*Bug-Out!* Kitchen Remodel Update #8: Hardwood Floors

The day we packed up to bug out of our house, a neighbor dog, Dixie, came to play. Our own dogs were so preoccupied with curiosity over what we were doing, they just sat on the back porch/mudroom and watched the activity. Animals usually know when there’s something afoot, don’t they?

I promised myself I wouldn’t write about our kitchen remodel again until it was finished. *blank stare* Well. We aren’t quite finished, but we recently did tackle the HUGE job of refinishing the hardwood floors, so I’m giving myself a pass on that promise today. Time for news on the kitchen remodeling project front!

I am pretty sure that I have the most patient blog readers on the interwebs. Absolutely. (That would be you, gentle reader.)

Case. In. Point. Here we are, laboring well into our second year of remodeling our kitchen and sunporch  (rebuilding the adjoining sunporch was how we started this big project) and you must be wondering about our progress, yet I rarely hear anything more than a pleasant peep of reminder.

“Anything new on the kitchen remodeling project?” A sweet reader will ask. “No pressure . . . “

“Would love a picture or two, on the continuing kitchen remodel, if it’s not too much trouble . . .” another one will note.

Such patience. Sweetness.

For those of you who are new to this space, here’s the last post I wrote about our kitchen remodeling project. I had to look it up to remind myself of where I was in the story!

The truth is, you all are much more patient with this project than I am, myself. Picture me Impatient and Grumpy about the whole affair, by this time. Impatient because I just want to Go On With Life, doggonit. Grumpy because that doesn’t seem possible, until this whole thing is done, also doggonit.

Exasperated. Tired. Frumpy. Unkempt. Badly in need of a haircut and a manicure. That’s me, in a nutshell, about this kitchen remodel. Grateful, of course, but all the rest, too.

God answers my prayers in such humorous and creative ways. He is constantly pushing me and molding me to be the person He desires me to be. Sometimes this process is not an easy one. Most times this process is not an easy one. (Don’t worry, there is a kitchen remodel tie-in to this phenomenon.)

Here it is: I had a stack of boxes in our bedroom, running all along one wall. This was all kitchen stuff. In my old kitchen, you see, I had had lots of cabinet space, running all the way to the ceilings, and I had those cabinets squirrel-packed absolutely full. I had lost track, truth was, of what was in the uppermost cabinets. I tossed a lot of stuff when I packed it all away. The remaining stuff had to go somewhere when we packed the kitchen up, quickly and haphazardly.

Back when our Nonpareil Contractor Reubsy and my Longsuffering Hubs Bryan were just beginning to take out the old kitchen wall and make lots of dust and promise me the blessed moon (“We oughta be able to finish this by Thanksgiving, or at least by Christmas!”) and so forth, we packed up boxes and stashed them in the caboose (the west wing of our house), the basement, the front porch, and the bedroom. Basically anyplace there was space. If it wasn’t moving, it was the happy recipient of a box of kitchen stuff.

When we tore out the wall between the two dinky kitchens to make one big kitchen, we also lost our library (which was in the second dinky kitchen) so all our books and school supplies went into boxes, also.

We packed up so quickly, knowing–knowing, gentle reader–that we’d be unpacking the boxes within a few months. I even–silly me!–packed up some superfluous (I thought) foodstuffs (tapioca, saltines, cornmeal), things I never would have packed up, had I dreamed in my wildest dreams that the items in question would have stayed in boxes for more than two years.

Gosh. So silly. Who was that hopeful and naive farm woman?

So fast-forward to present day, two years later. The boxes were still in our bedroom (I’ve since unpacked them), with the kitchen still unfinished. It seemed that we lacked the grit to finish it. Not to mention the time. We felt sheepish and humble about it, too, make no mistake!

We’d been hung up on refinishing the floor, you see. We knew that hiring somebody to come in and sand the floor and refinish it would be a Huge Deal, very messy and dusty and that everything–everything!–would have to be moved out of the main living areas of the house, and then moved back, and furthermore be covered in dust afterwards. We also knew that we would have to move out for three days–the dust and the fumes and so forth would be problematic, you know, to our health.

So we kept putting off making the appointment to refinish the floor. I couldn’t get my head wrapped around it. So Much Trouble. How could I push the pause button on my overfull life long enough to get it done? Answer: I couldn’t. So I gritted my teeth and just kept living with it.


Here’s the floor, before. The left side was refinished eleven years ago, except where the old cabinets sat, which is the unfinished patch in the front and center. The back is in the new part of the kitchen, with the old boards that we were determined to keep, no matter how ugly.

