The Great Floor Debate Part II


Hello again! Wow, thanks everyone for all your great input on our flooring dilemma! It is awesome to come to blogland and find so many people who share a passion for the same thing, who have different experiences and ideas to contribute. Thank you!!

For anyone just joining in, you can catch up here...but basically we are trying to figure out the best way to solve this problem:

No, your eyes do not deceive you...that's 4 different types of flooring in our downstairs. Yikes! This means we have awkward and unsightly transitions like this between the living room and entryway/kitchen:

And like this between the entryway/kitchen and the dining room:

The great floor debate started because we really need/want to replace the carpet in the living room, family room and stairway (did I mention it's nasty?). First we considered new carpet...these will be play areas eventually when we are hopefully blessed with children (that's a whole other post!). But now we are leaning more towards hardwood for the ease of cleaning and general aesthetic. (Can any of you moms out there chime in on carpet vs. hardwood for kids? We would of course have area rugs in both rooms which would hopefully give us that soft, roll around on the floor with the kiddos feeling.) Plus if we put in new carpet, we would still have the same problem - too many types of flooring in one space.

{said nasty carpet in the living room}

So we assumed the next logical option would be to rip up the carpet and put down the same solid hardwood floors with a cherry finish that the previous owners installed in the kitchen and entryway. We found an extra box of hardwood in the garage, so we had a flooring guy we know search around until he found a supplier who could give us more of the same stuff. What we didn't realize was how expensive this stuff was...seems like the previous owners didn't skimp on their new floors. (Maybe they couldn't afford to continue them into the dining room?!) So, we could put the cherry floors in the living room and family room, it would just cost a lot. Which is totally fine, I completely see the value in this and think its worth it, its just that these are not the floors I would have chosen if I was starting from scratch. I really like them, they're a beautiful color, very unique...but not what I would choose if I had my druthers.

{the kitchen now}

Hmmm. So should we spend a whole lot of money on something we are only 75% happy with? Or should we spend less on floors we really like a whole lot? But then we are back to square one.

Paul mostly goes along with whatever I want in terms of home stuff (he has good taste...for a guy) but he has a strong opinion when it comes to what kind of hardwood floors he likes. He wants a dark finish. Darker than cherry. Like an espresso. I think Holly of Life in a Fun Lane's floors might be slightly too dark for him, but they are alot closer to what he wants than what we have.

{gorgeous, no?!}

So if a darker finish were all we were after, then I suppose we could:

1. install new dark finish hardwoods in the living room and family room that are the same width as the kitchen's cherry floors (3 1/4")

2. sand and refinish the kitchen/entryway floors in a darker stain to "match" the new new floors

3. get the dining room on board by either installing the new new dark wood floors in there or also sand and stain the oak to be darker even though it would be skinnier planks

What are your thoughts on this? Speaking of darker finishes, can anyone out there with dark floors comment on how hard they are to keep clean?

But, besides a darker finish (or maybe we should just say less red!), I would really love a wider board. And something with a bit more texture to it. Remember this pic I posted a while ago from Rate My Space?

I love how the wide floors look. I've been inspired a lot lately by a more coastal, farmhouse, pastoral manor vibe (I have no idea what to call this combo but I like it!). I think wide floors would help this look. (It's ok that we have a colonial, right?)

I found some solid hardwood I loved at Home Depot on one of my recent research trips (and it was a couple of dollars cheaper per square foot than the cherry floors). It wide, medium to dark brown, with a slightly darker variation at the edges of each board, and it has some distressed areas, dips to it that add that look that its been there forever. Then I realized they're pretty much the same floors that Janell of Isabella and Max Room's has! And that confirmed that I really like them, because this woman has style and supremely good taste. (Janell, hope you don't mind I borrowed a couple of pics - thanks!)

So if I had my druthers (at this current moment in time), these are the floors I would choose for our whole downstairs. But that would mean completely ripping up 2 other sets of floors (the old oak in the dining room and the new cherry in the kitchen). That seems sort of sad and that's still alot of money.

