the garden club.

I mentioned a while back that my neighbor across the street, nnK, won the Acorn Award this year.  The Acorn Award is our city’s award for landscaping that goes ‘above and beyond’ normal standards.  After nnK won the award, the garden club contacted her and asked if they could plan a time to tour her garden (I shared nnK’s pond garden here).  They also asked if they could tour my garden while they were in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately the date they had available for a visit was this past Monday which was definitely not the best time to visit my gardens.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I usually throw in the towel on gardening by mid-August.  The weeds begin to take over, I’ve usually got a fair amount of Asian beetle damage by now, and inevitably I have some (or in the case of this year, lots of) hail damage.  The Ostrich ferns start to die back in August and the prettiest perennials, such as the peonies and lilacs, are long past blooming.

But mid-August was what worked for the garden club schedule, so I made a little last ditch effort to spruce things up a bit for their visit.

The fact that the hydrangeas are blooming helped quite a bit.

And the annuals in my planters added a bit of color.

I planted New Guinea impatiens and fuchsias in my front window box this year and they are going gang busters.  I’ll plant them again next year.

I think the fairy garden was a big hit.

If you haven’t seen it before, my fairy garden is planted in an old concrete bird bath that is cracked so it won’t hold water anymore.  That makes it perfect for planting because it allows for drainage.

My bright green/yellow lamium has finally taken off after a very slow start this spring and luckily my concrete rabbit doesn’t eat much (you can see some of that hail damage on the hosta on the upper left side of the photo).

I love this stuff for adding a bright spot in a shady garden.

My statue, Cossetta, was a garage sale find.  I think some of the garden club members found her tiara amusing.

But hey, what girl doesn’t want to wear a tiara now and then?

Even though the Ostrich ferns in my fern garden were mostly brown, the Japanese painted ferns still look good.

As did the Maiden Hair ferns.

I feel like the summer is just slipping away from me again this year.  Fall is right around the corner, and this is probably the garden’s last hurrah so it was fun to share it with both the garden club and you guys.

My sister and I are off to Oronoco Gold Rush bright and early tomorrow morning.  Hopefully we’ll find some fun vintage goodies that I can share with you next week.  Fingers crossed!

edinburgh.

Happy Wednesday!  It’s time for the next segment from my series about our May trip.

 Edinburgh, Scotland is another spot in Europe where your ship is a distance away from the city centre.  Large cruise ships will anchor near the Firth of Forth Bridge (which, let’s face it, is just fun to say).

You’ll take a tender (a small boat) to the pier in South Queensferry (and maybe you’ll be greeted by some awesome bagpipers like we were).  From there, you need to find transportation into Edinburgh.

This is a port where Mr. Q and I decided to fly by the seat of our pants, sort of.  We didn’t have a specific plan for getting into Edinburgh from South Queensferry.  The ship offered an ‘Edinburgh on your own’ shore excursion option for $69 per person.  It included a bus ride into the historic district at a specified time, about 5 hours to explore the city on your own, and then a return trip by bus at a specified time.  That seemed like a pretty steep price for what was basically a shuttle service with no flexibility at all.

So I followed a hunch that I had based on lots of travel experience, that there would be some sort of independent shuttle service that would be much cheaper.  And I was right.  As soon as we walked off the pier we were met by a sign for a shuttle service to Edinburgh that cost £10 (or around $13) per person round trip.  Plus the shuttle departed and returned every half hour up until 5 pm.  You could time your stay to suit your wishes.

Wowza, right?  The ship was charging a whopping $56 more per person for less flexibility.  This sort of thing is a regular occurrence on cruise ships.  If you ever take a cruise, just be aware of this and know that there are usually lots of options outside of the ship sponsored shore excursions.

Mr. Q and I hopped on the shuttle and after about 30 minutes or so it dropped us off in the heart of Edinburgh, just behind Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh castle sits on top of the remains of an extinct volcano.  There has been some sort of settlement on this spot since the Bronze Age, which totally makes sense because it’s a very defensible position.

We walked around to the front and then up the hill to the Castle only to discover that it was completely overrun with tourist groups, people following guides holding up those flags so their followers could keep up.  We managed to make our way all the way up to the entrance of the castle and then we looked at each other and we both said “nope, not doing it.”  We just couldn’t convince ourselves to battle our way through the crowd to see the Castle (the most visited tourist attraction in Scotland).

