Not-So-New Kitchen Flooring Ideas

June 2, 2014 § 2 Comments

ImageKitchen floors always pose a challenge. Do we continue the not-always-practical hardwoods throughout or do we interrupt the flow with a more indestructible surface alternative? In this kitchen by Designer Sarah Richardson, she used a linoleum tile to create a colorful and durable floor to complement the light pastel blue and white palette. What we do not see is the adjoining room and how the two areas are connected.

Here is my rule of thumb:

If you have a small house, continue the hardwood floors throughout the downstairs public areas (living room, dining room, family room if there is one, and kitchen). That way, the house will appear larger and less chopped up into individual rooms.

If you have an old house (or a large one) with distinct room divisions, go ahead and select an alternative flooring that offers color or durability (although carrying the hardwood throughout is okay too). I recommend using the color palette to pull the public areas together so in Sarah’s case, the adjoining room would have some light blue in it. Mixing and matching within the color palette will create the feeling of a larger, more pulled-together house — even if the rooms are boxy and divided by walls and small doors.

Just like there are more options than granite and Formica for your kitchen counter top, there are now numerous exciting alternatives to wood and tile on your kitchen floor.



Return of the Gilded Age, Well Not Exactly

January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment


We have Downton Abbey, Princess Kate, and the popularity of all things English to thank for the resurgence of gold in interior design right now. At least that’s my opinion…  And what a welcome sight it is.

After too many years degilding homes of anything that even hinted of gold, brass or yellow, the hue of royalty has returned.

The new interpretation, however, is decidedly fresh as we see in this living room from Traditional Home magazine. The wall color is so subtle that it accentuates even the creamy tan stripe on the window panel and the moldings on the ceiling. The gold demilune table and classic gold-framed art above it pop. As does the Chinese porcelain, as if pulled directly from the painting. Even the floor color is perfect, establishing a solid grounding upon which to layer all those beautiful blues and wheat tones.

The look is not your grandmother’s living room, with all due respect to your grandmother. Gold is nolonger shunned from updated decor.

Welcome back, gold.

Interior designer: Joseph Minton, with Paula Lowes and Michelle M. Wade

What’s All the Buzz about Undertones?

December 28, 2012 § 5 Comments

Determining a beige color undertone (defined by color expert Maria Killam as “a colour applied under or seen through another colour”) can be tricky. Beige can have one of several undertones: pink, yellow, or green are the basics. If you have dining room furniture with a decidedly yellow/orange hue and walls with a pink undertone like Benjamin Moore’s Georgetown Pink Beige HC-56, then yikes, you have a problem. Off to the paint store.

Bottom Line: Mixing pink-beige with yellow-beige (or yellow/orange) is a big no-no. Fix: Choose a paint with a different (non-pink) undertone like Benjamin Moore’s Monroe Bisque HC-26 that has a yellow undertone and looks great with the golden oak.



If you avoid the mistake of mixing pink and yellow undertones, you’re on your way to understanding them. The other nuances of what undertones to mix and not to mix will come much easier. Note: Mixing pink and yellow vibrant hues is perfectly okay. It’s just the dreaded undertones that can trip you up. Beware.

Kitchen Decisions

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

And you thought picking a paint color was hard? Try a kitchen renovation. The number of decisions that have to be made seemingly all at the same time is daunting to even a seasoned renovator. What kind of cabinets? What color? What style? How many? Where to put them? What stain? What knobs? And that’s just the cabinets! Okay… before I get carried away, here’s an example of how the homeowners and I managed the decisions on their renovated kitchen.

The first decision was to pick the cabinets: white painted wood with a shaker-style door. They knew they wanted white because it was classic and would brighten up their small kitchen. Pewter knobs would be the jewelry. They also picked out their appliances: stainless steel. Next came the counter top and that’s when they called me into the project. We discussed concrete, honed granite, and soapstone and settled on soapstone as it had a nice finish and seemed appropriate to the age and style of the home. Shiny granite was out!

The next decision was what to do with the floor. They had hardwood in the adjoining living room but considered tile for the kitchen area because they had heard that it was easier to clean and was okay in wet areas. All true. But I convinced them that carrying the wood all the way through from living room to kitchen would widen the entire space and give the area a more continuous feel.

The backsplash was the next item and both homeowners wanted color. They just could not agree on what color and which material to use. I warned them that glass might be a little trendy for their brick-fireplaced kitchen and suggested they look at slate. The colors are natural and earthy and very appropriate for a slightly more rustic look in the kitchen. At the same time, the white cabinets really make the wonderful palette of earthy colors pop off the counter! The slate also looks terrific with both counter top and stainless!

Lighting was next with some recessed cans with LED fixtures around the perimeter and under-cabinet strips for task lighting, a couple of pendants over the eating areas, and a creative track system of lighting above the island. Track lighting is back! In a big way! And its flexibility makes it appealing — you can maneuver the spots anywhere you’d like them and you can change them too!

Wall color was last on the list of decisions. We went with a rich red-orange accent wall on the other end of the kitchen by the dining area — to create a warm dining space and give the homeowner the red she craved. The rest of the walls are a gray blue that picks up on the tile and coordinates well with stainless and white.

Kitchen done. Just in time for a relaxing summer!

Flooring Challenges: Working around the color scheme

November 15, 2010 § 4 Comments

Are you living with a slate floor from the early ’80s? Many of you are. Slate is a wonderful material for the foyer as it’s easy to mop up after muddy boots and dogs trample through. But many slate floors have a distinct color palette (the gray-greens, blue-greens, purples and rusty reds) all in one small square footage.  Busy? Yes. And out-dated? Yup.

Besides throwing a rug over it or replacing it, the other approach is to embrace the color palette presented to you by the previous owners. Currently, the gray-blue-greens are quite popular in fabric lines and even paint stores. And purple is a great accent color. So if you are updating your foyer and are cursing the flooring, take heart. Pull a palette from the floor at least for the foyer area. Blending the floor with the surroundings will make it less of a color feature in your room.

And as always, create a focal point just inside the front door. A large piece of art, a bench, or a mirror– something to draw the eye upward away from the floor.

If you are planning to install new flooring in your entryway, choose a neutral that will stand up to decades of wall color changes and will look just as terrific 20 years from now as it does today.

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