Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Serge's Wood

We just keep stumbling into home improvement activities. Speaking of Home Improvement, if you remember that sitcom, we kind of have that vibe going on right now. Serge is very much like Al Borland. Extremely meticulous. Will take hours, nay, days to do shit right. Which, of course, makes me Tim "The Toolman" Taylor.

It's true. I am clumsy as hell. And I'm not good at detail-work. I've always been like that. I was never good at intricate art projects in school involving lots of cutting and pasting. My favorite part of making over a room is when it's done and I get to hang up curtains and photos and put down rugs.

Serge? This guy put something like a million coats of joint compound on the walls to cover cracks the size of the Grand Canyon. It was so bad we toyed with the idea of tearing down all the horse-hair plaster and exposing the lath, very much like this, but then that seemed an even bigger pain in the ass so Serge spent days and days and days and days and days and, did I mention, days plastering the room, letting it dry and plastering it again.

Doesn't the above photo scream METICULOUS!? I have no idea what in hell he's doing there but it looks fairly important. Or like the biggest Mr. Meticulous McMeticulousness Time Waster Thing Monica Would Never Do.

It's funny, making over a room in an old house like this. Some rooms you just get to jump right in and start with the fun stuff. You know, the transforming kind of stuff like painting. Other rooms, like almost every room in this house, you have to spend days preparing. Stripping off all the old crap so that you can start from a nice blank canvas. It's weird how full circle it all is. We're trying to get the room back to how it probably looked in 1902 before we start to do our thing to it. Dozens of people over the past century did things to the room, some of those things, like the wallpaper, were crimes against humanity and now we want to rewind 100 years of paint and wallpaper and carpet and put the room back to how it started, just freshen it up a bit. Full circle. Kind of like giving an old lady a really kick ass facial. A facial so amazing that her cracked,wrinkled, sagging skin looks the way it did the day she was born.

Oooh boy, sorry. I got a bit carried away there, yeah? The old lady facial analogy was weird, wasn't it?

When we moved in there was old, blue carpet and, of course, wallpaper in our bedroom. In fact, here's the only true before photo I have. It's the one my landlord emailed me after we rented the house so we would have some sort of idea what we had just rented. (This is the previous tenants' stuff).

We tore up the carpet and discovered beautiful hardwood flooring beneath it. Except someone had painted over the hardwood. In a rather bizarre decision, they used a weird kind of yellowy orange and brown paint that resembles the hardwoods of a basketball court. Don't get me wrong, I toyed with the idea of painting the floor white, I like that kind of old country look, but what in God's name prompted someone to do this to the beautiful hardwood you see peeping beneath all the yellowy lacquer looking crap? It must've been the seventies, is all I can figure, and they were all hopped up on Quaaludes and were, maybe, watching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the NBA playoffs and got all inspired and shit and thought Hey, wouldn't it be like, totally groovy if we turned our bedroom into a basketball court?

But that's not for me to judge. Monday we rented a sander and began to sand the basketball court and after two days of 14 hour sanding shifts Serge finally finished and behold! The glory that is the new flooring in my bedroom.


I simply cannot bring myself to paint over this no matter how much I dig the look of this floor. All Serge's hard work with his wood paid off! (Sorry, stupid dick jokes are tough to resist.) So it looks to be a really pale pine. Also, the room smells like a Christmas tree which, I think, indicates pine?

Just now (like, right this very minute as I type!) we are deciding what shade of stain we want to use. I don't want to go too dark because the floor is so beautiful, but I want it to kind of match the wood trim (which you can see in the first photo)... Or should I not care about matching the flooring to the rest of the wood in the bedroom? I'm thinking a nice honey tone that brings out the grain in the floor, but not too dark. Definitely not as dark as the stain in the living room. Because, in addition to liking the floors as they are we're painting the room a darkish shade of gray. I know that sounds drab but the room is big with four windows and we'll have lots of white (bedding, curtains, rug etc) with pops of my new favorite color: turquoise. Here's the vibe I'm after.

What do you think?

Reader Comments (26)

I think your idea for the bedroom is spot on..I love the traditional yet almost country simplicity....go for it!!!!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermelanie

Does your landlord reduce your rent everytime you do a project? I mean really you all are making some serious improvements there! Good job! Also, I know you don't want to go to dark, but pine does look very nice stained a dark color. I like gray walls too and there is a lot of light in that room and it will look great. I just don't know about the wood trim with gray walls, I would like white trim. But if you are staying true to the character of the house then wood trim it is!

Are you starting to feel better or still in the dumps? Did you get your hair cut?

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercjsmom

I love modern meets rustic!!!! HGTV is calling it shabby chic OR urban cottage. So PRETTY!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Love your ideas for the bedroom.

