I Have It All, Including Some Damaged Wood

I have a good life. A loving husband, three fine kids who, even in their teens, like to bring their buddies over to hang at our place, and a golden retriever who makes all right with the world (no one better to greet you when you’re having an off day). Oh, and wonderful friends who have surprised us on countless occasions with parties celebrating even loosely defined successes—and I mean the kind of parties where even our dog has guests… All this to say that after twenty years, my house has had a good life too—and the wear and tear had become pretty obvious throughout. Where I started to notice it was in our woodwork. We have a lot of interior wood—floors, kitchen cabinets, stairs and banister, windowsills, doors, baseboards. I used to joke that we were like a real fairy-tale house in the forest with everything wrought from the trees around us. There were scratches in the hardwood floors, and sun damage near the windows and on the windowsills. Our cabinets, too; it was like the grime had built up over the twenty years we’d raised our family here (money going to our kids needs over renovation projects). The baseboards were badly scraped up and worn out. The floors were discolored with pet stains, kid stains, with time happening.

Once you start to notice—I mean, really notice—there’s no turning back. We had some savings towards home improvement and the time had come. I hit the internet and called a couple local names, but the work was so extensive—why restore some of the wood and not all? Wouldn’t the neglected surfaces look even worse in comparison?—and quoted out expensive. And they were saying that we’d have to move out for three or four days—to a hotel! Where was that money supposed to come from? Then, one of those magical things happened where an old friend popped back in touch and happened to have had some wood restored in her old bungalow about a year before. She recommended The Wood Doctor. I looked up their website, which has exciting ‘before’-and-‘after’ pictures and also lays out, step by step, what they do and what you can expect. Their FAQ page addressed most of my concerns from the get-go. I called them the next morning and was very pleasantly surprised by the price they quoted. Also, their eco-friendly practices would have the added benefit—beyond being environmentally responsible, which we feel is important—of allowing us to stay in our home while the work was being done! We set something up for the end of the month.

TWD arrived promptly that Monday morning. We had, on instruction, removed everything from the kitchen drawers and countertops, as they would be starting with the kitchen cabinets (though they would empty the cabinets themselves—how nice). They were very careful about masking off all of the countertops and the floor, were just very professional right from the start. The kitchen cabinets were a two-day project and we couldn’t use the kitchen that first night, but who doesn’t love a pizza excuse once in a while? By the end of the second day, the kitchen was usable, which was amazing when you think that other contractors would have had us far from home on that second night.

After the kitchen cabinets, TWD restored the doors and windowsills, baseboards and moldings, the stairs and banister; that took them through the end of the week. Each afternoon, before they left at 4pm, they cleaned everything up—stacking equipment, putting things in bins—so there was never any mess to tiptoe and we never had to feel like we were at a crime scene investigation.

The following Monday, they started on the floors, sanding and sealing those in our family room, hallway, and the dine-in part of our kitchen. We could walk on them that night, shoeless—and, again, on the second night, after the job was completed. It was another two days before we could move all the furniture back, but that was that. So what were those other guys talking about, that we would have to vacate the premises for days, (our dog, too) and that the sealers and finishes might be harmful to our plants?

There’s something deeply satisfying about the kind of transformation that occurs when wood is restored to its original warmth and perfection—especially when your home is as heavily wood-accented as ours is. The end results were glorious; it looked better than we remembered ever seeing it—and honestly better than we had imagined it could. And our experience with the TWD was one big success from start to finish (or refinish, as the case may be). This time, we threw the party to celebrate.