Is it just me, or are painted wood floors everywhere lately? True, it’s summer and they tend to be a shabby-chic, country decorating staple. (Painting run-down wood floors is also a great solution if you don’t have the budget to replace or refinish them.) What I’m drawn to lately, though, are the sophisticated, urban spaces where painted floors are intentional, not just a quick fix for the cottage. As the April cover of Australian’s Real Living magazine shows, a coat of white on the floor can look upmarket rather than flea market.
Nothing is shabby or country about this space by designer Scott Yetman of Celadon Collection, for instance. He created a formal entryway in his Montreal condo with black velvet drapes, gorgeous antique furniture and white panel moulding for a look that is so elegant, you barely notice the floors are white painted hardwood.
Alabama designer Betsy Brown’s basement family room is rustic and unpretentious, thanks to its all-white modern backdrop.
Ditto for her stunning kitchen/dining room with its reclaimed oak plank floor.
This sleek bathroom was featured in Living Etc years ago and is still one of my favourites — U.K. photographer Paul Massey’s home. The space is super minimal and modern. The poured concrete integrated vanity and bathtub, white painted floors and chipped grey mirror keep the room light without being austere.
If you are thinking of painting your own floors, keep in mind that although it may sound easy, it’s actually a big job. The time-consuming part? Sanding and prepping the floors first, to ensure they’re impeccably clean before you even start. The easy part is choosing the colour. There is no choice — it has to be white, in my opinion. Blue or grey may sound like good ideas, but they will look tired quickly. (For more evidence that white is the new hot thing, check out Suzanne Dimma's blog from her trip to the Milan furniture fair.)
Farrow & Ball recently came to the office to show us their new wallpapers, and I was reminded that their floor paint is now oil-free. When it came out last spring, some editors tried it out and testified that you can’t tell the difference — it provides all the benefits and look of oil paint without compromising the environment. The floor above is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Wimborne White and the wallpaper is Lotus (2032).
If you don’t have the time or patience to paint hardwood, consider Ikea’s Markland floor for a similar look. The planks are larger than typical hardwood and they have a lacquer finish, making them more Euro than country. They’re definitely an affordable alternative to the dark laminate that is on its way out.
Get Yetman's step-by-step instructions on how to paint hardwood floors.
1. April 2010 issue of Real Living
2. May 2009 issue of Maison & Demeure, photography by Angus McRitchie
3-4. House Beautiful, photography by Don Freeman
5. Paul Massey
6. Farrow & Ball
7. Markland flooring, Ikea