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The Entryway Floor Takes a Hike (For Now)

First – a big congrats to Diana C as the winner of the Home Depot gift card giveaway! And a big thank you to all who participated and shared links. You’ve inspired the pants off us.

As with all the to-dos we’ve tackled in the house so far, we’ve taken each room from so-so to downright ugly. In other words, each of the rooms we’ve thrown a sledgehammer through has gone from bad to worse – but that’s okay. We’re technically not living within four walls, because, well, we keep tearing them down. It’s all for the greater good, and the unraveling has seen its ups (omg, this is going to look so cool!) and downs (what, oh WHAT have we done?), but perhaps one of the ugliest sights in this whole house is the entry.

Because, in addition to ripping out the maroon carpet and taking apart every single wall that chopped it up, we pulled up the entryway floors this weekend. But before all that, here’s how it looked just a handful of weeks ago (still not pretty, but everything in tact):

You’ll remember that because this building a two flat, the door to the right led to the first floor unit, and by continuing up the stairs, you’d come to another door for the second floor unit. But as we convert the building to a single family home, we’ve torn out wall after wall – which in turn left gaps in the hardwood floors. With this in mind, we ultimately decided that we’d lay tile in the entryway, and we’d take the wood from the entry and use that to patch and piece together the gaps in the floor (created from taking out the room partitions).

And so began our first foray into removing wood floors!

Our wood flooring is tongue and groove, and it was laid down recently as a way to so-called update the home for its listing. (We say the term update loosely.) Below, you can see that the tongue (the rounded part) sticking into the groove (the U-shaped part that holds the tongue) is facing to the right. So in order to lift out the floor with minimal damage, we knew it’d be best to start to start along the wall that the tongue points to – aka, the wall to the right of this photo:

Tip: Typically, there are visible nails heads in the flooring on one end of the room. In the chance that you don’t have big gaping holes like us, this is your best place to start!

The gaps in the floor made it an easy start for us, although the first few pieces came out slightly damaged. Our contractor told us that this was completely normal and to be expected, so we weren’t too worried. Using a hammer, we tapped a pry bar under the first board until it was just lifted, then we continued to do so along the length of the board until it could come loose.

Scott continued to do this until the entire floor was lifted in the entryway (in total, this took about 2-3 hours), making sure to salvage every piece that we could – which, thankfully was all but a few of the starter boards.

As the salvaged boards started to pile up, I was on snipping duty. See all the staples that were used to hold everything in place?

Originally, we had tried this method to lift out the staples (but to no avail), so a quick (slightly panicked) phone call to our contractor confirmed that we could simply snip off the staples and protruding nails. His only warning? Make sure to stack the boards back to back to prevent any metal remnants from scraping the boards. As an extra precaution, I used a hammer to tap down any staples that I couldn’t get quite close enough to the base of the board.

Once we had pried, snipped and stacked all of the boards (and to be perfectly honest with you, we still have a baby stack to snip that we’ve tucked away in an unused room – for now!), we were left with sheets of black paper (similar to tar paper, but not nearly as thick) used to prevent moisture. In the top left corner of this photo, you can also see the hole where an old radiator used to be:

But once we pulled up all the paper, we were left with even more surprises – easily putting us in the running for the world’s ugliest entryway. Below, we found original hardwood floors (they were a wreck, and sadly, they don’t look to be continuous throughout the house), subfloor and decades-old linoleum. Oh, welcome to our home! Franken-entry says hello!

While the floor looks absolutely filthy, we disinfected multiple times, ran a mop (again, multiple times) and scrubbed the stairs – again. Of course this is only temporary, but we still refuse to take our shoes off in this house. One day (soon?), however, this entryway will see clean tile, polished stairs and a coat closet. We can’t stop chatting about the perfect chandelier, but we’ve yet to start selecting paint color (light and bright, we think?).

This is the epitome of the old saying, you have to make a mess to clean a mess! Lately, that just rolls off the tongue around here. (And we annoy ourselves just thinking about it. Sheesh.)

But! Once the floors were removed and stored away (only to be used later to repair other areas of hardwood), we were able to start round 2 of demolition – the second floor landing! Which also tied in to removing all the trim on the stairs and pulling down the ceiling in the entry. (You’d think we were pulling down ceilings as a hobby by now, right?) Those details – tomorrow!

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  • Rachel8.13.13 - 7:13 AM

    Wow! I love reading about your progress. It is a great start to my day :-) You are doing awesome!! Can’t wait to see more…ReplyCancel

  • Ryan8.13.13 - 7:27 AM

    Just recently found your blog and love watching your renovation! We bought a two flat in Chicago 4 years ago and also converted it to a single family. There were definitely times when it seemed overwhelming but it’s so worth it!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.13.13 - 7:40 AM

      Thanks, ladies!

      Ryan, I actually stumbled upon your blog a few months ago. I think it was right before we purchased this crazy house, and I got sucked into your archives since I saw you were also in Chicago and converting a single family home. Hooray for being in the same boat!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah K.8.13.13 - 8:08 AM

    So exciting! I know this is all going to look great! We’ve been painting and doing other (MINOR!) fixes around here, and even so our mantra has been “it gets worse before it gets better” — otherwise, we’d eventually give up!

    Thanks for sharing your journey!ReplyCancel

  • Awesome progress you guys! And “Franken-entry” cracked me up. I love the idea of a tiled entry and the fact that you’ll have extra planks to fill in the rest of the house. Good thing that ‘update’ was recent :)ReplyCancel

  • Gloria8.13.13 - 9:42 AM

    Wow! Your old linoleum looks a lot like my “new” linoleum! Which was also “updated” for the listing. Rock on though that your making so much progress. I’m excited for the coming together stage!ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square8.13.13 - 10:30 AM

    So glad you were able to salvage some of the wood floor to reuse elsewhere. Did the staples show on the top of the boards at all, or were they somehow fitted into the middle of the wood? We have some old staple remnants on our entryway hardwood floors (cut and polished down, so you only see little dots of metal here and there) but we think that was actually used for the carpet that once covered it.ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.13.13 - 12:34 PM

    Gloria – we are too!

    Laura, the staples were put in the tongue part of the floor boards, so you don’t see them from the top. The only nail/staple heads we could see were on the starter board, right up against the trim!ReplyCancel

  • Wow, that old hardwood floor! It’s too bad it is not consecutive throughout the house, but how fun to know it’s there!

    It is really coming along, though. I’m excited to see what the entry looks like with the ceiling and wall taken down.

    P.S. These hospital booties may come in handy: ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.13.13 - 1:27 PM

    Kimberly, HILARIOUS. You know, I’d seriously consider getting them – but then I must remember to stop being so Type A!ReplyCancel

  • Nothing wrong with being Type A, Kim!ReplyCancel

  • ryan8.14.13 - 10:17 AM

    Ha! I hope we can serve as a reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel :)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle8.19.13 - 3:57 PM

    Keep it goin’ dont stop!ReplyCancel

  • One of the most magical moments for me in our renovation was the first day I walked around barefoot. You know you’re on the homestretch when you don’t have to tell guests to keep their shoes on when they come in the front door.ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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