Too Traditional

Once upon a time, our house was an ordinary 70’s style split entry complete with carpet, oak cabinetry, hollow core doors, basic trim, and speckled brassy handles.


We know because the basement hasn’t been updated.


We’re the third owners, with a middle man between us and the family that built it.  While we appreciate the quality of the updates the second owner did, the style is too traditional.  Gaudy lighting (the easiest thing to change) and mullioned windows aren’t in line with the simple architecture or natural setting of this house.


Now, I know the 70’s (and 80’s) aren’t known for great, classic style so the updates are in fact upgrades.  However, I’m not a fan of the inlaid diagonal wood floors throughout the majority of the main level.


Especially how they wrap around to the stairs.  Rather than matching hardwood planks, I’d love solid treads with white painted risers.


Again, I appreciate the 3/4 inch floors and don’t hate oak as a floor.  If we had chosen, I’d go with wider, natural toned planks in a straight lay.  For the extra waste from a diagonal pattern paired with the expense of the inlay, we could have had some really stunning floors.

As much as this wood isn’t my style, nothing about it is going to change.  If the condition was bad, we’d refinish.  Fortunately, that’s not necessary because it’s a huge, dusty hassle.  The lighter oak inlay detail wouldn’t show up unless stained or sealed differently than the rest of the floor.  Replacing is a huge waste that neither Ben or I can justify, so we’re stuck here.

Another update I wish we had a choice in are the doors.  Six panel solids, these are quality doors.  Though I’d prefer a simple two or three panel.  Because these are in good shape, these stay, too.


That traditional glossy railing is a different story.  Once outside work (siding) wraps up, I’d love to get this swapped out.


The posts and spindles are spendy, so I’d happily haul them to ReStore for someone else to use.  In my current plan, the square newel posts and balusters would be painted white with stained handrails.  Sometimes, we can replace what we don’t like.  Others, we’ve got to “Make it work” a la Tim Gunn.  Anything in your house you wish you could change but can’t?

16 thoughts on “Too Traditional

  1. Oh my goodness, I have to say… I’m glad you aren’t changing the floors. I think they’re gorgeous! I figured it was one of the reasons you ended up buying the house in the first place! At least it’ll be good for resale value to keep them in? I don’t think they’ll look out of place with all your other modernizations, just a unique feature! 🙂 Updated railings will look great!

  2. I like the changes you’ve made so far, and I don’t hate the floors. If I could change anything in my house, it would be the location of the stairs…I don’t know where I’d put them, but they wouldn’t be where they are! lol

    We also have flat panel doors that I dislike but can’t justify changing…and ugly brass door handles (which may get changed at some point, but the windows need replaced first).

    1. I feel your pain re: ugly brass door handles! Have you thought about spray painting them? I found a good tutorial online but I’m afraid to take the plunge.

  3. Girl, just go ahead and send your banister right over. Part of ours is just straight falling off. And when I trip on the basement stairs it does nothing to catch my fall…
    I’m with you on the flat panel doors. Our house is full of them. And lots of them have some holes. The last home owner liked to take their frustrations out on the doors. Not cool.

    1. Hi Mary!

      Ha, I’ll ship them over when we’re done. 😉 Don’t you want to take your frustrations out on the old owner for doing that?!? And they’re not easy to fix aside from getting a new door.

      Good luck to you!!

  4. I wish I could vault some of our ceilings. I wish we had lived with the house for a while before we redid the kitchen. We had talked about opening it up, but I was pregnant at the time and it could not wait (it had original late 50s early 60s appliances that sorta-sometimes worked).

    1. Hey Wendy!

      Occasionally I’d love to have nice vaulted ceilings with wood beams. Our free span trusses just won’t allow that so it’s off the table. I know exactly how you feel!!

      At least you’ve got a new, functional kitchen, right? Just stinks that you couldn’t get it exactly the way you want when you’re already doing the work.

  5. Our entire staircase was shiny 90s oak everywhere: treads, risers, trim, posts, handrails, etc. I just finished up painting the risers, trim and newel posts white, keep the treads oak to match the rest of our floors, and used General Finishes Gel Stain in Java to darken the handrail and thicker support posts. The get stain went on like butter and was super easy to do! Painting all the thin posts white was the hard part.

    1. Hi Jill!

      Glad to hear you liked the Gel stains. I’ve never had a need to try them, but I’ve heard some good stories, but a few bad, too. I hear you on painting the rest, it’s a lot of detail. Kudos for getting it done!!!


  6. I like how you didn’t trash the former owners and showed appreciation for the quality of their work. All too often on DIY blogs I feel bad for these folks when bloggers are all “Ugh, what were they thinking? What a mess!”

    I live in a builder grade home in the burbs (no regrets, it was an amazing deal purchased when the housing market crashed and it is our forever home). The former owners did a lot of upgrades. Still my dilemma is trying to continue their work and add lots of craftsman elements.

    Any advice?

    1. Hi Mia!

      Just because I don’t love it doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly okay and in good condition, so I’d hate to think it necessary to replace. However, there are a few “What were they thinking” cases with plumbing and electrical. It depends on the craftsman style, but that’s a very workable style in my opinion. 🙂 Send pics and I’d be happy to take a look.


  7. Hi Amanda,
    Great post and I love your follow-up on the things you love too. I was wondering if you have considered painting your wood floors (gasp! I know!) Actually painted hardwood floors are something I have always loved and I think it would look amazing on your floor. The pattern of the floor is quite current but the borders and colour are dated as you mentioned. Painting the floor would allow the pattern to shine and also your wonderful furniture finds. And I love when the paint starts to wear – adds such a cozy/lived in character.
    I wasn’t able to find any on the diagonal so if you painted yours it would be pretty unique – here a some amazing ones.

    Thanks for all your inspiration!

    1. Hi JoAnne,

      For durability, I don’t think I could ever convince Ben to paint the floors. They’re in really good shape (a few areas have small scratches). If we were to do anything to the floors, I’d rather sand them to refinish with a satin clear coat. But, almost the entire main level is wood and that’s where we live. It would be such a pain to do right now. If the floors were in bad shape, that’d be a different story. Basically, we’re stuck when them as is until they get too beat up.


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