So we turned around and headed down the Royal Mile only to find that was where the rest of the tourists were!

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but Edinburgh was having unusually warm, sunny weather while we were there.  It was full sun and in the lower 80’s.  We thought we had come prepared for Scottish weather with our rain jackets, umbrellas and scarves.  As it turned out we weren’t prepared for lower 80’s at all.  We had no sunscreen, no hats, no shorts.

I suspect the gorgeous weather brought everyone out to enjoy the sunshine, tourists and locals alike.

We had a little more than an hour to kill before our planned Book Lovers Tour, so we decided to get out of the sun and away from the crowds by heading into the Scottish National Gallery.  This photo is taken while standing at the entrance to the National Gallery looking out on Princes Street Garden.  As you can see, people were out in droves enjoying the park as well.

We didn’t have time to see as much of the museum as we would have liked, but did see some beautiful artwork and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere inside.

Next we headed towards the Writers’ Museum to take the Book Lovers Tour with Allan Foster.

Allan led us around the historic center of Edinburgh while sharing stories about famous Scottish authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander McCall Smith and Robert Burns.  He showed us the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote portions of her Harry Potter books.  None of the locations were particularly fascinating on their own, but Allan was a great story teller and that’s what made the tour so fascinating.

The tour concluded at the famous Greyfriars Cemetery, supposedly the most haunted spot in Edinburgh.  Considering Edinburgh must be a pretty haunted place, that’s saying a lot.

I’ve seen lots of photos online of a misty, spooky Grefriars, but all of my photos have blue sky and sunshine.  Not quite as atmospheric!  It’s a bit more difficult to imagine spooky ghosts under these conditions.

After checking out the cemetery we found a kiosk selling bottled water, which we badly needed.  We were hot, sweaty and worn out, so we made our way back to the designated spot for catching the next shuttle back to the pier.

We really just barely scratched the surface of this uniquely beautiful city.  This is definitely a spot that I would like to return to someday and see much more in depth.  Maybe we could even brave the crowds and head into the castle next time.

But for now we say goodbye to Edinburgh.  Next Wednesday we head to Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  Be sure to check back to read all about the final port of call on our trip and the fabulous Beamish open air museum!

les industries d’amateurs.

I find that things never tend to look quite like I pictured them in my head.  This is especially true when I am decorating a room.  I’m sure there are people out there who are much better able to envision exactly how something will look, but those people are probably professionals while I am definitely an amateur.  Although then again, I’ve been watching old Fixer Uppers on Hulu lately and I just saw one where Joanna Gaines repainted an entire house because her first color choice didn’t look right.  So maybe we all have this problem.

When I started planning my bedroom makeover I knew I wanted to paint the jelly cupboard in my bedroom that I use for storing my clothes.  Easy enough.  I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Grain Sack, and then I added some Iron Orchid Designs transfers to the doors.  So far, this is exactly how I pictured the cupboard would look.

By the way, the IOD transfers that I used are meant for clay pots (google ‘Iron Orchid Designs French Pots III’ to find sources for purchasing online).  They come in a set of 3 different designs.  To get two of the same design I purchased two sets.  As you can see the design is curved to work with applying it to the curved surface of a pot, but I thought it worked just fine on the flat surface of my cupboard door as well.

I felt like the design of the one I chose was particularly appropriate.  Les industries d’amateurs for sure!

It was the next step that threw me off.  I had this vision of bringing up the vintage suitcases that were beside the Welsh cupboard in my dining room.  In my head they were going to be perfect stacked next to the cupboard.

But once I had them in place they looked really … well … brown.

Don’t forget that on the other side of the room is my black headboard …

But I do also have the brown bench.  And the bedding and walls are very warm greige tones.  So brown isn’t wrong, but I felt like the stack of suitcases was throwing the balance of the room in favor of brown tones and I didn’t like it.

So I took them away and I brought up the cane back chair from the living room.  I also added an old black shutter on the wall layered with a framed architectural drawing.

Definitely less brown.

But the height of the chair is a bit off, don’t you think?  It’s just too low for next to the tall cupboard.  But I love the shutter and print in that spot.

So I took away the chair and shopped around my house for something else to put in front of the shutter and I came across my faux dress form, Lula.