Just being nosy but does your landlord have any interest in selling you guys the house? Maybe lease to buy.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeekyToe

You're right, that light pine color is beautiful. It won't matter two shits that the floor wont match the window trim. If the walls are gonna be dark (love the grey idea) then leave the floor light for great contrast. It would be a shame to stain the floor dark.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAsh

Very misleading title.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStarsky

Your landlord should thank you a thousand times over. You're heaven-sent tenants!! I hope that you have the option to buy this beautiful old home because after all the hard work you're putting in to improve it, you deserve that courtesy.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

Love it. And why not just lemon oil it and not stain it at all? It will get a little darker and darken over time. It looks like Serge was taking staples or something out of the floor from pulling up the carpet? Done that too many times myself .. and linking to pinterest? That's TOTALLY been my addiction since someone showed it to me a couple of months ago! I do hope you are able to buy the house if you want it because ya'll have done some awesome work! If not, let me know - I want it!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPam

The landlord reimburses us for most of our expenses. Paint, stain, turpentine - that kind of thing. That's how cool they are. However, they are getting free labor out of us so it works out well for everyone.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

Wow! That looks amazing! Kudos to Serge! You guys are dream tenants! If I had a house to rent, I would totally want you there! I vote for a honey-colored stain, but, man, it would be hard to put anything on that floor! It looks beautiful the way it is.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarb

If the floors in the living room are original, I'd try to match them as closely as possibly - but that's just me. I love to keeps things original and like things to flow from room to room, especially floors.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Love the honey color flooring in the one picture. Your hub does some fine work on top of the fact that he is a musician...I'd say he's a keeper! :)

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

My husband and I are working on buying a house and the first thing we're doing is refinishing the wood floors. We want to paint the living room a sort of warm gray and do the floors in a sort of grayish-brown tone - maybe like this: . . . or perhaps slightly more gray. With dark gray walls and all the white you're going to add to your bedroom you could do a grayish floor like that. Not sure how it would look with the rest of the woodwork though. Maybe you could paint the rest of the woodwork white? That would really be beautiful next to the dark gray. Just a suggestion - I'm sure whatever you do will be awesome!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth B

P.S. The honey-stained flooring in the link you included is beautiful. That being said, I also agree with Shawn.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

As a broke college student living in godawful housing with roommates, your remodeling and decorating posts are giving me serious envy! i can't wait to see the final results.

PS. is a super awesome site/blog, and if you're at all interested in what they offer I would highly recommend it!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterashley


How abut a clear sealer (non-toxic of course!)?

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreenInOC

What can I say? Ooohhhh that floor is heavenly. All those years covered in paint and varnish and dusty old carpeting. Finally your floors can BREATHE!!! Well, Monica, I love your vision of gray walls ( flat or eggshell?), piney honey colored wood ( satin finish?) fresh white bedlinen with splashes of color here and there. Perfect! It is my dream to find a home like this! It is so exciting to see the before and afters. Man-ohmanashevitz....There is nothing like the end result of a good sanding and this one was WELL worth all of the effort you guys put into it. The yellow paint varnish was probably done at the time that homes were being built with the honey pine flooring. I think you just go with your instincts. Enjoy the lighter colored floors and dark woodwork until the others...tire of it and have to change it up...kidding. I always say keep the old and change the bed and accessories. NICE WORK Serge! Yay! PS...I would definitely bounce a basket ball in this room just to hear the echo. Breath of fresh air! :)

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

That looks awesome! And that gray room with the!!

Can i come live there when it's finished? Or maybe you'd like a new project in sunny california?

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharity

So right not to paint the floors white. It will be absolutely gorgeous whether you stain them dark or not-so-dark. With all the white accents, you'll be good. Floor stain does not need to be the same shade as the other woodwork in the room. When my parents re-did their kitchen in the late 1970s, they did dark cabinetry and put in a wood floor and stained it the same shade as the cabinets. That was fine. But 10 or 15 years ago they sanded and restained the floor a honey-colored stain. Same cabinets -- still really dark -- and the room is so much better that way. Much brighter. Looking forward to the after pictures. And kudos to Serge -- sanding a floor that way is a son-of-a-bitch of a job. You need to be totally OCD about it to get it right...and lord knows from those before pictures that this job really, really needed to be done right!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Can I like, rent you and your husband for a weekend? Him for his sanding and overall fix it skills, and you for your "decorating on a budget" skills. You guys rock. My husband and I have owned a home for 2 years now and our home improvement/decorating projects (of which there are many) are slow going. Cause we have no clue what we're doing. So kudos to you guys. Your room re-dos have been awesome.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCC

Meticulous is needed for refinishing floors. Looks like he is preparing by driving nails down through so the sander won't snag on them. My problem is I move into houses that need work, then do the work and sell the house, never being able to enjoy the space I have improved. Beautiful work, great eye in decorating. See, you don't need to be rich to have a lovely home. SouthernMan

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November 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterburberry outlet

We had also installed wood flooring since our kids are suffering from allergies. We want to increase the value of our home as well because studies suggest that a house with wood flooring sells much faster. Also, like what Ash commented, wood flooring, light pine color or not, makes a home more beautiful. router bits

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November 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermoncler jacken

I like the outcome of your home improvement project. You'd really spent time and paid so much attention to every small detail. I love the walls. The color just compliment well with the colors of your furniture and curtains. I agree with the comments that houses' floors made up wood can have a higher value. A little more of great and amazing furniture and your home will surely be a beautiful and livable one.


February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterXanae

I can't wait to see your finished product - it will look so great with your furniture!

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