My Color Washed Living Room Floor

My color washed living room floor (formula and application)Hey, friends! A couple days ago we moved into our new home, and WOW, it has been a really intense week. Words cannot describe. I'll save the long version of that story for another time and skip to the best part of my week…these floors! 

We chose intense turquoise color washed floors for our formal living room, which is also the first room you see when you walk into the entryway of our house. It will be a while before the room is styled and ready to share as a tour, so I thought I'd just write a quick post about how and why we chose this crazy bold floor and how it is done in case you want to DIY it or share our recipe with your floor guy. 

But first, remember what this living room looked like a few months ago?? 

BeforeWe've already come such a long way! 

So, one of the first things we did when we closed on the house was check to make sure there were hardwoods under the carpets (yayโ€”there were in all the rooms except the sunroom!). We debated leaving the floors their existing color to save money, but then we discovered that not all the rooms were stained the same color. They didn't match and most of them were really yellow. So we decided to have them sanded and restained. We hired a professional this time (mostly because we were still living in Missouri at the time). In the past we've done floors ourselves as well (Josh wrote a really good post about refinishing old wood floors here). 

Anyway! We decided that we wanted super light, whitewashed floors throughout the whole upstairs. This choice feels very fresh and clean to me, but it is also a practical consideration because our pug sheds light hair all the time. We actually like really dark floors too, so we decided to do those in Jeremy's studio where the dogs won't really be. 

When I told our contractor that I wanted super light, whitewashed floors, I could see that he wasn't thrilled. He explained to me that the benefit of using dark stain on old floors is that it hides every flaw. Light stain would show every flaw. But he was still willing to try it, and my heart was set on it, so we went for it. 

So all of the rooms in our house, except for the turquoise living room, are this color: 

White washed floorsThey turned out a bit more subtle (and less white) than I imagined, but I love it. 

As our contractor was working on the floors, he let me know that there were some stains (caused by a water spill or leak at some point) in the living room that couldn't be sanded out. They were in a really unfortunate placement at the front of the room (near the entrance), not in a place where a couch and rug would make sense at all, and one of the stains went across a whole bunch of boards. (So to repair it would require redoing most of that whole floor.) Not good. Here's what it looked like: 

Damaged areaBoo! This really put a kink in my plan. 

He suggested that maybe we do a dark floor in just the living room to mask the damage. 

So I went to look one more time at all the dark wood stain samples at the hardware store and I saw colored stain. The heavens opened up, light poured down, and I remembered the floors from The Surf Lodge (a rad hotel in Montauk)…. 

The Surf LodgeOoh la la, am I right? 

So we picked up all the turquoise stains at the hardware store. The guy at the paint counter warned us that a lot of people return them, but we felt pretty good about them based on the swatches (which looked almost identical to the photo above, super intense/saturated color). 

Ummm.... no.Ummm…no. 

#fail 

I took my issues to Instagram (my #1 spot for crowdsourcing all of life's problems). I got a few more recommendations. I tried a couple more stain brands (with similar results), and I started to become more open to a paint option. My husband wasn't as open to it. We've painted floors in the past that got scratched up and scuffed almost instantly. But our contractor assured us that it's really the poly, not the paint that makes it durable. So we decided to go for it…again! 

My task was to test the paint/water/poly combos on scrap wood (the same kind of wood as my floors, red oak) and figure out the formula for my contractor. We tried different proportions of poly mixed with paint and poly mixed with water. We wanted to make sure the grain showed through, so it looked like stain, not just paint. We also wanted really intense color. 

Stained Glass by Valspar I chose Stained Glass by Valspar for my color. 

Testing color wash techniques For the formula, my favorite was 1 part paint, 1 part water. It waters it down enough to show the woodgrain without being crazy runny and watery. I applied two coats of it with a rag. Then I gave it a coat of poly to see how that would affect the color. 

ApplicationFor the real thing, my contractor used a fluffy looking sponge brush for the application. It only needed one coat and we were happy with it. 

White wash to color wash transitionHere's a shot of the transition between the kitchen and dining room (it's still taped up from the application here). I really like how the colors mix.

By the way, the big stain is still (barely) visible. But it's not nearly as noticeable anymore because when you have a turquoise floor, it's so visually stimulating it's hard to nitpick the flaws. We could have covered the stain completely, but that would have meant losing the wood texture, which I did not want to do. 

Color washed floorWell, that's the story of my crazy turquoise floor! I can't wait to share more after the room is furnished and decorated! It's going to be a lot of fun. I can tell that I have zero regrets, which is a great feeling. 

With that said, I realize this isn't for everyone and I want to hear your thoughts! Love it? Hate it? What color would you have picked? 

I am so so excited to share more house projects with you this season. Follow me on Instagram @elsielarson for more updates. I am documenting all the steps with #thelarsonhouse. Thanks so much for reading! xx- Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson (mostly taken with the iPhone this time). 

  • I love it! I painted the wood floors in my kitchen a deep green, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. It makes me happy every day! I think this is a really fun and interesting option for a living room–can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    • Beautiful floor. Im ready to start my floor project. Same color. Going ‘Old world Italy. So are you talking PAINT or STAIN? And unfortunately my floor is two colors of stain. It literally looks like someone stood at the front door and flung the darker stain, straight out of the can. What should I do to make sure my floor turns out the same color?

  • Wow! I love this. Good for you guys for making such a bold choice ๐Ÿ™‚ The color is stunning. Filing this away for when I have a home of my own!

  • OMG ablolutely LOVE this!! I am not sure if I could have it in my house, even tough its my fav colour! But I love it in your house and I love the light wooden floors too. Cant wait to see more!

  • Oh my gosh! I love it! So many ideas and oportunities now that i know I can paint floors! Fabulous idea Elsie!

  • I think you made the right choice! What a great a color. I do have to admit that I thought you were a little crazy until I saw the water stains. But it turned out to be a very creative way to distract from that issue. Nice work!

  • I had my eye on those stains, too. The turquoise is stunning! Thanks for sharing how you made it happen. This is so much fun watching you transform your new house.

  • I think it looks absolutely stunning! The colour just screams “Elsie” – fits you so very well! Although I love it, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have the guts to do this and just choose a really dark brown/gray and chicken out instead ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Love, love love this! We just whitewashed our oak floors in the bedroom over the weekend. What kind of Poly did you ultimately decide to finish with?

  • I love it! I think it turned out fabulous. I really like the white washed floors too.

  • Turquoise/teal is my favorite color, so I’m always on board whenever you use that shade … but this?! WOW. I LOVE it! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. The white beams in that room are awesome too – such a cool architectural detail! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love it! I’m a fan of designing a house for the homeowners’ tastes rather than sticking to having a good resale value. I don’t think I could convince my husband though… maybe in the basement? Here’s to hoping!

  • Ok I have to say, I would never do that! I prefer the scandinavian style… So not a lot of colors.
    But I respect the courage your have to do something like that and I can`t wait to see how you`ll decorate the whole room! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • My mom had a similar look done for the concrete floor of her basement. It’s more of a shiny glaze than a stain, but it’s the same turquoise color. At first, I was skeptical about how it would look, but it really brightened an otherwise drab room.

  • I think you’ll be fine with the light floors (LOVE the turquoise floor as well). We just bought our house with dark stained floors and I’m finding that it shows EVERYTHING. Scratches are very visible, any dust is instantly visible, etc.

  • I Love the light floors. And the turquoise. Of cause!!
    In Scandinavia it is much more common to have light floors than in the US.
    Maybe it is something about the long dark months in the winter, making us afraid of putting dark things inside our houses ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Love it! It is going to be amazing with the textured whites (and even pink) that you were planning on.

