Renovation Dog Days & Please Stop the Roller Coaster!

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for all of your kind messages regarding the lower level mess. 

Before I begin, if you’d like to take advantage of the rare Laurel Home Flash Sale please act quickly. The sale is ending tonight July 10th @11:59PM

This is a two-part post that began this past Monday.


If you missed part 1 please keep reading from the top. However, if you would like to skip ahead, please click the link below and it will jump to part 2.


Part 2 Begins Here


Just a few things about the previous post about the bathroom and entry color scheme before we get into the renovation dog days and the other shoe dropping. And, boy did it! You are going to love this one!


We are doing a pecan stain on the stairs, not because it’s difficult to keep clean or see the steps.

Eventually, there will be a runner. However, when I did another rendering with the mid-tone brown stairs, I think it is warmer, even though there will be the warm brown chest at the bottom.

I will not get tired of this color. It’s in a small entry hall and only one part of an analogous color scheme that I will be presenting one of these days.

saybrook sage dining room palette


But for now, it will be in the same family as the one above from the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection, now on sale through July 10th. There will be tiny accents of other colors, like blue, coral, gold, white, and definitely black.


Okay, some of you objected to the black doors.


New Entrance hall - bedroom The Mural Source Solitude - brown stain stair treads - Farrow - Ball Chappell Green - Benjamin Moore Grenadier Pond-Cotton Balls Embrasure Doors pecan stair treads

I totally get it because many of you are not used to seeing this. You’re used to seeing white doors with white trim. And, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the look I’m going for. I wrote about doing the same color trim as the walls here.


However, I adore black interior doors.


Farrrow and Ball French Gray - Black Door
One of my favorites is this room from Farrow and Ball. This is French Gray. French Gray is a lovely color, but it’s more like this (below)


Gorgeous Interior Colors - Heckfield Place - Lake room Farrow & Ball French Gray
Lovely room from Heckfield Place in what looks to be Farrow & Ball French Gray.

Below, I manipulated the color to look more like Chappell Green by F&B or Grenadier Pond by Benjamin Moore.


For funsies, I went a step ahead (no pun intended) and made the door green instead of black. Please excuse the impressionistic rendering in spots, as I had to do a lot of manipulating to make the door green and then the steps brown.


New Entrance hall - bedroom The Mural Source Solitude - Linen closet Farrow & Ball Chappell Green - Benjamin Moore Grenadier Pond Green door- pecan stair treads


Let’s compare it again with the black door.


New Entrance hall - bedroom The Mural Source Solitude - brown stain stair treads - Farrow - Ball Chappell Green - Benjamin Moore Grenadier Pond-Cotton Balls Embrasure Doors pecan stair treads
I think this is very chic and please remember that you can only see one door at a time as they face each other. I’m quite meh about the green doors. However, if you notice, the vestibule will be all green, including the doors. Yes, I realize there are black, green, and white doors nearby. It makes sense when one thinks of it as the area in the middle connects to the entry. At the same time, the two embrasure door areas, which are quite tiny, connect to the bathroom and bedroom, respectively.


However, I agree it is warmer with the wood-stained steps, when one’s back is to the wood chest at the bottom of the stairs.


And that’s a fitting place to begin with what happened with the other shoe dropping. That’s because tomorrow, the steps, already sanded, will get their stain and sealer.

This morning, I woke up at 8:00 AM to my phone ringing. I know that 90% of the population is up by then, but I’m the cave dweller with the “night watch.” That was a thing, you know, back in the day, a loooooooong time ago.

Anyway, it was Gary, the floor guy. And let me tell y’all, he is fantastic. I mean, really fantastic. Thank you so much Pat, who used to sign off “Pat from Boston” before she moved away just weeks before I moved in.


Gary and I had a meeting just after 10:00 but before Laurel had her coffee.



He brought over more samples of the white floor.

And before he laid them down on the coffee table in my neighbor’s apartment, he said:

“We have a problem.”


That’s the other shoe dropping.

He laid down the two samples of white stain for downstairs after using the red remover from the red oak pieces laying around.

white floor turned yellow


Can you guess which feet belong to me? ;]


LAUREL!!!  That floor is YELLOW!!!


Ya think?

Let’s not discuss why this is so. This isn’t even the material downstairs. This is the old oak. And we could get this to look white, with no trace of yellow. However, Gary said it’s a problem as downstairs, the white is mixed with the red, and it’s a bad situation.

not white floor stain - old red oak

Above is an artful pic I took this afternoon. On the bottom are two black stains I’m not doing.


Gary recommended ripping out the new floor and replacing it with only red oak downstairs. We can deal with upstairs separately.


However, at this point, but hurting head was focused on the idea of ripping out the floor that I hated because of the slope. Do you mean we could fix the uneven floor?

He said, “Sure.”

As soon as Gary left, I called Robert, who couldn’t have been more accommodating and is sending Brendan and Eugene over tomorrow to rip out the rest of the new floor downstairs and put on a self-leveler, which they should’ve done in the first place. Gary gave me the name of a new tile person coming over on Thursday.

When I went downstairs last night, I bemoaned that the entry couldn’t be straight like the bathroom would be—or at least more level.

