Casual Friday: Start of the guest house!?

July 16, 2021

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We decided to continue to live in a hotel down the street from our house until our moving truck comes on 7/21 (and the floors are ready for us!). However, my mom just booked a ticket to come see us on July 23rd! So the guest house needs a good scrubbing and we need to get it ready!!  Clean it, for sure. Paint it–I hope!

It first needs to be CLEANED. It smells very stale and there are cobwebs and dust everywhere. That’s priority one. It doesn’t need to be painted, but bonus points. Honestly, it’ll never be easier. And here’s a secret–I’m tempted to paint the floors. These are the Brazilian cherry floors that we removed in the main house but we didn’t do anything in here because the guest house will be a completely different renovation down the road–so part of me is thinking why not paint the floors in the interim?! 

Someone talk me out of it or I’m going for it. There’s a lot I want to do before our first very special guest arrives (hi, mom!), but I realize there are only a few things that are a must.

• A lamp to immediately cozy the place up.
• A stocked fridge. We’re so lucky the guest house has a full kitchen that we’ll be using until our kitchen in the main house is completed.
• Bathroom essentials (extra toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, towels, toothpaste, floss!
• Some sort of bedside table (You can even use a chair, or these $9 folding table that can travel around in a pinch in the future.)
• Display the Wifi password prominently somewhere. It’s cute in a mini frame on a nightstand.
• Allow for temperature control. I love layering soft sheets, with a light coverlet and then a warm duvet so our guests can choose how many or little blankets they need. I also put a basket with extra blankets by the bed–you never know. I’m someone that always needs an extra blanket!

Last note, we love our Sleep Number bed and honestly miss it right now. But over the years, we have switched every other bed in our house to this hybrid mattress and our guests always ask what kind it is because it’s so comfortable! Highly recommend it!

More phase 1 updates to come!! Here’s some other fun things from this week.

 This short sleeved sweater in the prettiest ochre color,  that I picked up for a steal this week made me feel so incredibly put together after wearing the same 4 oversized t-shirts for the last 26 days.

• Comparison is the thief of joy and originality.

made me laugh

An arch mirror hung on the wall, looking so crisp and clean and chic! (this one is really similar for $200 and can be hung on the wall!)

My go-to, tried and true lash serum is 2 for 1 in the Nordstrom sale! (I added it to my wish list to stock up!)

stopped me in my tracks

Psst–there’s some amazing Weekend Sales happening!

Abercrombie: up to 40% off select styles (obsessed with this fit)

Amazon: You can shop our storefront here! (my fave Amazon curtains are 48% off!)

Juniper Print Shop: Summer Sale up to 25% off site-wide! (one of my favorites)

Madewell: Secret Stock Sale (living in these)

Mango: up to 70% off! (all of their dresses are so good)

One King’s Lane: Warehouse Sale up to 50% off (love this slipcover bed & the price!!)

Urban Outfitters: Up to 40% off home (sheets we used in Polly’s room)

Vanity Planet: Last chance to use code juliamarcum55 for 55% off! (can’t live without)

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What do you think?

  1. Mallory says:

    Hi! I’m curious to know if you sanded the floors before you primed?

  2. Heather says:

    Glad you’re going for it! It will look beautiful! I’m guessing you’ll keep them that way for a while! I always look forward to your reveals :)

  3. Pia says:

    You have a beautiful rug collection. Please use one of those in the room and don’t paint the floors.
    I get that not everyone like the warm rich red color but paired with a soft green, brilliant white and a lot of green plants it can look really great.
    And you don’t want your mum sleeping in the fumes of paint when she arrives. Keep the floors!

  4. Candice says:

    People saying to save the ugly floor color/stain are bananas and clearly don’t know your aesthetic! Just because something is considered nice it doesn’t mean it’s worth keeping. As long as it’s not humid in the space you are painting there isn’t anything to be worried about. You could always sit a portable dehumidifier on the kitchen counter and drain it in the sink while u are painting and letting it dry.

  5. Jules says:

    Ahh, yes, paint them NOW! You won’t regret painting the Brazilian cherry. It’s tired of all that red and ready for a little fresh air.

  6. Cindi says:

    My daughter recently visited, and suggested a ful length mirror for her guest room. So glad she spoke up big course a full length mirror is a must. Bought a cheapie and hung it on the back side of the door. Maybe you mom might appreciate one during her visit? Loving following your journey! ❤️❤️❤️

  7. Andi says:

    Love the idea of painting floors. Given your tight timeline, beyond having ample dry time, I would be concerned about the paint or poly off-gassing too much where your mom is sleeping.

