Kitchen – Floor Saga

After living with white grout in the kitchen for 6 months, it. had. to. go.

A new tile floor was a going to happen.

The floor noticeably sloped, at least 1″ into the center of the house, I figured that I would fix that, when I retiled the floor. I read all about SLC (self leveling compound).

See slope, slope:slope


So, demo day came, and we (me, my husband, sister, and uncle) tore up the floor in a matter of hours.



The floor was REALLY slopped.

Like, 1 1/2″ of SLC in the corner AND still a 1″ slope.

I was tired. Now I didn’t have a floor, and I had a problem. We built up the low areas with 3/4″ tongue and groove subfloor, laid backer board down and then poured SLC on all of it. Don’t grow up to be like me, kids.

I tiled the floors. It was a 12″ x 24″ porcelain tile. I liked the tile.

While we were at it, we (crudely) closed up the 5th doorway (it went to the basement, and was added after the fact, the original basement door is only 24″ wide and was turned into a closet. I hope my washer and dryer never break. Ha.), and moved the dishwasher next to the sink.

But issues started, there was still a substantial slope, cracks started showing in the grout, and tiles were wobbling – all signs that the subfloor was failing.

6 months. It. had. to. go.

I had ordered these lovely custom cabinets. I didn’t want to put them on a heavily sloped floor and on a floor that I didn’t love.

I told my husband. He gave a deep, resigned sigh. Regretted his life. The ush.

I got in contact with a contractor about what to do about the joists, do we sister them? He suggested that we dig new footings (deep holes dug into the basement floor and cement poured), jack up the main beam, put new posts in on top of the footings to support the raised beam, as well as a new beam under the weak part around the chimney. Which had a 2×4 nailed into it – to support the basement stairs and part of the floor. Wat.

Great. A solution.

My heart was emotionally scarred, and my knees were literally scarred from my tile failure.

I knew what I wanted. Walnut. And I didn’t want to install it. We have yellow birch flooring in the rest of the house, which is original. It is blonde, but has a lot going on in the grain.

There aren’t very many local flooring installers that do site install/finishing walnut flooring in Minneapolis. I lucked out with the company that does, though.

Demo day. Deux. We got the floor up pretty quickly.

The work was done in the basement, but not without it’s set backs, naturally. Go figure that the water heater is exactly where it shouldn’t be and needs to be moved. Go figure I was told the first day that work was supposed to start, the old floor was out, and I already paid a cash deposit for the floor installation in just a week. Go figure it would just cost $500 to move it and reconnect it. Never mind hearing your whole house grumble and creak while it’s being jacked up. Talk about nerves.

Main beam, and new support beam in basement
Main beam, and new support beam in basement


Floors!walnutfloor walnutfloor2


Sure. I was without a kitchen for 2+ weeks. Worth it.

The Kitchen – Part I

This is the room that has changed the most in the past year, and caused the most anxiety and sleepless nights. Can you hate a room that you just put so much time and money into, if only because you put so much time and money into it? I am currently stuck on all the unfinished parts, or details that were done incorrectly. You know, forest through the trees, and all that.

Where it started:kitchenlisting

Oooooh. It looks so nice.

Then you live in it. And it’s like: what the crap. There’s 4 walls, 5 doorways, and a huge window  (which I LOVE). The fridge is in the walk in pantry. The dishwasher is 5 feet from the sink – across a doorway. There’s 9″ of counter next to the stove. My 5’2″ self can reach two shelves in the cabinets. THERE’S NO DRAWERS?!

So… a tiny remodel was going to happen. Only buy some more cabinets.. keep the same layout…..


Where it is, as of this week:

From a similar angle as the listing
From a similar angle as the listing

The Hallway. The stairs.

This all started with the hallway. It’s a narrow space with 5 doorways, and built-in drawers. How much work can it be? This is when things spiraled out of control. Dude. I immediately regretted my decisions, shame spiraled, and started 12154411 other disastrous projects in the same vein.

It will be quick to remove the drywall!! – I said

Yeah, 8 months later and there’s still some drywall up.

That’s hardly any wallpaper, easy to remove! – I said

Yeah, there’s still some wallpaper up, too

Exposing this brick on the chimney is a breeze! – I said

Then why is only ONE side of two sides done?!


I don’t actually have a before photo, because it was pretty nondescript.

Here’s where we are at today: 034 Hallway 8/4/14

Yuckkkkkkk. The walls are actually blue, but the wallpaper glue is yellow nast.

You want a close up of the wallpaper, you say? Why, of course.

You jelly?

I did remove some of the drywall, and some of the wallpaper. It’s like they had to meet some sort of drywall screw quota, it’s so difficult in some spots to remove and shatters. It royally pisses me off.


  • Remove evil drywall
  • Remove screws
  • Remove all wallpaper
  • Scrub the gross glue
  • Patch holes (the existing texture of the walls is pretty smooth already)
  • Prime
  • Paint walls
  • Paint trim
  • 3rd coats of paint on doors
  • Expose brick

The stairs.

So, after I made the hallway ugly, I decided I NEEDED to make something pretty. A simple task to feel accomplished.

I stripped our dark/opaque stained baseboard and the honey oak treads with Citristrip, then sanded everything down with my little palm sander. Taking the poly off the treads and risers was no biggie, but the opaque varnish? Ick. Buy several rolls of thick paper towels to help clean up.

Here’s the clean slate:

Bare wood
strippedstairs Bare wood


Since the wood was stripped to bare, I primed with Behr Premium plus stain-blocker primer and top coated with Sherwin Williams Snowbound 7004 floor and porch enamel.

