She is a writer, homemaker, and dessert activist. This blog has been read internationally by millions, but mainly she is just an ordinary homemaker living in the heartland with her husband, David, and their two babies. They are (currently) renovating their 1970s colonial home and (always) cooking more food. You can expect fresh posts on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
Back in Part I of stair refurbishing, we brought the stairs from ugly brown carpet to completely smooth and glossy white on the risers. Part II will cover stripping the treads and Part III is re-staining and the top coat.
In addition to removing the dark stain portion, there was some white paint to get rid of from when the original walls were messily painted since they would be covered by carpet. (I would have done the same!)
My weapons for this mission were Citristrip and my orbital sander. First, Citristrip.
I will acknowledge working on stairs is probably harder than some basic furniture projects, but still this work session affirmed I do not like stripping and refinishing wood. It requires patience and is detail oriented, slow work. This same aversion is why I do not like sewing, but salute and envy people who are really good at it.
I need to give it some more thought to decide if it would have actually been better, but I think I maybe should have done the treads before the risers. The stripper removed paint from some of my pretty finished areas too, but touch ups were probably inevitable either way.
Halfway through my Saturday of working on stripping I went down to David (who was working in the basement on building our benches for the table in the sunroom) and said “I literally hate this can you please help me.”
His answer was of course yes and he halted all his excitement and momentum on building the benches to redirect his Saturday toward bailing me out. I am weak willed and he is the best. It is settled.
But regardless of your work ethic, stripping wood can be very stubborn and it is messy. It did not feel like a whole lot of stain came up, and the treads were still pretty dark. If you are dedicated enough to do coat after coat of the stripper you could probably get it all removed, but it was not worth it to me. My goal has never been to make our house look like a new build, so imperfections just become known as “character.”
Next, the sander. I hoped it would blow me away and take off so much of the stain effortlessly. Well, it did not do too much. (BUT, looking back at the before photos as I write this post, there really was kind of a big difference happening and they had lightened a lot from the start.)
With no more tricks up my sleeve, I decided to just test a swatch of the stain I bought to match our floors, Minwax Red Mahogany. What do you know! It was blending really well with the darker stained portion! And it gave me a glimpse of the final product and it looked as though it would be in the ballpark of matching our floors.
All is not lost. Some level of success is plausible!
Recently I pared down and prioritized our to-buy list. With some soul searching, I decided what three purchases would most improve quality of decor life and interestingly enough they were all in the living room. My three big items to get coming up are living room rug, living room light fixture, and art for living room.
What makes art good to one person is, of course, very personal and subjective. David’s least favorite genre is “whimsical animal art” (an example here). My least favorite kind is (prepare for an unpopular opinion) word art or signage. Which I feel like present day pretty much everyone has some of this in their house and to that I say more power to you. Words in art is just a more modern decor concept and I generally like traditional.
The arrangement for the pieces in here will be a single row of medium sized paintings – mostly realism, a few abstract, and maybe one modern/dada just for contrast. It will feel a little museum-y which I like for the library vibes and because it is my favorite way to elevate a room’s maturity level while keeping it child friendly. Put the fancy looking stuff high up (sophisticated art and splurging on the light fixture). A room is not more kid safe because there is a family photograph in a frame instead of a 18th century oil painting. (But then again you might just prefer a picture of your family!)
Buying anything (at least when you are like me) requires a lot of research and consideration. Art is like that, maybe even more so than typical fabric and color type choices. The question I have found that never steers me wrong when art shopping is do I like how this piece makes me feel? Every piece of art evokes an emotion, just like smells or songs can take you to a very specific place or mood. This piece makes me feel small, safe, calm. This one makes me feel somber, but in a way I like. This makes me feel youthful and happy, so it is going in my daughter’s room.
And then for married folks, you have to get two people’s positive feelings to line up, even if in different ways. (Which is kind of the fun of viewing and discussing art together.) David is a big art lover which is nice for this. He says if he had majored in something just for fun in college it would have been art history. If your spouse has no preference, well, that is awesome for shopping too!
And still, not every art produces a strong emotion, but I just like it aesthetically. That ship painting was a $2 vintage find and the portrait above is Charles Spurgeon. The composition is bossy and I like his nickname, “The Prince of Preachers,” so now he lives in our living room.
I cannot wait to finish our living room gallery. I just got this one for my birthday!