  8. Susan wright says:

    Please don’t think I am being rude to you but I just wanted to make you aware of the possible hurt feelings the former owners may feel when the house they must have loved is described as smelling, dirty, having cobwebs etc., also the thoughts of protective former neighbors. Just my thoughts Julia. I was a former owner once who faced a similar situation.

    • TDM says:

      If it smells and is nasty, it’s the truth. Perhaps they could have cleaned it more.

    • Jess says:

      Well, she’s talking about the guest house, which was probably rarely used by the former owners. It probably is musty and dusty because it’s been unoccupied for a long time. That’s pretty normal.

  9. Kerri says:

    Please don’t paint the floors. Show us how to work around something we don’t love but make it beautiful. I know it’s a challenge but you seem to like those!

  10. Abby says:

    As you clean the guest house, can you please share tips for getting rid of the musty smell? I’m buying a house soon and bc of my budget, well, it likely has a similar smell 😆

    • Julia says:

      We had the ceiling fan going for a week and it already smells better. A good clean will do the trick

      • Suzanne says:

        When I was growing up, we had paneling that smelled like vomit. My dad got this stuff called Odor’s Away and it really worked! We also put it in a used car – worked for that too! Hahaha!

    • Denise says:

      Make sure that it truly is not mold, if it is do not clean with bleach. bleach breaks up the mold molecule into nano particles and it’s easier to get into the nose, mouth and lungs. If it’s just a musty smell use thieves oil from Amazon! you can get young living, it’s pretty expensive, or you can get fannie (something) it’s organic, it’s exactly the same thing as young living… A combination of four essential oil‘s it will do the trick… Also clean with vinegar, use charcoal bags or sheets to absorb the smell… I will look up the names to be precise and get back

  11. Amanda says:

    I like the idea of painted floors but I don’t see how you’ll have time to sand and paint them and let them cure by next week. I would think not sanding wouldn’t work with how shiny those floors are, the paint will peel up.

  12. Julia H. says:

    Don’t paint the floors in the summer with the humidity. You are in a time crunch. Just paint the walls a cheery yellow or peach and enjoy your Mom’s visit!

  13. Ro says:

    Paint! We painted our wood floors in the Midwest during summer and didn’t have any drying issues. Loved them. We sealed the paint with poly and never had chipping issues or anything. Fun

  14. Ann says:

    I would love to see the floors as is but with black stenciling around the perimeter of the rooms, like a frame for the rugs.

  15. Jess says:

    Painted our Brazilian cherry floors white and would do it again! So much better! I couldn’t stand the stain color and I looked into refinishing them or bleaching them… didn’t care for any of it. Recently painted engineered hardwood floors too. Everything is in high traffic areas and holding up well. Live in humid part of Virginia and didn’t have any problem with it drying regularly.

  16. EP says:

    I would suggest staining them black or charcoal! A touch of grain and warmth will come through. I personally find stain finish to be much more pleasant underfoot and more durable long term. Paint is a good option when the wood itself is trashed but yours is gorgeous! The wood itself is not the problem, just not to your taste, which is fine. Try staining it!

  17. Allie says:

    Orlando Soria painted his subfloors in his home in Yosemite and it’s super fun! Temporary, but gives you more time to love the space and save when you want to replace.

  18. Elij says:


  19. Elizabeth says:

    While I adore painted floors I have to tell you heat southern humidity is NOT your friend when it comes to a quick turn around time on such a project :/

    • Julia says:

      I knoowwwwww. That’s the only thing I am checking on.

      • Kate says:

        I painted my floors in Chicago during a humid summer & they never recovered from being sticky. Maybe I did something else wrong, too, but I followed instructions, painted thin coats, waited way more than the prescribed time, & used recommended floor paint–but I absolutely regret doing this.
        However, if you end up painting your floors & candidly share your failures & successes, we’ll all learn from your experience!

      • Ariel says:

        I lived in NC and painted my wood stairs in June 2019. We ran a dehumidifier and it was fine. Give yourself a full 24 hours between primer & paint, and then paint & sealer.

        I love painted floors! Very classic and not uncommon in CT where I am now… and July /august are crazy humid here. It’ll work!

