Valley House Tour: A Case for New Floors

Some of you commented yesterday that you really liked the dark wood floors on the stairs and in the family room and that I should just replace the ceramic tiles with dark wood to match and call it a day. That was definitely my Plan B. My problem with this flooring is that it’s engineered…

Some of you commented yesterday that you really liked the dark wood floors on the stairs and in the family room and that I should just replace the ceramic tiles with dark wood to match and call it a day.

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That was definitely my Plan B. My problem with this flooring is that it’s engineered wood and for some reason it has that sort of swishy, sticky, hollow sound to it when you walk (drives me nuts). Also, it’s made to look hand-scraped, which can be really pretty when done subtly, but ends up being a bit too much texture I think in a large space.

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Also, I really, really dislike the way they did the stairs, where you can see the individual pieces of wood instead of cut-to-fit planks. Even if we were going to keep the dark wood floors, I’d pull those off the wood on the treads and risers and have new planks cut. This look is not my favorite.

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For the record, I still really like the look of dark stained floors. I think it’s classic and the contrast against light color walls is so pretty! My mom has really dark floors in her house and they’re lovely. The stain shade on the wood in this house is almost the same as my mom’s and I really like it.

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I actually spent a few days at the new house recently working on a pre-closing project (photos coming soon! Can’t wait to share.) and the dust on the floors ended up being a daily chore to tackle. The footprints!! They were everywhere. I was practically married to my swiffer when we lived at the loft with the white epoxy floors, and the idea of having endless years ahead of me wiping up the dark floors every time the kids come in from playing in the backyard sounded like a nightmare.

And while it would be less than half as expensive to replace the tile with the same dark engineered wood (assuming we could buy more of the same wood), I feel like it would be a little like throwing good money after bad. Since there’s a good chance we’ll live in this home for a long time, I’d rather put a bigger chunk of my renovating budget toward doing the floors right from the get go.

So what am I envisioning? A light golden gray. Basically the color of dust and kid smudges. :) This first photo here is my inspiration.

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I’m shooting for a more classic “Paris apartment” color on the stain, which I think might be a little more trend-resistant than the really light grays (which are so, so gorgeous).

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World of Interiors (I think? Dang Tumblr!)
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Arch Digest

We’re putting in an order for 3.5″ unfinished white oak. The bulk of the order will be sent in random lengths for all the straight-laying we’ll do in most of the house. But in the library (which I’ll show you next) I want to lay the wood in a herringbone pattern.

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The floor in the library is sunken about 8″, which is not my favorite look normally, but it works pretty well to define the three different spaces we have going on in the front part of the house. It was going to cost thousands and thousands to fill in the step-down and we would have had to wait for 60 days for the concrete to cure before laying flooring down on top of the fill. I was on the fence about filling it anyway, so problem solved!

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Doing a herringbone will make the step down look more intentional I think. And actually, it’s really a chevron pattern we’re doing, where the planks aren’t offset, but meet at an angle – just like in all the example photos above. I’m sort of getting ahead of myself though. More plans for the library and the parquetry in a bit.

What do you think of our stain choice? We need to test some more samples, but it’s looking like three parts golden oak to one part gray stain is just about right.

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77 thoughts on “Valley House Tour: A Case for New Floors

  1. That looks like a floatng floor. I wonder if it could be saved and donated to Habitat for Humanity. That way you don't have to feel guilty about the waste.
    I agree though, you should spend the money once and get what you want. I also know how hard it is to redo flooring in a house you are actually living in.

  2. Hi guys!! Thanks so much for your input on the floors!

    We definitely have plans to donate the salvageable wood planks (and even tiles – my contractor thinks we can keep a lot of them whole) to our Habitat for Humanity store. That's helping me feel a teeny tiny bit less guilty for ripping out perfectly good floors. Truly, if it weren't for the horrible sound these boards make when you walk on them, I would do everything in my power to make them work. I wish I cared less about this sort of thing!