Turns out she is the perfect height for that spot, don’t you think?

When it comes to adding details to a room I often tend to ‘shop’ my own house.  I like to move things around, they always feel fresh when they are placed in a new spot.

I had to laugh when I was editing the above photo by the way.  Can you see why?  There are two things that are upside down.  I hadn’t really noticed that until I took a close look at the picture.  Did you spot them?  The Arctic Aire label on the fan, and the label on the spine of the book are both on upside down.  What a weird coincidence!

Anyway, I didn’t purchase any new things for this side of the room.  I just worked with items I already had.  Which is a good thing since I am pretty much out of money for this makeover after buying all of that bedding.  Luckily it’s almost done.  I’m just waiting on some mail order items and once they arrive and are installed I’ll share the full reveal.  In the meantime, I’m back to working on other projects.  I have a gorgeous dresser almost completed that I’ll be sharing soon.  So be sure to stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

the bed.

As part of my bedroom makeover, I knew I wanted to get rid of our 90’s sleigh bed.

I thought about using the barn doors that I salvaged from my in-law’s barn as a headboard.  But with the ship lap wall behind the bed the planked barn door felt like it would be a bit redundant. I also considered using a vintage door that I had on hand and placing it sideways on the wall behind the bed.

But then I saw this idea of modifying an antique headboard from Rachel at Shades of Blue Interiors.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I started looking around on Craigslist for likely candidates and it quickly became apparent that the slanted wall behind my bed definitely limited my options.  Just scroll back up and look at that inspiration photo again, it’s tall!  And the height is a big part of what makes it fabulous.  I found several similar beds on Craigslist, all of which were far too tall to fit under my slanted wall.

Next I started looking for an antique headboard that either was short enough already, or could be cut down.  That’s when I spotted the ad for this bedroom set.

The headboard was about 4” too tall, plus the photo with the ad showed the bed with a mattress and box spring in place.  I couldn’t see the legs of the headboard to determine if they could be cut down.  So I contacted the seller and he happily provided both a photo of the legs and the opinion that I could easily cut 4” off the bottoms of them.

As you may know, Queen and King sized beds did not become popular until the 50’s and 60’s.  For that reason it’s next to impossible to find antique bed frames in those sizes.  But you can modify a full sized antique headboard to fit a queen sized bed pretty easily and I’m about to show you how.

The first step was to send the headboard over to Ken’s workshop.  It was a bit wonky and most of the joints were coming unglued.  Ken enjoys a project like this.  Remember the Humpty Dumpty dresser?  He likes to take these pieces apart and then put them back together again with all new glue (he also really enjoys jigsaw puzzles).  At one point the headboard was nothing more than a pile of pieces.  But Ken put it all back together again and now it’s nice and sturdy.  He also cut 4” off the bottom of each leg.

In the meantime, Mr. Q ordered a basic metal bed frame from Amazon.  Free shipping with Amazon Prime, and it was priced at less than $40.

Next we measured the width of the bed frame and Ken cut a board to fit that width and I painted the board black.

I debated stripping and refinishing the bed, which would have been lovely but a bit of a project with all of those details.

Since I firmly believe that every room should have a pop of black I ultimately decided to paint it black instead.  I painted it with Homestead House milk paint in Coal Black and I used their black wax as a finish.  I like pairing the black wax with the black milk paint because it deepens up the black so nicely.  By the way, in case you are wondering, the black wax has not rubbed off on our pillows at all and I waxed the bed about 4 days before we started using it.

Once all of the details were in place, we brought the headboard, the metal frame and the black board up to our room.  Ken thought it would best to assemble it in place.  Assembly was super simple.  Ken started by drilling holes in the board and bolting it to the metal frame.

Then we simply snugged it up to the headboard and attached the headboard to the board with screws.  Easy peasy.  As you can see, the metal frame is just a couple of inches wider than the headboard.  Once all of the bedding is in place, this difference won’t be noticeable at all.  Honestly, this could not be any simpler.  Anyone can accomplish this with a drill and some hardware.  So if you’re thinking about a new look for your bedroom, check out your local Craigslist and find a gorgeous antique that you can modify (if you are in the Twin Cities and can have a taller bed than I can, check out this one and this one).

