The Beach Cottage {what lies beneath}

How about a beach cottage renovation update?

The flooring guy came last week and tore all of the carpet out of the cottage. Signal the halleluiah chorus!  We learned from our local historical society that our cottage dates back to at least 1888 (that is the earliest record they have on the house).  The hardwoods beneath the carpet are original to the house.  It’s just incredible to me.

The wood floors in the bedroom (most likely douglas fir) had suffered some abuse over the past 125 years, including (a) brown lead based paint and (2) glue adhesive that was just all over the room.  Add a century’s worth of beach sand and dust and you can understand why I called in a professional.  Like sheer magic, the bedroom was transformed by the work of an industrial sander (we vacated the house due to potential for lead dust).  The bedroom floors are now bare, beautiful, 125 year old planks.  It smells delicious-like a cross between a lumber yard and a Christmas tree farm.  As you know, my plan was to paint the floors, but I honestly don’t know if I can bring myself to put paint back on this beautiful piece of history we have uncovered.  I am leaning toward a few coats of poly and letting the floors just breathe.  No stain.  They are the color of beach sand and just so pretty.

Here are a few images of similar floors, in their “as nature intended” color:

What do you think?  Leave them natural?


  1. Leave them alone! They sound amazing!!!! How exciting to uncover such a gorgeous piece of history!

  2. Exposed to light, they could turn very yellowish over time. Here in Norway we have some kind of light filter stuff, that keeps the wood from yellowing… I would recomend that.

  3. I LOVE the look of painted floors, but there is something so beautiful about natural floors! You can always paint them later! Good luck making all these fun decisions!!

  4. Yes E, I say leave them. you can always paint them later if you decide. Also we just used a great Green poly on our table we built. It’s called Safecoat Acrilaqure sp? and you can put it on and not have to vacate your house. We used the gloss and absolutely love it…it brings out all the character of the wood. Good luck and I can’t wait to see it!

  5. I vote to leave them natural! I wonder what it would look like to paint a stencil border in some of the rooms. Or I imagine a compass stencil on that first picture right in the center. Could be fun…

  6. I love them! I would leave as is and you could always paint them down the road if you wanted the change.

  7. Yes Yes Yes–Leave them Natural. There is nothing more gorgeous and warm and says home like wood floors…

  8. We have this kind of wood also here in our 90 year old chalet. Our carpenter sanded the floors (they were covered with carpets as we bought the house) and treated the wood with natural oil and carnauba wax. This gives the wood protection against water and lets get the wood darker over the time.
    Today I wood eventually use the soap method instead of oil and wax, because the wood stays moore in the same color and doesn`t change in darker und yellow.
    Sorry for my bad english, xoxo from Switzerland
    Love your blog and your story

  9. I cringed when you said you were going to paint them, but thought, “Ah well. To each his own.”

    So I say, leave them!


  10. Erin, Wow-I used to faithfully stalk your blog, but have been very busy renovating/restoring a 112 year old farmhouse, establishing a farm, mothering, and helping my husband in SW Michigan. I have lots of catching up to do with your lovely photos, insights and ideas 🙂 Our house had hand milled (probably on site) maple flooring under the century of abuse we removed, and like you, once the bare wood was exposed, made a new plan! We used AFM Natural Oil Wax finish and our floors just glow! They did change color slightly from the bare wood…but, wow-just wow! I have six kids and lots of farm dirt as well as ongoing renovation, and it’s been a good finish as far as durability and cleaning too. We bought it from an online source in Canada b/c we couldn’t find it stateside. If you want to check it out,

  11. Leave them natural. I wouldn’t want to cover up that natural beauty!

  12. I would choose to leave them in their gorgeous, natural state, but I know whatever you do will look lovely. What does Mr. Rare and Beautiful think?

  13. I think whatever you choose will be beautiful.
    I am just getting caught up on your beautiful life over here!!!

    When I took a break from blogging during Lent, I had such a hard time coming back on a regular basis.

    I’e gone back and read about 5 posts to see the story behind moving back to the beach in MI… excited for you….we also just moved back to my home state, Georgia….one week ago today!

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