Hardwood Floor Renovation, Part 2

The house is on its way to becoming our cozy little home.

To get there, we’ve had to overcome some nasty 90s colored floors, what-were-they-thinking (?!) old [smelly] carpet, and a bucket full of setbacks. Despite the depleted bank accounts and major (may I re-emphasize major?) headaches because of the floors, I am proud to reveal the before and afters of our hardwood floor project!

I promise you this is the same house. No gimmicks. Just a lot of hard work, investment, seeing the potential, and faith that it will all work out.

In case you missed it in Part I, we had moved into the house with hardwood floors throughout the main floor. They are oak and were stained the standard 1990s blonde color but were significantly scratched in some places. The previous owners had even drilled holes in other spots (WHY on earth, I do not know).

Four-inch black scratch mark on hardwood floor
No, that’s not a scuff mark. That’s a huge black scratch in the floors. Even the hardwood floor guys said they’d never seen a scratch like that.

Even if we liked the color, the scratches and holes still needed to be repaired, so we needed to sand, restain, and seal the floors. It worked out well as an opportunity to update the house with a more modern stain color.

But then there was the upstairs flooring. Ohhhhhhh, the upstairs. I cannot wrap my head around the thought process (maybe none?) behind some of these decorating decisions.

I won’t say more; I’ll just let these pictures speak their “1,000 words” for themselves:

Master Bedroom - electric blue walls and casino carpet
Everyone, meet the master bedroom

Yes, that’s real life.

extremely outdated stairs carpet before hardwood renovation

I’m crying all of the tears on behalf of every decorator in the world.

Needless to say, it all needed to GO. We would have loved hardwood floors upstairs but assumed carpet would be a more cost effective option. Amazingly, after a lot of work to find multiple contractors and collect bids, we found that the cost of installing hardwood floors wasn’t much more than putting in carpet. It was an easy decision for us: install hardwood floors upstairs too!

Downstairs, the floors are oak. We chose stain in Red Mahogany by Dura Seal.

Upstairs, the contractors installed a slightly wider plank of Red Oak. The stain is the same as downstairs, and there is no noticeable difference in the final product between upstairs and downstairs.

Master Bedroom

I am so sooooooooo happy with how this turned out. The floors are so rich. I love the calming color of the blue. The white trim breaks up the wall and floor colors perfectly.


Sorry if I ruined your moment of enjoying the after photos, but I HAD to remind you what this looked like before.

What. Is. This Carpet???

No, that’s not a runner carpet on hardwood. It’s a runner carpet on hardwood-colored carpet. Our theory is that the previous owners were trying to give the appearance of a carpet runner on wood stairs. Instead of real wood underneath, brown “wood colored” carpet on the edge would obviously give the same effect, right?

extremely outdated stairs carpet before hardwood renovation

hardwood stairs renovation with white riser - before stain

hardwood stairs renovation with white riser - after stain

Do you feel relief when you look at the last photo? Yeah, me too.

Living Room

I adored the beautiful, high ceilings in our living room and the open layout to the dining room, which then flows in to the kitchen. Because there are no good breaks in the walls to change color, the ENTIRE main floor and upstairs hallway are all the same color.

The previous owners chose yellow.

They must have liked it because they put it in a bathroom as well.

Besides doing the floors, we obviously freshened the paint on the walls, trim, doors, and fireplace. We picked Revere Pewter (by Benjamin Moore but color matched through Sherwin Williams) as a nice light, bright neutral that we were comfortable running through 80% of the house.

hardwood floors refinish before and after

Finished floors, still buttercup yellow paint.. so this is an “in progress” or “during” picture

Another “before”:


What do you think?

We still have to start decorating. The walls are quite bare, but the big furniture is in. So it’s a lovely, livable space.

We absolutely adore it. It’s an amazing feeling to walk in and see how your hard work has paid off.

Ugly House, you haven’t defeated us yet.

I am so glad I finally got this out to you all. I hope it was worth the wait.

Do you have any questions about any part of our project? If so, I’ll answer in the comments or, for more involved answers, I’ll write a brutally honest response post about the experience. 🙂

How are your latest projects going? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy renovating, lovelies.

Continue Reading

7 Easy Super Bowl Party Recipes and Ideas

7 Super Bowl party recipes and ideas

It’s official! We hosted our first party, a Super Bowl viewing party, in the new house.

It was a huge success*! Our guests enjoyed themselves, were well fed, and had enough beverages to go around. We invited a few different friend groups, family, and coworkers, so it was great to see all those worlds blend together.

In addition to the food (see info below), we did the classic Super Bowl squares for $1 a square. It was a fantastic way to keep everyone engaged, even those who aren’t big football fans and are just there for the commercials. I loved seeing the nearest person to the poster run and look up the name in the square each time the score changed. 🙂 A few people walked away with some cash in their pocket, which adds extra fun.

