Saturday, March 8, 2008

Light floors

Thank you to the Washington Post for including this post in your Blog Watch, March 13, 2008!

I have a fascination with light wood floors. In fact, my own home has pickled oak floors, a throwback to late 80's design, but one of the main reasons I loved the house when I first saw it. The light floors make my house so light and airy, despite the fact that the majority of the rooms face north (which has weaker light). I have lived in my home for more than 10 years, and although I toyed with the idea of restaining my floors a few years ago, I am happy that I retained the original color. Not only do I love how it looks, but it has been so practical now that I have children and a dog: the floors show no dirt or scratches.

It seems that I am not alone in my admiration for light colored wood floors. This picture in Washington Spaces Magazine (photos by Morgan Howarth, design by Frank Babb Randolph) was the sole reason I purchased the magazine. The designer bleached the floors to get the light color, and the result is spectacular. The pop of color in the beautiful window treatments and art are icing on the cake.

From At Home Magazine, interior design by Natalie and Charlene Dunagan. According to the owner and designer, the home reflects a Belgian aesthetic, as epitomized by the work of Axel Vervoordt. The light floors certainly provide a big part of the light feel of the design.

The sisal rug continues with the neutral feel of the light floor, and the dark colors on the dining room chairs and the console provide a great contrast.

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic (via Cote de Texas); the light floors works beautifully with her casual slipcovered style.

A scene from Wisteria catalog, with lovely light colored wood floors. The owners of the Wisteria catalog and their beautiful Dallas home were featured in a recent Veranda (see picture below). The console above is a reproduction of an original antique, perhaps the one in the picture below.

Veranda Magazine, via Cote de Texas. This is from the home of the owners of the Wisteria catalog. The whole house is decorated with original European antiques, many of which are painted. The light wood floors look beautiful with this layered European look. Do you think the Italian console in this room is the inspiration for the console in the Wisteria catalog?

Another picture from Veranda Magazine, via Cote de Texas. This is a Houston home that was entirely redesigned with a Swedish aesthetic, including bleached floors.

A more contemporary Swedish space. Skona Hem, via Desire to Inspire. I have read that the light colors of the floors and furniture in Sweden are to counterbalance the many hours of darkness that occur in Sweden in the winter.

Skona Hem, via Desire to Inspire. Look at the beautiful chevron pattern of the wood in these floors.

A beautiful painted wood floor in a bedroom designed by Suzanne Rheinstein.

I always love the look of blue and white, and this is an unusual combination: white painted floors with a blue wall, and a blue runner. Via All Things Bright and Beautiful.

An apartment listing from London, via All Things Bright and Beautiful. I love the look of the light floors in a large airy space like this.

I originally liked this picture for the Jean Royere sconce to the right of the fireplace, but I love the feel that the light floors give to the room.

A fresh airy space, via Wind Lost. This space would look entirely different if the floors were medium or dark. It is the light floors that gives it a fresh look.

Another beautiful space with light floors, via All Things Bright and Beautiful. I love the contrast of the black chest with the light floors. If I were to redo my floors, I would pick a tone like this that is light, but still warm.

Although I see light wood floors in quite a few magazine articles, I rarely see them in private homes unless they are beach houses. People always remark on how unusual my floors are when they see them. I know that they are not everyone's taste. Do you like the look of light floors, and do you ever see them in private homes?

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  1. What a gorgeous post! I adore the Rheinstein painted floor - it's one of my favorites - I love the entire house, it IS a beach house though, ha! And yes, that Wisteria console was based on that design I would bet!

    Sarah - just beautiful!!!!

  2. Yes, after weeks of doing barely any posts, I thought I would spend some time on this one! It is definitely something that inspires me!

  3. I love the look of the chevron pattern in a light color...something you typically don't see. I don't typcially like the look of light wood floors but you may have convinced me to think otherwise. Beautiful collection of pictures....

  4. Thank you so much for this post. My house ("the Manor") has relatively light feathered oak floors and despite the protestations of various "designers" who insist that I stain them a deep ebony, I have resisted. And I'm so glad that I have! The character of the feathered oak is one of the most charming features of the house and it would be totally lost in a dark stain.

  5. Dear Jennifer I'm scrolling down thinking yes I'd have to agree, I love light floors - we have one ourselves and then I saw ATBAB mentioned! Thank you!
    And lovely and well researched post. Theyre not easy these sort of posts! Great job :-)

  6. These rooms seem to float. It is a nice reminder that there is an alternative to sable and ebony. I bet with the north light, your floors are lovely.

  7. I like both light and really dark floors more so than in between shades. Furniture and rugs look great against both. I really love that Rheinstein floor! Thanks for the beautiful images :)

  8. Thank you for the comments everyone! ATBAB, so many of the images are from your blog over the past 6 months, as you and I seem to have similar taste! The same is true with CDT.

