Painted Floors: Inspiration and Ideas


Currently, we have the floors of our kitchen and our TV room painted. Here is what our kitchen floor looks like now:

Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of fading:

And wear and tear:

But overall, they’ve held up remarkably well considering they were painted about ten years ago!

The kitchen floors are very divisive. There’s a real love/hate reaction. I’ll say that I like the ‘star’ pattern (inspired by an old tool the prior owners found on the property that they took with them), and really appreciate the craftsmanship, but think they’re in need of repair.

You can tell, in other rooms, that once upon a time most of the antique portion of our house also had painted floors – it was pretty common in the 18th century (and 1950s colonial revival), and honestly I’m very grateful for it. Painting likely protected our beautiful heart pine wood until the floors were refinished. But now, we’re looking to re-paint our kitchen floor as part of our upcoming renovation and I’m on the hunt for inspiration.

We are changing the color scheme of the kitchen when we update. Here’s a photo of the kitchen immediately after it was renovated circa 2000, prior to the floors being painted, so you can see the cherry cabinet, brown trim, and mustard island color scheme:

Photo by Thomas Lingner

It is incredibly hard to get photos of the kitchen, both because it has very little natural light, and because it has lots of open shelving and a lack of storage that requires small appliances be on the counter (electric kettle, toaster, coffee machine and grinder, etc. etc.) and hanging pots and pans. This … is not my jam.

Photo by Thomas Lingner

I cook a ton, and I like to be able to clean up and have a kitchen look tidy, peaceful and with everything hidden away. I’m a big fan of the clean slate.  I get that this look is very ‘colonial,’ but it doesn’t jibe with my internal need to have everything hidden away each night.

To get a decent photo where our kitchen isn’t just a clutterbus requires completely lying about the way we  live in it. I’ll save those photos for the ‘before’ and ‘after’ when we re-do the kitchen! For now, these lovely and styled photos of the kitchen 18 years ago when it hadn’t been lived in HARD make me happy. Look at those functioning faucets! The unscratched AGA! No leak damage in the ceiling! The floors aren’t even bowed yet (they aren’t properly supported for the weight of the AGA, fridge and island). Sigh…

Back to the paint!

The biggest challenge for our floor choice is that it’s flanked by the stone in the entry (above) and the beautiful antique pine in our living room (below).

This makes it very hard to do tile, or even a period-appropriate (the kitchen was an outbuilding built in the 18th century but attached to the come in the 19th) reclaimed hardwood, without clashing with one or the other floors. I’m certain this is why the prior owners painted the kitchen floor. It is a nice solution.

The colors we’re considering are cream, blue and walnut. I gave the paint I want to use a test-run in our TV room, immediately above the kitchen where I repainted the burnt-orange floor and brown trim last fall:

Colors: Floor, walls, and trim.

The colors in this room are gorgeous, and my photo skills don’t do them justice. It’s serene, and brightened up the whole space instantly. Even the ceilings feel higher, despite the fact that the doors to this room are made for hobbits.

With comfort in color choice came a number of concerns. The TV room is not particularly high traffic – you need to go through there to get from the master bedroom to the kids’ bedrooms and bath, but it’s nothing compared to a kitchen. Even with sanding, primer, and floor and patio paint, there are spots where the floor paint scratched, revealing the paint underneath. I think this means for the kitchen we’d have to sand down to wood to re-paint.

I don’t mind the idea of patina on a painted floor, like this:


But you don’t want to START with a patina, or else it is just faux-aging or an outright bad paint job, which drives me insane. I like to say that I don’t discriminate on the basis of style, because I love so many different eras and types of furniture, homes and décor, but sandpaper used to “age” furniture? Or floors? Or beams? NOOOOOOOOO! Shabby chic and I do NOT get along, unless things are genuinely shabby. I love me an antique chippy paint granny couch, but when I walk into a Restoration Hardware and see a purposely terrible paint job for thousands of dollars, I question people’s sanity. ANYWAY … the question becomes, solid or patterned floor?


Ideally, I’d love a white floor like the one above. This seems, though, like maybe the worst idea ever in a kitchen, with spills, traffic and dirt a constant reality. Pattern goes a long way toward hiding imperfections.


Above is the classic ‘colonial’ pattern of painted squares on the floor. I like this, but it is very bold for our space. I think that perhaps doing a pattern in colors one tone from each other rather than a wood and black or black and white scheme would make this more realistic.


I also think I’d like to make the squares much smaller. This creates a busier pattern, but ultimately one that is less impact in complementary colors, and might be better at hiding wear and tear.


The other very difficult thing is deciding on what colors to have where! There are five elements: cabinets, trim, walls, floor and island.

Let me go down this rabbit hole for you …

If there’s blue for the lower cabinets, cream for the trim, with a walnut island (though I’m not wedded to that and may go with a lighter wood), it would give a light and airy look to the room, drawing the eye up toward lighter white walls and trim. But then what to do with the floor? White is the obvious answer, but again, a terrible idea. Plus, if there are blue cabinets, having a blue floor would not look good. You’d have to do a wood floor, which is a very difficult option since it runs next to the antique heart pine.

If there are white cabinets and blue trim, it will be very matchy with our entry and living room trim (which have blue-gray woodwork), and would look heavier. Plus, blue trim next to a blue floor wouldn’t work.

If there’s cream trim and cabinets, we could do a blue-patterned floor. Then the question becomes how it would look to have cabinets and trim next to each other in the same color? I’m concerned it would wash out the room.

The other option is to do something completely different with the floor – which is what the prior owners did (the trim is mustard, the floor is red) – and introduce a new color, like gray.

It’s … a lot. I generally am pretty good at imagining how colors will look in a space, but when we are talking 3+ colors in one room – nope. Certainly, it can be done:


But it isn’t easy. Therefore, I tend more toward a simple solution, like wood for the cabinets, cream trim, cream island and the floors in the blue gray, with a diamond pattern in a complimentary blue gray.

Something that will come out serene, like this:


or this:


Both from the masters at DeVol.

Of course, if I find a great wood flooring solution, I might just go with that.  Decisions, decisions!