1/8″ over a four-foot span is acceptable. 7/8 of an inch is not.


Okay, there’s more. It’s about the upstairs, and I’m sorry to leave you hanging.


Me tired, and I’m now living out of two apartments.

Organization is not my strong suit.

Still, I’m incredibly grateful to have a place to escape when the workers are there for the remainder of this month.

And, thank God, I now have some fabulous contractors.


Chris’ painters are da bomb!


They are doing a fantastic job detailing the living room door casings.

To end with more positive news, I’m meeting a new tile guy who sounds terrific on Thursday via Gary from Sequoia Wood Floors.

We will get through these renovation dog days, and I’m still determined to do so before Labor Day!

Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES, too!




Part 2 Begins Here


Wednesday July 10, 2024

Oh, my word!

The freaking floors!

The drama!


Last night, I forgot to mention, I realized that my internet was kaput.


That’s because a fuse blew when the painters plugged in their machinery. It was because of the window air conditioner. I found out this morning that the guys were aware of the issue but couldn’t go downstairs because the floors had been sealed and needed to dry. Yes, the floor that was scheduled to be demoed. More about that in a sec.

Thankfully, I always have my phone’s hotspot available, but it’s not as good.


This morning, I woke up at the semi-normal time of 8:3o, probably because I instinctively knew today would be a bumpy ride.



So, I sleepily grabbed my phone for a dopamine hit, but instead was hit with a bombshell text from Robert, who had just spoken to Gary, the floor guy.


Robert’s text said:


Gary wants to replace the entire floor because all of it is white oak.




The entire freaking floor?  My head was exploding because this came up in the first place because there were two kinds of oak hardwood floors downstairs. But now you’re saying it’s ALL white oak?



And then more from Robert about all that would need to transpire to level the floor:


  • Realigning the floor joists.
  • new subfloor
  • 350 sq feet of finish floor


on and on…


However, that’s not all.


The entire baseboard would need to be redone, and possibly some or all of the wall mouldings. And finally, most of the doors would require cutting down to fit the elevated floor.

Robert said he’d give me a quote later.

ummmmm… No time to think.

Of course, I told Robert to STOP THE PRESSES!

B & E had just arrived but thankfully hadn’t begun any demo of the garden level floor.

Did you know how stressful renovating can be? lol

I got Gary on the phone and confirmed that the existing bedroom floor is indeed white oak. Yes, the entire garden level is white oak.
Yesterday, Gary thought the bedroom was red oak, but it isn’t.

mix new and old white oak floor-sanded


In fact, it’s all beautifully sanded, and you can’t tell what’s old and what’s new in the embrasure hall. How cool is that?


Embrasure hall looking towards the bathroom
Here’s the bedroom and embrasure hall three months ago.

Well, all of it, except for the border in the bedroom which for some reason is red oak.

Gary told me that when white and red oak are stained, the color is usually not substantially different.

So, today, Gary showed me the white stain on a sample in the closet.

Below is part 1 of the staining process, the Rubio Monocoat pre-color in Nordic White


Rubio Monocoat precolor white only
This image was taken from a video, but you get the idea.

However, when he added the finish coat, Bona White stain, look what happened? (Below)

Two part white stain sample Rubio Monocoat precolor Nordic White Bona - White stain

The middle board, previously the lighter board, is now way darker. I want less contrast and a little less pink. Gary is bringing some other pre-color stains as well as some wood bleach.

In the meantime, he also stained the stair treads. I would show you, but there’s nothing much to see. The color is neither light nor dark, but without the poly, it’s impossible to see how it will look.


So, let’s take a look at some pics of upstairs where the painters were working hard.


And then there will be a quick tour of the living room on video.

painters protecting the kitchen July 9, 2024

I’ve worked with many painters and other trades for decades, but these painters are the best. They protect my home and vacuum as they go along. Oops, I do see the tools on the counter. Even though there’s plastic, it might not be enough. Hopefully, nothing chipped.

paint prep living room July 9, 2024

I just love this image of Serge working on the fill between the mantel and the wall. I do not know why the stone looks green, except for the bright light out of view here.  It’s black as can be, and I adore it. I can’t believe I get to live here!


paint prep vestibule July 9, 2024

I don’t know this young painter’s name, but like the rest is doing a terrific job making the vestibule look amazing.

Remember what a mess it was when I showed it to you last February?

door mess

crazy door casing


cut off door casing


Well, no more. It’s looking quite presentable now. I believe I will color wash this entire area, Farrow & Ball Downpipe.


Farrow & Ball Downpipe


My Samplize sample has been up for weeks, and it always looks fantastic.


And, now, a special treat from one of the living room doorway casings.


plinth block getting stripped

Yes, they’ve partially stripped the paint! Chris had an idea to have a colleague cast the plinth blocks in plaster. We’ll have to see if that’s a viable idea. There are 12 of these in the living room, and stripping each one is a huge task.


And now, the living room video and a peak at how the den looks right now.


Plus, you’ll get a close-up view of a portion of the horrible subfloor surrounding the new stairwell. That is the floor that hasn’t been laying flat ever since it was installed. When you see the video, it’ll be clear why that is so.



In the meantime, a bit of important business. If you’re new here, this is very rare.


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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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