Next came the bed skirt.  Since I wasn’t able to use the side rails and foot board that came with the bed, it definitely needed to have a bed skirt.  I looked at several online that I liked and the cheapest option was still $110.  It was much more affordable to copy from Catherine on Home Talk (check out that link if you want specific details) and use painter’s drop cloths.  I was able to get by with one 4’ by 15’ drop cloth that I cut in half lengthwise giving me two pieces that were 2′ by 15′, and it cost less than $15.

Catherine used upholstery tacks to attach the drop cloth, but I just used staples.  Honestly, I’m not sure how well they are going to hold it in place over time, but I can always reattach it with tacks if it becomes a problem.

Now comes the pricey part of the whole deal, the bedding.  Have you ever noticed that it’s easy to spend more on bedding than you do for a bed?  It adds up fast.  In my case I felt like it really was time to update more than just the duvet cover, it was time for new pillows, a new featherbed and a new down alternative duvet, plus the duvet cover and pillow shams that are the only items visible.  So I headed to my local Bed, Bath & Beyond to see what they had.  This was the second highest expense of the entire makeover.  I’d like to say that this post is sponsored by Bed, Bath & Beyond and they gave me all of this bedding for free, but no, I paid for it.

In addition to the pillows, etc. I found a Kenneth Cole stone washed linen duvet cover and pair of shams in the discount bin.  The color is called Mineral and is perfect with my wall color.

Since I wasn’t sure about all of the different shades of greige I had going on in the room plus the lack of any kind of pattern, I also ordered a ticking stripe duvet cover and pair of Euro shams from Ballard Designs in a color called Sandalwood.

I didn’t really intend to keep both duvet covers.  I thought I could try each and pick a favorite.  Instead I discovered that the bed looks amazing with both of them.  Dang!

In addition, the Ballard duvet cover is really very heavy, perfect for winter, while the Kenneth Cole duvet is quite lightweight, perfect for summer.  Can you tell that I’m working really hard to justify this expense?

I didn’t need new sheets, I’m just using a set of white sheets that I already had.  I’m also using a pair of vintage pillow cases with a tatted edge that I purchased at a garage sale.  You’ll sometimes find vintage linens like these at garage sales and it’s obvious that the owner never used them.  They probably were a wedding shower gift and were put in the cupboard back in 1959 and never taken back out.  These vintage linens have the most amazing weight, so much better quality than most things you can buy new.

The France 7 Postes pillow is one I purchased many years ago, I’m pretty sure from Restoration Hardware.  I have a pair of these and they get moved around all the time.  The mate to this one is currently being used on the Belgian bench in my dining room.

Overall, the bedding was a huge splurge for us and this is by far the most beautifully dressed bed we’ve ever had.  I figure now that we’ve made it nearly to our mid-50’s it’s about time we had some grown up bedding, right?

By the way, there is the cane bench at the foot of the bed.  What do you think of my choice to leave it unpainted now that you’re seeing it in place?

I’m loving how much more ‘presence’ the bed has now.  The height of the headboard is perfect.  It fills up the space all the way up to the angle in the wall.  I also love the black up against the ship lap.  I really could not be any happier with how the bed turned out.

So, at this point I’ve shared my faux ship lap wall, my refinished floors, the refreshed cane back bench, my repainted nightstands, and now my bed.  But there is still more to come for Mission Possible, I hope you’ll stay tuned!

Sharing with Feathered Nest Friday on French Country Cottage.

the best day ever.

Here’s something to know about Inverness, Scotland.  If you travel there by cruise ship you won’t actually dock in Inverness, but instead you’ll be docking in the Cromarty Firth at Invergordon.

The harbor in Invergordon is deep enough for large cruise ships and your ship will be able to dock rather than having to use tenders to ferry passengers to shore.  However, this does leave you about 40 minutes away from Inverness.  And from what I could tell there is very little to see in Invergordon.  By the way, this is a fairly common practice in the cruise industry.  Itineraries will often say ‘Paris’, ‘Rome’, ‘Florence’ and so on, but none of these cities are actually on the coast.  Just a little thing to be aware of if you ever plan a European cruise.

