White Hardwood Floors: Sacrilege, or Serenity?
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White Hardwood Floors: Sacrilege, or Serenity?

Painting over your hardwoods reflects more light. But there’s a cost…

By Angelica Frey
Fri, Oct 15, 2021Grey Clock 3 min

In August, social media lightning rod and artist Caroline Calloway decided to do some spur-of-the-moment home renovations. With piles of clothes and books still on the ground of her Manhattan apartment, she took white paint to all of the hardwood floors. She documented the process on her social media and an uproar ensued. Commenters on Twitter, where it became a trending topic in the U.S., were entertained and mortified about the seemingly slapdash paint job.

Calloway, who has drawn attention with her homemade ornate candles and sparkly collage art, says the white floors are in step with a new aesthetic. “Before, I was a maximal maximalist, and now I am a minimal maximalist,” she says. The inspiration for her white floors simply came from pictures Calloway saw on Pinterest. “They looked really good, and I want my home to look really good.”

The hashtags #whitefloor and #painttok on TikTok show enthused home renovators—both amateurs and professionals alike—opting for stark, white floors over their traditional ones. Redoing wooden floors taps into consumer demand for sustainability and upcycling, and the bucolic-inspired cottagecore aesthetic, which came to define 2020 and a pandemic spent indoors.

“Painted floorboards create a shabby-chic feel that is both welcoming and textural,” says Gemma Riberti, head of interiors at the trend forecasting agency WGSN.

Content creator Brigette Muller posted a TikTok video in July of her finishing painting her wood floors to more than 400,000 views. Muller, who draws inspiration from French and Victorian decorative styles, had actually just moved into a new apartment that already came with white floors. She painted over them to get her desired, warmer shade of white. “White floors have this lived-in, nostalgic quality that just seems to fit perfectly with my overall style,” she says.

Painting wood floors has broad appeal across generations. Lori Guyer, who owns the antique store White Flower Farmhouse in the North Fork of Long Island specializes in renovation works on a budget. She says she’s been painting wooden floors since around 1995, shortly after she and her husband started their family. “I was trying to make a nice home for a family, and I painted floors, I painted furniture, and I did whatever I could do on a shoestring budget,” she says.

In Scandinavia, white floors make the most of available light. Interior designer Karolina Törnqvist, founder of Studio Törnqvist, based in both London and Stockholm, says that it’s something that has been done in Sweden for centuries, dating back to country cottages painting checkered patterns using white on wood floors around the 1700s. It was a cost-effective way to replicate the patterns in checkered stone floors that were found in France and England.

There is one chief concern with having white floors, immediately apparent to anyone with kids. “It’s hard to keep clean,” says interior designer Orlando Soria. During one of the many California lockdowns, Soria stripped his newly acquired cabin in Fish Camp, California of its blue carpet to paint the plywood underneath white. Due to limited options at his local hardware store, Soria used wall paint instead of floor paint.

Guyer recommends one coat of primer, and then two to three coats of floor paint, with an estimated two-day time commitment, from start to finish. She says oil-based enamel paint is the best way to do it, because it gives a durable enamel protective finish. Adding an extra layer of clear coat, she adds, will help protect the floor, especially if you have dogs or young kids in the house, but it’s not a compulsory step, especially when the paint itself already has a gloss or a semi-gloss finish.

The two main factors determining the longevity of the project are your own proficiency and the strength and quality of the paint itself. Guyer says she repainted one floor in her home after five years. Soria, by contrast, estimates that he will touch his floors up with a brush every six months, saying that the sum of the small paint fixes will still cost less than a total floor renovation.

As for Calloway, she still had to put on a top coat by mid-September and says her floor still had a dull, chalky matte finish. “Yeah, that’s on my to-do list, and I’ll probably pay someone to come do that,” she says. “I think I’ll let the professionals handle the polyurethane.”


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Treechangers seeking a home and income should take note of this west coast property in picturesque Pickering Brook in the Perth Hills, which comes with its own live-in residents.

Known as ‘the Margaret River of the Hills’ the area boasts stunning bushland while being just 30 minutes from all the amenity Perth has to offer.

With eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, this property is a home and business, operating as a thriving day spa, Hidden Valley Eco Lodges and Day Spa.

The private main residence is made of rammed earth for thermal comfort and has three bedrooms, luxurious bathroom and a large open plan living area. A private jacuzzi on the spacious entertaining deck is the perfect spot for enjoying beautiful bushland views at the end of a long day.

For day spa guests, there are four deluxe spa treatment rooms serviced by qualified staff, a reception area and lounge plus a commercial kitchen. Overnight guests can choose from five lodges with fully equipped kitchen and heated jacuzzi. As a going concern with a consistently high annual turnover, it’s a unique opportunity for the right buyer.

Set over 5.46ha, the property is also home to a very special group of residents: a small herd of alpacas, which are included in the sale.

Price guide: $6.5 million

Inspection: By expression of interest

Agent: Susanne Broido, The Agency 0499 770 237