Mar 30, 2015

Our New Dining Room Table - A Sneak Peek

Hello friends! 

We've been doing some spring cleaning around our yard while we're on hold waiting for the family room floors to be installed. I know it must seem to you like this has gone on forever! It's a fact of life that contractor schedules are a delicate and mysterious thing, and we've learned to happily go with the flow. We actually took advantage of having extra time while the family room sits demolished for a week to repaint all the trim back there.

I do have a bit of exciting indoor news to share today, though!

As you probably know if you're a follower of my blog, I inherited this 75 year-old maple drop leaf table about thirty years ago. I painted and refinished it, and it's been well loved and used for many family meals at our house over the years. However, as you can see in this photo, at 54" round it's always been a bit of a tight squeeze to walk around the table from the living room to the back rooms of our house, a regular necessity due to our shotgun floor plan.

 Back in January of last year, I asked your opinions about table shapes in this post. I cut a large rectangle of cardboard and put it on top of our table to see how we liked it. We loved that we could fit more chairs around this shape without having to add extra leaves and how we had more room on the sides to walk. So it was decided we'd get a new rectangular farmhouse style table. 

Whoa, not so fast there, Nellie. 

It turns out that almost all tables have aprons around them that would keep the 27"- high arms of our Windsor chairs from fitting beneath the table top, and we really wanted to keep our six comfy very sturdy maple chairs. We thought about building our own farmhouse style table to fit, but those big solid wood tables are so darn heavy! So, we've been shopping for the just-right table for over a year. If we found one without an apron, it wasn't wide enough between the legs to fit two chairs side by side or maybe the table was too short or maybe it was too long or too narrow or too something

You get the picture. Gosh, we're picky!

We were becoming pretty much resigned to keeping our old table, when yesterday we finally found one, and here's a sneak peek! 

This is all I can show you today because just out of camera range our house is still piled high with all the stuff from getting our floors redone. A mess, in other words.

See how two of our black arm chairs fit under the table top side by side between the legs with room to spare? We can now fit six chairs here, and even eight in a pinch. No more lugging heavy leaves and extra chairs to the table when all the kids are here for Sunday dinner. And the ends of the table are just right for our big wicker mom and dad chairs. This table is 72" long and 39" wide, which is just right for six uncrowded place mats and platters of food down the middle, but still narrow enough to walk around. And unlike our unusually sized round table, I can now purchase standard size table cloths and runners. And (maybe best of all) you wouldn't even believe the great price we got on the table on sale and with a coupon. 

Can you tell we LOVE our new rustic industrial farmhouse dining room table!?!

This table isn't heirloom quality furniture like my antique maple table, but it's sturdy, heavy, well made, and the exact size, shape, and eclectic farmhouse look and feel we've been wanting. The finish on the metal legs even matches our new pewter chandelier. We're doing a big ol' happy dance in our dining room today because the long search for a table is over!

For now, our round family heirloom table is pushed into the corner awaiting its fate. It will be either going to my daughter's new house in her own dining room or upstairs in our loft as a game table. Wherever it ends up, it will always be cherished.

Please keep your fingers crossed for us that our floors will finally be finished this week. I'm getting excited to unpack our boxes of stuff and do some spring decorating!

Meanwhile, have a great week!

I'm sharing today at

Between Naps On The Porch 

Mar 23, 2015

A Moment of Spring in the Dining Room

The sun broke through the clouds for just a moment today during a heavy rain storm here. I was sitting in the dining room drinking my tea and listening to the rain when the glimmer of sunlight on the wall next to me inspired me to grab my phone and take a picture. 

These flowers are the only bit of spring I've managed to add to our home during the disorganization of installing new floors. It's wonderful how a bit of sunshine and some pretty flowers can lift one's spirits!

Rain or shine, I hope you have a lovely spring day!

A spring party sounds fun!

Mar 20, 2015

New Hardwood Floors - Reveal

This afternoon, with the installation of the base shoe molding and the last of the touch-up painting, our new hardwood floors were completed in the living room and dining room. Tomorrow, we'll move the furniture back in, but first I thought you might like to see the new floors without anything on them. I visited many websites and blogs searching for examples of different floors when deciding on ours, and I wanted to give as much information here as possible to help others doing so.

These are sanded and sealed on site hardwood floors, meaning the bare tongue and groove boards were nailed down to the sub floor then sanded and sealed on site, as opposed to manufactured hardwood floors which are installed already finished. Our wood is rift and quarter sawn white oak, which gives it the characteristic tiger grain pattern and makes it very strong and stable, minimizing cupping and shrinking. 

