While we have some post-Christmas quiet time, I thought I might recount our century home family room before and after story. Our family room is a relatively small space of about 11.5 by 13 feet. Although small, we were lucky to find a century home which had both a living room and a family room. There was an extension done to the home sometime in the last century – over a concrete block foundation with an extra bedroom above. We think that this room was possibly a porch that was covered over, but we really don’t know.
The room has two large bay windows – one with a leafy river view, 1990s Oak Hardwood floor, and a corner gas fireplace, It has a pony wall to the kitchen, a side door entrance, a very small landing area, and is next to a powder room. The room just needed a few touch-ups to suit us.
Throughout the downstairs, the floors are oak – placed over maple, pine, vinyl, plastic sheeting, plywood – and any number of things. In the many renovations to this old house – people just slapped things down over other things. Floor over floor over floor, wallpaper over wallpaper. Old houses have lots of layers!
While the top layer of oak flooring is not original to the house, I know that it is more scratch resistant than many other types of floors. We have a large dog, who likes to wrestle and run. While we could replace the floor with laminate or engineered hardwood, (why not add another layer?) I know that the word “hardwood” sells houses in our neighbourhood, and we know that it wears well – so we decided to keep the oak floors and refinish them.
Upstairs we refinished the original pine floors ourselves, – but downstairs we had the floor professionally refinished in the kitchen and family room – as we had some damaged areas to replace, and some asbestos vinyl pieces to be removed professionally. It’s always good to know your skill level when refinishing a floor. I can sand and stain as well as any work crew – but our floors had lots of areas that needed to be cut out, they had lots of “cupping” – where there are ridges in the flooring. These are beyond me.
At the time, we called about 6 contractors in the area for a quotation. 3 showed up, 1 could not replace damaged flooring areas, 1 quoted twice as much as the other, and we narrowed it down to one contractor. He was very pleasant, but his crew was a little scary looking, and needed to use the bathroom a lot, which was concerning.
We are happy with these relatively scratch resistant hardwood floors. The contractors were able to take some pieces of hardwood flooring up in the small entranceway where we installed the penny tile (story here) – and use those pieces to patch the floor in other areas. I couldn’t have done that myself for anything!
We had the floor stained in a medium toned but non-gloss clear finish. I’m all about minimizing the “look” of dirty dusty floors without actually doing more cleaning!
There was a 1980s wobbly ceiling fan on the ceiling. Now, I’m not a ceiling fan snob. Ceiling fans are awesome for circulating heat and air, but there is a slimline air conditioning unit in the adjoining kitchen that points directly at the family room – so a ceiling fan just isn’t needed. we replaced the fan with a round less obtrusive LED fixture from Home Depot.
We had a glossy green slate gas fireplace which stood out in this small room. The story about the gas fireplace makeover is here.
This small room, was added on after the original house was built and had no 1890’s character. We sourced and purchased some baseboards from a Woodworking mill in a rural Mennonite township. They did not have the exact molding from the rest of the house in stock, but were able to provide us with a similar 10 inch height baseboard, made with a pattern they had on hand. We ordered it while the floors were being refinished, and picked it up a week later.
We have a 10 inch mitre saw that we have used for previous molding projects. But guess what? It’s a bit of a pain to cut molding that’s bigger than your mitre saw blade. Nevertheless – my husband got the job done – cutting the wood one way – half way – then flipping it over to cut the other direction. It was all doable, but there was a fair bit of anxiety and complex spacial reasoning to figure out which way to cut each piece. I know they say measure twice, cut once – but there’s more to it than that. There’s the visualization of which way the board faces when in place, the planning of where and which direction to cut and then the final product. It’s OK to make mistakes – just buy extra pieces……..(many extra pieces)
Caulking and Painting
One of the things that we’ve been careful to finish properly is the caulking of the molding. When we were planning to sell our home, our real estate agent emphasized the importance of finishing those little “small details”. Caulking the gaps in molding where joins or corners occur, the gaps between the molding and the walls, and the nail holes may seem like silly little details, but they are easy enough to do and make a difference to the overall “finished” condition of the house. Crisp and smooth edges to the baseboards and trim may be taken for granted but cracks, gaps and nail holes catch the eye.
I always use DAP paintable acrylic latex caulking in white – and I buy the small tubes – because even though everybody says those caulking guns are easy to use – my hands just aren’t man-hands and I can only manage the small tubes!
We painted the family room in an off white with a bit of pink to it to keep the house warm. I have had Ikea Ektorp slipcovered furniture for 100 years because I wash them regularly. I first bought them because one of our children had an unfortunate tendency to throw up regularly. Now I keep them because everyone spills and then there’s Max the dog.
The room just needed a bit of this and that to freshen it up for us. We use this room everyday, and enjoy the view, even on snowy days. Max does too!