Spring ’23 One Room Challenge|Whimsical Parlor|Refinishing our Hardwood Floors

Hello, and welcome back to Week Three of the One Room Challenge! This is my second ORC, and this time, I’m tackling my Parlor, or sitting room. In case you haven’t heard of it, the One Room Challenge is 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.

This week, I’ll be talking about refinishing our hardwood floors, and what that process has entailed. When we bought our house last July, the red oak floors were stained a mid-brown color. They weren’t terrible, but not my first choice either. Most of our main floor has hardwoods, other than the foyer, which means the parlor, office, family room, kitchen, butler’s pantry, and dining room are all hardwood. Since we moved in, I’ve managed to completely redecorate the foyer, the powder room, the butler’s pantry and dining room, and my two daughters’ shared bathroom upstairs. Once the parlor is finished, we will begin the biggest project – the kitchen! I’ll be blogging about that at a later date, but for now, suffice it to say, it is in dire need of an update! I already have the plans drawn up though, and it’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished! The new kitchen’s layout will change a bit, and the current island, which is ridiculously long, will get a new, and much more functional, size and shape. Because of these changes, we know we will need to refinish the hardwood floors in the kitchen, since there may not be any hardwoods under the existing island, and even if there are, they will likely be unstained. And since we will need to refinish the kitchen floors, we will definitely need to refinish the family room, butler’s pantry, and dining room since the kitchen is open to all of these other rooms. And since the parlor and office can be seen from the foyer, as well as the dining room and kitchen, those floors will need to be the same color! Originally, I had planned to do all of the floors as soon as we start the kitchen renovation, but that would have meant moving ourselves, and all of our furniture out of the house for a few days, while all of the floors were being refinished. But along came Larry Morris of Larry Morris Floor Services, who had an excellent suggestion to do the main floor in two stages. Although the kitchen and dining room can be seen from the foyer, there is tile in between those two rooms, and the parlor, office, and front staircase. By just starting with these three areas, we could move all of the furniture from them into the dining room and family room, and we can stay here during the work, by using the back staircase. And since Larry had a gap in his schedule to start this week, the timing was perfect to get the floors re-stained as part of the ORC!


Hardwood Floors Before

Parlor Hardwood Floors Before


So as you can see, there’s nothing wrong with the color of the floors before. They’re a very mid-tone brown, with some red/orange undertones from the red oak. But again, since all of the floors connecting to the kitchen will need to be refinished when we start that work, this was an opportunity to change the stain to something a little more up-to-date. Larry came prepared with his color deck, and when I mentioned that I would like to find a stain color that would help tone down the reddish-orange in the floors, he had several suggestions for me. My first thought was to try to go very light, almost mimicking white oak. To achieve this look with red oak is tricky, but Larry showed me a stain that called Weathered Oak by DuraSeal, which looked promising. But I was also intrigued by the idea of going very dark, almost black, on the floors, so we decided to do Ebony, Weathered Oak, and a grayish tone in-between the two called Aged Barrel.

From Left to Right, Weathered Oak, Aged Barrel, and Ebony


The Work Begins


The next day, Larry and his crew showed up on time, and got started prepping the rooms. I had managed to move most of the parlor contents into the dining room, but hadn’t even started on my office! Luckily, by the time the team taped off the rooms with plastic to prevent the dust from going all over the rest of the house, I had managed to move everything out of my office and into the family room. This was no small feat, as I have a LOT of stuff in my office – bins full of tile, fabric and trims, piles of paint decks, and more design books than my local library!! In any case, the team helped move the bigger pieces out, and they were ready to start sanding! The staircase took quite awhile, as there are so many small areas that a big floor sander can’t get to, so those all need to be scraped and sanded by hand. Of course sanding the floors creates a lot of dust, but the crew did a good job of taping off the rest of the house, and cleaning up all of the excess dust. By the end of day one, they had finished sanding the parlor, office, and staircase. The next step was to to put down the stain samples so I could make a decision.




Day One – Floors are Sanded and Samples are down!!


Test Samples!

Because the kitchen will be such a big project, I wanted to look at the sample stains with my cabinet color, which is the Ivory wood sample below, and the island color, the dark gray/black paint swatch below.


Ebony Stain – I love how this stain really evens out the red/pink/orange tones in the red oak, and the contrast between the ivory cabinet sample looks fantastic with the floors


Weathered Oak Stain – although this stain is much lighter than the others, it does help tone down the color variations in the wood, and provides a light, yet warm neutral backdrop


Aged Barrel Stain – this stain has a lot of gray in it, as well as a lot of green and blue undertones. Pretty, but not for this house


Choosing the stain color

When I tell you this has been one of the hardest design decisions I’ve ever made, I am not kidding. As soon as I saw the three options on the floor, I was luckily able to eliminate one, which was Aged Barrel. Although it’s a very pretty color, I feel like it has a rustic quality which doesn’t match the vibe of this house, so that decision was easy. But trying to decide between the Ebony and the Weathered Oak was tough! I love the classic depth of the Ebony, and the contrast it would provide to my mostly white walls. It would look fantastic next to the black and white foyer tiles, and would tie in the many black elements I have in the house. The Weathered Oak has a much softer, warmer feel to it, and while still fairly classic, is definitely a little more “on trend” right now. After much hand-wringing and polling the rest of my family, I decided to go with the Weathered Oak. Although most of this home has good light, and a dark floor would not make the rooms dark, the one room in the house that doesn’t get the best light is the kitchen, and this is where we spend the most time. When we renovate it, I plan to employ some tricks of the trade to brighten it up, but it concerned me that a very dark floor might suck up any natural light. Another downside to very dark floors is that they show every little bit of crumb or light colored dog hair that inevitably ends up on them – and I worried this would drive me nuts. I’m not exactly a neat or clean “Freak”, but I do think I would be bothered by this. So Weathered Oak it is, and I’m (pretty sure) I made the right decision!


Hardwood Floors After

On Day Two of the process, the crew came back to give the floors one more light sanding, and then got to work putting down the stain. This was surprisingly quick, and in a few hours, the floors were stained. They then left it overnight to dry, and came back today to seal the floors. Here is what they look like now:

Parlor Hardwood Floors After

The crew will be back tomorrow to put down the final coat of Poly, and install all of toe moulding, so it’s not completely finished, but close enough for me to get this post written 😉 I have to give a big shout out to Larry Morris Flooring, and his crew led by Orelio Ramirez. They’ve been great to work with, making what could have been a very stressful job, smooth and seamless.

Thanks for following along on this journey, and don’t forget to check out all of the other amazing One Room Challenge Participants here!

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