In this case, this was no problem at all for us because this is the port where we chose to hire a private guide through Invergordon Tours.  We try to hire a private guide at least once on every trip.  In some places (Budapest, Prague) it’s more affordable than others.  This guide came with a car and that definitely added to the expense quite a bit.  So it was a pretty big splurge for us, but based on the cost of most of the ship’s shore excursions we only spent about $165 more for six hours with a guide and her car for just the two of us v. being on a bus with 60 other passengers for a 3 hour packaged tour.

We were able to go exactly where we wanted and spend as much or as little time in each spot as we wanted.

Our guide was a lovely woman named Alda.  She met us at the pier with a sign with our name on it.  She was parked just across the street, so she led us off to her vehicle which was roomy, comfortable and spotlessly clean.  Once settled in the car, Alda reviewed our plan for the day (which we had arranged in advance via email).  We could have made changes to it at that point, but we didn’t.

Our first stop was the Falls of Shin.  Honestly, if I had a do-over I would have skipped this spot (although they did have nice, clean, brand new bathrooms).

Apparently when the salmon are spawning you can see them leaping up these falls, but there were no salmon that we could see.  Honestly, the falls themselves are not very impressive, especially when compared to the gorgeous Gooseberry Falls near Duluth.

But that is the beauty of having a private guide!  We were able to take a quick look at the falls and then say ‘let’s move on’.  Had we been with a group we would have had to wait for 60 people to line up and use those brand new bathrooms.

Our next stop was the Big Burn walking trail in Golspie, Scotland.  I had read about this trail online before our trip and thought it looked like a beautiful place.  In Scotland, a ‘burn’ is a stream or brook.

Alda told us to take as much time as we wanted hiking the trail, she’d be waiting at the car when we returned.  The trail follows a small stream (burn) up to the Big Burn Gorge, and then there are a series of footbridges that crisscross the gorge.  It was so lush and green all along the trail.

I will always remember Scotland as a very green place!

The Scottish Bluebells were in bloom and there were fields of them everywhere.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day.  We really enjoyed hiking this trail and were able to take our time enjoying the gorgeous sunny day.

After our hike we piled back into Alda’s car and headed towards Dunrobin Castle.  But first we made a quick stop at Carn Liath, the remains of a Broch (a prehistoric fortified dwelling).  Here are Mr. Q and our guide Alda on top of the wall of the Broch.

We had the place entirely to ourselves.

There was a gorgeous view of our next stop, Dunrobin Castle, from the top of the broch.

Although parts of Dunrobin Castle date as far back as the 14th century, most of it was built between 1835 and 1850 for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland.  It has 189 rooms, and although at one point it started to feel like the tour included all of them, of course it really didn’t.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside so I can’t share any of those rooms with you.  However, since we were on a private tour, we were able to spend as much time touring the formal gardens as we wanted to and I was free to take unlimited photos out there!

Remember, this was the end of May, so the gardens probably weren’t quite as lush yet as they would be later in the season.

But the allium was in bloom.  Seeing this big clump of them makes me want to add more to my own garden.

And of course all of the formal shrubbery was looking lovely.

Once we’d seen enough of Dunrobin, Alda took us to her hometown of Dornoch, Scotland.  It was the most charming little village.

She recommended we pop into the Dornoch Patisserie for a bite to eat.  We just had some simple sandwiches and some ‘chips’ (what we call french fries), but they were delicious and no one was claiming that they were the ‘best of Scottish cuisine’.  The people in the restaurant were so friendly, it was just a pleasure to be there!

After eating we walked around the Dornoch Cathedral where I was surprised to find this gargoyle peering down from above.

Does that guy remind anybody else of a certain large purple children’s character?

 

I know that gargoyles are meant to be frightening, I’m not sure they succeeded with that one.  What do you think?

We walked around Dornoch a bit longer, and then hopped back in the car to make our way back to our ship.

After spending a totally enjoyable 6+ hours with our guide, I thought that our day could not possibly get any better.  We had just returned to our cabin on the ship and were putting away our bags when I heard what sounded like distant bag pipes.  I went out on our balcony and was met with the most amazing sight.  An entire band of bagpipers and drummers marching down the pier towards our ship.

It was a pretty long pier, this photo gives you an idea …

The Sutherland Schools Pipe Band marched all the way down that pier playing the entire time.

Once they got to the end they formed a circle and kept playing.  The drummers were so entertaining to watch!

They would spin and twirl those drum sticks over their heads.

