shirt saying.
    This gal from Texas so admires your energy and ideas. Wish we lived a little closer, we could really make a mess together!!

  44. Robert says:

    I’m having palpitations! 😰

  45. Leslie says:

    Your messes always morh into beauty. Go for it … make a mess!

    • Tina says:

      I agree! With anyone else, I’d force feed them Valium, keep them sedated enouhg to get through the holidays. With Karen, she could do it and it would be a work of art, and done in plenty of time for Xmas!

  46. TucsonPatty says:

    It will only take just a little bit of time, right? You’ll be done in no time. Few days at the most. Maybe a week. You can do it. I believe in you. You do you. Somebody stop me! Is that enough cheering section now? Seriously, this is what you do for fun – go for it. It will be gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      I still have a nagging feeling that it’s a stupid idea for some reason, lol. I usually ignore those feelings. ~ karen!

  47. charissa says:

    oh, Karen. i am getting heart palpitations for you. omg… right before Christmas?!?! you are crazy, girl. and that is why we all love you. i know u will do it and pull it off and make it beautiful before Christmas. A very small part of me wants to give you a hug and a very large cocktail and strap you down until Christmas tho. I’ll send the hug anyway. Merry Christmas xoxo

  48. Nancy W says:

    Omg that would be fabulous. Make a mess as usual!

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