Do you think there's any way that we could get these new wide floors and still make our other wood floors somehow work? Sand and refinish both the other 2 then we would have 3 different width floors with similiar tones? Or we could also put the new wide floors in the dining room, then that would only leave the kitchen and foyer?

Now, completely unrelated to any of the options above, here's something else I'm throwing out there. I have considered...wait for it....don't freak...painting the dining room floor! Ever since I saw this image on design*sponge, I can't get the idea of a patterned painted floor somewhere in our house out of my head.

I know lots of people cringe when you mention painting over wood floors, but obviously in this instance, these dining room floors are going to be messed with either way. It would probably be bad for resale, but we are not going anywhere anytime soon, so I'd be doing this for me/us. Maybe it could be a temporary solution? Maybe I'm crazy?!

Ok, so I should probably stop typing soon and probably just post this already, right? If you are still with me at this point, what do you think about all this? Do any of these options seem viable? Does this post even make sense? What would you do? Have any of you out there had your wood floors restained a new color? Help!!!! Thanks so much, you guys are the best!


  1. Wow! Alot of ideas, I understand your confusion. I'll speak from my experience. 1)We had our hardwood floors professionally refinished when we moved into our house. They were lighter and we had them stained darker. 2)Personally, I prefer having hardwood floors with my children. They are much easier to keep clean. Just watch they don't get scratched and put rugs down for warmth.

    Most of our home improvement decisions have been driven by our budget and not wanting to "over-improve" for resale within the next 10 years.

    I would suggest you start getting estimates for each of your different options. If budget's a concern, then you'll see what's more affordable.

    And if nothing else, it's your house, paint the floors. I watched an episode of Designed to Sell and Lisa LaPorta painted the wood floors a dark, almost black color...they were beautiful!

    Sorry to be so lengthy...hope this helps. You can see the before pics of our hardwood floors on my blog. ~Lisa

  2. Well, first of all thanks for the lovely mention!!

    What a situation you find yourself in! I love hardwoods over carpet any day, even with kids. I also adore very dark floors, once had them and while beautiful they were a complete pain, showing everything! I think you can get generally the same look with a slightly lighter stain...think walnut.

    My only thought about sanding and restaining the various woods is that unless you go very very dark it will be hard to get the different woods to look similar, each will take the stain differently. Then you'll be back where you started, nearly.

    Ultimately, to get a consistent look throughout the main floor means having the same flooring in each room. I would be concerned about spending a lot of money on something you are only 75% happy with. If I were you I'd price a solid oak flooring, or pine or other less expensive solid product, that could be stained to your choice and run throughout.

    Please keep us posted! Janell

  3. I don't know the right solution to your flooring dilema but I thought I'd share some of my favorite wood floors with you. They are in my friend Carrie's home. You can see them here:

    They are reclaimed barn wood from The Woods Company in Chambersburg, PA.

    If money wasn't an issue I think you should replace all of the floors with the typa of flooring you love. If you really hate to toss the old wood floors I think the best option would be to refinish your cherry floors to coordinate with the new wood floors you plan to put in the living/family rooms. I think painting a pattern on the dining room floor would be a great way to make that that room's floors be a unique stand out from the rest. I can't wait to see what you decide to do. You always have the best decorating taste!


  4. Hi there,
    Off the top . . . what about putting down cherry flooring in your current carpeted areas -- to complement what you have in the kitchen. Stain them the same or perhaps darker; whatever your preference. If you do the latter, maybe re=stain those in the kitchen to match. I personally like continuity. I also personally love painted floors, What about keeping the old floor in the DR and painting them, using paint and/or a stencil stain that complements the stain on the other woods. Would something like that work and be fairly cost effective -- as well as interesting? Have fun! You have great style and I know whatever you do will be wonderful. cheers, -susan

  5. Goodness, your home is just beautiful! I love, love wide planks! I also love the dark finish! I have black hardwood in my art room and it's amazing! My aunt bought an old farmhouse, painted EVERYTHING white and painted the old hardwoods black...such and incredible look! (Your inspiration pix...white table and to die for)! Perhaps you could somehow "make" all your different hardwoods the same color? Whatever you chose will be beautiful, because, as I said, the rest of your home is just lovely!

