Flooring Updates and DIY Feelings

When it comes to this house, sometimes I feel like a super successful do-it-yourselfer and other times a complete failure. The flooring, the literal foundation for every room, falls into the failure category. But we are working on rectifying the situation, only 3.75 years into living here! Approximately half the house has had most of its wood floors installed for a least the last year or two, but lingering rows remained unfinished and abandoned under furniture. Preventing us from baseboards. Preventing us from any “finished” look anywhere in the house.

I’m so ready to move on with my life so I’ve pushed this project to priority status, though installing wonky boards is the last thing my husband wants to do in his free time. I’ve talked previously about our love/hate relationship with the hardwood floors we chose. They are so pretty, but have been THE WORST to install. Not like I’m doing any of the hard stuff. My husband has taken on that burden completely upon his shoulders (and knees, and wrists, and hands, and back…). But the installation has been so hard and so frustrating that the flooring is the #1 project that we avoid and ignore in our house. Which is unfortunate, because it’s not as is the flooring in your entire house can be hidden behind a closed door. I see it daily. It became that thing we were semi-blind to and forget how bad it actually is…or how much better it could be if we just put in a few days of work. This past weekend was dedicated to tying up some lose flooring ends and the few miserable days of work have paid dividends! Among other things, the flooring in the entry and adjacent coat closet is finally finished! hardwood floors diy install entry threshold bellawood maplesubfloor This part of our house was at one point an open hole to the earth below – we had to remove and replace subfloor because it so not level that floors couldn’t even be installed upon it. Only a few unfinished rows of floors remained, but it was hours of work that included refinishing the exterior wood threshold, custom fitting a new gasketed threshold under the door, and impossibly shimmying the puzzle pieces of the last row into place. You can’t see this, but the door even got some new hinges to help it hang a little better on our old crooked and shifting house (!). My husband does really great work and I’m so thankful for all the different kinds of hard works he puts in for our family.
hardwood floors diy install entry threshold For so long the first steps into our house were unfinished ones, a taste of what was to come. This seems to signify a great shift in our household! The entry is now leaving me with quite the good impression. I know why we pushed this project off for so long, but at the same time, why did we wait so long to do this??? coral pink front doormaple bellawood 3/4" hardwood floorsWe also checked off the den flooring, kitchen flooring, and dining room flooring this weekend, which means those rooms are now ready for baseboards. Which has brought us to another exciting but frustrating stop on our journey: picking out the baseboards! I am sick of making decisions and want someone to just tell me what to do. I’ve narrowed it down to something void of ornamentation, but I can’t land on a height. Really tall? 60’s short? In between? What is the answer internet? We could go with a super simple cove that is probably most like the original baseboards of the house, but it reads cheap to me compared with simple squared off options. NO MORE DECISIONS.maple bellawood 3/4" hardwood floorsThe next stop on this flooring journey is an irritating and unexpected one: the decision whether to continue as planned and hardwood the entire house (minus the sunken family room and the bathrooms) or to keep/replace carpet the bedrooms. I fully believe in cohesive flooring in a house so I’m against carpet in the bedrooms…but the pace, hours and scale of installing these stupid crooked boards ourselves is irrational, even for me. It would be perfectly reasonable to quit sinking money into floors that my husband swears he hates enough to never refinish (the only reason we bought the real stuff instead of the easier to install, incredibly straight engineered wood flooring). He would love to just pay someone to install new carpet in the bedrooms and never look back…and never give another dime to Bellawood. My kids would prefer carpet in their rooms too. And I’m sure my aging dog sides with all of them. It’s me and my choppy floor pet-peeve against them all, and I can’t argue with their rationalizations. I’ve conceded the final decision to my husband, so we’ll see what gets handed down. Choosing new carpet, something I never imagined myself doing, might be in my future…

I’m realizing that our renovation style is slow and unfocused. We jump from project to project as motivation strikes and disappears, rarely seeing things through to completion before moving on to the next thing, and then living amongst our half finished projects. (Evidence: the master bath project that went so bad and frustrating that we needed to take a breather, but now we’re living with an even dumpier space that we began with). I’m sure part of that is our personalities, but I think a majority of it is out of necessity because of our time/energy constraints. The massive undertaking of fixing up an entire house almost 100% yourselves while also juggling parenting and job responsibilities (add in homeschooling!) is crazy person business when you step back and think about it. I’m not complaining, because I’m the crazy person who again and again eagerly volunteers for this. But there are days when I step back and think why are we doing all this??? and it’s usually on hardwood floor install days. I also ignorantly assume that everybody else is spending their weekend plugging away at projects on their home, forgetting this isn’t normal. I can see why most people spend their weekends relaxing. Maybe one day I’ll be one of them – or maybe I’m not cut out for a life of leisure? High fives and pats on the backs to all you other DIYers out there! Keep up the good work and I get/like your kind of crazy!

