When we remodeled the kitchen at the farmhouse, we started with the floor.

I thought it would be easy and five-minutes and not-too expensive and done before Dancing With the Stars came on.

I thought wrong.

We pulled up four layers of flooring on our kitchen floor before we reached the original floors underneath.  It was an arduous journey, full of twists and turns and disappointment and the occasional moment of triumph.

Kind of like 20,000 leagues under the sea.

And when the final floor was revealed, my husband called me over with dismay in his voice,

“Oh no,” he sighed.  “What are we going to do about this?”

In one section of the kitchen, there were burn holes scattered all over the wood.

Decades ago, before the first layer or the second layer or the third and fourth layer of flooring, in a long ago chapter of the farmhouse, originally there was an old stove that stood against the wall of the kitchen next to the brick.

A stove people used to cook with.

And with that cooking comes sparks and sparks on wood translates into the occasional burn mark on the floor where a wayward spark escaped the oven.

My husband stared at those burn marks and patiently explained to me in great detail that we could fix it.  We could pull up wood from the closets that would match the existing flooring and hopefully have enough wood to replace all the planks that were damaged.

He walked around measuring and discussing and planning and searching for a crowbar to pull up the wood.

I didn’t say anything.

I just stood there….

….looking at the floor.

Staring at it in awe.

Oh….the stories those planks could tell.

Of long ago housewives and people that actually used the kitchen for cooking and horses pulling up to the house and hungry men sitting down for dinner around a farm table after coming in from the fields.

Ten minutes later my husband came back into the room with a smile on his face.

“We got this,” he said.  “I found enough planks of wood to make it work.  If we replace the pieces of burned wood in the kitchen before they stain the floors, it will all blend and look like new.”

What?

New?

I shook my head.

“I can’t,” I said.  “I want to keep the existing planks.  I want the old.  I want the story and the history and the journey and the character of almost a century of living.”

(total aside:  I really wish I had put it quite that eloquently, I actually think I mumbled something like no way and then pointed emphatically at the wood and said I like burn marks, but this is my story, so I’ve rewritten it slightly to make myself sound like the Robert Frost of burned wood planks.)

There’s a happy ending to the story.

The burned planks stayed.

They are dancing with the sunbeams on the kitchen floor as I type this post.  I’m so thankful they did….

…because every day they remind me of something truly important.

Just like life, decorating is all about perspective.

It’s about learning to live with what you have and embracing every inch of the imperfect.

The flaws.

The character.

The dings and dents and nicks.

Because truly?

Just between us, here’s the truth that we know, but we often forget.

All those imperfections are so much more beautiful and amazing and incredible….

….than perfect ever dreamed of being.

Just like these tulips I found at the store.

They were on their last legs.

A little wilted.

A little sad.

A little tired.

Signing off and heading for tulip heaven.

I felt for those tulips.

So I brought them home with some other flower friends and soaked them in water and propped up them up with the help of some of the other stems and created this five-minute arrangement of flowers in staggered glass bottles in a tool box.

And now?

They are lovely.

And that loveliness?  It was there all along.

All they needed was someone to see the beauty in their imperfection…

…and a little perspective. 🙂

Comments

  1. Image for Carole @ Garden Up Green Carole @ Garden Up Green

    Beautiful flowers oh how I love tulips it's like they dance in water as they twist, move and grow. I had to chuckle with the husband comment of, "I can fix it." When we moved into our fixer upper 7 years ago mine said the same thing... about everything and eventually he did. The story of an older home truly speaks volumes about those who bring them back to life. Enjoyed!!

  2. Image for Terri Terri

    Beautiful.... Every word..... Thank you for this encouraging post.... I for one am sooooo glad you opted for "Imperfection".... oh the stories those floors could tell !!! :) ... and I'm sure you know ... I've lost count of how many times I've posted a comment that includes my take on those amazing and gorgeous hardwood floors at "Thistlewood" !!! Have a joy filled day !!!!!!