Primed and painted:primedstairs

I water popped the wood (with a spray bottle) and stained the treads with Dura Seal penetrating finish in Coffee Brown. I love, LOVE this color – it’s rich and warm without being too red. I don’t remember where I read it, but definitely a good trick to stain every other tread, so you have some to walk on mid project.

Of course there was a lot more involved, caulked seams, patched holes, sanded, sanded and sanded some more. It was all pre-idea for a blog, so none of it was photographed.

Now, I have stalled. I need to touch up the areas on the white where the stain leaked through the tape. Plus, I was thinking of some cove moulding where the tread and riser meet? Like dis?



Also, let’s ignore the walls in the stairwell. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

The dining room

Ok, let’s keep the embarrassment, erm, motivation going.

The dining room has changed dramatically in the past couple of months as a result from the work done to the kitchen.

Where we started:

Dining room looking into the living room
Dining room looking into the living room


Looking into the dining room from the loving room
Looking into the dining room from the living room

After moving in:001

I quite like the pink! And I’m so thankful for a husband who is cool with a pink dining room. And I’ll miss it, but, it’s time for a change in here.

You can see that the kitchen and the dining room were separated by a full wall, with only a standard door opening.

One day, I decided to take a day off of work and demo’ed most of the wall. Just to see if I liked it more open. I knew the wall was load bearing, so I knew that the studs would remain in place. We lived with the wall like this for months:

Industrial chic, no?
Industrial chic, no?

Also, ain’t no dust party, like a plaster dust party, ’cause the dust party don’t stopppppp.

No. For realz.  That stuff GETS EVERYWHERE. I’m pretty sure that our house hasn’t actually been clean in almost a year.

When we were getting our bid for our cabinet installation, our contractor threw in an estimate to remove the studs and put in the posts and beam. It was too good of a price to pass up, although we were not expecting to do it at the moment.

It has made a HUGE difference. But has also bumped the dining room up on the to do list, since part of the drywall was removed and random plaster chunks are falling from the ceiling.

To do list:

  • Drywall new framed wall
  • Remove drywall from other walls/ceiling
  • Patch hundreds of screw holes
  • Crown molding
  • Chair rail
  • Silicone/patch nail holes in trim
  • Prime walls/trim
  • Paint everything


  • Millwork frame for new wall opening to match other doorways in house
  • Replace broken baseboards on new wall (hopefully that’s sooner, rather than later) – our contractor demolished them, despite my efforts to carefully salvage them
  • Switch this radiator with the one in the entry (I think this one is too large for the room)

It’s almost as glamorous as a dinner party.


The Entry

I have a problem.

You know how sometimes when people drink, they make bad decisions? Maybe they angrily text their ex, maybe they cut their own bangs… well, I demo. I get so curious! What’s behind there? Then before I know it, I am peeling the drywall off in huge sheets. To expose:entrybefore2entrybefore (excuse the iphone pictures)

Maaaaaaaaan. You guys. Someone did this house so wrong. 4 different shades of green/aqua (Including on the ceiling) AND 3 different kinds of wall paper. And badly patched holes from blown in insulation.

Maybe I should back up some. You see, that’s how the house looked like BEFORE the house flippers covered all the walls and ceilings with drywall – to look like this:

From the house listing - looks nice, huh?
From the house listing – looks nice, huh?

So, why would I remove the drywall when it looks so nice? I’m not sure, how much time is there for me to explain the crazy that is me? The drywall was 1/2 inch, and it went OVER the baseboard. This insignificant detail drove me irrationally mad.

I started to work on the walls. We unscrewed the hundreds of screws in the walls, removed the wallpaper (distilled vinegar/hot water in a spray bottle and putty knife), cleaned the walls with TSP, and started to skim coat with Durabond 90. Then I decided that skim coating is just plain boring, and abandoned it. To peel the walls in the rest of the house. I got problems, yo.

I also started to paint the trim white. I know. I knowwwwwwwww. I’m going to burn in the inner most rings of hell for painting original wood. Accept me as the sinner that I am. But, let me explain. All the wood trim has been painted with this hideous opaque stain/varnish that was atrocious. It was essentially brown paint. Hideous.

Here is a few current pictures of the room (the mess! le sigh. Such is the life of a house in remodel): As of 8/2/148/2/14

Finally! THE TO DO LIST! I love lists:

  • clean walls again (demo dust from the kitchen is everywhere)
  • finish 1st skim coat on remaining wall (patch large hole with drywall)
  • 2 more skim coats on all walls
  • sand
  • prime walls
  • paint walls
  • silicone/patch holes in remaining trim
  • prime remaining trim
  • several coats of paint
  • strip/stain wood columns and doors

That’s hardly anything. Right?



Where to start, really

I guess I should start with my motivations for creating a blog. Although, I think of it more as a diary.

The thing is, I am an obsesser. An agonizer. A waffler. A wallower.

And my family

When you’re in the midst of never ending tiny projects that drag on and never seem to end, it lacks excitement. You lose a sense of any visual progress. My hope is that if I keep track of all those tiny little projects, I will be able to look back and see my very own amazing before/after.

Maybe, if I post the terrible state of my home on the interwebs, it will shame me into GETTING things finished.

Here’s hoping.


My name is Madeline. In November 2012, my now husband and I purchased a modest 106 year old home in Minneapolis MN. It was flipped by the previous owners and “move in ready”. We moved in with our then 2 year old daughter.

We painted, we decorated, we furnished.

Then, I broke it.

Now, I have to fix it.

This was our house on the listing
This was our house on the listing