  • Haha! I get it! It was an easier choice for us sine we have two living rooms and this is the pretty one (the other one is more cozy for tv watching and lounging). ๐Ÿ˜€
    xx- Elsie

  • Absolutely love it!! Your blog makes me long for the day my partner and I have our own house to decorate.

    dahliariver.blogspot.co.uk

  • I’m not totally sure, actually, since our contractor did it. I think oil base is the one that does not turn yellow (and water base does) but check with a professional before you do it!
    xx- Elsie

  • Thank you! I’m so happy with them. They DO show every single flaw, but I’m going to work on a DIY for masking staple marks and small stains next. ๐Ÿ™‚ So much to do!
    xx- Elsie

  • Yep! We decided to live here a minimum of seven years, so it’s definitely not a flip house. But I still hope that the next owner will appreciate our point of view, but it’s ok if they don’t too! ๐Ÿ™‚
    xx- Elsie

  • Hi Elsie!

    Love the color and that the wood grains still show through.

    My only question is- this is a pretty hot color trend right now… Do you think you’ll want to change it? If so, how hard would it be to change the color drastically- hypothetically, to pink, for example?

    Either way, congrats on the new house and enjoy the remodeling!

    Sivan

  • Whoa!!! This is mind blowing. Everything about that floor is PERFECT. Love that it doesn’t look like a “solution” to a problem, only looks like the most brilliant idea ever! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • I love it, it’s fantastic and I never would have thought of it! I think the light neutral floors everywhere else balance this out. More permanent but really no different than a big fun rug.

  • Ahhh I love this so much! That’s exactly the colour I would choose. I can’t wait until we own a house!

  • I never knew this existed! I love all white everything, but adding a bright floor would really make it pop! I cannot wait to see how you style this room! You’ve definitely inspired me to try this.

  • I LOVE IT!! I never would have thought about a colored stain instead of a nuetral stain. Thank you for sharing the paint formula you used. I hope to be able to try this one day when I have hardwood! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This looks both awesome and crazy! I would never have the guts to do this, but it will look so awesome once you have everything styled. Love it!

  • LOVE this! This is one of my ‘life’ colors, always resonates with me. Thanks for sharing a new way to incorporate color in a big, yet still natural way ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I normally prefer a very neutral decorating style but I have to admit I am completely in love with this. I’m sure I would keep the rest of the room pretty neutral to allow the floor to be the focal point but this is 200% awesome!

  • This is AMAZING and makes me really want to own a home so I can do this to a room. I love, love, LOVE it. Can’t wait to see photos of the entire styled room.

  • I TOTALLY DIG THIS! It’s stunning! So glad you shared a story of how to turn something that was a downer into something beautiful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • The floor looks AMAZING Elsie!! It’s so bright and gives the room an instant feeling of joy. Love it and can’t wait to see more of your renovations. Best of luck with it all!

  • I’ve always wanted to do this but was too intimidated. Nevertheless I may start small and work my way up. Love the colour! I’m redoing my livingroom, bought a new rug, and I’m going to do my first Ikea Hack! Will stop by here more often for inspiration.

  • My husband is a contractor and he won’t let me paint our wooden kitchen cabinets from the 70’s let alone the wood floors! I love it though! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’ve always wanted a painted floor that gets scuffed up and has that old look to it. Do you recommend it with your experience? Does it turn out nice or does the paint chip in random spots?

    Love your floors btw. They look great with the bright white walls.

    http://www.throughmyowneyes.com

  • My past floor did look that way. It was kind of cool, but I wasn’t going to the shabby chic style so I was bummed by it. I’ll let you know how this holds up in about six months or a year!
    xx- Elsie

  • Good question. I think I’ll be happy with this color a long time. It’s the only “dark” color in my color scheme I have picked out besides army green. I’ve always really liked the color, so HOPEFULLY it will age well for me and I’ll still be loving it years from now. :))
    xx- Elsie

  • Wow!!! Itยดs lovely!!!!! Elsie, Iยดm sure your room is going to be perfect. I can not wait to see how you will decor it.