    • Kate says:

      Gotta follow up on my previous comment now that you’ve posted the newly-painted floors on Stories–wow, wow, wow! They look awesome–& it looks like you had none of the stickiness that some of us have experienced! Wonderful! I can’t wait for the follow-up blog post on this to learn more about how you went about it all. Way to go, bravo, & congratulations!

  20. Allyson Howard says:

    PAINT THE FLOORS! We painted floors in two of the bedrooms in our old house and LOVED them! Plus, they were super easy to touch up if they ever got scratched (we used SW Floor and Porch Paint). We never sealed them, but there were rugs down. It’s a guest house, once y’all move into the main part of the house, it’s not like it’s ever going to be a high traffic space. Plus, I spoke with a floor refinisher that said that sanding off the paint was no harder than sanding off the finish if you ever want to refinish them down the road (even though I’m sure you’re more likely going to just replace them). We also live in the South and never had an issue with them being sticky.

    I don’t think you have time to tackle a pattern in this situation, just throw down some paint and enjoy!

  21. Jennifer says:

    Yes! Do it, do it, do it!!!

  22. Wendy says:

    I’m going to try to talk you out of painting those floors. They’re in good condition. If you paint the walls a different color you may not hate the floors so much. Just put a rug down. Here’s the thing, it’s summer time in NC which means it’s a bit hot and humid. The floors may not dry and definitely won’t cure in time for your mom’s arrival. All the hard work you’ll put into painting them will be for nothing. I’m sure your mom won’t mind the floors. They really are fine.

  23. Bryanna says:

    Painted floors are totally under-rated! You should go for it!!!!

  24. Mandy Butter says:

    Chango&co recently painted their floors and I’ve been swooning over it for weeks. DO IT! PLEASE DO IT because then I’ll do it!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe we can make it a Raleigh/Durham trend!!!

  25. Betsy says:

    Paint the floors!!!j You won’t be sorry.

    I pulled up my bedroom carpet a few months after moving in, and was going to live with the original hardwood in my bedroom. I plan on getting all of them refinished in a couple of years. I got a hankering for a painted floor after pulling the carpet up. I went for it, and am so glad. I did a border of about 7 inches I think as well. I did my floor just white, with the border being black. I love them so much. The Sherwin Williams guy said to just use regular paint. Didn’t need the special floor paint. They have held up quite well over the years. Just a little wear and tear on my walking pattern. Just gives it a loved and lived in look. I’m even second guessing redoing the floors in my bedroom, to match the rest of the floors when I refinish them. But I have a few years to ponder. Many other pressing projects to get done first!

  26. Natalie says:

    I love a good painted floor. Unfortunately you can’t do it on your timeline. For one thing, in order for the paint to adhere properly you are going to need to use a sander or chemical to get the shine off that floor. But even more so, you can’t move furniture back into a room with a painted floor for a week. If you decide to do it down the road, do fewer light coats with lots of drying time. For the floor to cure properly and be durable it is absolutely essential. So you are looking at something like prepping the floor and cleaning up, then coat of primer, 24 hours drying time, coat of paint, 24 hours drying time, coat of paint and 24 hours (this is assuming it isn’t humid during this time) and then a good week to fully cure/harden before putting any furniture back in.

  27. Kyle says:

    I have a small painting business and live just north of you guys in VA. Having said that, I agree with several people that are saying the humidity this time of year is not your friend. I think painting the floors would be awesome. We’ve painted floors in our old farm house – I just wouldn’t do it in the middle of summer!

  28. Michelle says:

    Do it!!! Paint the floors! I have been thinking of painting mine. A tone-on-tone harlequin would look so good!

  29. Hannah Gokie says:


  30. Sarah says:

    Paint the floor! It will be amazing!!

  31. Laura Maxwell says:

    I always appreciate when there is a full length mirror when I am a guest.

  32. Shannon says:

    PAINT the FLOORS!! So many great examples out there.

  33. I’m currently considering doing the same! We live in an 1872 victorian and the hallway upstairs is the only part of the house that doesn’t have fancy, parquet hardwoods- just the old, thick gap-y floorboards laid underneath carpet. Until we want to try and bring in a specialist to match the wood and lay them- I think I’m gonna go for it and just paint the hallway floorboards! Why not try something fun when it’s a temporary solution? :) Excited to see what you decide!

  34. Jeana says:

    I say YES to painting the floors! 😍

  35. Lucy says:

    GO FOR IT!! And I would love a tutorial. I have been intending to do mine, but I’ve been stuck on choosing the right type of paint and sealant. Can’t wait to see it!