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Hallways and Maple Bellawood Floors

bellawood maple wood floors review We have this problem with almost finishing projects and then putting off the one last part of it for years, because once things get to a point where it’s “good enough” or “way better than it was”, we become plain lazy. Our hallway wood floor install is going the way of what I just described. And I thought I’d wait until everything was done done before I showed it, but it has become apparent that done done might be a year away, so here is progress for now, plus some thoughts on Bellawood. bellawood maple wood floors installation hallwayWe bought solid maple 3/4″ x 3 1/4″ flooring from Bellawood 2 years ago. We installed half of it soon after purchase and are still working on installing the rest. Boxes of flooring sit in our family room to this day (we are going over board with the acclimation process). The general house flooring plan is to wood floor up the entire house, minus the family room and bathrooms. Two years in, and this is the flooring progress:

  • Kitchen – done except for filling nail holes
  • Laundry – done except for pantry
  • Den – done except for 2 or 3 rows along the back wall
  • Dining – done except for 1 row along back wall
  • Hallway – done except for 1 row
  • Entry – done except for 3 rows by front door
  • Guest room – not started
  • Kids room – not started
  • Master – not started
  • (Family room –  carpet)
  • (Guest bathroom – unearthed sparkly vintage linoleum)
  • (Master bathroom – currently disgusting, but will one day have terrazzo tile)

So, how do we like the floors? Well, to sum it up, we HATE the installation. However, they look GORGEOUS once installed.  BUT, only once the bad boards have been culled. And that brings us full circle back to RAGE, because the bad/good board ratio is close to 50/50. bellawood maple wood floors installation hallway nail The quality can only be described as awful, though when considering the price maybe it’s not that dramatic. Either way, self installation with these is a horrible process. We seriously have been unable to use at least 1/3 of the boards because of milling imperfections (like wavy edges) and another fraction have had to be bent into place and nailed because they were so warped. We’ve come up with a lot of creative reuses for the junk boards (bedrails, toy car ramps) but it still feels so wasteful.

That being said, they look really beautiful once installed. The finish is exactly what I wanted, so no complaints there. It is light but warm blonde maple with texture galore. The boards with zebra stripes are amazing. Not for everyone, I know, but totally for me. bellawood maple wood floors review As far as durability, our floors have scratched over 2 years. Some might say considerably. But we have 2 young kids and a dog so I don’t expect the floors to be perfect. Our kitchen chairs and our dog are the biggest culprits. I don’t care that much, but some people do. Also of note, the finish has slightly yellowed over 2 years in ambient light, but that’s probably to be expected from most wood. See the old vs new install here:bellawood maple wood floor discoloration yellowingAnd that brings us to the almost-floored hallway that is looking more and more like a bowling lane everyday. Clearly, it’s nothing fancy, but it is hugely better than it was before. I’m currently binge painting trim and doors so, since most doorways connect to the hall, it feels like quadruple progress in my mind. I’ve yet to tackle the master door trim or the gross front door, which is slated to be replaced with something cool and orange. (Yes, that is half carpet/half plywood sub floor in the before photos below = HIGH CLASS LIVING):

hallway before   mid century pocket door hallway   bellawood maple wood floors review installation hallwaybellawood maple wood floors review The hall originates in the entry way, branches off into a shorter hallway to the master bedroom (the one with the picture frame wall), and then ends at the linen closet in a strange 1961 alcove which can be partitioned off by a pocket door (below, have I ever mentioned that there are NINE pocket doors in this house?), turning the bathroom and kid bedroom into a mini-suite. I’m conflicted with what to do down at the end of the hall here. The weird alcove room has been painted twice already but nothing worked and I’ve considered an accent door for the linen closet, but nothing makes sense. Hence, the all white for now. vintage starburst ceiling light glass etched brass

coat closet

sputnik chandelier light brass vintage mid century

entry

black white gallery wall family hallAre you wondering what that fantastic brass sculpture in the hallway is? Only our DOORBELL. A Rittenhouse chime original to the house but currently out of commission because of some iffy electrical (update: doorbell is back in business!). I will have to add a video of it when it’s powered back up because it chimes a song when the doorbell rings.mid century vintage doorbell chimes long rittenhouse emersonBye now!