In case you wanted to know, if you aren’t following me on Instagram, you are missing out on some day to day stuff. I think my IG branding is on point, honestly. Hahaha. I decided to try my hand at the daunting format of video. I even bought a fancy video editing software. I find I hate talking to a camera when what I really want to be doing is listening to music or an audiobook and WORKING. So I tried narrating this one and making it was actually kind of enjoyable.
A low budget DIY flip of the living area in my house.
In April, I was still waking up to an empty living area every day. I had painted before I moved into my house because I knew covering the paneling would be a big step toward making the space feel more like mine. After painting, I tore up the carpet to find WOOD underneath. I’ve already written about that whole process. The non-decor part of the project ended up costing me the primer, paint, the rental of two machines, a BUNCH of sandpaper, and then two cans of satin polyurethane.
I’m beyond thrilled to put these images together. I’ve been waiting to put together the actual evidence of the transformation I achieved with my own creative energy and vision.
Can you spot the pieces from the before photos that I fit into the new layout? Almost all of the furniture in both parts of this room were either in the house when I bought it or were given to me. Even the “desk” I’m using for my computer was given to me. It’s actually more of a console or sofa table, but it’s doing a great job at being a desk.
It’s truly amazing how supportive my friends and family are. They all had so much to offer me. They kept an eye out for things I might need. Eventually, I had to tell them I had too much furniture to know what to do with it all.
I still accept plants though.
The only pieces I purchased were the sofa, one plant, some photo prints, the curtains and the two pillows. Plus, the sofa was from a thrift store so the curtains and pillows were the biggest splurge as far as decor/furniture goes!
My grandmother found the floor lamps at estate sales and gave me the rug. The hanging plant has been with me for three years now. The painting on the wall is one of mine. The little ovals with vignettes on them were in the house. The clock and the fish tank and a plant were given to me by my cousin who recently downsized. All the wood furniture in the main section picture above and below were in the house, including the China cabinet.
The two snake plants were split from a large plant in my office at work that needed to be re-potted. The white chairs pictured above were picked up by my aunt when a friend of her’s moved away. The books were mine, but the bookshelves were salvaged from someone who no longer wanted them. The art on the wall next to the window was in the house when I bought it. I just put it in a magnetic frame I already had.
I think the total cost of the whole transformation was under $900. Not everything is placed in the best spot. Not everything makes sense. There’s a lot here that a designer could come in and completely undo.
BUT I am so proud of the fact that so much of this room is re-purposed. I LOVE OLD STUFF. My sisters say the living room is a combination of both my grandmothers’ aesthetics. Which is so interesting because I wasn’t thinking of either of them when I started putting it together. I just liked what I was doing.
Most importantly, I love coming home to it.
It only took me four months, but I finally did it.
The first thing I did when I bought my house was move the original furniture out of the way and paint. The next thing I did was tear up the horrible carpet pictured below.
It’s very weird looking at this photo now because I am so used to – and in love with – the finished room that I cannot believe it looked like this.
After ripping up the carpet, I spent several months with it looking like the below photo. I kept shifting the furniture around, trying not to scrape the floor or spill anything on it. I put off doing it for too long because I wanted to make sure I was ready to do it myself. I’m like my Dad – or maybe I learned it from my Dad. If I’m going to do something on my own, I want to do it right, and I want to know what to expect. So I watched dozens of YouTube videos about sanding wood floors, both old and new, to make sure I didn’t screw it up.
before: post-carpet, pre-sanding
The first place I looked to rent the sanders no longer rents equipment so I had to find another place – and a day when I could ditch work. The company that offered rentals had the drum sander (pictured) and an orbital edge sander. I started with 60 grit paper on the drum and did the outer edges of the room. Underneath the carpet, I had found a linoleum “rug,” and the wood around the edges of the “rug” had been stained. So there was a thick sticky layer on those sections.
Another reason I waited so long to finish this project was that the boards had shifted away from each other. A lot of old homes sink and shift. In the photo above, you can see where there is a big gap in the floor boards. Looking at the floor from the basement, Dad realized there was no sub-floor under the wood. They had installed the wood directly on the floor beams. This was probably why some of the boards were so uneven and warped. Also, the one side of the house wasn’t level with the other. I bought a floor jack from my uncle, and Dad had been turning it a little every week for me. It still isn’t flush, but I was careful with the sanders near that lip. It’s close enough now that someone can’t trip over it. As for some of the warped and uneven boards, I hand-sanded some of them and left the others. I liked the dimension they added to the color and texture.
I had watched a video that suggested that uneven floors should be done with a really low grit paper, like 36. After going through way too many 60 grit papers – and driving 100 miles back and forth to get more paper – I decided to go over the whole floor with 24 grit and work back up to the 60, 80, and 100. Sandpaper starts in the low numbers as course and as you increase the grit, the paper becomes finer and smoother.
The edger I rented was powerful but not powerful enough to get through the gummy stain that was on the edges of the floor. I did a few edges with this sander (below) before running out of paper and deciding that I was either going to do it by hand or have to ignore the edges under the baseboard heaters.
Luckily, my dad had a selection of sanders for me to try, and I, additionally, bought a Black and Decker mouse sander for the finishing touches. Turns out, the Makita belt sander was the best to do under the baseboard heating. You can see in the photos below how the long, narrow nose could get right up to the edge of the wall. It is a really powerful sander that made my life so much easier. I even recorded a video.
So I had the floor finished before my trip to Atlanta in early May. I didn’t have time to put the first coat on, but I vacuumed it and had it ready to go. The second I got home on the tenth, I ran to Lowe’s to buy the Poly for wood floors in a satin finish. It was at this moment I should have vacuumed again, but I was too excited and tired.
after: sanded and treated
There’s a lot of dog hair in the threshold between the living room and the kitchen. Apparently, it had got caught in and around the plastic. I really should have vacuumed again. Also there are a few spots that aren’t quite even, but with the furniture in the rooms, no one will notice. Also, I think the dog hair will wear away after awhile.
The floor is imperfect. It has dark spots and uneven spots and dog hair in it.
BUT LOOK AT IT. It’s beautiful.
I can’t believe there was wood under that carpet. I lucked out. Here’s another reminder of what it looked like when I bought it – in case you forgot already like me: