Painted Hardwood Floors – Good Idea or a Bad One?

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been thinking a lot about painted hardwood floors these days and want to address the advisability of painting them, vs. natural or staining.

But first, a brief report. I’m sad to report; it’s been a difficult two days.

The sellers for the new home have been nothing, but lovely, Therefore, I don’t feel at liberty to say too much; only this:


I decided that it would not be in my best interest to purchase the home in Northampton.


Yes, I’m disappointed; I’m sure that many of you are too. But, I made this decision based on new information that this is not my house. However, as I said, that’s all I can say at this time. In the future, it’s a topic I could write about, but not now. I wish I could convey more. But, understandably, since the home is still for sale, and there were photos of it on here, I cannot. Please note that all images of the house I was planning to purchase have been removed from this website.


Anyway, I’m back in New York after having stopped at my dentist to coronate my tooth,


But, thank you all for the amazing ideas you gave me on Sunday and yesterday for the double parlor living/dining room I’m not purchasing. (little lol)For the record, the difficulty of the room had no bearing on my decision. It’s an incredible space! And, as you can see, is rife with possibilities.


So, let’s get into the topic of painted hardwood floors.


The truth is, I live in a conservative area. (not that a painted floor is radical, but not the most conventional) However, we did a painted floor ONE time about 20 years ago.

Well, it wasn’t exactly painted. We called it pickled, but the floor guy first bleached the oak hardwood floors. Then, he painted a translucent off-white paint with a slight green undertone to counteract the red tones in the wood. And then he put three coats of clear acrylic poly over it. Gorgeous, it was!

So, while I can’t call myself a bonafide painted wood floor expert, after a good amount of research, and stuff I’ve learned a lot over the years will tackle this extensive subject.


First, a little Painted Wood Floors Primer so that we can get our terms straight. (believe me. I need this too!)


  • Of course, there’s straight painting.
  • Pickled
  • White Washed
  • Limed – This is a technique that, in the past, was created by mixing calcium hydroxide and chalk, but let’s not go there. There are easier ways to get the look we want.


The last three terms are often used interchangeably, but in actuality, the techniques are different.


Whitewashing and pickling are techniques that allow you to lighten your wood without hiding the wood grain.


Gerald Bland, Inc. Painted Hardwood floors. looks like a whitewash

Gerald Bland’s New York showroom is an excellent example of this.


Gerald Bland, Inc. Antiques showroom painted hardwood floors

I love his showroom! And, I also think this technique is beautiful with oak and a great compromise between a darker stain and painting the floor white. It reminds me of the raw wood before it receives its stain.


via Geral Bland - jan-van-os

Short digression, but he is selling this glorious artwork by Jan Van Os.


The original pickling and limed floors used harsh caustic chemicals to create the pale floors. But we’re not going to do that.


Minwax makes a whitewash pickling stain.


Whitewashing is best suited for pine.


Pine doesn’t have deep pores, so the pickling stain needs to be applied with the grain of the wood.


Pickling is a technique best used on oak


The whitewash pickling stain is applied across the grain so that the color will seep into the deeper pores of oak.

Please enjoy this short video which explains pickling. (sorry about the cheesy music)


For a truly beautiful low-maintenance white floor, you might want to consider having them bleached before applying the stain. The best woods for bleaching include oak, beach, ash, and gum; but not pine.


Loi Thai Tone on Tone dining room with white washed painted wood floors

Loi Thai


And Bob Vila has written another great article which explains the pros and cons and techniques of different methods of bleaching.


via - technique for white washing floors


Rikke of “That Nordic Feeling blog” wrote an excellent post about her beautiful white wood floors AKA as “Scandi-Style” uses a product that’s called “white oil.”

Her information is great if you’re a pro; but I do not think that THIS IS A DO-IT-YOURSELF anything.

For example, in one of the steps, she writes:

Warning: The cloths can ignite, so make sure to soak them in plenty of water and keep them in a metal tin or the likes until you can dispose of them in the proper manner.

I see… I don’t know anything about this, but it’s something that I would do but only if the place was EMPTY and I had tripled checked that the house insurance was paid up!


But let’s go now into straight, painted wood floors.


Below is a very pleasant video produced by an English chap which explains his technique for painting wood floors.


And Another excellent article about how to paint wood floors from Bob Vila.


Careful consideration needs to be given to what technique you use because there are so many variables.


But here’s what I think is always a bad idea in terms of painted wood floors.


Doing it yourself. In most cases. UNLESS, you really know what you’re doing and know what you’re getting into.

Floor work is an exhausting, back-busting job. And to do it properly requires many steps of prep, paint, sand, paint, sand, paint, paint, paint, paint, paint…

But, Before hiring someone I would also be sure to get tons of references and make sure that this person has experience doing the type of technique you’re interested in. If he looks any way but overjoyed at the prospect of doing a painted floor, then he’s not your guy. A good place to ask for recs is at your trusted hardware store that sells paints and stains.


IMO, There are areas in interior design where one can do it themselves or save money, but this isn’t one of them.



I did find a lass who not only did her own painted wood floors, but videoed pretty much the entire process. If you have an old funky floor and really do not mind getting down on your hands and knees for hours on end, you could try it out. (see, all rules can be broken!) There are great comments and then a follow-up post about how it held up.*


What else to consider if deciding to do painted wood floors?


Lots, of course. And here are some frequently asked questions with my answers.


Are there certain situations where a painted hardwood floor could be a big mistake?


Well, first of all, I don’t think it’s ever a mistake to do a pickled/white washed-type floor. One can still see the wood grain and it’s not completely opaque. But the number one thing I would consider is resale.


If you’re planning on being in your home less than ten years, unless it’s a rustic farmhouse or at least a home built in the 19th century or earlier, I would consider painting the floors very carefully.


But it depends where you live, too. My feeling is that if your home looks amazing, then you will have no trouble selling it.

People sometimes don’t know what they like UNTIL they see it. Like Albert Hadley’s fabulous home he created for Nancy Pyne.


simply white ode to albert hadley living room - best shades of white paint

Albert Hadley’s room was the inspiration for my Simply White Palette board form the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection.


Charming home decor of William McClure

I adore William McLure’s white, painted hardwood floors.


But Williams’s homes tend to be in old, rustic converted factories. The floors are inherently old and funky. So, paint is a perfect solution!


If I paint the floors in one room, do I have to paint all of the floors?


It depends on the room and the layout.

For instance, in an open plan layout, I think that you really need to paint all of the floors. If you need to make a change, I would use a different material, like a stone, for instance in the entry. But of course, it depends on the configuration.

In a traditional layout with completely separate rooms, a logical place to paint one floor is the kitchen.

Like Ben Pentreath!

via Downintheboondocks on instagram

Or, you could paint just the stairwell, but it needs to make sense within the over-all design scheme.


If I pickle the floor or whitewash, will I get that horrible pinky stain so prevalent in the eighties?


You might. What I recommend is experimenting before you jump in and pay a lot of money for something you don’t want. You can experiment with different shades of white. If it’s going too pink, maybe try adding a universal tint of green. It’s best to experiment on a piece of wood that matches your floor but isn’t a part of the floor.


What if I paint the floors and I hate it?


Well, you need to have a vision. If you don’t, then don’t do it.


How difficult is it to turn them back into a stained floor?


I think that it depends on which method you use. I would stay away from anything oily if there’s a chance that you do want to turn them back. And also if the paint seeps deeply into the wood it might not be possible. But definitely talk to a professional. Or if anyone has experience with turning a painted floor into a stained floor, please let us know how it went. (or any other experience good or bad)


What about doing a pattern on a painted floor or a border?


Absolutely. I adore the painted border that William McLure created with the white painted wood floor in his old place. and below are stripes that he painted on his kitchen floor. That one is actually an old linoleum floor!



Does a painted wood floor have to be white?


Lynn Morgan entry with a cool geometric pattern


No, it does not. I’ve seen beautiful painted wood floors that are blue, green, or even red. And, of course, millions of patterns. There are some wonderful painted floors here.


Do you put a poly finish over a painted floor?


For anything water-based, if you want it to hold up– yes! Three coats! If you use the paint specifically for porches, you might not need to. Whenever I don’t know something, I either call the company or speak to the guys selling the stuff; or, look it up. But like a doctor for an illness, it’s wise to get more than one opinion.


Okay, how does it hold up?


See above* :]


How do I convince my husband that painted wood floors are a great idea?


Take him to Sweden.


However, short of that, arm yourself with plenty of fabulous visuals of rooms similar to the look you’re going for. Like this post, hopefully. ;] And then you can convince him. However, you have to be very clear on exactly how it’s all going to look and make the house feel so much brighter and stylish. Good luck. :]


Let’s finish off with a few more beautiful painted wood floors


Photo by Sharyn Cairns/News Life Media/Country Style


This is a bedroom from the same home as the Gustavian dining room at the top by Mona Nerenberg


Bill Ingram


For a big post about stained wood floors please click here.

To be sure, I love a dark, rich hardwood floor stain, as well. You can see some beautiful examples in Steve Cordony’s Rosedale Farm in Australia.


Iksel - gorgeous wall mural - Steve Cordony's dining room


OH! And, I found the source of that glorious dining room wallpaper in Steve’s dining room, if anyone’s interested.


It’s often difficult to decide on your hardwood floor finish.


It’s also important to consider that the floors are part of the over-all color scheme.

But, what I recommend is looking for inspiration photos. Hope that helps!

As for the Northampton house; I always try to be philosophical about these things. But, one thing I’ve learned in life is to listen to my gut feelings– no matter what. It knows; it’s never wrong. It’s only when I don’t listen that I get into trouble.

There will be another house—maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon. I also hope that the sellers quickly find their new buyer.




PS: If you’re interested in some fabulous summer sales, you can find some great deals here.


76 Responses

  1. We’ve painted floors in three of our homes. It’s actually not back-breaking work at all because you cut in around the edges with a brush (yes that’s usually a hands/knees job) but then the rest can be done with a roller on a long extension stick.

    So what have we painted? In our first house we painted old green vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. It lasted for over 20 years! Yes, occaissionally I’d touch it up but that was easy because the rooms were small and it took hardly any time.

    In the next house we painted the oak hardwood floor in the master bedroom and also the new pine plank floor in the hallway. Painted oak??? Yes. After we removed the carpet and pad, my desire was to just leave the floor “as is” but sadly there was damage to the finish and having refinished all the oak floors in a previous house by ourselves (and now THAT’S hard work!!) we chose to clean, prime and paint. It was really really lovely.

    In our current house we’ve painted the enginered wood floor in the kitchen and dining area plus the concrete floors everywhere else. Again there was damage to the wood floor and we knew painting would cover the repairs I had to do. But why concrete floors in a house? Well we live in an earth sheltered home that has concrete walls, floors and ceilings. The previous owner trashed the place with a dog she never cleaned up from AND was she was a heavy smoker. So all the carpeting had to come out. The easy fix (and much less expensive) was to paint the concrete floors.

    Big question: What kind of paint did you use and how did you do it? We vacuum the floors (many times!) then clean with an all purpose cleaner if needed. After they’re dry, we use an interior/exterior latex primer. We use 2 coats. Next the paint we use is an acrylic latex porch and floor paint. Again 2 and sometimes 3 coats. But it’s really not that hard because, as I mentioned, the bulk of the priming and painting is done with a long-handled roller.

    Do you use a sealer? No. A professional told me this: “If you use a sealer then if you need to do a small touch up, you also have to touch up the sealer. It’s easier to do touchups with just the paint.” He uses porch and floor paint too.

    How do they hold up? It’s just hubby and me but we do have company (including our grandkids)..and 3 dogs… so yes occassionally we’ll get a ding here and there. It’s very easy to touch up with a small brush or if the ding is really small, sometimes I just use a Q-tip. You have to decide somewhere along the line if pristine painted floors are your thing or if those inevitable little dings and scratches will add to the patina. 😉

    How do you clean painted floors? Think of this: What are you cleaning? Paint! Here’s how I do it. I have some all purpose cleaner/water in a spray bottle. I spray it on the floor and mop with a microfiber mop. Easy peasy.Our floors are white so I can see when they’re dirty and I clean as necessary.

    We’ve liked painted floors for a long time and honestly if you’ve got painted wood floors, they can easily be sanded off later. In our case with the painted concrete floors, some day the a new owner will probably put down padding and carpeting again 😉

    Painted floors: It’s a personal choice 😀

  2. I recently was agonizing about whether or not to paint the floors in my apt. I live in a building that was built in 1890. I had sanded down the floors, stained and polyurethaned them 30 years or more ago. They are now in bad shape. I really didn’t want to go through the whole sanding down process again, but it also didn’t seem right to paint them as some of the wood has nice grain. As you probably know Minwax has a product called onestep. It has stain and an acrylic finish combined. If you go with a shade that is slightly darker than your current floor it is opaque enough to cover all kinds of scratches, gouges and blemishes and still lets some of the grain shine through. This was a great solution for me and I love how the floor turned out. I highly recommend this product and trying this if you are not sure you really want to paint.

  3. Thanks Laurel, what a fantastic collection IKSEL have! So very, very beautiful. I’m spoiled for choice. So happy! All the best, Max.

  4. Hello Laurel,

    How did you know that I am going through having my hardwood floors refinished now and needed advice about lighting my red select oak flooring. I really want to continue to see the wood grain, and as I have beautiful dark wood antiques I can not part with, I would like to lighten my floors to create a lighter, brighter atmosphere. Thank you so much for your info and resources for this. What perfect timing!

  5. Well, unfortunate event with the house. We have been thru that a few times, however I firmly believe (I have learned this later in life) that there is always a reason for this to happen. Move on, the next one will be lovely in a different way.

  6. Hi Laurel, i’m completely off topic. How does one go about choosing which moulding elements to use AND which interior door panels to choose? Can they be different? I know that you probably will say they should look cohesive with interior architecture and period of a house but to make things really difficult…what if there are no architecture details to start off with. Say if it’s a new build house with 8-9” ceilings and you pinned various door styles on Pinterest and want them all lol. I’d love a blog post about this topic please please please. Any rules or guide lines would be so helpful hehe.

  7. I add my regrets that your move is not possible. Hopefully all will work out for the best results for you.


  8. Well, if one door closes, another one opens. There are other houses and wish you wholeheartedly that you find the right one for you.

    As for oil finishes – yes, all oil finishing products are flammable. If you oil wood worktops or other furniture, it would require the same precautions – don’t just bin the oily cloth, wash it first to remove most of the oil, as it can self-ignite otherwise, if it is hot enough.

  9. When a home purchase falls through, it was not meant to be. If you are meant to find the right house, you will, and it will happen. I have no doubt. I love wood and stains and the organic feel it provides.

  10. Sorry to hear about your house. Next year might be a better time to buy anyway. A lot of people have taken their homes off the market during covid-19.

    On another topic. Besides wood floors, what do you think about the wood statement ceiling trend? I’m starting to see it everywhere now.

  11. Oh Laurel…that is sad news! Maybe it’s like my mother always wisely said about marriage…(abridged for your situation!) “Don’t buy the house you can live with…buy the house you can’t live without!”. That dream is out there waiting for you!

  12. Hi Laurel,
    That had to be such a difficult decision. Well done on trusting your gut and not ignoring the red flag. Now you’re available for the truly perfect house!

  13. I’m sorry for the way things went with the house, many of us have had that happen and it’s just so disappointing. I have your paint color collection, palette guide, and decorating tips guide and they are a wonderful resource! I’ve used them extensively in updating my home and in rebuilding a shore home. In the shore home I looked at whitewashing new oak but settled on white oak in the whole house with one coat of Bona NordicSeal and 3 coats of Bona Traffic HD, and they look terrific. Plus they are holding up to guest traffic, dogs and sand. Key was we built a small trial floor and tried one vs two coats of NordicSeal to decide what we liked on the exact wood we were using.

  14. Hello Miss Laurel!

    I’m sorry you’re sad about the loss of your potential future home. I’m glad you discovered it wasn’t the right fit for you before going through with the purchase.

    I’m sure you’ll find one you’re even MORE excited about…maybe one with a kitchen you’ll love right off the bat.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about the next one.

    Healing Hug,


  15. Oh, how I love painted floors. Thank you for this post. I am reminded of when my dear friend built a huge, beautiful sunroom using the finest Florida Cypress. She invited my 13 year old son and me over one afternoon and made the mistake of asking my son what he thought. Being 13 and an honest boy, he said, “Miss Gale, it would look perfect if you had pickled the walls.” I wanted a hole to open someplace, so I could crawl in. A few weeks later, my friend called and invited my son and me to come for another visit. After she assured me she was really up for another visit, we went. My friend had gotten the new Florida Cypress pickled and my son exclaimed, “Oh, Miss Gale, this is perfect.” My son is now 50 and my friend and I still laugh about that boy’s honesty. By the way, my friend bought another home and reproduced that beautiful sunroom. I am never afraid to paint nor pickle, especially floors, especially here in real Florida homes.

  16. I painted black diamonds on mine 23 years ago, getting the measurements correct was the biggest challenge, so the diamonds would end and begin at each side. I loved it and received many many compliments on it. I would do it again. In my new house I did limestone on the diagonal with small black granite squares like the RL flagship entry foyer. I love it too.

  17. Thank you Laurel, for being bold and walking away from buying the house, for following your intuition, and for being an example of how to gracefully let something go without being bitter or melodramatic. As the Brits are fond of saying “Keep Calm and Carry On”. You did just that. Nicely done!

    There is a quote that goes something like: “Sometimes the biggest stroke of luck is not getting what you wish for.”

    Looking forward to reading about the next adventure you decide to tackle!


  18. Ha–coincidence! I did a DIY painted floor three years ago, following the advice of the blog you linked to! The original 1940s wood in the family room was stained and discoloured, and didn’t match the rest of the house, where a previous owner installed new hardwood. I used a dark navy. Like the blogger, it has some scratches, but I don’t mind them.

  19. Dear Laurel,

    I’m sorry for you about your house purchase, but I believe all will be well ultimately.

    Concurrently, my lovely home is not selling for no rational reason. A fugly home in our development sold for, we think based on asking price, $15K more than we are asking.

    I’m not much into astrology, but Mercury is in retrograde (I just found out), so contracts and travelling are not a good idea in the past four weeks and for about a week more.

    My real estate agent suggesting lowering our asking price. Not a chance with the fugly house under contract. I won’t go into the details, but it hurt my heart to see that house get an offer while mine sits.

    On the positive side, I love this blog entry. I adore white/pickled/bleached/whatever floors and was planning on doing that sort of refinishing if I found a retirement home with older, mottled wood floors. Yipee for this information. I’m too crippled to do them myself although I sure would have tried 25 years ago.

    Light floors make my heart sing.

    Good luck to both of us in the coming months as we search for new perches for ourselves and our treasured belongings.

    hugs, ramona

  20. Oh, what a shame it didn’t work out! In the long run I’m sure it’s for the best. Looking forward to the next option, whenever it comes along!

    And you’ve given me another option for our kitchen floors, which are in poor shape and don’t match the rest of the ground floor. Hmmm…

  21. Hi Laurel,

    I am so sorry that you have had to change your plans! But, you are the best judge and expert on what’s best for you. I am not sure whether you decided to continue to consider Northampton. Having lived in the Pioneer Valley for several years, I can attest to its beauty and the great vibe of being surrounded by great schools with dynamic students. Best of luck as you move forward. xoxo

  22. Hi Laurel,
    As everyone else has said I am sorry the house didn’t work out. We had 2 that didn’t work out when we moved back to New Jersey and so happy that they didn’t. We wound up just where we should be and you will, too.
    I am a huge lover of painted floors! My one regret is that we didn’t have time to do some here. I had the floors pickled in our former house in 1979. They still looked great in 2008 when we sold the house, except some discoloring under the rugs. SO easy to care for as well. I have painted several floors for myself and clients over the years.
    Wishing a wonderful house for you in the near future! XOXO

  23. Laurel, Sorry about your home, but there will be another beautiful home that was meant for you. About pickled flooring, I had installed pickled flooring in my kitchen 20 years ago, they do not wear well, and started to look horrible over the years, my solution was to have them refinish in a darker stain. Bigger problem is they can never be refinished again as it is engineered flooring. Most recently the floor refinisher has screened the floor and applied polyurethane to keep them looking new. My newly installed flooring in the rest of my home is solid hardwood.I learned from my mistakes.

  24. Laurel, I was so excited for you when your offer was accepted. Now I share your disappointment.

    These are uncertain times. It is difficult to make wise choices, because we don’t know what the future holds. What appeared to be a good choice two weeks ago could end up being a poor choice a month from now. (I am speaking from personal experience . . .)

    It is wise to trust your gut. Someday you may look back with a clear understanding of why the house wasn’t “the One.” Then again, you may never know.

    I am confident that something else will fall into place. Maybe it will be a beautiful old historic home. Maybe it will be a new build. But it is important that you are not tied up with the wrong house when the correct opportunity comes along. (Again, I speak from personal experience.)

  25. I love painted or pickled floors!! Okay, I’m probably the only one, but I’m GLAD you decided against the house. My family lived in a house that was built in 1890 and we sold in 1999. I know the problems that can occur living in an old house, especially in the winter. Even though you can imagine how lovely the house could look when you are done with it (like Steve Cordony), you have to ask yourself:is the roof in good shape? are the walls, electric and plumbing in good shape? are the floors, foundation in good shape? is the whole thing structurally sound? There is more to it than just decorating and it can get very, very expensive to deal with an old house. It’s probably cheaper to build a new house than fix up an old house. I’m sure it will all work out, but buyer beware!!

  26. Hi Laurel, I’m so sorry that the house didn’t work out, but I have to say (I know, this is weird!) that when I read that you were getting it I was nervous for you because we were in the middle of Mercury retrograde, an astrological period where you shouldn’t make any big decisions or sign anything important or buy a house. Look it up online…I’m not a big astrology follower but Mercury retrograde I do know about! Best of luck to you and thank you for the wonderful blogs and inspiration!

  27. So sorry Laurel to hear about the house sale, I feel like I could read between the lines, having been involved in many home sales over the years (I’ve moved a lot). Enough said on that point.
    Glad that you and my daughter Allison are friends. Hope to see you sometime in Bronxville.

  28. Dearest Laurel, this is a disappointment, but it just means that something even more wonderful is intended for you. It will be my prayer that this something comes to fruition soon and all of your readers can have even more fun watching you plan.
    Your faithful follower,

  29. P.S. Please Laurel, I can’t get the link to Steve’s dining room wallpaper to work. Is it fixable? I love that wallpaper and I’m plotting to use some somewhere sometime. Thanks for tracking it down. Cheers, Max.

  30. Oh, I love your post about white floors. I’d like to buy a house just to create floors like them!
    Don’t be sad, Laurel, about deciding the house doesn’t suit you just now. Believe me, from experience, I can that say it is Not Good to move into your new, longed for house and have that ‘Oh no, what have I done’ feeling. The right one will come along. And then we can enjoy seeing the pictures!

  31. Take a look at Rubio Monocoat finishes! They are zero-VOC, easy to repair, and very inexpensive per square foot of coverage (compared to multiple coats of stain and poly). Our oak floors were taken down to raw wood and then we used Rubio “White 5%,” which left the floors matte and looking like nearly-raw oak, but with protection.

    Given the chance, I’d absolutely use Rubio again! They also offer a ton of specialized colors, whether someone wants a more traditional dark stained look or a jewel-toned color.

    Pete’s Hardwood in Minnesota has a great blog on using Rubio Monocoat, if you’re interested.

  32. Sorry that the house didn’t work out – it is so disappointing (especially when you have already mentally moved in and started decorating). I also had that happen to me (2X) but went on and found a house that worked out better. I hope it is the same for you.

  33. My son calls my house hunting “like Sysyphus.” With a retiree’s budget and a weakness for charm, I have been traversing the vagaries of New England’s aged housing stock. The latest prospect has painted floors, and I don’t like the color lol. I’ve been wondering what it’s like to strip floors.😱

  34. I’m sorry about your house, but I was somewhat relieved to hear it was that. I thought you were going to say that Joe died after his traumatic experience!
    Take your time. Each experience is a lesson. Good or bad.

  35. I have found when something falls through something even better comes along. In the meantime hugs and prayers for the right house to pop up.

  36. Hi Laurel,

    Sorry the house didn’t work out. I am sure you will find many other beautiful places and the right fit for you. As to painted floors, I have painted stairs and love them. I have to touch them up every few years, which is super easy to do and topcoating with acrylic makes them last a lot longer. Note that Benjamin Moore sells a specific floor paint. One thing people want to consider is the sheen. Although shinier finishes equal more durability, they are also more slippery to walk on. The BM floor paint comes in a flat finish but its very durable and easy to apply. Works wonderfully on concrete also.

  37. We have been using DuraSeal Quick Coat on some of our kitchen and home projects….formulated at five parts white to one part ebony. It is absolutely gorgeous on oak floors (lots of those in New England)
    Good luck finding the next home (and project)…I’m sure it will be equally as exciting.

  38. Laurel, So glad you know that in making life choices no step is better than a missstep. Remember: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:…”Ecclesiastes 3. This door closed but a window will be opened for you and we’ll all still be here cheering you on…soon I hope.

  39. Whomp Whomp. Sorry your plans changed. House hunting is not for the faint of heart, especially those of us who reimagine and decorate a house before we move in. We experienced this a couple of times before landing the house we’re in 3 yrs now. Turned out better and best. Yours will too. My daughter told me that in my disappointment but I didn’t believe her, she was right.

  40. The first time I heard the word pickle regarding wood in decorating was when we added a family room fifty years ago! I wanted Pecky Cyprus paneling for the texture and hated the color. The painter knew his stuff and said he would pickle the Cyprus and it was gorgeous. So … your article could well apply to paneled walls as well as floors.

  41. Hi Laurel,
    Very sorry to hear about your house not working out for you. Can I offer a bit of advice as a realtor? When you find your next dream home DON’T TELL EVERYONE. I was holding my breath someone didn’t read your post and come in with a better offer and kill yours. It’s a “thing” now these days as inventory is low and there are more buyers than sellers. Your realtor would have told you this if you were using one. So mum should be the word until after the closing. 😉

  42. Laurel, I’m sorry that wasn’t your house.
    Your house IS out there, and when you find it we will be waiting anxiously to see the beautiful spaces you create.
    And, I chose Galapagos turquoise from your paint collection for our hall bath—i LOVE it. Thank you. Carol

  43. I have always associated painting floors as being done only when the floors were too worn to be refinished another time or had damage that could not be readily disguised. Of course, that is not always the case and many designers paint brand new floors as a design element. I seem to see this done mostly in vacation homes where it adds an element of whimsy and I suspect does not get a huge amount of wear due to the homes’ seasonal use, so I have always wondered about the durability. It is a bit of a crossing the Rubicon once you do this as there is no turning back or restoring the floors to a stained finish. Still, in the right setting, it is lovely.

    Perhaps I can offer an analogy about buying a house and dating: sometimes you kiss a few frogs before finding Mr Right!

  44. Awww, Laurel, so sad to hear you had to back away from the Northampton home. Hope you are still considering Northampton,’s truly a very cool and hip town.

    1. I am still looking in NoHo- obsessively. But, there’s nothing. The one historical home available is on a busy road and the property isn’t very attractive, either.

  45. Dear Laurel – You have brought so much joy to my life with your insights and advice which I often apply to my own house and also when I am stressed, I read your posts as the beauty is so inspiring. I am sorry you are sad but sometimes, especially with a house, what seems to be sad news and a loss is really good news as a house is a huge commitment of time, money and lifestyle and if the fit isn’t perfect it isn’t the right house. All the best, Jeanette

  46. I’m very sorry to learn about the house. It is fortunate you found out about its deep, dark secret now. You are obviously ready to move and know in what type of community you wish to live. The perfect house for you will reveal itself. Keep your eyes and ears open!

  47. Dear Laurel,
    I am a fairly recent subscriber to your blog. I live in New Rochelle and had on occasion been led to your website when I was researching something. I love the clarity of your writing, the expressiveness of your assessments, the knowledge of your experiences along the way and the comfortableness with which you communicate to us in the cyber world. Thank you.

  48. Hello Laurel, To tell you the truth, the floors in that Northampton house looked a little too clean and new–sometimes people get carried away with refinishing, electrical sanders, etc. Painting could be an attractive solution and restore some of that old-house look. Black or dark painted floors can also be attractive. In older accounts of New England house restorations, spatter-painted floors were all the rage!

  49. Laurel, Nothing is lost please don’t feel discouraged! Much gained in knowledge and I had lots of fun seeing it and absorbing all details too. I can’t wait to absorb your next idea that’s what I truly love. Keep going, take care!

  50. A word from experience here: pine will always end up with its natural tendency to age pinkish or orange showing through. Upstairs we have a huge concrete joist holding up the floor above, which is clad in pine planking. I used a coloured varnish to make it grey-blue, and that was lovely. Within 10-15 years, the pine changed colour beneath the varnish and the planks are now dark brown! Fortunately they go with the reclaimed beams and the original beams which are visible in the same space, so it doesn’t matter. I think a key word here is HARDwood — if you’ve got SOFTwood flooring, anything which is transparent to allow the woodgrain to show through is going to change colour more rapidly than you think.
    Sad about the house, Laurel, but you’re right to pull out with new info coming in. We didn’t, but we did negotiate a big drop in the price of the house — and the place was a wreck anyway!

  51. Hi Laurel,
    So the house didn’t work out. You know what that means? That there’s a better one waiting for you to claim it. And the next one will be better.
    I love pale floors. I think I prefer the look of white-washed or pickled. I like seeing the wood grain.
    I remember years ago a blogger painted her kitchen floor mint green. It was so pretty next to her light blue cabinets. It gave the whole room such a happy feeling.

  52. Painted floors remind me of my late aunt’s porch – a happy memory.

    I understand the disappointment of a house revealing itself to not be quite right. I hope it becomes relief in time.

