Tag Archives: repairing an old floor

Restoring the Entryway to its Former Glory

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Today I’m excited to share the full top-to-bottom makeover of our entry way. This is a project that took about 5 months to complete and then sat in draft mode for at least another month while I tried to figure out how to distill 5 months of somewhat tedious work into a not-totally-tedious but still informative post for you guys. This is my attempt.

Let’s start off with a look back at the entry way when we moved in. It was beige.

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Beige.

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BEIGE.

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You get the picture. As I’ve said before, the theme of our renovation is to try to make things look closer to how they looked originally. We aren’t aiming for “historical society” type precision, but where there are original elements that can be salvaged or exposed, we’d like to give it a shot.

So while the entry way was totally functional, I did want to get rid of the builder-grade tile and the carpet on the stairs. Especially because the original wood flooring was under both! I also wanted to create a space that made an impact. Naturally you want someone to walk into your house and say “WOW!”. Beige is the opposite of “WOW” in most cases. In fact, that’s why a lot of people choose beige–to blend in and be unassuming. I say, why notĀ assume. šŸ˜‰

Here’s what the project entailed:

  • Remove carpet and refinish stairs.
  • Paint the stair risers.
  • Remove tile and refinish floors.
  • Scrape the popcorn ceiling.
  • Paint the walls.
  • New baseboards and window trim.

As anyone who has remodeled or watched more than 30 minutes of HGTV knows, every remodel comes with a snag. Sometimes it makes you want to roll your eyes at home improvement TV shows because “the snag” is a set piece and some shows are better than others at making it seem organic and legit as opposed to “produced” and predictable. At the same time, I can’t roll my eyes too hard because the truth is that there is always a snag.

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The problem with this is a couple of things: 1) You basically have to have boards from somewhere else in the house in order for it to blend seamlessly, and 2) There is no subfloor under the original wood, which means you either have to have a board long enough to span the joists OR you have to build supports between the joists that you can nail shorter boards to.

This is where I hope I’m not going to absolutely put you to sleep. What we ended up doing, in short, was that Justin took a span of boards from upstairs (where we were going to paint anyway) and patched them in in a natural pattern where the random boards had been. This is what took a while, because chiseling out floor boards by hand is pretty laborious work. You can also clearly see the “no subfloors” thing in the picture below from the fact that in one spot you can see directly in to the basement.

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Justin did a really tremendous job with the floors. You can see the patch below because the boards from upstairs were not quite as dirty but now that the floors are refinished, you really cannot tell unless you know exactly what to look for. While Justin was working on the floor I took care of the stairs, which involved a heck of a lot of pulling tiny staples from various carpet applications (one of which popped me right in the vein and sent blood squirting) and then patching those 10,000 tiny staple holes. I also primed and repainted the spindles, which had been done in a high-gloss paint. High-gloss paint is extremely durable, but man is it a pain to paint over.

Entryway Cleanup

The stair treads were pretty worn, but its amazing what a little sanding and a medium tone stain can take care of. Here’s how it all turned out.

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What do you think–does it have the “WOW” factor now?

I was looking for a place to do a dark paint color and I think it’s absolutely perfect here. The windows in there stairwell are both west-facing, so this space is dark for most of the day, and it feels very dramatic. Then, when the late-afternoon light comes pouring in, it’s equally dramatic, but in a different way. I considered doing the green on the lower half of the wall up the stairs, and while I think that could have looked cool, the contrast between the dark entry and the bright stairway is everything to me. I call it the Stairway to Heaven because it is SO bright in the afternoons and because I am cheesy like that.

All in all, this makeover was way more about putting the time in than spending money. I didn’t keep tabs on the costs because they were spread out over a long period and there just weren’t many of them. The main cost was renting the sander to refinish the floors. Aside from that, baseboards/trim and paint were the only real expenses. I’d estimate we spent around $200 all told. It would have been more costly for sure if we’d had to hire out the floor repair, but thankfully I have an intrepid husband, and he has access to the This Old House YouTube channel. That made all the difference.

I hadn’t seenĀ the before photos in quite a while before putting together this post, but looking at them now was definitely a nice reminder of how far we came!

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