  3. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I love your stories most of all! Sitting down with my cup of coffee and reading your blog is my special treat. It's because of your influence that ivory, cream and (gasp!) gray have worked themselves into the décor in our home. Thank you! And in the same vein, I once bought a Christmas ornament (I collect them) in Gatlinburg not because it was gorgeous but because that little snowman was soooo ugly. I felt sorry for him but now every year I smile at his imperfections and always place him in an extra special spot on our tree. He was purchased at a very hard place in our lives and now when I hang him up he is a reminder of the blessings and beauty that we found in that difficult time. God Bless!

  4. Image for june june

    I remember when those nicks and dings would drive me crazy. Then one time believe it or not, I was watching Martha Stewart...now we are talking way back in the early 90's. She said those little annoyances add patina to your home...hmmmm when I see pictures of her homes they never look there are dings...she must have said it for the camera:) What I took away wasn't the patina but thought of it as the story. I have to admit was I was all about it being just perfect most of the time as we raised two sons in our home..but then came the granddog. A German Shepherd that was always so excited to see us. I will always remember the look on the kids faces when he ran through my living room behind the sofa taking half the window treatments with him and knocked over a lamp. Nana didn't get upset as I picked up the lamp I realized my beautiful table had two scratches on it...after 25 years I thought it had earned them. Or the time I babysat this granddog when he was about four months old...forgetting what they can get in to I was busy doing laundry to later realize he had literally chewed the wooden leg of my beautiful leather ottoman in the family room. He did get scolded and redirected, but instead of turning the table so it isn't seen walking in to the room, I proudly left that corner for everyone who visits to see. It's a memory for me of a dog that warms my heart so deeply. I love your floors and I would not have changed them either. When we put in wood floors two years ago, I was very much drawn to the hand scraped variable board style and I'm so happy that is what had installed. So glad I loosened up with age:)

  5. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    One of my all time favorite hubby comments from long, long ago: "Must every piece of our furniture sit in a barn and get chewed on by a rat for decades before we buy it?". To which I replied, "If we're lucky".

  6. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    I love imperfections -- and when you started your story I knew, KNEW that you would never camouflage imperfections. You would celebrate it because it also was a story in itself. Your tulips are beautiful. Sending sunshine and hugs!

  7. Image for Becky Becky

    I agree 100%. Anyone can have new floors but not everyone can have your floors. Floors with history, floors with that beautiful patina, floors that tell a story. Those beautiful warm, story telling floors.

  8. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    I grew up with a wood range and it was the center of the home. It was where the big pots of vegetable soup and chili simmered back toward the chimney all day and where the iron skillets of fried chicken and chicken fried steak sizzled. We didn't have running water or indoor plumbing until I was in the seventh grade so heated our bath water on the stove and took sponge baths with the oven door down for heat and pulled up a chair and put our feet up on the oven door to warm up after sledding. Great in the winter...hotter than heck in the summer, but my Mom kept that wood range long after she got an electric version. There is still one in the family cabin in the Rockies and it remains a fun way to cook. Glad you saved the burn marks!

  9. Image for Ellen Ellen

    Perspective is everything, isn't it? Kind of like that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" thing! I just knew you would see the beauty in those burn marks, of course you would! I used to worry about keeping things "perfect", until I realized that perfect is all about perspective- it took awhile. Thank-you for another wonderful story told by the most wonderful storyteller! P.S. The tulips look happy to be loved for what they are too- beautiful!

  10. Image for Mary Crozier Mary Crozier

    You are so right! The imperfections and flaws are the memories left to us from previous generations! So glad you have the vision.... Also, there is a way of perking up tulips which I hope to write about in one of my future blog posts. Happy Wednesday, my friend!

