For the first floor living areas and kitchen, I selected a natural hickory from hardwoodbargains.com.  Because they are based in Austin, Texas, I was able to visit their showroom to see it in person before purchasing.


When laying the boards, open two or three boxes at a time. Here I’ve organized them by length and general pattern characteristics. Yes, I hand-selected where every single board went. And yes, it drove my family crazy :-).


The first row must be secured with a staple gun because there just isn’t enough room to get a flooring nailer that close to the wall.


After every few rows, its a good idea to check for square.

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And here’s the finished product. Love.


2nd bedroom on the first floor.


This is the flooring nailer I used which I purchased from Harbor Freight for around $150. When the job was complete, I sold it on Craig’s List for $100 :-).

Stair Landing & Bottom Treds

The stairs above the landing received carpet, but I wanted the landing and stairs leading into kitchen to look a bit nicer, so I installed oak treds, finished with a dark walnut stain.

The bottom left image shows what they looked like before I started; right image shows treds on bottom two steps with pine risers.


I purchased 3/4″ plywood for the two angled landings and purchased oak bullnose to round the edges.  It was very difficult to get it lined up just right – and just as difficult screwing in tiny finish screws to secure it.

Finished product:


Because tile was covering only a very small percentage of the first floor, it was not a top design priority for me.  My only requirement was that it be 18″x18″ and a dark brown to bring out the darkest brown in the hickory flooring.  I found this dark brown porcelain tile from HomeDepot that fit the bill.  Two of the tiles, for whatever reason, were noticeably thicker than the other tiles.  Aside from that, I was satisfied with my selection.


Here’s the before picture of the Master Bath. HardiBacker board was then screwed down prior to setting the tile.


Master Bath with tile set – before grout.


Laundry room after tile set – before grout.



I found some great carpet at a great price at The Carpet Stop in Austin.  They could schedule the install within just a few days, so I had to pull a couple of almost-all-nighters to get everything ready before they arrived! My daughter Shelby did every inch of the base molding on the stair well!


To avoid getting caulk and touch-up paint on installed carpet, install baseboards before carpeting.


This is a shot of the second floor into bedroom 3 from the loft area (now my home office).