Love – hate relationship with a floor sander

We have wood floors (some kind of western fir tree) throughout the house. We decided to sand them all clean and put some kind of clear finish on them. Unfortunately, the upstairs floors had a couple coats of paint on them.


We rented a sander from the local hardware store and started the project. We went through oodles of sand paper! The paint just gummed it up! What was underneath was beautiful though.

The newly sanded floors being protected with Osmo Oil ( ). These are all natural oil and wax based floor treatments. Worked great!

Tubs, toilets and tapers

Plumbing work on the newly redesigned upstairs of the house was done simultaneously with the new walls. The change from one very large bathroom upstairs to two smaller (although really good size) ones required new plumbing everywhere. We are not plumbers – so we hired a great local contractor.


First, we needed to remove the downstairs kitchen ceiling to access and then replace the existing plumbing. Interesting! We found that the ceiling had been dropped quite a bit. We discovered the old paint and cute wallpaper. New plumbing will be higher so we can raise the ceiling!

Note: All the new supply lines and drains will be on the INSIDE of the house. The old drains were on the OUTSIDE of the house. Coming from an area that sees 20 below zero in the winter – this was alarming.


Tubs and toilets… one of the “small” bathrooms upstairs got a six foot tub! The other will have a large shower. More on that later…


Plastering is an art form (as far as I am concerned) so we hired an “artist” and expert to get the job done quickly.

Our designer/carpenter/craftsman (son) is doing a lot of this work himself ( ). We add additional help when we can. We know our limits though and our skills do not include plumbing and taping/plastering.



Do you remember our red cedar sheathing and walls throughout the house? Well, we decided to have an accent wall in each of the upstairs bedrooms. We pulled all the tacks and threads out and did a bit of sanding (see previous posts about netting and wallpaper in old homes). They are looking really nice!

Walls come down – walls go up

Following the new design plan (see previous post) – new wall construction began…

All the tongue and groove planks are now bare. The new stud walls are starting to go up. Wiring too! Designer and Dad working in tandem.


After the electrical inspection… we insulated between the walls to cut down on noise and then installed brand new sheetrock. New rooms starting to actually look like rooms!


Before we can create the new and improved floor plan design, walls have to come down. It’s always a surprise to see what is under the existing wall coverings.


Our smiling designer starts the process. Underneath paint, wallpaper and newer  sheetrock or cheap wood paneling we found bare wood. We were surprised! Where is the old plaster and lath?

The bare wood planks are tongue and groove western red cedar with thousands of small tacks with thread hanging off each one. NEVER saw that before.


We did some research and discovered that a less expensive way to cover walls in the mid to late 1800s was to stretch fabric netting over the bare wood and then cover the netting with wallpaper.  An article in  Old House Journal 1991 describes the process. Interesting!

We are doing a restoration of the house, but this is one technique we will probably not use.


The entire house – – sheathing and all inside walls are constructed with one inch thick, tongue and groove, cedar planks. The house is a large wooden box. Very sturdy!

From the top down…

We bought our house in Astoria because it had a number of very nice original features – original ship-lap siding, staircase, some windows and doors, high ceilings, wood floors (fir we think) and others. With that said, over the years there have been a number of “upgrades” that need to be corrected.

Together with our planner/designer/carpenter (full disclosure here – he is also our son) we decided to start with the second floor restoration.

First, we set up the downstairs as a one bedroom/studio apartment.


Then we planned the upstairs.

Here are some “before pictures” of the upstairs … note the swirly ceilings, old sheet rock over ???, painted paneling, and painted wood floors.



One “interesting” upgrade on the second floor is a GIANT bathroom. Previous owners took one of three original bedrooms and put in a large bathroom. My grandmother did the same thing with her old house back in the 1930s ish.

pre-sale photo 11

THE PLAN… our designer came up with a new floor plan for the second floor. It includes three bedrooms a master bathroom and a hallway bathroom for the other two bedrooms. Next stop – Town Hall and a building permit…



No superheroes here…

It may seem like we are zooming along at a superhero pace with our home restoration. We are not. I am posting things that have already been completed and trying to catch up to where we are now. Friends saw my photos and recommended I start blogging. First step – figure out how to blog!

But wait… who is this?


Meet our project manager, designer, carpenter and craftsman. Greg Swift, a University of Oregon School of Architecture graduate, is coordinating this project as well as floorplan design, carpentry and cabinetry. He is currently working out of Portland OR. Visit him at or

Maybe a superhero?

Back to basics…

When it comes to old house renovation, you have to go to the basics first… roof, foundation, heating, plumbing and hot water. We looked at all of these.

The Basement was super clean and nice when we bought the house. Unfortunately the heater (gas) was old and quit soon after we bought the house. We replaced it with a super efficient gas furnace.  We also installed a new “on demand” hot water heater.IMG_20170509_113147676

The house has stood in the same location for 123 years. The house had settled about 4 inches to one side – not bad for over a century! We wanted to make sure it would last another century so we contracted with TerraFirma to stabilize and lift the foundation. It worked! Here’s to 2118!

Of course an old house needs a new roof… Astoria requires a really good roof. You really need to tack it down for the winter winds and rain.AstoriaNewRoof

All this is worth it… look at our wonderful view!3