A Long and Dusty Weekend + Thoughts on Homebuying & DIY Renovations

Alternate title: Fear and Loathing in Our New Home

Starting this post with a little bit of renovation realness, in the form of some snapshots of myself at the end of day two of sanding our floors.


Justin took these on his phone, which is why the quality is so bad, but it’s really quite lucky for us all that the resolution was not any better, because I don’t mind telling you that the reality was absolutely terrifying. If you were to chart my appearance versus the appearance of the floors throughout the refinishing process, you would find a stark negative correlation–the better looking they got, the more hag-like I became. Also, the smile is forced.

Allow me to take you on a little picture journey through our first days in our new home, all of which involved tons of sanding, and yes, there are a lot of pictures, and yes, many of them look the same, but that’s how sanding is, and that’s the only way I can make you experience what I experienced this weekend. The job LOOKS done way before it actually IS done, which is part of what adds to the torture.

We started the job with a random orbital sander (seen in the End of Day 1 pic) and then traded it out for a square buff sander (seen in the End of Day 2 pic, and above). You can rent a machine called an edger, but in all our refinishing jobs, I am that machine. This means that I spent the better part of two days in a squatting position, and when I woke up the morning after the first day, I literally (and I do mean LITERALLY) felt worse than the day after I ran a marathon. Everything from my shins to my finger joints rebelled.

On that note, let’s proceed:

IMG_5718IMG_5720IMG_5711IMG_5732 IMG_5712

End of Day 1
IMG_5744-2 IMG_5745 IMG_5747

End of Day 2


End of Day 3 (END of SANDING)

I don’t have any children, but from what I’ve heard and what I know, renovating your own house is a little bit like becoming a parent. There is some fear involved. There are moments of doubt when you wonder, “What have I done?” followed by moments of reassurance when you tell yourself, “Everything will be okay,” followed by moments of satisfaction when you realize, “This is going pretty well,” and in the end you love it so much you forget how terrible it all started out, and so you decide to do it all over again. Plus, you’re really exhausted all the time, and you end up covered in stuff that either looks like or actually is poop.

It’s been an laborious four days since we closed on our house last Friday. Granted, we picked up the materials for refinishing the floors on the way from the closing to the house, so it’s not like we gave ourselves much down time, but that’s probably for the best. When you buy a house, you may only be in it for an hour or two before it’s yours, and sometimes it’s full of other people’s stuff, and sometimes that stuff is nice and distracts you from small imperfections that would otherwise make your earlobes itch. Luckily (or not?) I am a practiced perfectionist with a keen eye for imperfection, so I did notice many of these details before the closing. But even so, being in the house alone for the first time Friday night, peeking into all the nooks and crannies, cleaning the carpets (MY GOD–hire a professional. I saw things I cannot unsee), I have to admit that I felt a little overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the work needed, the money it will cost, and frankly, by the briefest but real feeling that maybe this was not the right move.

So, it may seem paradoxical that three long days gripping a sander until my hands felt like they had springs in them long after the machine was off would make me feel better about the whole endeavor. But it really did. Because now I know that the work will get done, the house will be great, and the chihuahuas will live happily (and hungrily–because that’s how they are) ever after.

I’m trying to piece together a full set of pictures of the house, though you can get a decent sense of the first floor from these photos. We’ve been there at weird times of the day, and I haven’t gotten great light, but I’m working on it. Hopefully by the end of the week I can post a full tour.

How do you feel about taking on large home renos? Are you an intrepid DIYer, or do you know enough to leave it to the pros?


14 thoughts on “A Long and Dusty Weekend + Thoughts on Homebuying & DIY Renovations

  1. This looks gorgeous! Although I’m generally pro-dark wood (as we discussed), I think the lighter wood here really helps make the rooms look larger. I have so much jealousy that you actually have a home to renovate. One day I hope I’ll be able to share my own projects!



    • Thanks, Cat! I know you’re really just jealous of my hag face, because it is so very enticing! I really thought about lobbying for light floors after seeing them sanded, but in the end they had too many dings and scratches, so we are going back closer to the original color. We might swap out the wood trim for white, though. You’ll definitely have your own place to tear up some day, and then it will be super fun times. 🙂


  2. WOW WOW WOW is all I have to say about this! (Well actually that’s a lie, I do have more to say.)

    This looks amazing! As Cat said, the lighter colour really opens up the room. Are you going to keep that glorious orange colour on the wall? I know things look different in person but I have to admit that I’m a big fan.

    You really busted your butt for this and I’m so proud of you. Is that weird to say? But seriously, I cannot even begin to fathom what it was like for you to tackle this project. I’m glad that despite the ups and downs along the way, you’ve come out on top with a gorgeous house and a big sense of satisfaction. Hopefully your body is a little less sore too!

    x Kathryn
    Through the Thicket


    • Thanks, Kathryn! Glad I made you proud (NOT weird–sweet!), though I’m afraid I’m going to have to turn around and disappoint you now because we aren’t keeping the orange walls. 😦 It’s not that I don’t like the color, and in fact it looked quite nice with the previous owner’s furnishings, but I find that it kind of makes the brick fireplace blend in, when I want it to be a bit more BAM!-ish. Also, a thing I know about myself is that I never choose warm paint colors; I almost always go with a blue or green. Maybe because green is my favorite color? Maybe I need added serenity and calm? “Glorious” is really high praise to shoot for, but I’m hoping you will like the next color as much!

      I have also recovered full use of all my limbs, so that is a huge relief!!


  3. I am so impressed with this renovation and always so floored (pun intended!) by people who are able to accomplish such projects on their own. I really hope to do the same with my future husband one day when we own a home.

    Rae | love from berlin


    • Thanks so much, Rae! I’m a great lover of puns, so I really appreciate your sticking that one in there! I do have to give my husband loads of credit–I would never be able to do these projects without him. So definitely “willingness to tear up your house” is a good quality in a guy. 🙂 Also, you probably hear this a lot, but your hair wins the internet!


    • Thank you!! The hand vibrations went away in about a day and the other muscle soreness in about three days, then I enjoyed a few days of perfect health before pulling something while moving today. I daresay I’ve got a variety of ailments to look forward to in the coming months. ☺


  4. Thanks, Jessica! There were a lot of dings and scratches, so we ended up staining it close to the original color, but we’re going to lighten the walls and trim, so I think it will look bigger soon anyway. ☺


  5. Pingback: House Tour: Our New House | white dog vintage

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  7. Hard work girl all that sanding!!!…after all this trouble you are happy that the house will be looking great so wonderful. I won’t have your eye for imperfection and your energy to do things on my own, I tried sanding and painting house walls, ended up making things worse and well losing lot of energy and getting hand and thigh pains squatting down, not to mention having my cloths messy too… anyway your awesome.


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