February 04, 2011

Starting at the Bottom

The first order of business for the new house is hardwood. Now keep in mind that this is said without benefit of knowing just how large that expense might be. After the estimates I might be shell shocked into just sticking with paint for awhile. Buying a house is expensive! You probably already knew that. I had forgotten. I try to write a check every day for at least $500. I'm thinking that can't go on much longer.

The house already has hardwood all through the upstairs which is just a few years old. In the family room and 2 bedrooms downstairs there is older hardwood and it is not in the best of shape. We hope to replace the first floor hardwood and the carpet on the stairs with new hardwood and refinish what is on the 2nd floor to match. I love a dark floor. And wide planks. And a lovely aged patina. The good kind of patina. But there are so many questions. Factory finished? Engineered? Finished on site?

What I'm really worried about is, what happens down the road when we go to finish the kitchen and want to put the wood in there. Or what if we want to open up a wall a bit? I don't want any of the money we spend now to be a waste.

Also? I like to research a project before I make a decision. Research it to death...  That way I am assured of making the right choice. Well, not really. But I can pretend. Also, we are talking about what I assume is going to be a lot of money. Enough money that it will make me want to vomit when I hear the total.

So for today, I am looking at inspiration and hoping you will take pity on me (and the people around me that I will inevitably drive insane during this process) and give me your hard earned hardwood advice.


  1. hello my little jen,

    deep breath ...

    first of all, you'll never go wrong looking at photos of atlanta bartlett's style.

    second, i had zero budget when working on the interior of my house so everything has just been all about paint. maybe consider that as a first step -- just paint -- and live in the house for a while as your research and get to know the house (where the sunny spots are, etc.). also, the painted floors of c.strutt's book are quite swoonworthy; an inexpensive option.

    whatever you do, it will be wonderful and i look forward to watching it all happen. remember: you are the bhg DIY champ! you can do anything!


  2. you will figure it all out...don't rush anything...

    on the hardwood issue....at our home back in alabama, we were lucky to have hardwood that was in very good shape under very ugly carpet. there was actually pine in the kitchen & den...oak or something in the rest of the house. had it all refinished and stained a light color.

    fast forward to our (1935) home in in indiana. the home has gorgeous, custome milled hardwood..not wide plank, unfortunately. it is stained a dark color and has these grooves between each plank. it's beautiful...BUT..the dark stain shows EVERY LITTLE thing...every grain of salt from the drives & walkways, every crumb that wafts down from the kitchen counters, every single cat hair....the grooves are the bain of my existance..

    if i could, i would re-finish and stain all of the floors a lighter color...but i can't....and as i said, they are absolutely lovely, but a lot of work.

    best of luck!
    nanne in columbus, indiana

  3. p.s...not only did i double post, i did not spell check.


  4. Well I agree you should paint and maybe live with it all for a while. Get to know the feel of the house. You will figure it all out try not to stress out too much! Enjoy the process. Traci

  5. I feel your dilemma! We bought our house 2 yrs. ago and had to change the carpet in the LR, but did not have the $ for hardwood. We now had a water leak, so we have to replace all of the hardwoods. I think I am loving dark floors too after much research, but will I miss the carpet in the LR? Anyway, it does take awhile to get a feel for your house. Take your time!

  6. I'd advise against engineered wood...my parents just got it in their new house & it's not nearly as nice as hardwood. It has lifted in some areas (they moved in 2 months ago) & doesn't look nearly as good as hardwood.

  7. Hi Jen!
    We bought wide plank Pine hardwood from Lumber Liquidators and were able to do our whole house (1600 square foot for around 2000 dollars! I love cause it was inexpensive, but pine is soft, so it has dings and knots and character and looks a lot older than it is. It actually could be old hardwood. I don't think most people would be able to tell the difference. Just a thought.
    Can't wait to see what you guys do with the place!! :)

  8. I think you'd do best to live in your house for a bit to see how you live in it before jumping into having hardwood floors installed. I know what it feels like to want to make that change right away, though, because I've been wanting to make it at our little house now for almost two years.

  9. Elyse gave some great advice, and that gives you time to research more too. The house is beautiful!

  10. Congratulations! I love that you are already making plans for the house. A bit of advice from a girl who has had the floors refinished 3 times...yes 3 times... do it all at once if you can afford to. If you are thinking about expanding the kitchen..do it. I lived in my home for almost 10 years before we touched the kitchen..in retrospect, I wish I would have done it sooner. We tore down a wall and opened it up to the living room and ran hardwood throughout the kitchen. I love it. I will be posting pictures of my kitchen reno soon. Good luck!

  11. I have pine floors that I love b/c I love a distressed look and I have white painted pine floors upstairs that I love also. I say live with it a while and get the feel. My niece put in hardwood in a dark stain and they are a real pain to maintain- lint, dust, everything shows. But if you love it... I am no help. You are welcome.
    PS Great inspiration pictures!!

