Fall ’23 One Room Challenge | French Bistro Inspired Kitchen | Week Seven

Welcome to Week Seven of the Fall ’23 One Room Challenge! Today I’m giving you a quick recap on refinishing our hardwood floors in the French Bistro Inspired Kitchen Renovation.

In case you’re new here, my name is Justine Dennen, and I’m the owner of Blue Leopard Interiors, a boutique residential interior design firm in Great Falls, VA. And if  you haven’t heard of the One Room Challenge, it’s an eight week online event which happens every spring and fall, where interior decorators and home bloggers, undertake redesigning or designing from scratch a room of their choosing, while sharing the progress along the way. It’s not a competition, as there is no winner, just a supportive group of like-minded design enthusiasts challenging themselves to complete a room in eight weeks. Huge thanks to Linda Weinstein, the creator and director of the One Room Challenge!



Refinishing the Hardwood Floors



Last week the countertops and backsplash were installed, and it was finally beginning to feel like we had our kitchen back, but this week felt like we had to take take three steps backwards in order to take three steps forward. The last step in this kitchen renovation is the refinishing of our hardwood floors in the kitchen, breakfast nook, family room, butler’s pantry and dining room. This meant we had to move all of our furniture, rugs, plants, and anything else that sits on the floors (and isn’t attached, like cabinets) out, and that we would not be able to walk on said floors for four days during the refinishing process.

As I talked about in this post a couple of weeks ago, we’ve known since we started the renovations in this house that we would need to refinish all of the hardwood floors when we renovated the kitchen. Because the existing hardwoods didn’t extend under our old cabinets and island, there would be patching in of those sections necessary, and then those patched sections would need to be finished. Since it’s nearly impossible to match new wood and stain to old wood and stain, it’s best to sand down and refinish all of the floors, then re-stain them again. But refinishing floors is not a small undertaking. The process takes several days, during which the floors can’t be walked on, and everything has to be moved out of the rooms and stored somewhere for the duration of the process. So when I designed our Whimsical Parlor for the One Room Challenge this past spring, I decided it made sense to refinish half of the main floor at a time, so that we wouldn’t have to move out completely for a week (and find space to store everything), if we were to do all of the rooms at once. So at the end of April, we moved everything out of the room and my office, which both sit at the front of the main floor and are separated from the rest of the main floor by the tiled entryway, and were able to try a few different stain samples so that we could decide on what color we wanted to re-stain the floors. The wood floors in this house are red oak, which are pretty, but not as versatile as white oak, as there will always be a bit of a pinkish-red undertone to them, unless you go very dark. Here’s a photo of the stains we sampled then:



Ebony, Weathered Oak, and Aged Barrel stains sampled in April 2023 for the Whimsical Parlor One Room Challenge, which you can read more about in this post




We took a family vote, and everyone agreed that Weathered Oak was the winner! Here’s a before and after of our front staircase after that side of the main floor was refinished:




Here you can see how the Weathered Oak stain really helped tone down all of the pinkish-red undertones in the red oak floors, while still be light and much more updated than the old floor stain.


Floor Refinishing Process


Although we could have refinished the kitchen/breakfast nook/family room/butlers pantry/ dining room floors right after they were patched, I wanted to wait until all of the cabinets were in so that we could get all of the kitchen contents (pots, pans, plates, silverware, etc), out of boxes and into the cabinets, so that we would have less things to move. So last weekend, we packed up everything in the family room, breakfast nook, and dining room, and moved it all into either the parlor, garage, or entryway – but we needed to make sure we had a clear path to both the upstairs staircase and the staircase down to the basement, since we needed to have access to our bedrooms and the temporary kitchen in the basement! I forgot to take a photo of all of the furniture, rugs, etc stacked up, but it was pretty funny. And on Monday they started the process! Larry Morris Floor Service’s crew showed up bright and early to start prepping. They did an excellent job of taping everything off and hanging huge sheets of plastic to prevent dust from entering the rest of the house. By the end of the first day, they had almost everything sanded with the big floor sanders. The next morning they finished hand-sanding all of the smaller corners, edges, and other hard-to-reach spots. Once that was done, they applied the first coat of stain. On Wednesday, they applied the second coat. And Thursday they were back to apply the sealant, and put all of the quarter rounds back into place. By Friday morning we could walk on it, but had to wait until Saturday to put all the rugs and furniture back into place. Here are some shots of the dining room before, during and after:

The Dining Room floors BEFORE refinishing




The Dining Room floors DURING refinishing




The Dining Room floors AFTER refinishing


To see any photos of the kitchen floors, you will just have to wait until next week – the FINAL REVEAL – Week Eight of the One Room Challenge!! Let’s hope I have everything complete, the styling done, and professional photos taken in time!! Renovating this kitchen to be the French Bistro Inspired Kitchen of my dreams has been a lot of hard work, but I know it will all be worth it!!

Until then, be sure to check up on all of my fellow One Room Challenge Participants, and see how all of their amazing projects are coming along!

Cheers to Fab Interiors!




Here is my ORC progress

Week 1  ||  Week 2  ||  Week 3  ||  Week 4  ||  Week 5  ||  Week 6 ||  Week 7  ||  Week 8