Here is the saga of our kitchen floors. The short version: we found original heart pine floors during demo, uncovered them, and had them refinished. For the long version, read on!
If you follow me on instagram, you've been subjected to longwinded deliberations about our kitchen floor and may be entitled to compensation.
The floor in here has given me far and away the most trouble of any design detail. I knew it was trouble because NOTHING was sitting right with me.
The Flooring Options
Initially, I had planned to tile it. This seemed like the safe option because it would hold up to water damage (a real possibility since this floor also runs under our future washing machine), plus it wouldn't clash with the wood floor in the rest of the first floor.
The only problem: I don't love tile. It's cold (heating it here was tragically not in our budget), uncomfortable to stand on for long periods, and I worry about my little kids breaking tiles, or worse, slipping and falling and getting tile-floor hurt instead of just wood-floor hurt.
Plus I got a quote for tiling the whole area and it was approximately 40 times more than my entire flooring budget.
My true love is wood floor. Almost every kitchen I have saved on Pinterest has a wood floor. But I convinced myself this would be impractical. The water damage! The impossible task of making it look okay next to our other wood flooring! The cost of installing it (which was also not in the budget.)
Also, the fact that we will have wood trim around windows/doors, and butcher block countertops had me thinking maybe wood floors too would be too much wood.
So I resigned myself to some sort of vinyl. I had at one point told my brother-in-law after he suggested lvp that I would *let me pause here to push my glasses up and look down my nose* "never put lvp in my house."
But! Vinyl would be quick to install and inexpensive. We could save ourselves the trouble of floor demo and leave the layers of vinyl intact and just install a floating floor on top. We could redo it down the line, I told myself.
So I shopped and shopped and ordered sample after sample and found nothing that I liked. I subjected Instagram followers to polls about which option was better. I vacillated between letting the flooring consume all of my waking thoughts and trying not to think about it at all.
Uncovering the Original Heart Pine Floor
Then, one fateful night, we were sweeping up the mess we'd made once again in our kitchen (was this demo night number 47? or 68? I can't remember). I was clearing out a spot that had been buried under a bunch of plaster rocks and I saw something.
To get the full picture, you should know that we were doing this by the light of a single work light since the electricity to the kitchen had long ago been turned off and the lights dismantled from the ceiling.
What did I see? Were those three-inch-wide boards? I grabbed the light, uncovered them frantically, called Josh over and declared, "there's wood under here!".
He inspected and agreed it was, in fact, a wood floor under the layers of vinyl and plywood, and asked, "does this change anything for you?"
"Oh, it changes everything," I told him.
Demoing the (many layers of) Vinyl
The possibility of having a material that I love for the small cost of some floor demo and whatever our floor refinisher would charge us for the project. I was all in.
So, we embarked on some floor demo. "It will be easy!" I said. 3 minutes in, we realized that floor demo is the worst kind of demo. Josh gets all the credit for making this happen because I was not cut out for prying up plywood adhered with 1000 staples. He got it all off, removed all the staples, and then I got to work getting off the underlay.
As a side note, every part of this demo project was the worst home improvement task I've ever done (the ripping out the floor, the staple removal, the adhesive removal of the underlay), but removing the underlay was truly the worst. Hours spent scraping off horrible smelling goo from the wood, and still it needed a lot of work (I used this product if ever you want to take on this truly awful task). But, our part was done!
It looked so much worse than it did before, but it was all uncovered and ready to be refinished. Josh also VERY CAREFULLY took out the wood flooring in what is now the bathroom (then I did some fun tiling in there!).
For a brief moment, we considered refinishing the floors ourselves. Thankfully, logic prevailed. The reconfiguration of the kitchen meant we had some floor vents that needed patching, which seemed like a job for a pro and not two tired DIYers.
Then came the easy part: I packed up and left town with our kids. Josh stayed and let the floor guy in. (The same guy who refinished the rest of our first floor - he is amazing!)
I knew we made the right call farming this project out when he had the floors sanded and ready to finish in like 4 hours.
Once they were sanded, he found some fairly extensive water staining just outside of the bathroom (which I am laughing about! This was my fear all along!). He said it was no big deal and he would stain them dark (walnut!) and no one would ever know.
Here they are in all of their glory. 100+ year old heart pine floors, restored and ready for more life! It was never my plan to go dark in here for the floor, but now that I see it with the white cabinets and white walls, I LOVE IT.
Seriously, I can't believe these have been there the whole time and no one save the people who put the first layer of vinyl down knew anything about them.
Oh, and you may be wondering where I stand on the "too much wood" issue I brought up earlier - because I have no plans to change our butcher block countertop or our wood trim. I spent some serious time looking at kitchens I love and the question I'm left with is: is too much wood even a thing??