Our floors were stained with one coat of Minwax Special Walnut stain and finished with two coats of very durable satin Glitsa. We chose a medium neutral brown color that won't show dust and will darken over time. We'll need to have a maintenance coat of Glitsa applied every five to eight years, but the rustic grain pattern of our wood should minimize the appearance of scratches.  

The staining and sealing stage is toxic and extremely smelly, so we stayed at my daughter's house for four nights and kept our windows open for another four days after returning before the odor dissipated completely

I've tried to minimize editing of these photos so that what I'm seeing on my computer screen is what I see when I look at my floors. When choosing a stain I found that Special Walnut on white oak tended to have a slightly yellow cast rather than an orange (Early American) or red (Chestnut) one.

 I love how the late afternoon sunlight warms the wood and makes it glow. Going through the whole process of having our floors finished on site really makes us appreciate that this beautiful wood was once a living oak tree. It's a long messy process to live through, but we feel a connection to our floors and absolutely love every single knot and grain pattern. Sounds sappy (pun intended), but we'd do it all over again.

And in fact we are, because this weekend we start the whole process over again on our family room floors.

We bought this baby gate to keep Tucker off the floors until they're fully cured and we can put our area rugs back down, especially at the front door where he does his happy dance when someone knocks at the door. At the bottom of this photo in front of the gate and behind my watermark you can see how well the kitchen tile color and new wood floor color blends. Even though the surfaces are different, the similar colors help make the floor appear fairly seamless.

We couldn't be happier with how our floors turned out. We did a lot of homework before deciding on site finished floors, the wood, color, and finish, and then we waited for the best contractor. We feel like all the careful preparation really paid off with the beautiful floors we always wanted. 

Thanks for taking the journey with us!

Read more about our hardwood floor saga:

New Hardwood Floors - Preparation

New Hardwood Floors - Demolition

New Hardwood Floors - Installation

Mar 19, 2015

DIY Tea Caddy

Happy first day of spring, everyone!

As our new floor project progresses I've been staying tucked out of the way back in my studio working on a few small DIY projects. The first one I have to share is my new tea caddy.

I recently gave up drinking coffee and started drinking a cup of green tea every morning instead. I absolutely love coffee, so it wasn't an easy switch, but tea is much friendlier to my tummy these days. My husband, affectionately known as "the toughest gut in the west," still drinks a few cups of coffee each day. To help keep me from feeling deprived I started treating myself to all kinds of different teas, and they have become a little bit of a hobby for me now.

Instead of rummaging through boxes in the pantry for my teabags, I thought it would be nice to display them on the counter where they'd be easy to choose from. I had this little wood box I found at the thrift store for a few dollars a couple years ago...

Bonne Maman
...and I'd been saving up these cute preserve jars that happened to fit the little shelves perfectly. (These preserves are wonderful, by the way.) When I discovered my tea bags fit the jars perfectly too, I knew I had my tea caddy!

I painted the box white and protected it with a coat of poly and then filled the jars up with my teas. Now, I can easily see the tea bag labels through the jars, and it's fun to look them over and choose a tea to match my mood.

A spoonful of honey in my tea is an occasional special treat, and the jar fits just right on top of the box. And did you notice the jar lids match my farmhouse curtains? 

My husband is so sweet, he rinses out the coffee pot every morning when he's done with his coffee and leaves me a fresh pot of filtered hot water for my tea. 

The cups and mugs are in this cabinet right above the coffee pot. Having a cute tea "center" at my fingertips is definitely making it easier for me to give up coffee. 

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope your first day of spring is filled with sunshine!

Let's go to a party!

Mar 12, 2015

My Huge Black Farmhouse Tray

I'm taking a break today from my series on replacing our hardwood floors to let you know my big black farmhouse tray is currently on sale again online. I'm not sponsored by the seller, but I've been asked several times where I purchased my tray, so I thought I'd give you a heads-up that it's available again. A link is provided at the end of this post. 

I purchased this tray last summer and had to wait quite awhile for it when the online store ran out and ordered more. They sent me a very nice email apologizing and asking me if I still wanted one when they received more. It was well worth the wait. I love decorating this huge chippy black metal tray for the different seasons.

 Here's the tray in our entryway last summer.

Here it is last Christmas.

And here it is last Fall.

I'd also like to try it out on our round dining room table for spring with some greenery and white ironstone - maybe when the floors are done and we're unpacked again. There's something about this tray that really inspires me to fill it up with seasonal vignettes, and it fits my home's farmhouse style perfectly.  

Here is the tray as seen on the Antique Farm House website with a link to it below the photo.

Antique Farm House
If I remember correctly, their sales rotate, so it may only be available for a limited time. 

Happy shopping!

(Note: I recently found another source for this tray here.)