For you ladies, put it in a childbirthing analogy: I had hit transition and decided that I didn’t want to have the baby, after all. Got it? Yet I couldn’t turn back the clock. I was going to have to go through with it. But how to get there? How, indeed.

And then, one night I heard a mouse. In the boxes of old foodstuffs and kitchen items which were lining the wall in our bedroom. Actually it sounded like an entire clan of mice. A multi-generational group of mice, all having a party: chewing, eating, pooping and peeing. Setting up housekeeping. Having quilting bees. Building nests. Growing tiny gardens. In the boxes in my bedroom. All–through–the–night. I laid there, sleepless and listening with despair in my heart. And I prayed: GOD, for heaven’s sake–HELP ME! I couldn’t see how I could possibly do it! But I had to. I had to somehow figure out how to make the time to finish what we had started.

The very next day, God did his thing, through my good hubby. It was only a few weeks before Christmastime, mind you, so I was of course crazy-crazy-crazy-busy. Bryan turned to me, out of the (supposed) Blue: “Hey, maybe we should call that floor guy (out of six refinishing contractors, we could only coax one to come give us an estimate) (I think word got around, about Us and Our Ways) and see if we could make a date for getting the floor refinished.”

Looking toward the kitchen, from the living room. Previously refinished floor in the foreground, unfinished floor in the background.

In the running calendar of my mind, I couldn’t see a time that would work in the foreseeable future: Christmas, after all, with all the kids coming home, was only a few weeks away, and then our melodrama was just a few weeks after that . . . then it would be springtime and I would lose my mind to be outside, planting, turning compost piles, listening for the bluebirds and admiring the Wonder of Spring–but chances are, I reasoned, it would be months before the guy could come–summertime, maybe? That’d work. Probably. Summertime would be good.

I gave my hubs the sober nod of acquiescence.

Bryan turned from the ‘phone, in surprise. “They can be here in three weeks from today. Will that work?”

Harhar, God, that’s not funny. Not funny at all. We can’t do that.

“Three weeks . . . ?” I croaked. I lost all feeling in my fingers and toes for a moment, my panic was that tactile. That would put our getting the floors done only two weeks before Christmas.

Actually not possible. We’d have just two weeks to move everything back, take care of all the dust and dirt–before the kids came home–not to mention all the Christmas preparations.

My face must have looked as hopeless as I felt. I couldn’t move my mouth. My face was frozen. Couldn’t–speak–! Was I having a stroke?

“That’ll work, right?” Bryan pressed, his eyes very fierce and his hand on the receiver. I didn’t feel that I had a choice in the matter.

“Yes,” a voice that I didn’t recognize came from my very own throat. I guess.

So, all that to say–three weeks later, we hied ourselves over to my parents’ house–with one small suitcase each, a canary, Mack’s chinchillas, our two crazy dogs, and six small chickens. It was the Beverly Hillbillies, moving into town temporarily, with the relatives. Mom’s neighbors stepped outside to watch us move in.

It was humbling, to say the least. One of my folks’ friends stopped by and helped me hoist the large cardboard box that I had my chicks in. “I didn’t grow up this way,” he mumbled. Yup. There’s a reason country folks usually stay in the country.

We had a fun three days with my folks, nevertheless, and they were patient as Job in their sudden wealth (*cough*) of relatives, chickens, leggy dogs, a singing canary and rodents in cages.

We went back to our farm every day to do chores, of course, and to let the dogs run. We’d slip into the house and gaze at the floor. It was gorgeous. It was amazing. It was different than we had imagined. But it was beautiful. And. It was done in three days.

Afterwards: the part of the Depot that was open to customers had the floor in the foreground; the cargo area was in the background, with the rough wide plank floor.

We could only stand and gawk at it for quite awhile. We weren’t supposed to move furniture in again for a couple of days, and when it came time to do so, we decided not to move everything back, anyway. Let’s say we got used to the open space and liked it very much.

AFTER. But before all the furniture was moved back in. Pretty, huh?

I’ve still got boxes and piles to go through, but they are getting smaller and less overwhelming. (Did I tell you that one of my words for 2018 is “TOSS”?)

What’s left to do in our new kitchen:

  • The backsplash, on two walls: My talented sister-in-law Rena is an experienced master at this sort of thing, so she’s going to help me do this this spring.
  • Some fancy-pants woodburning on the post and the French doors which separate the sunporch from the kitchen, and then stain and varnish.

