The Floor Story

When we moved into our house two Decembers ago, the entire first floor and much of the second floor were covered in bright green shag carpet. While S and I had to admit that it was very soft and nice to walk on, the thought of all the dirt and other general disgustingness trapped in that thick, plush carpet made it the first thing I wanted to get rid of once we moved in. Other rooms had carpets in mauve, blue, and white (!).

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Little did I know how tedious it is to remove wall to wall carpeting! Especially when it is as heavy as this one was. We tackled it room by room, ripping the carpet away from the carpet tack strips along the edges, cutting it into manageable sections with a retractable blade knife, rolling up the carpet sections, then rolling up the carpet pad sections underneath (in some places, the carpet pad was completely disintegrated and we actually had to sweep up carpet pad dust and chunks), and then going after all the tack strips and larger carpet nails that were everywhere. And then it was time to tie up the carpet and lug it to the garbage, bag up all the debris while being careful not to impale yourself with tack strips (hate those things!), and attempt to clean the residual gunk off the floors. Just writing that makes me exhausted and slightly nauseous!

It was all worth it when we found gorgeous quarter-sawn oak flooring with thin two-inch boards in every room! Each space has a gorgeous border running parallel to the walls with the boards in the middle running the length of the room. Unfortunately, the floors had been covered up for decades, and the carpet had left a strange pattern of indentations in the thick, dark finish that had originally been put on the floors.

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We finally finished removing all the shag carpet from our living room, dining room, foyer, both staircases, and upstairs hallway, in addition to an unfortunate mauve carpet in G’s room, by May of last year. That’s five solid months of carpet removal, but I was pregnant, so things were pretty slow around here. After the floors were uncovered but before we refinished them, we had a lot of work done to our walls (a lot of the cracked plaster was covered up with 1/4 inch drywall because skim coating the entire house was just not feasible), had ceiling lights installed, and painted all the walls. Again, exhausted just typing that.

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Then, finally, it was time to refinish the floors! S and I agree that the change from green shag to newly finished hardwood was the biggest transformation the house underwent and the thing that made it finally feel like our home after six months. I know that might sound ridiculous, but I never realized how much your environment affects your mood until we moved into this house where nothing felt like ours and pretty much everything felt like it belonged in another era. But, I digress! We had all the floors sanded down to their original finish, and briefly considered leaving them white with just a coat of polyurethane because they were just so beautiful.

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We both really love dark wood floors, though, so we stuck to the plan to stain them in the end. While we had originally wanted a very dark finish, a lot of people we knew warned us against that because dark floors show dust (and dog hair!) very quickly. We ended up settling on dark walnut from Minwax, and it was the best decision. The stain brought out the gorgeous grain in the oak, as you can see below. Three coats of polyurethane went on next and made them a bit more shiny than they are in these photos. We are so happy with these floors, they put me in a good mood everyday, even almost six months later!

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And some before and afters, because how can you not:

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