    We do have a family goal to salvage and donate as much of the items we're removing from the house as possible. I hate the idea of being so wasteful, so any steps we can take to reduce our footprint while also getting the house of my dreams is worth it to me.


  3. Katy @ Eat, Drink & Decorate:

    The house is built on slab. You can either put down a plywood subfloor (which will raise your floors up almost an inch) or you can get glue-down grade wood (which is what we're doing. xo

  4. Emily – I'm all for continuity, but I don't mind mixing flooring types at all, especially when both are beautiful and compliment each other. I think how the floors transition into each other is a big part of the equation too.

    We have horrible brick pavers in our kitchen, laundry room and a couple of the bathrooms. We're not doing wood in the kitchen (at least right now) because we're planning a full kitchen reno in the next year or so. We'll be moving walls, so I thought it wouldn't make sense to pay for floors in there right now. Plus, I like tile in kitchens, so I might opt for something different in there anyway, after the reno.

    If you hate the tile in your entry though, I say go for the continuity! xo

  5. rcwillman: I think once the stairs are painted, I won't mind them. The proportion is not offensive in person, though I would love to do something a little different down the road!

  6. The house is gooing to look competely different with light coloured floors! I have these at my rental and I like them, but fark floors are also really pretty :)

    Btw, I love those windows! They are awsome!

  7. crobbins:

    They use the room currently like a more formal living room or a "front room". I'm posting more about this tomorrow, but we're building floor to ceiling bookshelves on the back wall. I totally hear you on the door idea – that would be so pretty, but I think we're going to leave it mostly open. Though eventually we'll probably change the shape of the walkways in and out of the room, which I think will help it feel more like a room of its own while still maintaining that open feel.


  8. litebrite: I'm not sure who manufactures the wood (it's engineered) or the species. I asked the seller for the info though (so we could determine if we could just refinish these and also to see if the installation was lock-in or glue-down), so I'll update here when she sends it over.

  9. LOVING the Valley House tour posts. Thank you for bringing us along…your move is going to be SO FUN (for us :-) ). 10000% agree with your choice on the floors. Can't wait to get the final mix recipe!

  10. I know the sound you're talking about when walking on that type of flooring – would drive me crazy, too! You are so right to put down light flooring. We live in a very old house with oak flooring throughout and it has hid the dirt of 6 kids very well! I decided to put a darker wood in the kitchen when we remodeled 2 years ago (the flooring didn't match the rest of the house anyway and HAD to be replaced) – I love the color, but it absolutely shows every smudge, footprint, etc. It's never clean for more than a few minutes. Don't feel a bit guilty for making your house what you want! Very excited about following your remodel!

  11. Hey Jenny- I'm just catching up with your move & starting a blog myself. Wanted to comment on the house exterior. Have you thought about taking it in a coastal direction aka the hamptons on the outside? Paint all siding & brick gray, with all the windows and trim white (minus the gingerbread)? Then accent your doors in a bright color or a black? Can't wait to see what you do next…Best of luck in your move!

  12. amen to no more dark floors. they are a nightmare to maintain. We have natural oak right now and I will do my best to always always have light floors. they never show dust, dirt or footprints.

    and they warm up the space if you choose white (or very light) walls. which is what I do and the look I love and never tire of.

    Can't wait to see your chevron floors in the library!

  13. I have dark wood floors that ARE THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE!!!! They are pretty for about 5 minutes of the day-right after cleaning them. Ugh! I swiffer and dustmop constantly, they show everything! I'd say very good call on your floor choice. I can't wait to see it! Congratulations on your move!!

  14. As lovely and rich dark floors are I would think they would be a nightmare to keep pristine. With children and pets I can imagine them looking fairly beat up in no time at all. Life is too short to be glued to a Swiffer mop.

  15. I think changing the floors is a terrific idea. Engineered wood feels awful to walk on. Love your plans for the new, lighter look and the herringbone in the step down. Can already tell you will be completely transforming this house.