I'm sharing the news at 

Mar 10, 2015

New Hardwood Floors - Installation

Thank you for all your get well wishes regarding my short illness. I'm happy to say I'm feeling much better. 

Another flooring update here today. Oh goody!

 Our new floors have been installed and are being sanded as I type this. Yesterday, Tucker and I went over to my daughter's house because the nailing was pretty noisy, but today's sanding noise is tolerable if I keep my studio door closed.

One of the reasons we love our contractor is because he's so good at figuring out the idiosyncrasies of old North End craftsmen style cottages. Here's an example: our foundation, except the perimeter, is made of posts sitting on big flat rocks sitting on the dirt. Not nice square blocks cut or chiseled from rocks, just big rocks. If this system hadn't been working at holding up our house for the past 105 years, it would be a little scary. When you see it, you say holy cow, how is that rock foundation that looks kind of wobbly, holding up this big heavy house? 

But it does. 

We've always had a big hump going across our living room floor. It's a significant hump so that all the furniture I arrange on one side of the hump leans one way, and all the furniture I arrange on the other side of the hump leans the other way. It bugged me a lot at first (just try hanging a level picture over a leaning sofa sometime), but you learn to live with these things in an old house. We always attributed the hump to our weird foundation shifting around, and since it hasn't changed in the 25 years we've lived here, we stopped thinking about it.

We just figured the new floors would have a hump, too, which didn't thrill us, but our contractor isn't big on new floors with humps in them at all. So he investigated around under the floor in the crawl space and found out that for some reason a long time ago, someone put some shims between the posts on the wobbly rocks and the beams supporting the middle of our living room floor. Who knows why, maybe the floor used to sag a bit. Only they must have eyeballed it or something instead of measuring properly, and they shimmed it too much, creating a 3/4-inch hump in the floor.  3/4" is a very big deal when you're talking about level floors! We find weird stuff like this all the time in our house. It really makes us wonder about the people who used to live here. Didn't they notice they put in too many shims? Didn't they notice the hump in the floor?


Anyway, our contractor takes these weird things he finds in The North End homes he remodels in-stride. He just pulled out one of the shims on each side, and now our new floor is even. We would have worried the house would fall down if we tried to do that. 

He's not worried.      

 I love our new heat vents. 

 The smelly staining and sealing of our floors come next, so we'll be away from the house for a day or two. (Any robbers reading this, don't rob us because you'll die of toxic fumes which would serve you right.)

Actually, in case the security alarm doesn't give you pause, we're leaving a pit bull in the yard and the neighbors have shotguns. 

When we come back, I'll be able to show you our finished floors. 


Read more about our Hardwood Floor Saga

Hardwood Floors - Preparation

Hardwood Floors - Demolition

Mar 6, 2015

New Hardwood Floors - Demolition

I was sick as a dog yesterday. In fact, I was so sick that I actually slept through all the scraping and nail-pulling happening on the other side of our house as our old maple floors were torn out in preparation for installing the new oak ones. 

This morning I felt better, enough to crawl out of bed and snap some photos of the post demolition for you.

It's always a shock to see your house torn up, but I'm getting to be kind of an expert at it. My first thought was that I was happy to see the guys had taped off everything well.

  These are the original 105 year-old Douglas fir floors that were beneath the maple ones. (See those in my previous post here.)

 After a lot of discussion with the flooring experts we decided this soft fir just wouldn't hold up to everyday wear in our high traffic areas, and we decided on white oak instead.

 Now that we see them gouged, cracked, paint spattered, stained, mismatched from terrible past repairs (such as this one where a bedroom wall was removed to make the living room larger) and just generally abused, we're feeling okay about our decision to cover up the poor things again.

 This was where a closet wall was. 
 Here, you can see the mix of wide and narrow boards which was a common practice to save money in the old days. The wider, cheaper wood went under the rugs where no one would see it. 

It looks like the boards beneath the rugs weren't stained or waxed, either. It's interesting to see how the people who went before us lived here. (Sorry, but they were kinda sloppy.)

 Now that we know the mysteries beneath the humps and bumps in our floor, our contractor thinks he can even them out a bit before laying the new one. We'll also be moving our heat vents and cold air returns to the outside walls for more efficient heat in our always chilly living room. And a really nice bonus to getting new floors is they'll be screwing down the subfloor tighter so the squeaks will go away. 

  Here's our old floor piled on the front porch. Bye-bye! (I'm happy to say this maple was given to a man on Craigslist who will re-mill it for new flooring.) 

Next week comes the installation of the new floor. I'm so excited but nervous about picking the right stain color. Any input on colors from my wise readers would be appreciated very much.

Now, I'm going to crawl back into bed and snooze some more.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Read more about our new floor saga:

New Hardwood Floors - Preparation