I promise to try my best and spare you from the boring new-homeowner details, like how I spent two days fretting over switchplates. Or the never ending search for beautiful, appropriate-to-the-era-of-the-house affordable light fixtures. Or the challenge of authentically replacing the lock sets on original doorknobs. Or cast iron heating grates - can we talk about those? Oh, I could go on (and I do. Be lucky you're not trapped in the car with me, at the dinner table, or on the other end of the phone. Oh, I have some very patient friends and family!).
But a few things might be worth some mention here. Before moving in, there were really just two seemingly simple and yet big-impact improvements we wanted to have our resources and energy directed towards, saving all other projects for 'later':
1. Paint every square inch of the house, both outside and in (which I'll talk about soon).
2. Do something about the floors.
But like any good plan, it was all meant to be ditched. More was done. There was the new well that we had dug on Day 5 (um, ouch!). There was a wall we put up. There was another wall we took down (I believe I was quoted as saying, "it's not our house until we use the sledgehammer!"), which led to a ceiling which needed to come down too, which led to new wiring, which led to "we should put a door there anyway!" which all means that we were quickly behind schedule and over budget and having a ton of fun. It also means we are living with a great deal of unfinished work still. But, alas, all was to be expected and really, it's kind of amazing how quickly one stops noticing the drywall or lack of trim or the primer still on the walls. Really. I don't even see it anymore. La la la. Pass the yarn.
But the floors are what I want to tell you about today, because we did stay on task with that goal. Wood floors - of oh-so-many varieties - are throughout the house, but were all covered in paint. In a veritable rainbow of colors, I should mention, with no two room's floors being the same color. We knew that doing something to the floors would bring a bit of unity to the house. But we were both torn with what exactly to do - painted floors are traditional in older homes. They're practical, easy to clean, and affordable. And yet - oh, how beautiful bare wood can be! In the end, we decided to do a little of both - strip and finish all the flooring downstairs and paint upstairs (tomorrow I'll talk about that).
Restoring the floors was the one project we handed over to a contractor, wanting the assurance of safe (as can be, anyway) removal and clean up of lead paint.
In learning about all the less-than-desirable ingredients involved in the production and use of convential stains, and with the guidance of our friends at Maine Green Building Supply, we had Vermont Natural Coatings applied to the floors. (No smell! Low VOC's! Oh, how wonderful.)
We are so very happy with the results. There's a bit of a honey tone to the finish that makes it all feel so soft and warm. Walking on these bare wood floors with bare feet feels heavenly, and for some reason (even though I imagine they have been painted for so very long) makes me feel all that closer to the original state of the house, the wood and trees that it is built of, and the hardworking hands of the very people who built it. The floors are scattered with 'dings' and dents and creaks, and each one tells a part of the story that makes up this house.
And oh, the way the sun shines through! Yes, yes, yes....I do love these old floors.