  12. Hey Jen- Deep breath,girl, deep breath...In out...In out...it will be okay!

    I know - I did tons of research on hardwood floors before we did this last house. (I have done 13 that we have lived in). I can tell you that you probably won't like engineered wood floors-they are pretty but have a different "walk" to them and the movement in the word is not nearly as pretty as real grained wood. Also, one of the things that they DON'T tell you about the bamboo floors is that they tend to "fray" a bit (for lack of a better term) at the edges over time..and they have not been able to adequately address the "Fix" yet.

    I have had both light and dark hardwood floors. I decided in this house to go with a medium floor. The light was too "cool" feeling for me and after having a dark floor (which I ADORED the look of) I found that that there is too much upkeep to it...for me. It shows every little thing...light dirt or dark dirt. It shows dust and footprints and every little speck that you were sure you had gotten up. That being said...they are gorgeous...especially in the winter.

    I hope thie didn't throw too much of a monkey wrench into your thinking. I know it is hard when you want to do everything right away...but sometimes it is best to let the dust settle a bit and what you thought you wanted will change.

    I am sooo excited for you- Hugs-Diana

  13. I've not replaced or installed hardwood before. No real advice, but I would avoid engineered wood. It won't fit the character of your home.

    I'm wondering if you could repair the floors that you have. My parents had hardwood floors that were in very poor shape. They were able to patch the floor with new boards and then have the whole thing sanded and stained. This way you retain the character of the original, plus have a lower expense. I have a friend in Indy who had her floors redone about three years ago. If you are interested I can probably get the name of the people they used.

  14. We debated long and hard on our kitchen/dining floors. Every floor guy we talked to advised us to go for the top-of-the-line laminate planks over mid-range hardwoods. The top-shelf hardwoods were just too expensive! I know, I know. I have fake floors. But I do love the way they look and they are pretty much guaranteed to last forever. And a day.

  15. PS - I do love all of the suggestions to paint them!!

  16. So excited for you!
    I have read your blog for years and this is my first comment. I just had to give you this bit of advise.
    Live in your home for 6 months before you make any major decisions. Seriously, everything we were hell bent on changing... were the very things we ended up really liking about our house. And I've heard this from others too. Live day-to-day in your home and you will find that what you instantly hated... you find charming.
    But then I am all about the process, not about the end results. But most have that git'r done mindset... who invariably regret their choices because they were in a rush to complete it all.
    Just some thoughts from a stalker.

  17. Jen, the inspiration pictures are soooo pretty! I love the dark wood, as well and have them in our home. That being said, they show EVERY speck of dust, fuzz, every grain of salt. You can also see foot prints on them from walking on them with bare feet. They are annoying. That's what best describes them. Beautiful only when clean. And, with three kids, they are clean for about five minutes a week..... I have light wood in two rooms(including the playroom) and they do not show anything!

  18. Hi Jen!
    Oh, I can't wait to see how your painted floor turns out!! It's going to be so lovely and your house is going to be magazine worthy, I am sure!! :)
    We didn't use floor paint in the laundry room. Just regular paint. Then we put a few coats of water based polyurethane over the top. It has held up really well! It does have a few scratches in the polyurethane where laundry baskets have slid across the floor, but the paint underneath remains intact. Plus, there are pine knots that come through the paint after awhile, but I don't mind, cause it gives the floor the old look that I was wanting. The more character the better, in my book!!
    Oh, Jen! Of course I wouldn't mind if you linked back to me when you post about your project! And I would be happy to help you by giving your pointers and tips when you need them! I'll be here!! :)
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  19. I recommend living in the space for 6 months before big changes. Paint is not a big change. But flooring is.

    I have dark hardwoods (engineered but real wood veneer over a cheaper wood). It is roughed up to look used. However, the darkness of it shows everything! Dog hair, dust bunnies, foot prints.

    I recommend a medium color. Not light, not dark. And definitely beat up with a matte finish.

    Check this off as research...ha!

    I know you will make great choices. Just thought I would share my experience.

    xoxo, Julia

  20. Hi, Jen. I would say live with it for awhile and then maybe think about repairing the existing floor. Our house is all hardwoods that haven't been re-done in almost 100 yrs and we hope eventually that we can buy it at which point we will repair what we already have to save money. We hope to buy one day since our landlady is only asking $350K for our 5 bedroom,2 bathroom house with 3 outbuildings on 4 acres of land. I say only $350k...unbeknownst to us when we moved here, we moved to the most prestigious rd in Zionsville and houses next to us start at around 2 million. We can't afford her asking price currently but know it is a deal and hope to buy it eventually. It's so fun dreaming up all the ways to make a house "yours"

  21. Hardwood is awesome. We had oak floors under a horrible green carpet. We did all the work ourselves and that cut the cost hugely. And since we did the job in two stages about 3 years apart, we did have a line of different shades. So we stenciled the overlap to help cover the difference. It worked lovely and defined the dining area from the living room. Our floors are a golden color and really brighten the house and debris does not show up as much. Our home is 60 years old and I love the irregularities in the floor and that helps with the wear and tear as the years go on. I don't worry about every nick and scratch. Good luck! Kit

  22. That is some great inspiration! If it was me I would live in the house a while before I did anything. I would do all the floors in the whole house at one time (which you can save up for if you wait a while) From experience I can say that sometimes living in a home for a while makes you decide on something different than you thought of before you moved in. Does that make any sense??

