Around the House: Flooring Fix

There is a lingering half-finished project that has been embarrassing the heck out of me for a year. You know the kind I mean? The one that you KNOW looks TERRIBLE. The one that’s right out in the open so there’s no way anyone who visits could possibly overlook it. The one that you just keep putting off for whatever reason and have trained your brain to pretend like it doesn’t exist. Yeah, that one.

In my house, the project was the half-removed railing in my living room. Behold:

Designing Dawn - railing tear out

Backstory: There used to be a giant 70s style railing here separating the living room from the kitchen area. I hated it with a passion and wanted to tear it out from the moment we moved in.

I originally convinced myself that I could live with it, and painted the whole thing white, thinking that would help me accept it. It did not. (A few old photos here of how the space was looking pre railing removal.)



I couldn’t get past how it made the living room feel caged in. We have a sunken living room, with a step down from the kitchen, which is why the railing was there I suppose. But the combination of the two was reminiscent of a zoo. I decided it had to go.

Early in my pregnancy with June, when I was past the morning sickness, but not quite to the extreme exhaustion phase (isn’t pregnancy beautiful?) I got a sudden nesting urge to demolish the railing. So with the hub telling me I was insane, I tore the whole thing out. Or almost the whole thing.

The railing was a BEAST to remove. It was so well constructed that I actually injured my wrist trying to pry it loose. So by the time I got the majority of it out I was dead tired and the bottom piece, aka the most stubborn, heavy, and difficult piece, was still there.

But I was really happy, because there was no more cage, and I could envision how it would all look when we removed the rest and fixed the floor and it was progress!

And that was 18 months ago, according to this photo on my instagram feed.

A photo posted by Dawn Sailors (@designingdawn) on


Yeah. I know. I’m embarrassed by my own lack of follow through. But I’m happy to finally report that we have flooring!

That’s right. just over a month ago, I decided I’d had enough and got out my crowbar and hammer. I wrestled with that darn thing and enlisted the hub to provide a little extra muscle too, and we finally won the battle. The element of this project that had been causing my hesitation was literally removed in 15 min. I really don’t know why I put it off for so long.

Designing Dawn - railing tear out

Once it was out, the process was super simple. We had some extra floor boards (they’re laminate) in the basement that the previous owners very kindly saved for us, so I just cut them down to size and glued them down with quickset. It took a little work to get them level, because the railing was set lower than the rest of the floor, but once I had it worked out with some scrap wood underneath, it was nearly seamless.

Designing Dawn - railing tear out

The last step was installing the stair nose. Apparently, as I found out from first hand experience, you can’t just go to Lowes and buy a stair nose. You have to order them and it takes a couple of weeks to get them. So I had to live with the unfinished look a bit longer. I took a photo of the profile, and a scrap of our flooring in to the store to make sure the color would match, and I had to order two lengths, since they come in 78″ sections and we needed 154″ total.

Designing Dawn - railing tear out

It was a little frustrating to finally have the floor fixed and then have to wait two weeks for it to really look nice, but the final result is so worth the wait. Here it is with the stair nose finally all installed!

floor patching


I have some plans for this area eventually. (I feel like I say that about everything in this house.) For starters, we will remove the sliding glass doors at some point and replace them with French doors. Brett isn’t keen on that idea for some weird reason, but I can’t get over the dream of French doors and my hatred for apartment style sliders. It will happen. Another change I’m contemplating is extending the kitchen area over by adding permanent base cabinets on this side. I’ve been told that sounds strange, but I have a vision. That one is still up in the air, so for now, I’ll be content with this little red vintage hutch/table I picked up at Junkstock a couple years ago. I do love the pop of color it adds to the space.



I also patched and painted the hole in the back wall where the railing had been (again, why did this take me so long??) and the overall space just feels so much cleaner and brighter. I really love it! I’ll leave you with before/after photos looking in from the kitchen, so you can really tell just how huge a difference this made in providing an open-concept feeling to our kitchen/living room area.


What do you think?? It makes such a world of difference in person. I even had one outspoken family member (it was Dania) tell me that this is the best and most overdue update we’ve made to the house so far. So I guess you could say it has been met with wide approval.

dawn sig




  • Kelly

    Just curious. .. did you consider making it all one level, by building up the living room floor?

    • Dawn Sailors

      Hi Kelly! We didn’t consider that option for a few reasons. The first one would obviously be the cost. It would be a very involved project that would have included new electrical (moving outlets that are too close to the floor), rerouting HVAC, installing new windows (our living room windows currently go all the way to the floor), rebuilding the built in shelving/storage around the fireplace, in addition to all new flooring. I also would HATE to lose any height in the room. I already wish the ceilings were higher, so losing an extra 4-6 inches wouldn’t be ideal. The step has actually never bothered us at all, so just removing the railing to open up the sight lines in the room was all I needed to be really happy with the layout in here, and it only cost us the price of new stair nose. :)

  • Mel

    I like your idea of extra cabinets or maybe a china cabinet, like a built in with shelves or cubbies on one side so you could use it both in the living room side and kitchen. But then you might have to move part of your sofa. Or a storage style bench with padding on top.

  • Debbie

    I liked it better the way it was.

    • Dawn Sailors

      Hi Debbie. I know some people would prefer the look of the railing, but after living with it for a few years, we knew it just wasn’t ideal for us in our home. It’s one of those preference things I suppose, but it’s been a really good change and makes the room feel much more open, modern, and spacious! It’s also one less thing for the kids to climb on. ;)

  • Amy

    I really like what you did with the space, but I love the sectional. who makes it?

    • Dawn Sailors

      Thanks, Amy! We purchased the sectional from Nebraska Furniture Mart a few years back, but I couldn’t tell you who the manufacturer is. :/ It’s been an awesome piece for us though.

  • Jill @ The Rozy Home

    I love it!! Of course with my luck and lack of balance I would fall off of it (I am seriously that clumsy). It really made. Huge difference – love!

  • Sandra

    Looks great! Is that a white vent below the floor at the back of the couch?
    I like how you could jump from the kitchen floor to the backless part of the sofa!
    Why is there a wood landing in the living room? I’m assuming you’ll eliminate that when new carpet is needed?
    It’s funny what some people do when they build a new house. There seems to always be something that makes you wonder “why did they do that”. We’re starting to build now and I fear that I’ll make some stupid mistake like that.

    • Dawn Sailors

      Hi Sandy! There is a vent behind the couch, yes. And I need to screw it back into place still. ;) As for the sofa, jumping onto it and off of it is one of Vera’s favorite past times, ha! The wood on the lower level is actually more practical than pretty, because it is right in front of the door that comes in off the garage (you can kind of see the door in the ‘before’ photo from when we first bought the house). So it’s one of the dirtiest places in winter especially, since we always go in and out that door, and we’ll probably never put carpet there. It would be impossible to keep clean! I would feel the same way with a new build though. So nerve-wracking to know you have to live with every decision and hope you don’t make a mistake!! You’ll do great though. I’m sure it will be beautiful. :)

      • Sandra

        Oh, cool! I didn’t know that room had a door out! That makes sense then! I love complete honesty, isn’t it the best that we can trust that we’ll get it from our siblings, especially our twins!


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