    XOXO

  • This really looks outstanding! And by the way, really daring to go with such a bold colour. I am curious about how you will decorate it in the end!

  • I love it! And I hope you post more pictures when the room is all put together. I always have trouble finding design inspiration online, since so much of it is way too neutral for my taste–bring on the bright colours!

  • Absolutely love this too. I have been looking for this colour to paint and/or stain an old oak cupboard in my living room, but as yet have not found anything. This would be perfect, but doubt I will find just this colour as I am in the UK. Well done you for being brave – and bold!!

  • Love the gorgeous turquoise floor! It reminds me of a turquoise-stained concrete floor I saw before and fell madly in love with. Can’t wait to see the rest of your home when it is done!

    xx Jia, honeyandgazelle.wordpress.com

  • The turquoise is so striking yet so calming (what a tricky balance to achieve!) and reminds me of the sea – the one thing that soothe me more than anything in the world. I’ve always wanted a polished turquoise – green floor in my home (currently its all dark brown wood floors) and this post has given me ideas! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  • LOVE this color. my mom just bought a spanish house in the middle of no where & did her foyer floors a little like this!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!

  • It looks great, especially contrasted with the white walls– it opens the space up. Wonderful, creative solution for the dilemma of the stains on the floor. Love what you did with it! Thank you for sharing your ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Pretty flipping awesome. I can see it looking really great with a more traditional patterned rug layered over it– maybe with a more muted turquoise in it? So good though.

  • oh my gosh, I ADORE your floors! I’m making a decision – re-carpet or sand and stain our open-plan living area and I think you just made that decision for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I love it!!! I just did a post on red front doors and their meaning so I am totally in with this bright colored home scheme!!!!

    SJay // The Chronic Dreamer | A Lifestyle Blog

  • I love it in your home but would hate it in mine – if that makes sense? It’s awesome and i’d definitely be like “WOW” if I came over, but definitely don’t feel tempted to copy. Congrats on being awesome and individual Elsie! Laura x

  • It’s amazing!! With the stains you tried out first, did you do just one coat, or were those pictures after a couple coats?

  • Fantastic! Beautiful! Awesome! Good on you for pushing your idea with your contractor. They can be so stuck in their ways sometimes and not willing to try anything new. I’ve consistently faced this issue with contractors, and just kept looking until I found one more skilled, more talented, more open and more flexible. Time consuming, but I eventually, I’ve always gotten what I want.

  • I love how the room is coming along it looks great. Being a bit of a color-phobe myself, I never would have chosen such a bright and saturated color. But I love the results… I might have to step out of my anti-color cave!

    Amber
    amberbutbetter.blogspot.com

  • How bold and beautiful!
    Can’t wait to see the finished room and the impact of the floors with furnishings, accessories, etc.

  • Gorgeous floors and an inventive solution!! I love that you kept the integrity of the wood floors by keeping the grain visible; it feels seamless that way. The light floors are lovely as well! xo

  • Love your courage! I am doing the same thing in my great room. The floors are going to be wide plank pine that we had milled from a tree on our property and I am going to stain it a Sherwin Williams color called “flower pot”. It’s a deep red terra cotta color. I did this years ago in the breeze way of a previous home and I got more compliments on that floor than anything. I’m anxious to see your finished room.
    Bernie

  • I love what you did to the floor, its one of my favorite colors.
    Can’t wait to try it. Sylvia San Diego

  • [email protected]

    I really love your floors. The coolest floor I think I’ve ever seen. I love color and what a fabulous idea!

  • I vote HELL YES! I might not pick turquoise, but you’ve really given me some great ideas. I’m thinking: how about a nice cinnabar colored floor in the guest room?

  • will you please email me a photo of the floor as it transitions from the stained colored turquoise to the plain floor in the hall? I am interested to see the effect and if it is seamless or weird. I love your color choice, and your courage. wow, that was courage and it worked. Keep going and never give up! You are inspiring me!