    Maybe you can create a BOOK around the transformation of your house – there are alot of builder houses that need to be saved from themselves and I think you would have a huge market of people wanting to buy yours.

  16. The peek into the library with the pitched ceiling and detail,
    the tall windows and all the space …awesome. The
    addition of the light floors, especially in the herringbone
    pattern will be stunning. Will add amazing character.

  17. Smart! I was wondering how you'd keep those dark floors dust free here in the desert southwest. Best wishes on the move back west and all the upcoming projects!

  18. Love that we're getting to actually see some inspiration pics for what you're envisioning. The future floors are going to be gorgeous. I also can't stand that hollow, smacking sound that engineered/faux wood floors make. I cringe on the inside everytime I have to walk over them.

  19. I love the "mid-tone" stain choice (Though I am equally partial to really dark and really light flooring, too!). It all comes down to: Do you love it? If not, no matter what anyone says, you'll always be trying to change it or "live" with it… including the squishy, hollowness – that's worth taking up a floor to find out the cause! You're such a pro, though, you know all this! And a worker bee, to boot! Best wishes!

  20. Absolutely on the stain choice. I have dark wood floors and after a while- you live with messy floors. The alternative is to never get anything else done because you are constantly wiping/dusting/etc. Would never do dark again.
    My neighbors have the exact chevron style floors in their home- you will not be disappointed for sure. Their floors are beautiful. I second all your opinions on why the floors need to replaced. You will not regret the investment. If only I knew then – what I know now.

  21. Coincidentally, my husband and I are buying a new home and have been looking at flooring options. I told him I want a mid-tone wood floor with a bit of gray undertone to keep it from looking too red or yellow. So I agree with your choice. ;)

    We had dark wood floors in the past. Gorgeous when clean, but a PITA to keep them that way. Never again.

  22. I enjoy reading your blog, Jenny, and you are certainly no worse an environmental offender than many other homeowners. But I just wanted to express my feeling that to replace brand new, perfectly serviceable floors just because they are "not your favorite" is so wasteful of energy and natural resources. Obviously your money is your own, but there are huge environmental costs to that decision. I'm disappointed. I hope you'll take environmental footprint into account when tackling future decisions.

  23. Definitely change those floors. I agree with your decision totally. Your new floor color will be perfect and I love the pattern you've chosen for the library. Can't wait to see all the changes you will do to make this house your home.

  24. I love dark stained floors but also that Scandinavian shabby-chic look of white wood floors. We live with gorgeous Parisian hardwood however so I can't complain ;-)

    xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog

  25. Hi Nina! I love tile in kitchens, baths and laundry rooms especially. I recently did a post on encaustic tiles, which are completely gorgeous. As far as whole-house tile goes, I think if the architecture of the house supports the look, I'm all for it – like something Spanish style.

    I don't love the particular tile in my house. The color is very pink and the shade of brown in the sort of "veining" is not my favorite. Real travertine – in a really really light shade is not a bad choice I think. Real stone is always a good idea.


  26. I don't think too much about flooring but a herringbone pattern, kinda makes my heart sing. So beautiful! I had really bad floors in my last home and waited to replace them since they had just been done. But they were done badly and there were so many times we got stuck badly with a nail. I wish I would have changed them immediately so that I could have lived with what I liked for years instead! Can't wait to see the gray.

  27. NO I love dark floors! I am dreaming of putting dark wood floors in our next home. Our previous house had medium/light wood floors and it showed dirt and dust and dog hair and just about everything. I am not sure if there is a "perfect" color that would hide anything when it comes to wood floors. Your first post the floors looked amazing but up close I can totally see why you would want to replace. And they did a chop job on the stairs…ouch.

  28. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!! I'm sure the floors and the way they laid them on the stairs are even more offensive in person. That style of flooring is totally not "you"…good luck, can't wait to see the progress! :)

  29. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!! I'm sure the floors and the way they laid them on the stairs are even more offensive in person. That style of flooring is totally not "you"…good luck, can't wait to see the progress! :)

  30. We had dark wood floors in our old house. They were real wood finished on site, so we didn't finish them very shiny. They didn't show dust from the dogs or baby and were all around fantastic.