    POC, your comment really resonated. I too like floors that are either quite light, or quite dark. I have so much admiration for ebonized floors, but think that you need to have the right set up (light, architecture) to pull them off. Same with light floors. I never really gravitate to the floors that are 'in between'!

    Jennifer, more and more I am following my own taste rather than what the magazines and designers say. It sounds like you do too!

    Mrs. B, lovely comment. There is a gentleness to light floors, isn't there?

    M, M, & I, I saw the chevron pattern in an ebonized floor at a showhouse, and it was breathtaking. I put the picture of the light floor with the chevron because I thought it was unusual too! I don't love the decor of that room, but the floor was a standout.

  9. Sarah, lovely and thoroughly-examined subject! What beautiful photos and thanks for including that lovely one from me. Your floor sounds beautiful and unusual. So many people installed those dark floors over the last few years, especially here in "showhome land" (new money).

    I love the look of light wood floors, the whiter the better. I think I like a naive white painted floor most of all!

    When I was a child, it seemed that everyone had those yellow/blonde wood floors (narrow slats) and I grew to hate them. Then in uiversity in Montreal, all teh apartments had either yellow parquet floors or regular blonde ones, so I grew tired of them. So it was refreshing when the darker woods came into style, but I always found the rooms so heavy (especially the dark kitchens!).

    So now that everyone's new house has dark floors and dark kitchens, fresh light floors make an appearance! I love them...a breath of fresh air to me.

    So it seems the dark trends are reverting and we're now bleaching our floors. Hmmm.

    Our new old house has mid-tone wood floors (that traditional red-brown colour). They look genteel and lovely, but not light and airy (as I'd prefer). Still, too big a job to change!

    I grew up with white painted floor boards in my parents old two-storey house, but my Mom carpetted over them many years ago! I always imagine them under there, waiting to be re-discovered!

    Great post!

  10. What a Lovely collection of photos! Neat ideas ! I love the closet doors under the stair case with mirrors on it and the white and blue stair case. Great post!

  11. I just visited your blog for the first time and absolutely love it! Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos of beautifully executed interior design. I love the light color pallets and especially the Mora clock (but I'm a little partial to Swedish furniture).

    I'll save your blog to my favorites and visit again and again.

  12. Terri- I agree, changing the color of the floors is a big effort. Thank you for stopping by!

    Alkemie, I did not even notice the mirrored closets under the stairs! Thanks for pointing them out!

    Tricia, I encourage you to subscibe to my blog. Every time I update (which is once or twice a week) you will get an e-mail with the new post. So much easier than checking back every few days! Thank you so much for your comments and for stopping by my blog.

  13. Sarah, nice post.

    That Mary McDonald dining room is one of my all-time faves! Just adore the pale blue walls with dark leather furniture :) Her pale floors really do help to achieve that colonial island chic look -- great example.

  14. Love the chevron floors - have never seen that in a light finish before.

  15. Love this post! I keep toying with lightening my floors. After your post I may take the plunge!

  16. Those are beautiful floors! I've always had the more honey colored wood floors, until now. This house has super dark wood floors. I like the dark but they show way more dust than the lighter floors did!

    Great post!

  17. What a great post and kudos on the Post coverage! (Well-deserved!)

    I do like light floors. Mostly see it in tile flooring out here in Arizona.

    Love that Shabby Chic photo...that's totally up my deco alley. Put a big ethnic statue or painting in there and I'd be right at home.

    You might look for some Scandinavian design mags...I'm guessing you'd see a lot of them, even w/ their northern clime. It's just a really great way to add light and serenity into a space. Your home sounds gorgeous!

  18. Congrats on the Post mention! I saw it yesterday morning (in the actual paper) and was thrilled for you. Terri Sapienza at the Post is great about getting the word out about the great blogs!

  19. Congratulations! I agree with them about the fabulous photos!

  20. Interesting selection of alternative schemes with light floors. Thank you for sharing.

  21. I found you via The Inspired Room. So glad I did. I love this post about light floors, and would hve to agree with you. I love rooms that feel light and airy. It lifts my mood and makes me happy.

    I will definitely be frequenting your blog:)

  22. Hi! I found your blog quite by accident. All of your rooms and your tastes really inspire me. I was searching and looking at other blogs before starting mine. So far I haven't come across any that give me such a "welcome" feeling. Your thoughts on life and our surroundings are similar to mine. I sell custom, upscale wreaths on the internet, am quite successful, and am encouraged daily to start my blog.
    I will be back! Smiles....Nancy

  23. Love that first photo! Stunning. Great post on light floors, all those chocolate brown floors that are out there now because of that trend will soon be taken out because they certainly show everything!

  24. Great photos.. I love the white wood old school chair in the last to bottom photo!


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