We moved into our new house last Wednesday and it’s been keeping us busy ever since! We had some unexpected surprises including the air conditioning shutting down the night before we moved in (right in the middle of a never-ending New England heat wave…), but thankfully it was just a dirty filter and low freon after all the dust from sanding the floors the week prior and we’re now at a very comfortable 70 degrees inside (move-in day was 80 degrees and let’s just say there were a few heat- and hormone-induced tears). I’ll admit I had a moment of thinking we’d bitten off more than we could chew, but after a few days of unpacking and getting a game plan in place to tackle our first round of projects I’m already feeling so much better. I can’t believe this house is ours to make a home!

design darling darien house floor stain

The floors in the dining room are about the only redeeming feature in there right now… cannot wait to get my hands on those grimy walls and yellow-y trim!

design darling darien house provincial wood floors

We had some idea of the original wood floors after peeling up a couple corners of carpet during our home inspection (shhh!) but I don’t think we knew they could look quite this good. A happy surprise to counteract the broken AC, chipping plaster, and other not-as-fun surprises since. 🙂

You can see a list of current and upcoming house projects here, but today’s post is mostly about the floors! Most of the rooms were covered with very old, very dirty carpet when we bought the house and we were able to lift up a couple corners during the inspection and see that there were gorgeous hardwoods hiding underneath. They weren’t in perfect condition (the house was built in 1850 after all!) but the first thing we did after closing was get a flooring company in to tear out the carpet, sand the floors, pick a new stain, and give them three coats of poly. I already can’t realize how far we’ve come since my first round of before pictures! The difference is truly night and day.

design darling darien house provincial stain on oak floors

I’m thinking I might forgo a rug in this little library that will become our home office. The floors are just too pretty to cover up!

design darling provincial wood stain on wide plank pine floors

You can see the same stain took differently to the pine floors upstairs than to the oak floors downstairs. We had to install the saddle piece between the bedroom and sitting room in the guest bedroom and I’m so happy with how it turned out!

We went with a medium stain called Provincial and I really, really, really love how it looks on the original oak floors throughout the first floor. I’ve known since our home inspection that there were some beautiful floors waiting to be brought back to life but I didn’t know they could look this good! That said, the same stain looks more red/orange than I’d anticipated on the wide plank pine floors in the rooms upstairs (particularly on the knottier parts in the guest bedroom) and I wish I’d had the flooring guys test the stain on both types of wood (we only did one swatch in the living room) as I think I would have chosen something a little lighter upstairs where the stain took to the wood differently. First lesson of fixing up an old home learned! But the color definitely doesn’t bother me enough to restain them and I’m sure I’ll feel better about it once we paint over the many yellow walls in the upstairs bedrooms (seriously — there is yellow And I do think we’ll want rugs in the bedrooms which means you’ll only see glimpses of the wood floors in those rooms — so it’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but just wanted to share what I wish I’d done differently for any of you redoing your own floors!

design darling darien house progress photos

Very ready to give the nursery a new lease on life.

Over the weekend Will and I put the first coat of high gloss paint on the trim in the nursery (Behr Ultra Pure White, which we also used in the living room in our last place) before it’s time to install beadboard and hang wallpaper in there (you can see my plans for the nursery in this post). It already looks so much brighter and more crisp than the creamy color that was here when we moved in!

design darling darien house provincial stain on pine stairs

The stairs themselves are looking a lot better (you can see how they looked covered in carpet when we moved in) but we have a long way to go to spiff up the risers.

design darling darien house provincial stain on wide plank pine floors

We got so lucky uncovering these wide plank floors in the upstairs hallway, but the painted-over striped wallpaper has got to go!

My mom and brother Grayson generously came to town to lend a hand and got started on removing the wallpaper in the stairwell and stripping paint from the stair risers, both of which are shaping up to be more involved projects than we would have liked. The wallpaper in the stairwell (and foyer and upstairs hallway) has been on for so long that steaming it has also removed some of the plaster underneath, so we’re likely to hire someone to come out and skim the walls to give us a smoother surface to paint over. Removing wallpaper is such a time-consuming project anyway (I last did it in our powder room on Nantucket a couple summers ago) so it was a bummer to realize that we’ll have a whole additional project (and expense) in between getting all of it off the walls and being able to paint them. And the paint on the stair risers is so thick it wouldn’t come off with just sanding, so we went out and bought a heat gun so we could heat it before scraping it off. My mom has heroically taken on the stairs project while I work on unpacking and painting, which I genuinely enjoy and can do with the windows open instead of hunching over the stairs with an eight months pregnant belly (#nothankyou). It might take a while longer than we were expecting but I know it’s worth it to really get the paint off and do it the right way vs. just slapping another coat of paint on top of the chipping paint that’s there.

