May 30, 2013

Sage Decorating Advice

You may have noticed the floor beneath the TV Console I blogged about in my previous post. I tried to hide as much of it as I could, but it couldn't help sneaking into the photo. Floors have a way of doing that.

I bought a 13'x15' piece of neutral comfy carpet and had it bound at a total cost of about $200 to cover most of this ugly floor in my family room while I await my dream hardwood floors. Meanwhile, I try to avoid photographing them. 

I feel like my floors are the elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge, but there they are. So here's the background on the faux brick vinyl flooring that 
covers my kitchen, hallway, and family room.

I wish I could say someone else was responsible for the floors pictured in these grainy old photos, but I can't hide.

It was me. 

In my defense, twenty-five years ago, when these floors were installed, vinyl sheet flooring was the "in" thing. I saw this pattern in another old house in my historic neighborhood and fell in love with it. I had two little children, and what is now our family room, was then their play room, connected to the kitchen by a long hallway. (Our house is called a shotgun floorplan because you can stand at the front door and shoot a gun through the whole house to the 
back door, though I haven't actually tried it.) 

Thinking that my darling little girls would scratch hypothetical hardwood floors with sand from the sandbox, spill paint on them from their easels, and stain them with grape juice from their sippy cups, I chose this vinyl as something worry free that I wouldn't have to keep a constant careful eye on.

Plus, we were young and house poor, remodeling a kitchen and bathroom in the old part of the house and building on a huge new addition. We put our money into square feet and didn't have much left for the finishes. 

In spite of that, we did get the best we could afford, and this floor was the highest-end Tarkett vinyl floor available. It came with a lifetime warranty, so how could we go wrong?

 This I can attest to: our Tarkett floor earned its lifetime warranty. It is hard as rocks and never showed a scratch. I have used paint removers and even sand paper on it, and nothing ever damages it. I was very happy with it for about ten years until the trend wore out, I got tired of the pattern, and I wanted something I didn't feel embarrassed by. 

Rule #1: If you can afford to remodel regularly, go ahead and get the trendy finishes that are "in" now, and just change them when you grow tired of them, even if they haven't worn out. I couldn't afford to change my trendy vinyl and have had to live with it for ten years past the trend's time. Ugh! The best advice I've seen on avoiding the issue of trendy finishes was from Nicole Curtis on the HGTV show, Rehab Addict. She advises never put a finish into your remodel that you wouldn't have found available the year your house was built. That way, it will always look authentic and never trendy. There was no sheet vinyl flooring available in 1910 when my home was built, and I wish I would have bit the bullet and borrowed a little more money at the time for hardwood. I could have just refinished the wood floors when the girls were grown and done with the sandbox.


Like my hand-me-down Windsor chairs, the original hardwood Maple floors in the old part of our house will never go out of style in our period home, and I've never grown tired of them. 

Rule #2: If you want your finishes to last a lifetime, make sure the installation will also. While the Tarkett Vinyl itself earned its lifetime warranty, the entire floor installation did not. Don't mistake the lifetime warranty of your finish with how long the entire job will last. The surface of our vinyl floor is almost still like new, but the installation gave out about the same time the solid vinyl trend did. The seams between the big sheets came apart and curled, and we literally are holding them together now with clear packing tape. No glue we've tried will hold the curling edges down. 

We found out that many glued-on floor installations, like vinyl, linoleum tiles, and laminate rarely come with much of a warranty. And if it does, this installation warranty, like the floor material itself, is only as good as the company behind it. In our case, the company we used made an excuse about the glue and wouldn't stand behind the installation. I doubt they get a lot of repeat business. Meanwhile, the solid wood floors that were nailed down in the old part of the house are 110 years old and still going strong. So, don't just think about the finish, think about the installation, too. 

This morning, when I looked back at my blog post from yesterday and winced, yet again, at the sight of my curling vinyl floors, I thought to myself, "It's time to address that elephant in the room, and it will be worth it if I can help even one young woman from making the same mistake I made."

 And, honestly, it feels kind of freeing. In fact, I have a few more big elephants around my house that you just might hear trumpeting in future posts.

Watch out! 


  1. Laurel, I too fell prey to the hunter green in my last home.
    When we built/bought a builder grade home as our other sold in 24 hours :-) I went neutral on everything. easier to live with and we were only to be here until our dream home was built. But... the market fell and we are still here. NO regrets, but sure glad we went neutral!!
    Hugs, Gee

  2. You know the floor is not that bad. I hate the floor in my kitchen too. I wish whoever put it down had done something that would hold up better. They did stick down tiles that are really in bad shape now and I don't have the money to get a new floor. If I photograph the room..I don't show the floor. It depresses me. It is black and white check and won't clean worth anything. Anyway...right now I'd rather have your faux brick than what I have. But your advice is very very good. I agree you can't go wrong if you choose finishes that would be in your house when it was built. Choose things you can easily and inexpensively change to go trendy with.

  3. After reading this voice of experience I'm happy to say I'm off the fence now with choosing tile flooring in my 1930's era house. Thanks for reminder that 'trends' have time limits!

  4. You give some really good advice! I love the classic old look of wood floors. Maybe someday you'll get them?! Your house is still beautiful even with those floors! :) ~ Jamie

  5. You know that you notice those floors way more than anyone else, right? But I totally get it. We have all have elements in our homes that bug us, even if the choice was made with the best of intentions. I really feel like there are few decorating decisions that really stand the test of time. By nature, we all grow and evolve and our homes need to grow with us - sometimes we love and appreciate the worn patina that comes with age, but sometimes we just need to change it up a bit! ... But I do like that advice, keeping it authentic is very wise!

  6. Oh and by the way - I am slowly banishing all the hunter green from my life!

  7. My house was built when vinyl flooring was trendy - LOL. I often wish I hadn't replaced the worn and torn vinyl with more vinyl, but wood wasn't in the budget. You are definitely not alone - I have the same curling action happening in my kitchen. Someday we will both have lovely wood floors. Meanwhile, I'm secretly relieved your floors aren't as perfect as the rest of your gorgeous home. ;)

  8. I have some of those elephants in the room. :) my floor was one of them. so happy I painted it. It's still not hardwood, but works for now.


  9. Oh the hunter green! That will be some loud trumping! ;)

  10. Oh Laurel, where were the sage advisors of our youth when we were installing finishes we would one day abhor. i guess it's hard to see past the moment when the wallet is empty. Don't I know it! I have many an ugly finish I've been living with long past their prime. Will probably continue to do so for many years to come. I'm glad you'll get to put some of yours behind you!


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