Seriously, this was the coolest thing ever!  I wish I’d gotten video, but since I didn’t you can check out this YouTube video instead.

And they just kept on playing the whole time our ship was preparing to sail away and as we finally pulled away from the dock.

This was definitely one of those magical moments that I will always remember!  And once again, something we would have missed if we hadn’t had that balcony!

As we continued to sail away from Invergordon I admired the bright yellow fields of rapeseed, isn’t that some lovely countryside?

Overall this was one of the best days on our entire trip.  It was well worth the splurge to hire the private guide.  She catered to our every wish and made it so easy to see everything we wanted to see in the time we had on shore.  We would definitely do this again on a future trip!

I hope you enjoyed this post about Invergordon, Scotland.  Remember when I said it was going to take me all summer to post about our trip?  I wasn’t wrong.  We have two more ports of call remaining, Edinburgh and Newcastle, which will take us right through August 23.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with my Wednesday’s after that, but I hope you’ll stay tuned.

 

mismatched bedside tables.

I shared my mismatched bedside tables with you in the post about Mission Possible.

His.

Her’s.

I was loosely planning to leave them ‘as is’ in the new version of the room, but as tends to be the case, the more silvery gray on the nightstands ending up being all wrong next to the Edgecomb Gray on the walls.

So I sanded them just a little, cleaned them with some TSP Substitute and painted them both with two coats of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Grain Sack.

Painting previously painted pieces with milk paint can sometimes be a little bit of a gamble.  Especially if you don’t know what kind of paint you are painting over.  Paints with a satin or glossy finish will likely resist the milk paint giving you a chippy look which can be great if you don’t mind the original color showing through all of those chips.  In this case I really didn’t want to see that color.

However, I originally painted these two pieces with homemade chalk paint (latex paint mixed with plaster of paris and water).  So I knew a little sanding and cleaning with TSP substitute would be all I needed to make sure my milk paint adhered fairly well.

I always feel a little more comfortable experimenting with new products on pieces that I’m keeping rather than selling, so I decided to try using Low Sheen Finishing Cream from the Real Milk Paint Co. to top coat both of these pieces.

I applied it using my Miss Mustard Seed wax brush.  The Finishing Cream is really quite different from wax.  First of all, it has a consistency sort of like a thick body cream.  You brush it on, but you don’t work it in like wax.  You also don’t need to buff it when you’re done applying it.  It’s quite a bit less labor intensive than wax.  It is a no-odor, zero VOC, water based gel top coat.  Although I applied it outside this time, you know I love products that I can also use in the house during our cold Minnesota winters and this will be great for that.  After 24 hours of drying time the finish is fully washable.

I read mixed messages online about whether or not this finish will change the color of milk paint, but in my experience it darkened up the color just ever so slightly.  Not as much as a wax would, and definitely not as much as hemp oil would.  It also adds just a little bit of a sheen.  Personally I prefer the really flat finish of milk paint without a top coat, but I want to add protection to my pieces.  The Real Milk Paint Co also makes a version of their Finishing Cream called Dead Flat.  I’m looking forward to trying that one next.

My bedroom is really coming together now.  Here’s my nightstand in place.  Initially I’d thought I might re-hang the floral plates that were over the nightstands before, but I soon realized that they didn’t work with my new look at all.  Instead I added some old black & white family photos in black frames.  I also hung some reading lamps that I purchased from World Market on either side of the bed.

I spray painted the lidded wicker basket where I keep my important bedside items out of sight, like lotion, tissues and lip balm.  I found the inexpensive alarm clock at Target.  Here’s what it has going for it; dual alarms, lights up at night, doesn’t tick (it’s electric) much smaller than my old clock.  Here’s what it’s missing; style of any kind.  If any of you have a source for vintage looking alarm clocks with modern functionality (I must have dual alarms), I’d love to hear about it.  I scoured the internet and came up empty.

Here’s Mr. Q’s nightstand …

It’s totally ‘staged’ for this photo with a vintage alarm clock and fan (both non-functioning).  These won’t actually stay on his nightstand, but it was fun to pretend just for these photos.

The room is really coming together now.  I’ll be sharing the story behind our new headboard on Friday, be sure to check back!

my refinished floors.

I showed you the awful ‘before’ condition of my upstairs floors a couple of weeks ago.

