9:14 PM
D spent the last five days powering through the last four steps to finish our upstairs, stairway, and entryway floors.

When this house was purchased, these floors were buried.  I don’t mean “they need to be sanded and refinished!” buried.  I am talking prehistory here.  This project was downright archaeological.  The original fir was stained a deep red hue, painted (multiple times! with lead!) around the perimeter multiple times (only around whatever area rugs were in style at the time), covered (gasp) with asbestos (!!!) linoleum (no!) which was affixed with the equivalent of road tar (SOB!), THEN carpeted (RIP Lanny).  The first (of many) steps was getting the carpet staples out, followed by chipping off  the linoleum tiles to expose the atrocities below. It was basically the seven layers of hell.  Dante had nothing on the Henry Lydell House floors.

My detail-oriented husband spent countless evenings removing the crap from between each floor board with dental tools.  DENTAL TOOLS, PEOPLE.  Long-story-short, this has been a long time coming.

Without further ado:

I really love the way these turned out.  You can’t get this kind of tonal variation with new hardwood flooring.  I love the textural imperfection and diversity from one board to the next.

I’ll definitely be able to enjoy my office in a whole new way!

Small burn scars dot the floor around the chimney where a pot-belly wood stove used to be.  Unfortunately, such an addition is not in the cards for an infant playroom, but these small marks are a great reminder of what (and who) was here before us.

I loved this room before, but the floor finish brings new life into the space.  The flat, unfinished wood sucked all the light in and made the room feel dull and uninspiring.  Now, the room has brightness it never had before.


Similarly, the staircase was a gloomy, dark, drab space that trapped light and was difficult to navigate.  Now, it feels bright, airy, and lovely.  With the new handrail in place, it really feels like it’s coming together.

D built a new threshold for the transition between the porch and entryway!

For comparison, here are the floors in each of the rooms (bedroom – left; living room – right)  that open to the entryway.  You can see how the material has been layered and layered and layered over the years.  This contrast is the perfect way to sustain motivation and keep on improving our old house.


The product we used is a heavy-duty oil-based polyurethane called Fabulon, and I have to say that our floors look pretty darn Fabulon (hah!) because of it.  This is the same product we used on the porch with beautiful results.  We applied four coats by hand (with a brush, rather than pouring and spreading with a pad and pole).  We didn’t stain the floors before applying the poly either.  We preferred the natural color of the wood, and we regret nothing!

My husband has sacrificed countless hours of sleep and precious time away from his daughter (and me) to finish this project.  He raced home from work every evening to sand the night away.  He spent entire weekends working 16+ hour days to get this done. 

As for the finished product?  Would I say it’s worth it?  To someone else, this might appear to be just another DIY home improvement project.  In reality, it is the culmination of ten (10!!!) years of hard work, pushing past the point of exhaustion, challenges, overcoming learning curves, salvage hunting, color matching, and plain old doing-the-damn-work.

Five days and four nights at my in-laws home is the icing. (Really generous icing on their part, I should add.)  As I stand here, taking it all in, I cannot help but feel so overwhelmed by the weight of a decade being lifted off my shoulders that I sit in my daughter’s new playroom and sob.  Today is a really, really big day, and I couldn’t be more proud of the man who made it happen.


Was it worth it?




Whimsy Achievement: Unlocked!

9:11 PM
Today, on his lunch break, this hardworking guy raced home to do a thing.  A colorful thing.  There’s a lot of leniency in this house – especially where timelines are concerned – color included.  We have one rule:  NO. WHITE. WALLS.  In this case, doors.  I’ve been riding the teal wave for a while now, and I’m sure many people are happy just to see me get my head out of the gray fog.

He ran to our favorite paint shop and picked up a quart of this gorgeous color.  We selected it from their historic collection.  It’s called “Blue Winged Teal” and I feel that it adds just the right dash of whimsy and charm to the front of an otherwise drab-looking house.  The rest of the exterior needs a LOT of love (which is evident later in this post), but our new front door was the perfect excuse to inject a little life into the front; it also serves to let our neighbors know that, despite the otherwise-shabby look of things, this is home is a living project and we’re doing everything we can to make it shine.

So with that, we (D) painted the front door!

I am so thrilled with how the hardware turned out.  This is a smaller-than-standard door, so we couldn’t install full-sized hardware. This Putman Screen Door Latch in brushed nickel from Rejuvenation worked out beautifully.


This tiny human helped.  Well, she helped keep her papa motivated (not that he needs it).

After hanging the new door, D built new door casing and took the opportunity to wire in a doorbell (something we’ve never had and will probably regret as soon as it’s installed).

Outside-in and inside-out views of the new threshold. Another example of my husband’s artful skills.  He is so talented and I am so proud.

Interior door casing with papa and baby.

It’s just the first coat, but it is already vastly improved from the blahhhhh white door we had, not to mention that hideous metal door we just gave away.  Big sighs of relief over here.

The new hardware really pops against a brightly-colored door.  We’ll do the interior later.

See what I mean?  

It’s so fun to have a bright pop of color against the rest of the house’s white-on-white-on-white-on-white.  

Once the second coat is on and dry, we’ll scrape the excess and it won’t look sloppy.  I still find it funny this is what he considers “sloppy.”  He didn’t even take off the hardware to paint. Look at those steady brush strokes on my man!

My faves!




7:48 PM
Hi, friends!

So, the floors aren’t finished yet, mostly because it requires that we (me and baby, especially) vacate the premises for a few days while the poly is being applied and stay gone until it dries,  but that’s on the short list of things to do.  In the interim, D has been working to get the doors ready for cold weather.  We got a new front door that we are ecstatic about, mostly because it isn’t a metal fireproof door that has no business being on a sun porch.  I don’t even have a picture readily available because I hated the door so much.  No worries, though, I found one in about ten seconds on Google.

This isn’t our door, but it’s the exact same one.  It’s now living at someone else’s house thanks to the “free” section on Craigslist.

We had the door (and those big double doors, too, but more on that later!) pre-hung, to avoid having to build a jamb here at the house.  Here are my two favorite folks admiring it before grandpapa came over to help.

D. and his dad doing … stuff. I’m not sure what the process entailed, but I know there was a new threshold involved, and lots of cussing. Probably.

I didn’t want to get in the way, but I needed to snap a few “during” photos to document the process.  These two work harder than anyone else I’ve ever met. Ever. Get them together, and you have a force of nature.  I’m so thankful to have a husband and a father in law who are so capable.  My husband spends every waking hour working in some fashion; if he’s not at his day job, he’s working to make this house better for his family – always  better, always working, always improving.  I’m so grateful that our daughter will learn the value of a strong work ethic because of his example.  We are quite lucky. The beauty of his work is a testament to the skills he has and the skills he has developed over the course of this project.  He’s an artist and my very own hero.