    When we moved into this house we knew we wanted to redo our master bath (it had carpet in it!) and kitchen. It took us about 5 yrs to do the bath and about 8 for the kitchen. We paid cash for both and really had time (too much maybe) to think about what we wanted. I'm not suggesting you wait that long but maybe a few months. What ever you do, I know it will look fab!! :)

  23. What a great inspiration! I will look forward to watching it all happen. Best of luck and enjoy the process!
    Sherman Unkefer

  24. shoot! i just realized...did i ever answer your ?'s about hardwoods?
    i think i didn't!!
    let me go check the invoice & i'll let you know what we did

  25. Same thing we are pondering...

  26. Having redone our hardwoods a year after moving in(added 3 rooms worth) and having to effectively move out to do it, I understand about wanting them redone before you move in.
    I agree with others about the dark stained floors, friends have them and they are never clean. Mine are just a medium stain on builder grade oak and I finished them in a satin rather than gloss...easier to keep them looking clean, or not tell they are dirty.
    We had the floors re-refinished when we remodeled the kitchen 4 years after the floors were done. They were able to just fill in where needed and refinish just to the doorways and you can't tell at all. The price to have the floors refinished was about the same as high-quality carpeting, and the new floors about 2x that.

  27. We have an old farmhouse, and the floors in most of the downstairs are small planks of oak - in a honey type color - it's fitting for our home's trim as well - I recommend oak - however - I do like our douglas fir flooring- it has a unique grain and stains easily...we refinished it in our kitchen...but it really scratches easily with the kids and dog! so beware of the scratches!!

    my good friend Jennifer Rizzo just had her floors redone in a dark stain (eco-friendly) and it turned out awesome - and my other good friend Tracey (French Larkspur) just painted her wooden floors white - which are also beautiful -

    many options - but visit their blogs for inspiration??

  28. I'm so excited for you and your family!

    I'm not a refurbishing kind of girl but my dad is! He is finishing up his home which is 100years old this year. Look carefully at the old floor and seek advice. He has been able to refinish all of his with some patching done by a very good wood floor person. In fact, the person who did his floor found old planks to place in the floor that are the right look. You might really be able to save money by not replacing what is there. Plus then you get the true look of old floors.

  29. We have been slowly but surely ripping up carpeting and replacing it with hardwood in our house. So far, we have the kitchen, living room, and hallway done. Next are the 3 bedrooms. We chose Bruce hardwood flooring, which is engineered flooring. We've been very happy with it, but I do have to warn you - it does scratch and dent. I don't have a dog, so I can't tell you how their claws are on this type of flooring, but we do have 3 cats with claws and the flooring is fine from them.

  30. Hi Jen! Congratulations on your new home - it looks absolutely beautiful! And congrats also on pursuing your dream! What an accomplishment!

    You've gotten some great comments here about hardwood floors! What fun to design your home with brand new floors! Good luck!

    Kim at Armstrong

  31. Live with it for several months. Can it not be repaired? I find engineered floors look too "new" in an old house. Good luck and keep us posted. Lana http://wildberrycottage.blogspot.com/

  32. well I haven't read all of the replies yet! But we put hardwood in this house (little by little). I know that you say the floors aren't in great shape, however if they are finished on site (which I'm sure they are). I would wait until you do the kitchen to do anything downstairs, unless your adding wood to a room. That way when you do the kitchen, you can do whatever you want instead of saying "well I can't do this because I just had this done".
    OR my other thought is to have your downstairs floors sanded down and refinished, b ecause you will be nothing short of AMAZED what that (and some wood putty) makes that look like! :)
    We have site finished and prefinished in the house we are currently in. While I like the "no mess" of the prefinished, I prefer the site finished hands down. And that is what we did in the new house. It just feels like a "Flatter" surface. I have no idea if I am explaining that right, lol. I had 3 staines in mind and ended up going with the "medium" color. I thought for sure I would go with the darker one. But then I figured the WHOLE house is wood and I'm not THAT much of a good housekeeper, AKA DUST BUNNIES! :)
    Can't wait to hear what you decide :)

  33. Congrats on the new home Jen! Relax and enjoy the process, the house will tell you what it wants :-)

  34. Hello Jen, just wanted to drop by, say hello, and tell you I posted some pictures of my kitchen remodel..in a previous comment I had left I had told you about wood flooring in the kitchen. come by and visit..I am working on the after post soon. Hope you are well and enduring the wait. Congratulations again!

  35. salvaged wood flooring---waterlox to finish.......
    promise you won't regret it. we talked to a guy in the carpentry biz for years {new home building & remodeling} and he said it's the best.....they have a site.

    i love our old farmhouse for the 140 year old wood flooring --see it lasts. we just added the salvaged wood in the new mud-room remodel and eventually it will go in the kitchen--aaack another project!

  36. I'm so happy for you! Spring will be a perfect time to work on your new house. We put hardwood in our house with some help from friends and family and saved a lot of money. It's not a difficult project. We found it on sale at Lowes and did our small house for about 4000.00 including everything we needed.


Thank you for taking the time to say hello today! I always love to hear what you have to say.