  6. What great responses!!! Thanks for taking the time to share all this, everyone! Good to know you moms still prefer the hardwood. And that not everyone is screaming "No, don't paint floors!!!".

    I think you are probably right, Janell, in terms of what would look the ultimate best - the same flooring everywhere.

    Thanks for the link, Emily!!!

    I'm really touched that you guys would take the time to read this whole thing and provide such informational answers! Thank you so much:)

    I still have not found someone who would do the sanding/restaining for us, so I suppose I should have that priced out before I make a decision.

  7. Hmmm... so many options! I guess my suggestion, too, would be to price out your various options so you can see where you're at price-wise. My personal experience has been that it's better to wait a little longer and get what you want (or as close to it as possible within the budget) rather than trying to hodge podge something together that you're ultimately not going to be happy with (especially if you plan on staying in your home long-term). Not saying you have to get the ULTIMATE, but just price out all the options and see if waiting and saving a bit can get you closer to where you want to be. Probably not that helpful? :-)

    pk @ Room Remix

  8. This is definitely a toughie! First off, I think painting your dining room floor is a really fun idea! That would be an inexpensive way to keep what you have and make it feel different enough. I'd probably just strip the old finish like in that example pic.

    As far as the rest of the house, I don't think having 3 different types of wood is a good idea. I'm with you in not liking the cherry color... If I were you I would either (1) match the wood type for the carpeted rooms and re-stain the cherry a dark color (love!), or (2) rip out the cherry and carpet and replace with something you love. I'm totally loving the wide, beat up wood you found at Home Depot!

    I know that wasn't a specific recommendation but I think you're on the right track!

  9. I think the first thing to consider is how long you are planning to be in the house. Is this your forever home? If so, rip up all the flooring and put in the dark, wide plank flooring you love. It will be worth it.

    If it's not your forever home, I think I'd install the darker, smaller planked flooring in the carpeted rooms and either sand/stain the rest of the house to match or sand/stain the entryway and kitchen to match and paint the dining room flooring.

    Also, I have dark hardwood and it's not that hard to keep clean. I have two large, shedding dogs, so I swiffer two or three times a week, but that's enough to keep the floors looking great. :)

  10. Hey Sarah, I see your dilemma!
    I would probably rip up the dining room floor and put the cherry floors in there, and then replace the carpet in the other rooms. I think trying to re-stain the DR darker to match won't work that well.
    Otherwise, I would put the cherry floors in everywhere on the first floor, since it would be cheaper than replacing everything.

    However, I love those farmhouse-style wide, knotty planks as much as you do, and if it were my forever home, I'd be very tempted to put them everywhere if I could afford it.

    (I may be the sole vote against painting the dining room. Although, since I vote to replace the floors in there no matter what, you could always paint it and see if you love it, and then rip it out if you don't).

  11. Hi Sarah,

    I just recently found your blog, and I love your style. :) Had to weigh in.... last year we sanded and refinished our floors to get them all to match. I'm pretty pleased with the result! My vote is installing smaller, darker planks where there is currently carpet, and then refinishing the other hardwood to match the dark stain. :)

  12. Hm...this is a tough one! I think the flooring you have in each of the rooms works well, but I guess it's different when you're actually living there and walking from room to room and not just seeing pictures like we are!

    If it was me, I'd probably either stain all the different types of wood the same color, or I'd rip everything out and start from scratch. Just because I know I'd never be satisfied any other way!

    Furthermore, I say DEFINITELY paint your floors if you want! Go for it - it's your house, so do what you like. You also might want to just find a super huge rug for the time being? That might work too. (back to painting) It might actually be easier to do the painting in the dining room and then just worry about matching the kitchen and LR/DR - whether you go with cherry, restaining, or starting from scratch.