  36. Babs says:

    While it would be fun .. my husband sells paint and would not recommend it that climate and quick turn around of putting in furniture.. may need more time to cure. I agree with whoever said .. paint the walls and put down a rug… you have so many beautiful rugs to choose from!!!!

  37. Karen says:

    While I love a good painted floor, I agree that they just won’t cure in time. Since you will be using this as your kitchen for a while, painted floors will be even harder to keep clean. You are a super woman to get the walls painted on top of everything else before your mom arrives!

  38. Ali says:

    We stayed in an Airbnb for a week this summer and having a great bath room towel set for your guest is such a luxurious treat! Another fun guest room item is a speaker to play radio or stream music from Spotify for your guest. Also, love staying in a guest room that has a clock especially if I have changed time zones in travel. You will be busy preparing for your first guest!

  39. Karen says:

    I think painting the floor of the guest house is a fun idea. But I’d wait until your main kitchen is finished for two reasons. One, the wear and tear of guest house floors will be so much less when it’s not in use daily as a kitchen. Second, it’s entering the peak humidity time in NC, and paint stays tacky too long to be ready to walk on in a week. Heck even with my AC on, it’s taking forever for me to dry out a cabinet that suffered from a leak.

    So clean up, paint walls, and get ready for Mom. But try new things on the floors in the fall, when you can let it cure.

  40. Carly says:

    Pain them! Especially since you e already donated the wood floors from your house!!

  41. Ali says:

    I vote you paint the floors in your guest area! It’s something I have never seen done and you have such a great eye for design! I vote take the risk and give painting the floors a try!!!

  42. Hannah Kearney says:

    PAINT THE FLOORS! Just because selfishly I want to see it and learn how!!

    But seriously — seems like a good space (low wear and tear, possibly temporary situation) to try something like this out, so why the heck not?

    Thanks for sharing!

  43. Kelly says:

    I love a painted floor! Maybe even a checkerboard pattern? ;-)

  44. Sara Helms says:

    please paint them! that would be so fun and satisfying

  45. Rebecca says:

    We had similar floors in our DC rowhouse. Originally I didn’t like them either but after living there 5 years I ended up loving their beauty and warmth. It might not be on trend, but I do think you could design around them to look timeless. I also love painted floors though so you do you!

  46. Sara says:

    Don’t paint the floors. Just put a rug down and paint the walls.

  47. Caroline says:

    PAINT THE FLOORS! Go for it— it’s such a great look. And it’s fun and unexpected and a guest house is perfect for that!

  48. kim says:

    Would love to see painted floors – a la William McClure 😉

  49. Sara says:

    I have rented a house with painted white floors in a humid climate. I found them to be a HUGE pain to clean and maintain. It always looked dirty because it showed every speck of dirt and hair. Not to mention, it would get scuffed and smudges. You know how baseboards get gross over time? It’s like that, but the entire sq ft of the room that gets dirty every day with foot traffic. Also, the feel of paint underfoot feels kind of sticky and gross in humid temperatures- like a sticker that won’t come off. I think painted floors can look pretty, but I cringe when I see people recommend painting floors when they have never had to live with them. I echo the other comment that there is no way a painted floor would cure that quickly in NC to be guest-ready by next week. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

    • Natalie says:

      We have painted original floors in 3 rooms of our house and none of them are sticky. Whoever painted your floors likely put the coats on too thick (floor paint has to go on in very thin coats) and/or recoated before the previous coats were fully dry/cured.

    • Pamela says:

      You are definitely correct, Sara. Curing is a big deal in a humid climate. Even staining, sealing hardwood needs sufficient time to cure in humid climates. Use caution if you go this route. Curing is KING!

  50. Kourtney P. says:

    I think since it’s a guest house, go for it! Especially since you already donated all of the other wood and cherry is so so difficult to work with/get the pink tones out if you’re trying to. I get the hesitation from most but then I saw Jenny from ISpyDIY do it in the diamonds in a taupe or grey/cream combo and loved it! Liz Marie is the original post I saw years ago and I think it adds so much charm and character! Go go go for it!! You have a way of making every space come together so uniquely and I think this would be something special!

  51. Jill says:

    I vote to paint the floors and have some fun with it! You can always donate painted floors and someone would happily keep them painted or sand them. Plus, you may love them so much painted that you keep them!

