Preparing for the new wood flooring

For some time we’ve been wanting to replace the flooring in three rooms: the entry, the front formal living room, and the dining room. Total square foot (Dining, Living, Entry) = 410

Originally we were going to go with the natural Bruce engineered wood, flooring product we bought from Lowes to do the upstairs hallway. It has proven durable and it is priced very reasonably. However we were put on hold with the project due to money and while time past we re-thought this and wanted to go with a darker wood floor. My only concern is in a dark room the dark floor would suck in light.

BTW before picking out a wood floor you have to realize that it’s the substrate that determines the type of floor you can install. Whether it is concrete (which needs a vapor test before proceeding) or plywood, does decide what type of wood flooring (i.e laminate, engineered hardwood etc…) you can install.

So the money is here, the floor materials (Lumber Liquidators, Bamboo flooring) bought and held for two weeks indoors to acclimate, and the project is now underway… Let’s follow along shall we?

Out with the old – the flooring and it’s plywood substrate is pulled out with a crowbar, revealing the cement foundation. Our kids jumped in for the money and got it all pulled out. It’s now boxed or wrapped in bundles and awaiting tomorrow’s garbage collection. Wow! I am getting way excited to see this new floor in! It’s only taken two years!!


dining room wall sconces installed

I had some money AND the wall sconces I’ve been looking at for a year, went on sale! Wow! half price! yeah! This made a $400 purchase, $200 so good deal for me.


For some reason, wall sconces and lighting in general is ridiculously expensive. Considering it was made and assembled in China or Thailand, and the materials aren’t all that expensive to begin with, it’s a rip off to say the least. So if you are re-doing a room and working on a budget I would definitely really, really make sure you consider the cost of your lighting – it may come as an unpleasant surprise!

We also installed the sliding dimmers on the over the dining table lights and the wall sconces. The silly builder put the switch for one on another wall because he and his electrical crew were morons. We were morons on putting in so much light as it isn’t really necessary, however, what is done is done and I’m not ripping out walls to re-do a small lighting design faux paus.


I’m glad to get this area wrapped up. It was one of those little expensive projects that I kept telling myself I’d get the money for – later – and later never happened. It’s also good to get this done as I wanted these public areas wrapped up before Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Okay to explain where we are – so to speak – in the blog narrative. Husband got a job out of state two years ago. A year later I followed with daughter (I stayed to get our son through his senior year of high school). Son stayed in our house and we got him a roommate. The “plan” had been to come back and wrap up most of the remodeling and than sell.

However, in May 2013, we decided husbands’ work wasn’t going the way we planned, and daughter wasn’t too happy at her school, so we all trickled back to the house you see profiled on this blog. Daughter and I came first, and two weeks ago, husband got here with a new job. Still we have been busy moving animals and possessions, as well as dealing with some personal things so nothing has been done on the house.

So I’m kickstarting back the entries as we zoom through a few remodeling chores and updates before the end of the year.

Tip: cohesive paint color for walls

I didn’t take a before photo of the dining and living room but they were just empty blank canvases with ratty old carpet, so I don’t think you missed much!

Both rooms are painted with Valspar’s allen + roth Rock ar720 (Lowes) and I have to say that I’m LOVING THIS COLOR! It’s dark enough that it gives color to the wall – unlike the cream neutral we had before. It also isn’t so dark that I feel like I’m living in a cave! It’s also neutral so would go with many colors that you would want to use for furnishings, art, etc…

The Rock color will go through the entire downstairs area – the formal living and dining, as well as the front hall, the kitchen and the family room. I’ve mentioned that when we went on the Parade of Homes tour, the builders had all used the same neutral color in the downstairs to make the area look larger. That’s the point of this paint job as we hope to put the house on the market within 18 months.

Because of the natural lighting and the flash on my camera, the color on the walls doesn’t always appear accurate in the photos; I’ve noted where the most accurate color representation is in the following photos:

view from dining to living
least accurate color - paint is not yellow
very accurate wall color
most accurate wall color

Still to do on Dining Room: sheers for window, 4 wall sconces, floor and baseboard.

Still to do on Living Room:  wall art, floor and baseboard.

The biggest problem I’m having though is this stupid formal living room. Because of the room layout – one very large window on one wall, another wall with a very large arch doorway into the dining and another wall with an entry arch, the room is pretty much nothing but a pass through. Furniture will have to be arranged facing each other, leaving a huge road in the middle to allow traffic. I’ve got to figure out a way to make this appealing and comfortable.

Project: decorative ceiling for the dining room

As part of the entire dining redo, we wanted to add a lot of drama and sparkle in the formal dining room. Part of that solution was putting up the same specialty metallic paint we did in the downstairs bath (Pearl, Blue Winter Fox).