    I think you're right about redoing the floors. At some point it isn't about saving money but getting the look you want. It makes more sense to do it right the first time than spend money on getting something you don't really love only to eventually change it.

    I'm loving the light flooring choice! Can't wait to see it all come together!

    Amber @ Wills Casa

  31. I love the idea of doing herringbone in the library – perfect solution to make the sunken floor look intentional! and love your color choice, I love dark wood, but not the constant swiffering that it takes!

  32. I've had herringbone and I've had dark floors. The herringbone lighter stained floors win hands down!!! You're totally right about the stairs too, not good but the sunken room I think will be lovely. I can't wait to see the process and end result, thanks for sharing!

  33. I'm having a hard time looking at anything other than that gingerbread trim… I want to jump through the screen and tear it out!
    Even though I'm bummed about not seeing any more progress on the brownstone, I am excited to see where you take this house. I'm sure it will be fabulous!

  34. Wondering if the house is built on a slab or crawl space?? I am dying to pull up the carpet in our house and put hardwoods down but we're on a slab and I *think* my options are limited due to the concrete.

    Can't wait to watch your transformation!!! So exciting!

  35. New floors for sure — love the solution of a herringbone pattern to offset the lovely Arizona sunken room trend. So smart to resist the gray trend, too. Excited for you to move here!

  36. Are you extending the new hardwoods into the kitchen as well? Can you make the case for why not to have a combination of ceramic tile and hardwood floors on the first floor of a home? We currently have the late-90s style ceramic tile in the entry, flanked by hardwoods in the living and dining rooms and I'm trying to convince my husband that a unified floor is better than two separate floors that define the spaces. Thanks in advance for helping with the argument!

  37. I have floors similar to your inspiration (minus the wonderful chevron). It doesn't show any dirt or smudges. I think it also helps make my small condo feel larger and brighter. I'm excited for you with the house. What a fun adventure!

  38. I completely agree with you on the floor stain. Our old house had that same lighter wood stain you want installed and we didn't have to worry about it one bit. In our new house the darker floors are a constant headache. It's beautiful but so much work!

  39. I'm pretty sure those dark engineered floors are the exact same flooring that my husband and I put in our house and I have to say I am not very happy with them. They show every speck of dust, dirt and dog hair and our dogs have completely scratched them in the main living areas (we have stopped letting them in the bedrooms just to protect the floors). They are much higher maintenance than I was hoping. I'm excited to see the transformation of your house. I LOVE the herringbone floor inspiration pics!

  40. I just loooove that stain color. We went with a natural Acacia in our home and I liked it because it has a lot of light color in the variation. I did not want to "be married to a swiffer" either. I really wanted the wide plank Douglas fir floors that are whitish gray washed, but in the area we live in, that would have hurt re-sale, so we went with something a bit warmer too. Can't wait to see your chevron pattern. Sounds great!!

  41. Oh my gosh. This post makes me SO EXCITED. All the projects you've done in your rentals which I've been following have been great, but this amazing wood color and the herringbone parquet- AMAZING. I'm so inspired!!!!!

  42. totally agree with your stain choice, love the pattern for your library. One thought, the spindles and bannister they seem proportionally wrong given the ceiling height, any plans to swap these out?

  43. Ultimately, this is your house, that YOU have to live in. I couldn't agree more about the floors. I think the manufactured wood is very unappealing after your comments about the squeaks, dust, and tracks it doesn't hid. Katy makes a good point in donating them to a habitat for humanity center, they seem in good condition and would make a great donation.

    Can't wait to see the finished floors, your inspiration images are stunning! Good luck!

  44. The sunken space you will be using as a library…it appears to be currently used as a living space. Are you adding shelves? Also, will that area be closed off with doors from the foyer? When I picture a library off the foyer, I see classic glass inlay doors (maybe that's just me, though)…

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