  52. Meg says:

    I would say do not paint those floors. I know that the Brazilian cherry is not your thing. Totally get that. But-there is no doubt that they still look very beautiful, very warm and inviting. They are obviously very high quality and they go with the home. Sometimes painted floors can look like you are trying to cover something up. These do not need that at all. Let them be what they are until it it is time for the permanent change.

  53. Lindsey says:

    I vote paint the floors!! I loved when Leanne Ford painted checkered floor in a mud room! As always can’t wait to see what you do!!

  54. Cori says:

    DO IT! My favorite thing about short term makeovers is that you can go a little crazy because it isn’t staying!

  55. Katie says:


  56. Jess says:

    Would love to see you paint the floors!

  57. Amanda says:

    This is a weird one, but make sure there is a trash can in the bathroom!

    Nothing makes me feel more out of place as a guest as when I have to search for a trashcan for tissues/q-tips/etc.

  58. Jennie says:

    We have painted our wood floors in several rooms and they have held up beautifully! A few random scratches have been easily touched up. You will need to get the floors painted ASAP to be cured in time for her arrival though.

  59. Dianne Bloch says:

    Don’t paint the floors! Live with it awhile. Maybe embrace the cherry? Have you thought about an island inspired (think Hawaii, Bali, Key West) theme? Rattan furnishings with bold fabrics? You can always paint later.

  60. Kerrie says:

    I say I’d you want to do it, do it! You’ll be tearing them out anyway, why not try something that you would normally not commit to?!? Sarah Richardson painted these stripes on the floor of her cottage on a little island off the coast of Canada and ever since I have loved the look. Unsure if I would do it, but it was neat and fun (they did large stripes)!

  61. Gayle says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to leave the floors “as is” so you can donate them later? Painting might ruin them for someone else. Could use just use rugs over them for now to save them from the landfill later?

    • Julia says:

      We’ve donated all 5500 square feet of our main house. I think it’s okay to paint the guest house since we don’t know when we would even replace these floors. And hey! maybe we’ll love it so much that we’ll keep them?

    • cindy says:

      I say go for it!
      Everything you do comes out gorgeous.

  62. Donna says:

    Don’t paint it! Use one of your rugs for a quick coverup and spend your energy enjoying summer! Renovate when it’s time!

  63. Katy says:

    Here’s what I will say on painting the floors: I love the idea *however* I would love for you to think about donating them when you eventually renovate because those are Brazilian hardwoods – they contributed to the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest and it would be doubly wasteful for them to end up in the landfill. So if you paint them, do you think you’d be willing to have them sanded down and carefully removed so they could be used again? That’s what I would hope you’d consider.

  64. Lee Ann says:

    Haven’t chimed in yet to say: Welcome to North Carolina! This is a great list. What about a fan (either for the white noise or the breeze?) Even with a/c, moving air can help me feel more comfortable.

  65. JULIE WAGGONER says:

    Paint the floors! I painted our floors on our second level because it’s an old house with ugly floors up there . I love it! :)

  66. Laura Bonino says:

    Don’t paint the floors before your Mom comes in! They won’t cure in time. Trust me, I’ve tried exactly that and live in a similar climate. July is a tough time to clear humidity.

  67. Whitney says:

    Painting a good quality wood floor makes me cringe. Have you considered restaining in a really dark ebony color instead? You wouldn’t lose all the warmth and texture wood provides, but it would be a completely different look.

  68. Instead of painting the floor, why not put one of your Loloi Chris Loves Julia rugs over it? Would be stunning, and so much simpler.

    • Julia says:

      Rug is going down either way!!

    • Ali says:

      I say trust your design gut ! You are known for taking design style and following your own design intuition. I am always impressed that you do you and that as I see you try new things in design that I approach with hesitation to your design thoughts or plans that I actually love it when you try something new that my design gut says “oh no that is risky.” In my experience of being a blog reader of CLJ your style and design gut intuition is always light years ahead of what I end up loving and attempting in my own home. So I say trust your gut. You are always taking design risks that turn into design norms! Love your style even when at first I have no vision for it! Keep doing you!!

  69. JL says:

    I’d love to see you paint the floor! Oh, BTW, if you’re keeping your ceiling fans, get used to giving the blades a good cleaning. They are major dust collectors!

  70. Mads says:

    Oh my heck, please paint the floors!

  71. Kelly says:

    I love the idea of painting the floors! It’s a great little space to try something different than your main house.

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We believe we should all love where we live.

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