My husband and my tenth wedding anniversary is this month and we’re celebrating by sanding the one-hundred-year-old floors of our rental’s living room and kitchen together. I’m so grateful that my husband is enthusiastically embracing this project with me. We’ve lived here for six and a half years and I’ve pondered why we didn’t endeavor to do this project during the first two years we lived here, before children. Firstly, carpet is easier to manage without children, so I don’t even remember thinking about it much before our daughters were born. Secondly, we didn’t know how long we would live here. We still don’t know how long it will be, but, quite decidedly, it will be at least several more years.

At 625 square feet, this space is snug for our family of four, but we’re doing our very best to make it work for us. Really, we love it here. This was the seventh place we lived in after we were married (we went through a big change of plans at the beginning of our marriage and then had several greatly-appreciated house-sitting/house-sharing opportunities) and the first that didn’t have anyone else’s things in it. After three years of marriage, it was the first place that felt like our own space. Also, it’s the home we brought both of our babies home to. It will always be dear to our hearts. Even though we rent, putting a little extra effort into making the place we call home feel pretty and clean feels worthwhile to us right now.

Since my spring cleaning craze, our home has actually been in disarray, as I’ve been spending all of my spare time ripping out carpet tack strip and hundreds of staples and nails. I offer a very humble introduction to our living room! Below is a picture of the haphazard, beginning stages of carpet removal.


As we still needed to live here while tearing out carpet and prepping and I was tearing out the carpet myself, I began by ripping out squares about four to five feet in length, one at a time. Then, I would scrub the newly-revealed section of the floor repeatedly, with soapy water, until it felt like my arms were going to fall off. Even though it still looks awful, it feels clean under foot, other than the raised bumps of paint.

There was no way to know, until the carpet was completely out, just how poor of condition the floors were in. We aren’t hoping for perfection in the final product, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing how much of a difference sanding will make. These are a few of the most worrisome areas (actually, the whole thing is in similar condition!):

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It’s puzzling to contemplate what has been attempted on these floors in the past. There are large areas where there is no finish. There are areas where some sort of sander was used in a poor, rough manner and then, seemingly, abandoned. There are drips from all kinds of paint and stain. There are areas with differing shades of finish on them. There are a few sizable holes, which were originally covered with nailed-down tin can tops, which we have yet to figure out a new solution for.


Below is a shot that just gives you a better idea of the overall space. Our dining area is part of the previously-carpeted living room. We also use our table for art projects and baking projects and, over the years, my daughters had spilled gallons of milk and watercolors on the carpet. It was impossible to keep clean, in spite of best efforts. Not to mention, the carpets weathered the potty-training days. We got it professionally cleaned twice in the last couple of years, but the cost of doing so quickly adds up and the results don’t last long. Even though I know the results of the sanding won’t be perfect, it will be so good to know that when it’s finished, the floor will be truly clean.


Because our house is diminutive, I often pretend it’s a playhouse or a very spacious gypsy wagon, to make small living more fun. The bare, disregarded floors enhance the playhouse feel! Also, without carpet and with all of the paint splatters, our little living room resembles an artist’s studio, a place I have felt very at home in in the past, but it isn’t exactly gezellig! It feels chaotic and messy. I’m so looking forward to achieving the finished product and also cozying up our living room with serene rugs and throws.

We’re still debating about whether or not to paint the natural wood paneling the same color as the walls, which are painted with Pink Damask by Benjamin Moore. Any thoughts? By the way, I really love the Pink Damask color. It’s reminds me of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream; it looks as though one bing cherry was dropped into a gallon of white paint.

For the floors, we are planning to use a VOC-free oil finish called WOCA Master Oil in White. I’m so glad we found something non-toxic, as I was not keen on the idea of covering our floor with polyurethane. Also, I love a natural, matte look. If all goes as planned, I’ll do another post when the floor is sanded and finished, to share the results!

Do you have any floor refurbishing stories or tips to share? I would love to hear in the comments below!

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