    As far as refinishing - I haven't done it, but my aunt did. She had some solid oak floors that were pretty thick and had them redone - it looks wonderful.

  13. I've got VERY dark hardwood throughout our first floor (save the kitchen which is in a 20" porcelain tile laid on the diagonal) and I love how they look...that said though, I do NOT love how they show every speck of dust, pet hair, people hair, etc. that falls on them. We've got a maid that comes once a week but if I were super anal, I'd probably have it cleaned 2-3x a week. Really, it's mostly about your tolerance for mess/willingness to clean frequently.

  14. omg. I love that shelf. And your blog. DUh. :)

  15. Hi Sarah. Lots of good tips here already so I'm just going to "second" a couple. Averill is right about dark showing everything, so you'll have to decide if that's going to bother you. Kristal asked if this is your "forever" home. I'd still install new wood flooring throughout but not spend the big bucks for "perfect". Now here's my hare-brained idea: I have seen folks save a lot of $$ by using inexpensive pine boards that they install and stain themselves. Lots of work, yes, but they ended up with a look that's similar to the rustic, knotty Rate My Space floor you show here. I wish I could remember one of the places I've seen this treatment. If I do, I'll send it to you. In any case, I vote for all the same wood in all rooms, med to not-too-dark brown. Take you time and you'll find one that works for your budget. btw, I LOVE the idea of painting the dining room floor even after you find your perfect new wood.

  16. Hi, love your blog and your home! Your style is wonderful, natural and sophisticated but not fussy all at once. I think the wide plank wooden flooring certainly suits your personal style and your home. I'll add that wood floors are fantastic even with children (we have 4 soon to be 5) and pets (1 cat) in the household (just make sure they are sealed and maintained well). I personally prefer hard floors with area rugs to wall to wall carpet. I find it easier to clean and it's less of an issue for anyone with allergies/asthma (always good to keep in mind when having children).

    Now to the dark stain issue. I love with a passion dark, dark floors. However they are not very family friendly. We put a very dark (think espresso) laminate (faux wood) floor down in our living room several years ago. While I still love the floor I have to honestly tell you that I hate with a passion the upkeep (and laminate is low in that factor) and I'm not a truly fussy/anal housekeeper. (It even shows fingerprints from kids play on it!) Too many kiddos for that around here! The upkeep has kept me from doing the same thru the rest of our home and that's very disappointing to me. If I had to do it again I'd go with something still on the darker side but leaning a bit more into the medium-dark range and with more variation with the tones in it. That additional "textural" effect with more tonal variation would make it much more forgiving when it comes to dirt/dust/hair/fuzzies, etc.

    I do think continuity with flooring is a great goal to have in a home (at least for each level if not the entire home). I have to agree that you need to weigh in how happy you really think you'll be if you go with your 2nd or 3rd instead of your 1st love. Especially since it doesn't sound to me that this is a soon to flip house. While I love painted wood floors, I think they can be very personal. If resale is a potential issue, I'd be more inclined to keep something like that to a bedroom/office (more private space)or a sunroom (more casual). If it's not and this is a very long term home, then I'd say do what moves you and go for it! Staining that floor then to be close (at least tone wise) to what you would put in the rest of the house. Then doing a paint treatment over it would definitely meld it into the newer flooring while still infusing it with it's own personality. I also vote to refinish the cherry flooring to "tonally match" whatever new you select for the currently carpeted areas. I personally don't think having the plank widths or value of the flooring is as much an issue as the tone of the stains flowing well. Meaning having one are of wooden floor slightly lighter overall and another slightly darker (thinking a range of coffee browns) wouldn't put me off as much as having oak tones, next to cherry tones next to coffee or walnut tones. I'm not one to go ripping out wood floors that are in decent shape and could be salvaged/remedied. I think that's kind of a sacrilegious crime against nature and it's resources personally. But then again that's just my 2 cents worth. I'm sure whatever you do will be absolutely stunning!

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