Since this rectangular room is pretty much only suited to the same shaped table, a rectangle is marked off that will later be framed out with moulding trim. This was an issue actually because this room has a sofit along one of the shorter end walls. Should we center the rectangle off the entire room or the section minus the sofit? After playing around with some graph paper and marking everything out – we ended up marking it off via the room minus the sofit.

graph paper can really help!

The old chandelier and circular ceiling medallion were removed. The area for the new pendant lights was marked out and a new electrical box installed and joined into the original electrical box so one switch would operate both.

The textured ceiling must be smoothed with plaster before the Pearl paint is applied. Two thin coats of plaster, were used, each sanded smooth between coats. Afterwards a priming coat of gray paint was applied in the rectangle since raw plaster sucks up paint, this extended the higher priced speciality paint. It also prevented any white showing through the silver Pearl.

Pearl paint is applied with a brush in random criss cross strokes (think X). When it is tacky, (almost dry, experiment) we burnished with a masonry float and then left to dry.

BTW the Brush Pearl is a dull sheen – if you want shiney, you won’t get it with this paint. I would have preferred a bit more shine but hubby likes it so I’m happy.

Trim moulding frames the new rectangle. It is attached by pre-drilling a few areas for nail holes and applying a caulking adhesive on the back of the trim before it was placed on the ceiling where it was nailed into place (use finishing nails so no predominant nailheads show). Nails are recessed and then filled in, then sanded, then painted over. Trim paint is Chef White.

An earlier post went into details about how the retro chandeliers – originally hung on a swag chain with foo-fahs and fake crystals – were converted to these. This is only part of the entire room redo so check back for more coming soon!

Want to see more about base moulding and moulding projects? There’s more on the blog right here

Project: updating a retro chandelier

When we found these two chandeliers they were designed to hang on a swag chain from the same medallion. While I didn’t love the chain, the foo-foo crystals on the brass, I did love the glitter-glam of the glass tube.

First, the side curly details were lopped off, leaving a stem. The chain was removed.

In some of the lopping, we ended with a few holes in the metal. It was filled with the same product  we used to repair moulding. It was lightly sanded and then the entire surface was scrubbed with a metal wire brush.

A hanging rod and ceiling mounting bracket was bought from Lowes ($17 each) and all of the metalwork (new and old) was spray-painted a brushed Nickel by Krylon (available at Westlake Hardware). The screw threads were wrapped with tape to prevent paint from clogging the threads.

New wiring was added. A rectangle was marked out, the area smoothed out with two coats of plaster, Brush Pearl paint in Blue Winter Fox applied and trim installed.

It’s hung so the bottom of the dining room chandelier is 32″ from the table (30″ -34″ from the table top is a standard hanging height).

The originals were bought for $18, and each lighting rod was bought for $17 each, for a total light cost of $52.

There are also four wall sconces in this room; my top pick are these from Lamps Plus at $99 each:


Project: Formal Dining Room Table

I didn’t want to spend big bucks on a room and piece of furniture that was seldom used so I was lucky that I received a free dining room table from a relative. It wasn’t a family heirloom but it was free, and you can’t beat free!

I’m guessing it’s from the 1940’s era. The top and sides are veneer and the legs have a nice half circle effect that is appealing as well as some decorative molding (see corners). I had a carpenter make a new, unfinished table leaf ($100) to replace the one that was long missing so now the table can sit from 6 to 8 people.

table surface
table surface

Overall, the table was in pretty poor condition, with an irregular stain, watermarks, and chips to the veneer. We repaired the damaged veneer on the tabletop sides with a X-acto knife cutting out the damaged area to a rectangle. Veneer trim (Red Oak) was cut to fit and then glued and clamped to fit. The repair was lightly sanded to a smooth surface and the area painted black.

veneer repair

We also glued down veener on the edge of the table that had started to peel up.

When using clamps be sure to use a scrap to take the initial pressure from the clamp foot or you might form an unwanted impression into your project.

You can see, left, the sanded tabletop has an unevenly colored surface which I had to deal with.

distressed table legsThe legs and tabletop sides were painted black. They were sanded back for a distressed appearance; remember to sand prominent areas where natural pressure and wear would occur from use.

Cabots Natural Walnut stain was rubbed in and wiped off. This darkened the newly sanded areas making it look more aged.

For the tabletop, I first tried chemically stripping the surface but that wasn’t very effective. I resorted to the Mouse Sander with a fine grit. Anything rougher and I was liable to rip or gouge the veneer.

I went with three rubbed in coats of Cabot’s Natural Walnut stain, fine sanding with a tacky cloth between coats. Finally, I coated with rub on polyuretane, gloss coat, and did three more coats, handsanding lightly and using a tacky cloth in between sessions.

Golden Oak stained tabletop

finished dining room table

Price: Table ($0); extra leaf ($100); leftover black paint, sanding paper, stain, tacky cloths ($25), 6 dining room chairs ($360). Wow! I was really pleased with the finished result and couldn’t be happier!