The First Floor

I’ve been writing and posting some photos of my floors.  Specifically, photos of the process of refinishing and re-doing the 2nd-worst room in the house: the upstairs sleeping porch.

For Northerners, or those not familiar with old houses, a sleeping porch is a room with lots of windows and ventilation for hot summer nights.  In the days before air conditioning, this room would get stocked with cots and beds in the summer by the servants so the homeowner and family could sleep in comfort.  I think it was used primarily for storage in the winter.  It’s a tradition that has since disappeared, in part because of air conditioning, perhaps in part because closets are in fashion now (wouldn’t it be nice to have a closet again…), but also because the rooms tend to be drafty and hard to heat in the winter.

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My cousin Emily moved in and decided that all those windows would make for a nice bedroom.  My last post about doing floors showed off the original condition of the room: asbestos tiles, blue sponge paint, and despair.  Under the tiles was 100 year old oak floor, and beige paint of sufficient quantity and quality can hide a multitude of painting sins.

I did a lot of the grunt work, but Emily got every step of the process “over the hump” so to speak.  I sanded for weeks to get the glue off the floor, then down through the scratches and prior finish.  She finish-sanded, and I handed her a bucket of stain.

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It’s the sort of work that makes fixing up an old house worth it.  If you can believe it, the floors actually look more amazing in real life than they do in photos.  No trick shots here.

I bought a giant pail of polyurethane to go on the freshly stained floors, and again, Emily led the charge.  It’s really gratifying to have a new set of (enthusiastic) hands on a project after you’ve been laboring so long.

During the process of painting, sanding, and listening to the creaking sounds of my back, I also had the last round of storm windows installed.  My carpenter, Tony, installed them.  I ordered them and got everything set up, but I don’t have ladders tall enough for the work, and frankly, there are only so many hours in the day.  At any rate, this round of storm windows means two things: the sleeping porch is much less drafty, and I am completely done installing storm windows.

I say “this round of storm windows” because I had 35 of them installed last year.  I had 17 installed this year.  As you might imagine, my wallet is a lot thinner for it, but my heating bills are a half of a third of what they were that first winter.

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But the most gratifying things about seeing my work come to fruition isn’t that my bills are going down.  THAT IS AWESOME.  However, it’s watching things become pretty.  Emily’s room was a hot mess.  In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t written a blog post about some of the creeptastic stuff I removed from that room after I moved in.  Now, it’s the nicest room in the house.

And that’s a surprise.

I’ve spent so much effort getting things to not suck, I forgot how beautiful the house is underneath all the years and abuse.  She’s coming back to her former glory, and it’s amazing to watch.

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