Painted Floors

Decorator Miles Redd says, “If you want the look, just paint it.” I couldn’t agree more! I’ve found that this concept works especially well on floors – they’re great places to bring in graphics, colors and patterns (for significantly less than it would cost to replace your old wood, concrete or terra cotta). It seems our ancestors also found this to be true: according to Historic New England, wood floors like New England white pine have been painted since 18th century colonial America!

Applying paint to the ground has a way of enlivening the room. With solid colors, unsightly cracks can virtually disappear, and with geometric designs or faux stone motifs, the room becomes instantly more dramatic. I love the possibilities there are for floors, from the traditional Swedish style of whitewashed wood to the gorgeous, whimsical patterns that came to the forefront with tastemakers like Pauline de Rothschild.

A popular paint scheme used during the 18th century was the classic black and white checkerboard design. This is a beautiful example of this style, fauxed to look like marble, from the elegant foyer of Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the New York City mayor.

Designer Miles Redd took this concept to a new level when he renovated this chic Manhattan apartment! Another example of a floor painted to look like marble featured in Elle Decor, this incredible floor is a contemporary take on the checkerboard classic, paired beautifully with blue lacquered walls and a read leather door. 

Designer Charlotte Moss brought a quaint, antique feel to the sleeping porch of her Hamptons home with this lovely gray and cream checkered floor, also featured in Elle Decor.

This floor, painted by Billet-Collins Studio for designers Robert Brown and Todd Davis, uses a translucent color to create the look of inlaid wood in a sophisticated, octagonal pattern! An oh-so-talented decorative painting firm in DC (you MUST visit their website!), they recommend at least two coats of polyurethane to protect a painted finish.

Several people have asked me about painting terra cotta tiles, but since I’ve never done a project involving terra cotta, I haven’t been too sure how it would wear over time. Looks like Manhattan designer James Aman had no issues with it though when he stained terra cotta in this rich chocolate brown color, as featured in Elle Decor. I love how it transformed them into something both old world and elegant!

We painted this fun design in a 1950s ranch home.  It really opened up the space, giving the entrance its own special and inviting feel!  We primed and painted a newly sanded wood floor and then used a SW floor paint for the graphic.  Afterwards, we cleared it with an acrylic polyurethane. While it can be tempting to go for a dramatic, high gloss effect, it will show scratches – a satin finish will be more forgiving!!


Designer Ginger Barber Uses stripes to create charm in this cottage style home!


This home, designed by David Michael Miller and Associates, had quite a few architectural challenges.  Hand painting the floors defined each of the spaces, incorporated the rich colors of the bookcases, and added so much interest.  They are FAB!!


I absolutely adore these floors in the home office of an artist who’s married to an architect!  The moment I saw this, I wanted to emulate the design in my new conference room, but unfortunately the floors had already been waxed. Whenever you paint existing floors, be sure they’ve been well sanded and cleaned so that there is no waxy residue left on the surface. Otherwise, the paint won’t adhere properly, and it will quickly wear over time.

Sometimes you just can’t beat the classic checkerboard design as illustrated by these floors we did in a grandchildren’s bunk bedroom for Chapman Design. If you already have painted floors, they can easily be cleaned with a damp-mop soaked in a vinegar and water or a mild soap solution.


I love this floor’s geometric design done by Hooper Patterson of Birds of a Feather. The blog is wonderful too.  Click here to see how its done!!! It elevates the laundry room into a lovely extension of the home.

While these floors from the Duchess Anna Amalia Library are all wood, they are just so stunning I had to include them. They’d make a great design inspiration for a painted version!

This whimsical painted floor in a child’s room really opens up the space and gives it a playful spirit! Photographer Solvi dos Santos did a fab job capturing the room. To see the rest of this renovated 1972 Swedish farmhouse, read the story on the Inspiring Interiors blog.

These floors have a lot of history! They’re from the dining room in Liselund Palace, part of an 18th century park on the Danish island of Mon. I found this photo on The Essence of A Good Life blog – a great read from around the world!

To soften and break up the large kitchen area, we painted these floors for New York designer Celerie Kemble. Celerie wanted it to look as if she threw the design in the air, so we painted it where the leaves may have landed. I just love the subtle, customized touch it brings to the room!

It’s so fascinating to see how we’re reinventing similar motifs and designs to those used centuries ago on floors. During the 18th century, compass rose patterns, floral and wildlife designs and faux inlaid wood were all commonly featured on floors. This tradition is finding its way into new design trends. To see more of my inspirations for painted floors, go to my Pinterest floor board!


Thank you so much to Stacey, author of the Red Door Home Blog. I was so excited while reading her post to see not only did she do a writeup of my blog and the book but also of my new space! Please visit her as she does a great job discussing a multitude of different topics.

‘Til next Monday… xo Leslie


Kids Rooms - Part Two!!
What Segreto Did This Week - Part IV


  1. Hi Leslie,
    What a gorgeous examples you posted here! I just love painted floors and I have noticed that the Scandinavians love to paint the floors!
    The childrens room you decorated here is just wonderful!!
    Have a great new week my dear!

  2. Leslie there are so many wonderful motifs and ideas here! I want to do a checkerboard diamond pattern in a room soon!

    I hope you have enjoyed the holiday weekend!

    Art by Karena

  3. I have always been a fan of painted floors. These are wonderful examples of how a painted floor can really make a statement in a room. Thank you so very much for the mention. It truly was my pleasure to feature your work on my blog!

  4. Stunning painted floor projects……Gives me an idea for the deck under my pergola….Love the floor that you did for Celerie Kemble…fantastic!

  5. leslie, what superb examples of what paint and a creative spirit can do for flooring! i have always admired the swedes for their whimsically cheerful painted floors.

    loving that bunk room where segreto added the check-tastic finish. and that faux inlaid wood entry is insanely beautiful!

    thanks for so much inspiration!


  6. These floors are amazing! I checked out the chain link one and I love that blog too! Thanks for giving me hope about rejuvinating old floors!

  7. Leslie,

    These floors are fabulous to say the least! I agree the lettered floor is stunning in both pattern and color. I was surprised though that you said you could not do it in your own office because the floors had already been waxed. Chalk paint or a homemade version with calcium carbonate or plaster of paris will adhere to wax just fine and then another coat of wax over your lovely lettering and voila!

    Thank you again for some very inspiring pictures

    Tamra Alexander Cook
    Alexander Cook Custom Finishes

  8. Such inspiring floors. My favorites are the Terra Cotta tiles painted chocolate….WOW, the Inlaid Octagonal Wood….would have never ever guessed they were painted and yours from the 1950's ranch home.

    Many years ago we purchased a 65 year old home. There were a million projects to complete and the cost was soaring. We had a small half bath in the stairwell on the way to the basement. Since it was in such a tucked away spot, I decided to paint the floors. I had never done anything like that before and was so happy with the results and it really held up well. They would not have won any design awards but they sure looked better than the harvest gold I painted over.

    Thanks for your continued inspiration!

  9. These are great inspirations for those who are thinking of having their floors decorated or painted. Aside from beautifying your living space, a coat of paints also serves as a protective layer for your flooring.