Den Renovation: Paint, Ceiling, Electric…

Our den renovation is moving along. Paint samples came from Farrow & Ball this morning. We also want to try a few Benjamin Moore and Milk Paint samples on the walls too.

Other to dos which need to happen before paint goes up on the walls.

1. Call an electrician to find out how we replace the old wiring in the house. Can it be done piece by piece or does it have to all be done at once? Since the ceiling is opened up I want to find a solution before we move forward.

2. We need to decide if we are going to rip out the walls and ceilings of the other two rooms on this floor (guest room and dining room shown below, hopefully someday two bedrooms). The walls are cracking and in really bad shape. All the woodwork has been rimmed out of these rooms so preservation is not a concerned. The rooms have the same old floors as the den so hopefully the room will still look period correct. We need to decide soon so I can maybe hire someone to hang all new drywall for the rooms ceilings and walls at once. Maybe we can do this ourselves but a decision needs to made one way or another.

3. If we do remove the walls in the other room we can blow in insulation—which is a plus in my book. Currently the house has no insulation which makes for a chilly winter.

4. We have two fireplaces on the second floor. I need to call a chimney guy to find out what I am really dealing with and get some estimates. Currently they are caving in and we don’t have caps on the top—we have a lovely rainfall effect when we have Spring storms and a great breeze through the room in the middle of January.

5. I need to call around for estimates to have my floors stripped. There is no way I am doing this ourselves. Stripping and sanding floors is a disgusting labor intensive job. I’ve heard if your an amateur you’ll screw them up and regret it for the rest of your life. Also, the paint on the floors is nasty stuff. I would rather save up and leave it to the professionals.

Then after I have checked all my to dos off the list I can go back to decorating which frankly is a lot more fun. Maybe I was jumping the gun talking about sofa styles? I feel like I’ve been putting off calling for help because I’m over anticipating the cost. I know every project will be jaw-dropping expensive. But my impatience over the slow pace of the renovation has gotten to me. I would love to have this floor completed this summer so we can get back to renovating our bathrooms. I’m willing to bite the bullet and call in the professionals for some advice. I just don’t know if my other half is on the same page.

Above and below photos from the second floor of our house in different stages of the renovation. For a video tour of the den click here.

Related Posts:
House Renovation: Removing Cabinet
Video: Paint in Den Stripped
View All House Renovation Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

You may also like


  1. Hi Katy!

    We’ve been there and done that in a VERY old home and I just had to share a couple of things after reading this. 1. Do the electric all at once. It can be quite invasive, esp. in the older homes, and you wouldn’t want to damage any of your future progress. 2. Have the hardwood floors done professionally, but make sure it’s a good one or you might as well have done it yourself! This we learned :( Here’s a link to all the posts dealing with our renovation of a 400-year-old cottage en France.


  2. Hi Katy. The electrician is going to need access behind the walls and ceiling to rewire the house. He will be leaving lots of big holes (3 ft by 3 ft) in the walls so I would definitely do that first thing. It would easier to hire out the drywalling because they are cheaper for the amount of labor involved. There’s a relatively new way to refinish floors called “dustless sanding.” It costs more and they need to hook up right into your electric panel. They pull up with a huge truck and hoses that suck the dust right out. I haven’t personally had this done but I have read about it and there are raves from people who have done it. Since that’s lead paint on the floors that’s the way to go. It’s going to beautiful. Hang in there.


  3. Just wanted to throw in a couple of cents. I definitely recommend hiring someone to do both electrical work and flooring!

    The electrical should be done before you re-do the ceiling and paint everything. They can probably do one room at a time. Do you have the old knob and tube wiring? I think it can get a little more tricky. But either way hire a professional!

    Also the floors – we are getting our floors sanded and refinished. They were never painted, but they are a real mess, all gooped up with god-knows-what. It’s costing about $1200 for 3 bedrooms, with closets and a hallway connecting (about 700 sq feet). They are also replacing all the quarter-round pieces around the perimeter. Just to give you a reference point.

    The den is looking so lovely – it’s going to be such a beautiful space – you’re almost there!


  4. I can imagine that there are moments when you just want to be done and you wish some fairy would come in and wave a wand and it all be done. All I can say is how much I love seeing your progress and how I think every choice will be better because of your pace and patience. Hang in there!!


  5. Hi Katy,

    I have been reading your wonderful blog for several months and just wanted to comment on a few of your to-do’s. My husband and I just finished renovating our wooden 1870s house. We did a lot of the work ourselves, but hired professionals for some as well.

    Our heart pine floors had a lot of paint on them and we hired a great guy who did a fantastic job. It cost $4,200.00 for 6 rooms, two halls and the stairs and I would pay it again the results are so great. I thought about doing it ourselves and am beyond glad that we didn’t. It was very labor intensive and there were massive amounts of dust. We used a satin finish so the floors almost look waxed rather than polyurethaned.
    We also hired a drywaller to put up drywall in place of plaster in the kitchen and bathroom. He was fast and cheap so I would definitely consider hiring someone for that as well unless you are skilled at hanging drywall.
    We also opted not to put insulation in our walls because it is very damaging to frame buildings and most preservationists will tell you not to do so. Moisture builds up inside the walls and can’t escape because there is not breathing room once insulation is packed in. Eventually the boards will rot.
    Most of the heat is lost through the attic and floor rather than through the walls. Plaster is a really good, natural insulate.
    Also, rather than replace our plaster walls with drywall we hired building arts students trained in plaster work to make repairs. You might look into the North Bennett St. School in Boston to see if they have student artisans who can work for reduced rates.
    Good luck with everything – you have a beautiful house and a great sense of style. (I have also painted my living room walls green with slightly off-white wainscoting and trim and have enjoyed all of your green room pictures!)


  6. Ahh the fun stuff!! Few know what really goes into an old house.

    When the floors are in that condition it is hard and horrible work, I would not recommend doing the floor yourselves.
    Ask your sander what grit they take the floor to, otherwise you will end up with swirls. Also I use 2 coats, with my finish coat being a semi-gloss finish, I think it looks more historic than the gloss finish and it wears nicely. They will be beautiful when they are done. After our floors were done and had dried for a few days, we covered them in Roisin paper and then tar paper, it is the floor best protection if you are still doing work, such as when the day finally arrives to PAINT!!!


  7. re. floor stripping, we had 2 rooms done professionally and then did 4 ourselves. it really isn’t too hard just seriously messy and grunt work. and you have to have upper body strength. between pushing and pulling around the big sander and leaning over with the hand-held for small areas i was sore! i’d say it takes a full weekend per room.
    also the electrical in pieces- that wasn’t a problem. we have done ours in a couple sections. and we hired someone but then my husband wired our barn himself and has done small jobs in the main house. he learned from books. not something i would want to do! but if you have a wall opened up you want to take the opportunity and do the work then.


  8. oh my gosh laura the crazy thing is that’s hardly a list. If you would knew my real list you would surely cry.

    When it all becomes so overwhelming the task of fixing leaking chimneys hardly feels like a problem. Crazy, right? Renovating a house is lot like real life problems….just when you think you couldn’t possibly find the strength to deal with anymore, you do, and life goes on…


  9. katy, you are my hero. if that were my to do list, i think i would sit down and cry. but also, it looks like a really exciting adventure and i like seeing the progress.