Design Dilemma: What to Do with All That Wood?


Hi friends! This week I wanted to share a serious design dilemma that we have been facing regarding all the original woodwork in our house. Out of all the design decisions we’ve made with this house renovation, determining what to do about all of this original wood has been one of the most difficult and something that I had admittedly been pushing to the side because it overwhelmed me to think about.

The amount of wood in this house is no joke – it’s A LOT but it’s also beautiful, cozy and ORIGINAL. The wood detailing is what drew both Brandon and I to the home in the first place. Everything from the custom built-ins to the wood columns, ceiling beams, wall paneling, trim, baseboards, and crown moulding was part of the original design of the 100 year old home and the level of craftsmanship isn’t something you typically come across in many homes these days. That’s not to say we didn’t have our concerns about the amount of wood (hehe that’s what she said?). Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a gorgeous wood den just as much as the next girl, but I just think there are a few factors to consider when determining whether to keep and preserve woodwork vs. paint. Here’s a few things that we took into account that can be applied to anyone who finds themselves in a great wood debate like this one:

  1. The Bones: I love the style of of the woodwork in our home – it’s relatively simple with a few unique details here and there. I feel whatever we decide to do, the style of the woodwork will not be lost.
  2. Overall Condition: You can’t really tell from the photos, but most of the wood is BEAT UP and pretty sad looking, meaning that whatever we want to keep would need to be refinished and either stained or painted.
  3. Rooms Feel Small and Dark:  Our home isn’t huge – each room is relatively small. We also don’t get a ton of natural light at certain times of the day so the use of darker tones needs to be done sparingly in order to not make the home feel cave-like. Our ceilings are also pretty tall at 9 feet and I felt that some of the trim in the living room broke up the walls too much, making the room feel a lot shorter and smaller than it is.
  4. The Color: These photos also don’t do a great job at portraying the true color of the wood. While the color might appear ideal to some, the wood has a little too much of an orange/red undertone for my liking and makes things feel a little outdated.
  5. Cost: While there really is no escaping the cost of refinishing and either staining and/or painting, there is the option to remove some of the trim, moulding, baseboards, paneling, etc. so there simply isn’t as much wood to refinish. Cost to refinish ain’t cheap.

Taking into account these concerns, the main question we were facing was: How do we achieve a modernized feel while still preserving the original craftsman wood detailing? Do we keep all of the wood, then refinish it and stain it? Do we refinish and paint? Do we refinish, stain some and paint some? And if so, what do we stain vs. paint? Should we remove some of the wood moulding, trim, etc? If so, which ones? My head hurts just typing out all of those questions.

Ultimately, we decided to keep some and remove some, stain some and paint some. I don’t know how the final product will turn out because they are starting on it all this week so ya’ll will need to check back for Part 2: THE OUTCOME!

Brett Foken