Why I Painted My Oak Floors White: A Case Study

Sandra Henderson and her partner bought a seaside cottage three years ago. The property had recently been renovated. But Sandra wanted to make her own flooring changes – much to the horror of some of her friends. Sandra said:

“We bought our pretty little cottage in a coastal village about three years ago. One of the reasons it appealed to us was that it had already been completely renovated. Rooms had been re-plastered and reskimmed, ceilings had been replaced and a sparkling new kitchen and a bathroom had been fitted.

The whole house had been painted white and the garden was a “blank canvas” ready to get stuck into. Everything was already a beautiful combination of the old and the new – lovely areas of exposed brick and flint, as well as original timber work, contrasting with beautiful new features.

The Cottage Has a Beautiful Solid Oak Floor

One of these fabulous new additions, brought in by the developers, was a Solid Oak Floor. This ran through from the kitchen and dining area, into the sitting room, study and hallway. It was a deep sandy shade, a warm colour that we both loved to begin with.

Other modern features included the fireplace, which was really just an empty space, with sharp minimal lines and new windows and doors.

To begin with we were very happy with the style of the house. Our furniture went beautifully with it and I loved the combination of natural wood with the white walls and ceilings.

I was always making little changes here and there, bringing a new piece into a room or changing lighting, perhaps. I love interiors so flicking through lifestyle magazines and searching internet sites for ideas has always been a passion.

After a year or two, however, I began to feel that I wanted to make bigger changes. I felt like I wanted to give the whole of downstairs a completely new look.

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I Wanted to Create a “New England” Look

I love that “New England” style, where everything has that fresh, white-washed look – and began to wonder whether I might be able to bring it into the cottage. It seemed ideal for our seaside location, a perfect backdrop for some of the pieces I had already bought and some of my coastal finds, such as interesting pieces of driftwood etc.

I started researching and working out what I wanted to do. To begin with, I hadn’t entertained the thought of changing the floor, but slowly I realised I would have to. Beautiful as the grain and hue of the oak was, it just didn’t work with my new look.

To begin with my partner wasn’t keen – but eventually I managed to talk him round. I pointed out that in the future, the paint could always be sanded off and the floor refinished. My plans were pretty drastic but they wouldn’t damage the floor irretrievably.

My family and friends were another matter altogether, however! They thought I was completely crazy. My sister even begged me not to do it. She said I would regret it. But I was determined.

Seeking Advice on Painting the Floor

I sought advice from my local DIY store and finally opted for a Floor Paint in a white eggshell. They told me it would be hard wearing underfoot but that it would also allow the grain to come through a bit, giving that slightly battered, ship deck look.

I went for it – and I admit I was trembling slightly when I first dipped my brush into the pot and made that initial stroke. But once I’d started I had to keep going.

The more I painted, the happier I was with the look and the further I went. I ended up painting every inch of the oak floor downstairs. I gave the whole area a few coats and once it was dried set to work styling everything else in the rooms.

I am thrilled with the results. I know that painting the oak floor was a big step to take. But I also know that doing it has helped me to achieve the look I wanted, for a couple of years at least – until I change my mind again!

See Also
Painted floor
Choosing and Using Floor Paint
polished wood floor
Floor Protection and Finishes