We’re nearly there! *phew*

Thanks for reading, gentle readers. You are always welcome in this space and I’m honored to have you!


Here is the same space, a few weeks later, on our Christmas: put back together and completely full of my dearies!






23 thoughts on “*Bug-Out!* Kitchen Remodel Update #8: Hardwood Floors

  1. rita penner

    Wow! The finish line is only a step or two away! The kitchen renovation stories you got before you started, and that, as I remember, gave you serious scares, now pale in comparison.

  2. Andrea Johnson

    Thank you for sharing your story! I resonated though (perhaps?) on a smaller time and project scale. We just bought our first house (1920, 1000 sq ft) after a lifetime of serving in Japan and planned on remodeling the kitchen before we moved in…after two months of unsuccessful attempts to retain someone to do a small remodel, we moved in before Thanksgiving and bought ourselves a small microwave because there wasn’t a stove yet. Also scrubbed the daylights out of the original double apron farm sink since there was no dishwasher or counter space either:) I’m happy to report that we had a wonderful Christmas together with 6 of us and a new puppy, in spite of the above kitchen and only one bathroom. God is good.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      God is good, indeed, all the time, Andrea! Before we lived in this big house, we lived in a tiny house with a very ugly kitchen (but it had big windows!) and one teensy-tiny little kitchen. 900 square feet, with 5 littles! But we were just as happy there as we are in this big(ger) house. Happiness certainly isn’t dependent on the size or scope of our houses, thankfully. I’m happy that the biggest part of our project is behind us though.

  3. William

    Maria wants me to tell you that she thinks it is beautiful. I think a front room fireplace without a big, overstuffed chair to sit in and read a good book at night in the winter, with the fire going in the fireplace and a cup of hot coco on a stand next to the chair, is an incomplete project. The floor does look great.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Well, William, you’ll have to bring Maria by so she can admire them in person! Also, we have (since the photos were taken) moved our chairs and couches back into the living room and it is quite cozy, indeed!

  4. OrangeBlossom

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!!

    Thank you for not waiting any longer on filling us in!!

    On a different note, did I miss your cinnamon roll recipe??

  5. Debbie

    The floor is beautiful. My question is how did you get the smell out of the house? We did this years ago and I had to sleep elsewhere for a week. And it was summer with the windows open. Nice job.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Good question! Actually, we opened some windows but within a day or two it didn’t bother us. Maybe they’ve changed floor finishing products and the fumes aren’t as bad as they used to be?

  6. Peter Kowpak

    Hi Amy,
    First of all your kitchen floors are beautiful! It’s always satisfying to see a project no matter how big or small come to a conclusion. It’s even better when you have done all the work yourself, even if you have to have help with some of it. It’s also nice to be able to sit back and admire what you have envisioned what the end results will be. Sometimes the length of time to completion are well worth the wait, your pictures are proof of that! Well done!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Pete, it’s always so great to hear from you! Are you planting seeds for your garden yet? I agree that it’s quite satisfying to finish a project–we still have a couple of steps left to finish the kitchen, but we are so–close–!! Thank you for your encouragement!

  7. Bethany Lotulelei

    Oh, yay! I love this update! It looks so beautiful in the pictures, and even better in person! This has been quite the saga, but I am so happy that you are finally getting the kitchen that you dreamed about all these years, and the one that you deserve. It is funny, though, that I can hardly even picture what the kitchen looked like before. I have to try really hard to think about what it looked like when it was just that tiny little walkthrough kitchen all my growing up years. Crazy!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Bethie, now that the floor is finished, it’s hard for me to imagine the old little kitchen, too. Before the floor was done, there was the unfinished patches which reminded me of the shape of the old kitchen. We sure did have a lot of good times in that old kitchen, though, didn’t we? Now we can make new memories in the new big kitchen!

  8. Heather

    Yay! So happy for you! I bet you have renewed motivation for getting through those boxes now. I’m just thinking ahead though . . . when the kitchen is done, the boxes are gone, and peaceful organization reigns over your world . . . your mind will start searching . . . (perhaps it has already started) for the next project . . . ???

  9. Kay

    Swoon! Those floors!! And that huge island. I’m slightly coveting your kitchen more and more. “Toss” is my word of the year also. In fact, I’m seriously considering not putting in a garden this year to focus on my decluttering (& new grandbaby coming in April to the local son & ddil.) There are only so many non-working-off -the-farm hours in my day/week and I have so much to do. I’m eager to support our local Farmer’s Markets & CSA programs and to rely on the kindness & generosity of neighbors & friends. 🙂

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