  11. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    Four years ago, my husband and I moved into a ranch style home in a small southern town. The house had been built in 1955 and had hard wood floors throughout. It had been completely gutted and remodeled prior to our purchase. Fortunately, the remodel did not replace the hardwood floors which appear to have been made from the trees that had been on the property where the house now stands. (Our home is still surrounded by oak trees and a white pine.) Instead the floors were lovingly restored. Now, every day we enjoy living in a home with dark oak and heart of pine floors! Do they occasionally get scratched? Absolutely! But that just adds another bit of character. And we would not have it any other way. ;)

  12. Image for Lou Anne Lou Anne

    Thank you for your wise words and respect for the history of place that precedes you/all of us! My husband & I owned and operated a Bed & Breakfast in the Ozarks of Arkansas that had old Heart Pine floors very similar to yours. I believe they had the same nicks, dings and burn marks and I never could bring myself to refinish them.....and they were lovely. Isn't it fine to be a part of the history and caretaking of a home?!

  13. Image for Denise Cox Denise Cox

    Karianne, what a lovely story! You are blessed that you can turn your everyday home life occurrences into such heartwarming anecdotes.I thank-you for sharing them with us. Reading your stories is like feeling the cozy warmth as you sit before a log fire, cuddled up in your favorite throw or sweater, reading a great book!!! Denise

  14. Image for Nancy Nancy

    I always love your blogs but this one is extra lovely. I would have kept those floors too. Oh, and the tulips? My favorite! We have 4 black rockers on our front porch. The Florida sun has baked the paint and they're chippy. My husband who loves new, asked when we were going to replace them. I said now they are perfect. Chippy is in! Now when we drive in together he says I'm so glad you told me our rockers were in style. Ha!

  15. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    We need "like" buttons on comments section. Love your peeps and the way they think. And I love your perspective. Nicks and dings (and burn marks) give character...like the wrinkles in my face! lol

  16. Image for Marybeth Marybeth

    KariAnne: Your eloquent story reminds me how much joy there is in the little things. Thank you for your blog. I always enjoy reading it, and I look forward to reading your book. All the best to you and your family. --Marybeth

  17. Image for Catherine Catherine

    I love it! The wood floors in our old house are gouged and scratched too and I've also decided to keep them. I was going to have them sanded and refinished until I realized the amount of work involved and the mess I would have to clean up. I've learned to simply "love" them as they are. I also don't worry about them like I would new pristine floors. It's very "freeing"!

  18. Image for Cindy Roush Cindy Roush

    Very well stated lessons learned. I am currently in my home town in Colorado helping to sort out my father's paperwork after his passing. A very sad time but when going through his things I am Appreciating the little things that were so important to him.

  19. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    Our floors have burn marks and I love them too! So much history and oh the stories they could tell if only....

  20. Image for Graham Graham

    I'm with you- those floors had to be kept. I've decided I like my dishes with a few chips on them whereas there was a time I would toss them immediately. Live and learn. But how do you feel about stains from dogs/cats and dark circles from a brass bed that was standing in melted snow? I'm planning on painting them in different patterns (checkerboard, stripes, whatever). I did a checkerboard - black/natural wood- in my hallway and it took the eye to the pattern and away from the marks from tack strips and other problems. I love your attitude! You value what you have and don't spend your time wishing for more or different "stuff."

  21. Image for Carrie Carrie

    A great story, but what I was most drawn to was the picture of the flowers in the milk crate with the chalkboard behind it.....only thing missing was a message written in chalk like "enjoy the beauty of this day" or "Happy Valentine's Day" or "tip-toe through the tulips".... Great pictures to go with an even greater story!!!