    As a first time home buyer several years ago, I went into contract twice before finding the house that was right for me on third attempt.

    All I can say is, always hire a structural engineer home inspector! Worth their weight in gold.

    The second house I nearly purchased had turned out to have rotten floor joists! And I only knew because my inspector crept into the cobweb filled crawlspace and stabbed a screwdriver into the joist. And it went in like it was jello.

    The Golilocks house is out there 😊

  53. I’m sorry the house didn’t work out, but it’s fortunate to realize that now. I always enjoy your posts and I have taken your advice on paint colors and it was a success, so thank you. Wishing the best for you!

  54. Years ago I painted oak floors in my daughter’s bedrooms (two separae rooms). One bedroom was painted the palest pink and she had antique quilts for color. Both rooms had white floors. The other bedroom had navy walls ala Ralph Lauren with navy and white striped cotton rugs. I still remember those rooms with joy. Would I do it again…..yes! I generally do not like brown hardwood and I also love the idea of panted floors that are stenciled with a pattern.. Thank you for reminding us about another avenue for unique floors!
    As to the house that “got away” it problably proved to be too much repair/upkeep etc so it was a good plan to wait for the perfect home.

  55. I just love the way you’re handling this loss. Listening to those subtle messages and following your gut takes courage and skill. Well done! It was a lovely house but the RIGHT one will come along and you’ll be ready when it does. Take care. ❤️

  56. Sorry it didn’t work out, but your gut is usually right!!!
    It happened for a reason and there will be a better house out there for you. Good Luck in your search!

  57. Laurel, I hope you’re not too disappointed about not getting that house. I’ve had it happen more than once, and will admit that in spite of the let down, I did always enjoy dreaming about what I might do with the homes that grabbed at my heart.

    I’m from New England where painted floors are not unusual in older houses. I remember my father letting me help him spatter paint a floor in our home.

    In my current home, I’ve painted the floors of 2 enclosed porches, one in wide stripes and the other diamonds . . . also the big front porch in elongated diamonds to line up with the columns, with tiny white diamonds at the intersections (hard to describe) . . . all using the same 2 colors. It’s one of the few things I’ve done to this place that I had no second thoughts about, and where I’ve been completely satisfied with the results. The Sherwin Williams Armorseal Tread-plex paint I used has held up really well for many years.

  58. a moment of disappointment – but you really got into thinking about an older home and what’s involved for you.
    Well – you can’t step into the same river twice… so you’re ready for when your house does come up. Good Luck – it’ll happen for you.

  59. As lovely as older houses appear, you really dodged a financial bullet. We do home remodeling for a living and there appeared to be great deal of expense and upkeep that would be involved just from looking at the pictures. Everything happens for a reason so be happy and trust that you will find your future house that is meant to be. Best, Diane

  60. Thank you for this post – it hit close to my heart. I love the look of painted and whitewashed and pickled floors. I will read this again to absorb all the details. I appreciate you explaining it to us. As for the house that isn’t to be, I just went through a similar experience. For me it was expensive as I forfeited my earnest money. I don’t regret it though. It was an expensive lesson but I’m learning about real estate transactions. And there is a lot to learn – I should take a class. I would have been moving to another state too and in my heart I don’t think I’m ready although my head says I am. When that reconciles the timing will be right. I’m just glad to be in your company. We are not alone. 😉

  61. Follow your instincts. It has given you a good exercise in thinking such a decision through, and what truly will suit you. Nothing lost, much gained in knowledge…and we had fun seeing it too…

  62. So sorry things didn’t work out with your house Laurel. I’m sure you did the right thing…but it must be really disappointing. Take good care…and thank you for another wonderful article full of helpful information!

  63. There isn’t much you don’t know about renovation and design, but when I saw that house, as beautiful as many of its features were, I couldn’t help but wonder how much work and money it would take to make it what you envisioned. Actually, I’m kinda relieved for you.

  64. Laurel, don’t worry. These things happen. It wasn’t meant to be and you have to trust yourself. This door may have closed but you will open others. Take care, stay safe and all will be well.

  65. So sorry you didn’t get your house. It was lovely and you were so excited. But, when you know it is not right, you did the right thing. Take care Laurel. xo Michelle Eaton

  66. Hi Laurel,
    I’m so sorry the house didn’t work out. I was so excited for you, but there might be a better one out there. Sometimes its just the universe saying “not now”.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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