That photo doesn’t even really capture how orange they had become over time.  I think I mentioned in that post that these floors were already in fairly rough shape when we purchased our house in 1988.  And we’ve never done anything with them in all of this time.  Yep, they were very sadly neglected.

After getting the quote from the professional re-finishers and deciding to spend our money on a trip to Norway & Scotland instead, I started to give some thought to DIY alternatives for the upstairs floors.

I seriously considered painting them.  I love the look of a painted floor like this example from vintageinteriorblogs.com …

I even thought it might work to add a painted checkerboard pattern like this example from pinterest …

But I have two painted floors already, my front three-season porch floor is painted.

And the floor in my photo cottage is painted.

I did both of those floors myself so I know just how much work it was, and the master bedroom floor alone is about four times the size of these floors.  So a checkerboard paint job was definitely out of the running.  I also know that painted floors are hard to keep clean and they scratch fairly easily over time which is not a great look.  So after discussing it, Mr. Q and I decided that a painted floor in the master bedroom was not going to work for us.

Next we considered renting sanding equipment and refinishing the floors ourselves.  I knew that applying the finish would be within my skill set, but I wasn’t sure about operating the sander.  I’ve heard that they can be difficult to control and it’s easy to gouge your floor or end up with uneven sanding.  Plus it’s really hard work.

We were discussing this during my sister’s move.  On moving day we had help from some of nnK’s students.  I’ve mentioned before that nnK (new neighbor Karen who lives across the street from me) is the athletic trainer at a local high school.  She always seems able to pull together a crew of athletes from her school to help with any heavy lifting.  Well, it just so happened that two of the guys helping us with Debbie’s move were also working for a company that refinishes gym floors this summer.  They said they’d been learning a lot on the job and would be willing to give us a quote on refinishing our floors.

So we had them out and they looked at our floors and gave us a ballpark price, which was well under the price from the professionals.  We knew we were taking a risk since these guys were young and relatively inexperienced, but they were enthusiastic and we decided what the heck.  It was a way to spruce up our floors and not break the bank.

We set a date and I took the preceding week off work as a working staycation to prepare.  During that week I painted all three rooms upstairs and we started emptying them out.  Yikes!  There was almost 30 years of accumulated stuff in those rooms!  We started out being methodical and putting things out of the way on the front porch or tucked into corners, but by the end we were just throwing things anywhere there was a spot.  Here’s how the Q Branch looked for over a week …

And here is where we slept …

I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was an exhausting week.  Adam and Alek showed up on Friday to start the floors.  It took them a good part of the day to get them sanded.  It was loud, dusty, sweaty, hard work and as I was watching them I realized how glad I was that we hadn’t tried to tackle this project ourselves.  By about 8:30 Friday evening the guys had sanded the floors, cleaned them, put down a coat of sealer, went home for dinner while that dried, came back and buffed the floor again and then put down a 2nd coat of sealer.  They came back Saturday morning to buff again and put down a coat of finish, then again Saturday evening to add a 2nd coat of finish.  Finally they came back again on Sunday to remove the tape around the baseboards and check their work.

I wanted a natural look with no stain and a matte finish.  The guys chose to use this product from Varathane …

And now my floors look like this …

I absolutely LOVE the color.  I wanted them to be pale and natural looking and that’s exactly how they turned out.

Lucy inspected them and was happy with the results too.

Keep in mind that these floors are 113 years old.  They are maple and as I mentioned we opted to not stain them.  There are some natural variations in the color of each board.  They also have some deep scratches and other flaws, and there are spots where the boards are a little warped and thus didn’t sand evenly.  I was OK with those imperfections and did not expect pristine, new looking floors.  Also, the guys told me they didn’t know how to get under the radiators and I was fine with that.  They struggled a bit with the edges and corners too.  There is one edge that really could use a touch up and the guys were more than willing to come back out and fix it.  But in the end we decided that since it would be covered with furniture anyway it just really wasn’t worth the effort.

My main goal with the floors was to get rid of the orange tone that they had developed over the years and that was accomplished perfectly.

Mission Possible is really starting to come together now.  I have a few more details to complete such as new switch plates, re-paint the baseboards, replace the ceiling fan, and make a decision about window treatments.  Be sure to check back next week when I share what we did for a headboard, and how I changed up the nightstands!