  22. Image for Michelle Michelle

    So much Thistlewood to catch up on!! It feels like I've been gone for an eternity (dealing with the flu) but I'm recovering now...yay, me! This post is about so much more than beautifully aged hardwood floors. It says exactly how I feel about people aging, which is why I will never resort plastic surgery to 'correct' it. I'm letting my planks age naturally and tell their own story. Thanks, as always, for a wonderful post, Karianne ;-)

  23. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    I love those floors. You're so right - the imperfections can be fabulous and tell a story. Kind of like the too low toe kick on my kitchen cabinets...you should hear the story we spin on that one. LOL. Maybe I'll do a post on it one day. Sometimes you roll with imperfections and sometimes you tear them out and redo them. I'm glad you kept the floors. They are beautiful! hugs, Cecilia

  24. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    Oh, yes, yes, yes! So glad you kept those story-filled boards! The imperfections are perfect! Beautiful! And the tulips are beautiful! And you are beautiful, matching those red-lipped tu-lips! ;)

  25. Image for Debra Matcovich Debra Matcovich

    I was almost on my way out, and decided to look at my e-mails on my phone. I came across your Five Minute Flower Arrangement. So of course I was interested. So on my small little screen, I'm looking at your floor and your flowers. By the end of your beautiful post, how simply it was, gave me tears. Just struck a cord. Thank you

  26. Image for Jenifer Jenifer

    Beautiful story!! I have a question for you and everyone else who has hard wood floors: Is it mandatory to refinish floors when taking off old ugly carpeting? If we remove all the tacks/nails and tackling strips can't we just leave it like that?

  27. Image for Julie B. Julie B.

    I LOVE this post... I LOVE your writing! You make me laugh often. :-D Are you writing a book yet, or have you already written one (considering I'm still a newb around here, I don't know this stuff yet!)

  28. Image for Gwen Gwen

    Sweet, sweet and caring you. Love your post. We must look at our fellow mankind exactly the same way. I feel most sure you indeed do. So funny regarding your embellished comment about the floors.

  29. Image for Stephanie Stephanie

    I adore imperfect wood floors! I'm so glad you decided to keep the burn marks. Your home has a story! Be proud of it. And I very much like your re-telling of the story :)

  30. Image for Peg Peg

    You, my friend, are so right, perspective is everything! We need to see the perspective of others. Also, I adore the shot of the tulips placed beside the bottles, just my perspective!!!

  31. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    And I thought we were the only ones who thought we could snap up the old floor tiles and get it ready for new flooring that was coming the next day! We worked and worked and worked and finally the night before, we got it ready, but not without lots of blisters!

  32. Image for Judy Judy

    Beautifully said, Karianne!! I was once someone who always strived for perfection. Having a special needs child has made me realize that the real beauty is in the imperfect :)

  33. Image for MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!)

    Lovely post about the old floor -- and such a wonderful person writing the story! You are truly one special lady! Bless you, KariAnne!

  34. Image for Preppy Mountain Farmer Preppy Mountain Farmer

    This could be the story of our 130 year old farmhouse as well, only we still have a working wood/coal burning stove in our kitchen. These old houses hold stories and have character and charm. I reminded myself of that as our kitchen renovation completed this week and I noticed the imperfections in the wide pine plank floors juxtaposed against the perfectly clean, crisp, newly painted walls. Initially I was going to have the floors ripped up and have tile put down, but I changed my mind to keep with the authenticity of the house. I love how your story reveals that imperfections show us that real life isn't picture perfect, and if a house is really lived in, it won't be perfect either.

  35. Image for Shelley @ Calypso in the Country Shelley @ Calypso in the Country

    But you are the "Robert Frost of burned wood planks"! I always love how you tell a story - so what if you didn't actually say that to your husband. You made it lovelier just for us and we love that! Great story and great thoughts on perspective! It might help me be more tolerant of the golden retriever hair that floats around in my house... Shelley

  36. Image for PJ PJ

    I, too, embrace the stories that my old farmhouse tells through its imperfections. Thanks for bringing to light how important the histories of even the most humble homes become.

  37. Image for Pat Miller Pat Miller

    When I first starting reading this blog, I said to myself....Gosh, I'd leave those boards be! And sure enough, you did! I remember when I first was married, I wanted everything new and scratchless with perfect patina. The older I got, the more I realized that "perfect" is not what life is all about. It's a story we tell everyday...My new motto now, is "perfectly imperfect!"

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