I’m sharing my food and recipes from our Super Bowl party with you all! There was a good balance of food that I prepared from scratch, recipes from online, recipes from friends, and a few pre-prepared items.

Making the chili before Super Bowl Party

The food below was perfect for a 12 person get together (note: medium appetites. I think everyone had dinner first).

7 Easy Super Bowl Party Recipes and Ideas

  1. Chips, salsa, & guac – This is a classic and never fails. The salsa had a little twist by being of the mango variety. We purchased both the guac and mango salsa from Jewel Osco. The Jewel Oscos in the Chicagoland area have excellent guacamole. I highly recommend it if you’re trying to put together an appetizer on the fly. Lesson learned: Buy a second guac. It goes fast.
  2. Veggies and dip – easy and a safety for guests who are on New Year’s Resolution health kicks. I did celery, broccoli, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and baby carrots. It was both colorful and healthy! For dip, I made life simple and used ranch dressing and red-pepper hummus. (Can we take note of the cute football shaped servers I found at Aldi?)
  3. Crispy Baked Potato Skins– This was the hands-down favorite and the first item gone! The recipe is from my friend Marissa Allen at First & Full. Check out the recipe here. I could gush forever about what a talented and amazing Super Woman Mom she is, so definitely check out her site for delicious eats. What I learned: There was a lot of extra potato when you scoop out the centers. Next time I do this, I’ll come up with something to do with all the extras (mashed potatoes maybe?)…  That, and the resounding obvious request from everyone at the party, “Can you make more next time?”
  4. Wingsssss– Another football and tailgate classic. A friend of ours made chicken wings from scratch and brought them to the party. No, really. He made the barbecue sauce from scratch. The wings were awesome, and I’ll have to get the recipe from him to share with you.
  5. Jalapeño poppers– Okay, I got lazy on this one. I’ve made bacon-wrapped, cheddar and cream cheese stuffed jalapeños from scratch before and ended up scarred for life. I made the mistake of accidentally touching my face near my eye after handling the peppers. It burned so badly. I couldn’t believe that relatively mild jalepeños could do that. Needless to say, when I saw a package of 8 pre-made poppers at Aldi for $6.88, it was worth. every. penny.
  6. Maggie’s Award Winning Chili – Full recipe coming soon! This was also a hit with our guests. I served the chili with toppings on the side — shredded cheddar cheese, fresh chopped bacon, sour cream, and green onion. I recommend keeping the chili in a slow cooker to keep it warm for your whole party. Lesson learned: The chili is very dense so it took a long time to heat up. It wasn’t warm enough in time for party. Heat it on stove first or allow enough time (2+ hours) to heat up slowly.

  7. Cornbread muffins – I used 2 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix, which made 13 muffins. Tip: listen to instructions on the box that say to let the batter sit for 3-4 minutes before placing it into the muffin tin. It makes the tops taste way yummier.

All of the recipes were gluten free except the cornbread muffins.

*I promised you all on this blog that I would be honest and let you know my successes and failures. How you define “huge success” is clearly subjective. I define it as my guests enjoying themselves, leaving with full bellies, and making it home safely. If I get to enjoy the party while hosting it’s a bonus. All of that was accomplished.

Here’s the kicker: we did have the smoke alarm go off twice (very strange because we didn’t see any smoke) and the toilet overflowed.

Yes, the toilet overflowed at our party. (Don’t worry, it was clean water… but still not entirely fun.)

So, how can I possibly define the party as a success with an overflowed toilet?

What makes the party a success despite those bumps is:

  1. Our guests were cool about it and so were we. It was a judgement free zone.
  2. We fixed the problems. The smoke alarm was off in a matter of seconds each time by me waving a kitchen towel under it to dispel the smoke it sensed (thanks a lot, bacon grease from jalapeno poppers). The toilet we managed to catch as it was happening. Minimal water got on the floor because Doug was standing there and turned off the water right away. We cleaned it and directed our friends to use our upstairs bathroom instead.Honestly, most of our friends didn’t notice it had happened until we shared the information. They were all busy enjoying themselves.
  3. Mistakes don’t define your event. They also don’t detract from the sentiment of your hospitality. When your guests are people who know you and care about you, they’re grateful to be there and spend time with you.I hope that my honesty didn’t scare you off. It’s my goal that sharing this with you will let you know what happened beyond the pretty, staged pictures of the food. They’re called a still life for a reason, guys. Life moves. And that’s what makes it fun.

    It’s my goal that sharing this with you will let you know what happened beyond the pretty, staged pictures of the food. They’re called a still life for a reason, guys. Life moves. And that’s what makes it fun.

What do you like to serve at parties or tailgates? Do you have any hosting disasters? (I know I can’t be alone on this!)

Happy hosting, friends.

Continue Reading