design darling provincial floor stain on wide plank pine floors

This is the spare bedroom we’re staying in while we start construction in the master bedroom and it probably won’t get a lot of love for at least a year or so, but at least the floors are now in tip top shape!

This week we have a contractor starting on moving walls in the master bedroom and I can’t wait to watch that space take shape over the coming weeks. You can read more about that project in this post! I think that’s all for now but I’d say we’ve done pretty well for living here less than a week! I genuinely love spackling, painting, wallpapering, etc. and it’s going to be fun to pick up some new home improvement skills (mostly from my amazing self-taught parents!) as we chip away at our lengthy list of projects. I love how much you guys seem to be enjoying the house updates because they’re kind of taking over our lives at the moment! Hopefully this week I’ll have some fun Instagram stories as we get more painting done and start demo in the master bedroom. Thank you so much for following along! 

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  1. Have you tested for lead-based paint? Are you taking any special precautions with the home based on the fact that it probably has lead paint? I personally would not want a pregnant woman in the home while using a heat gun on old paint. I would also make sure the contractors working on the bedroom are extra careful so lead dust doesn’t get in your air system. Safety first!

  2. As the former owner of an c.1 858 house in Virginia – with the same gorgeous floors – I feel your pain and pride. My beautiful, elegant Greek Revival was the house of my dreams and I spent many happy years there as I hope you do. Warning: be prepared for everything to cost at least 20% more than you were quoted. Its the old house thing and often, problems are discovered while working. I had many of those issues but just overcame them and went on loving my home! I wish the same for you and yours!

  3. Your massive house projects with baby coming so soon have come up a few times as my justification for finishing up some long-overdue remodels in the house. I love the floors! Can’t wait to follow along with the progress, you’ve got the best interior design taste.

  4. Thank you for sharing your house progress updates. The floors look amazing and love the different sizes of the wood planks. Have a great week!

  5. I am so jealous of your floors! We’ve been doing some home Reno on our old place and it’s so satisfying to see the beautiful wood underneath the paint, carpet, etc. As for the paint on the stairs, have you tested it for lead? If not, I would test it before doing any sort of removal. If there is lead, please do not sand or use a heat gun!

    Sorry to be such a Debby Downer. Lead scares the Bejsus out of me. 😬

    With that said, I cannot wait to see the transformation of your home!!

  6. Those floors are amazing! Definitely a good call not to cover them up too much.

    Question for your next Q&A Friday – do you or Will sail? I understand that Darien is a great water town!

  7. I think the floors look amazing! You are doing great! Getting the nursery done will really be so exciting. I’m in an older home too and the charm from an older home add so much. I love your double front doors I can see from the foyer. This is so exciting seeing you progress.

  8. Great work so far! I’m hitting our cream trim this weekend with Behr Ultra White, too. It’s such a daunting task taking on the whole house but I just gotta take it room by room!

  9. Congrats! The floors are BEAUTIFUL! Following your home journey has given me the motivation I needed to tackle a restoration project in my historic 120 year old house–they really don’t build houses like they used to! I look forward to all the progress posts to come!

  10. I am enjoying your house posts so much! I love how much your parents and family are willing to pitch in and help. My parents live far away, but all my DIY knowledge comes from seeing them tackle things during my childhood, as well as some Facetime coaching. I love that it is a family affair.

    I also painted trim in Behr Ulra Pure White high gloss this weekend : ) . We have our open concept living/dining and adjacent hallway all in Ultra Pure White. It’s a great, true white! Your floors look gorgeous. Just a thought on the upper floor being a bit warmer than you anticipated: you seem to really like bright-yet-cool colors in decorating. I think the warmer floors will be a great contrast to your decor, especially in a bedroom! A little warmth on the floor, be it from rug or stain, goes a long way. And I think it’ll be a great grounding “historical” tone to your style! I’m excited to see your next steps.