Kind of the ubiquitous (i.e. ugly) golden oak color of the 90's. But, surprisingly, they were in pretty good shape (miraculous, really, considering the state of the rest of the house). They weren't the trendy wide planks. Not even the mainstream medium planks; they were the traditional, even old-fashioned, skinny planks of red oak. But they were not terribly scratched or dented. And skinny red-oak planks are at least pretty classic. So we decided to refinish them rather than rip them out and start over.
Our flooring guy, Josh, and his crew came over and patched some spots that had to be cut to fix pipes/vents, filled in holes from the previous island configuration, added wood to the office and new dining room, and removed hardwood from the old half of the enlarged family room (where we will put in carpet).
Next we got to choose a stain. Right now über dark floors are very a la mode. (Meaning "of the fashion" not "with ice cream" in case you thought we were going to serve ice cream on them. :) (Although, now that I think of it, my floors are covered in ice cream often enough that you could use either meaning really). So that was our first thought--VERY dark. Espresso dark. But then we've also seen a few examples of floors done with a grey stain. Sort of Cape Cod beach house looking. It was intriguing. And after every person we know with dark wood floors had told us that dark wood floors are of the devil (dirt-wise) we though maybe grey might be a better option. Or a lighter brown. Yes, indecisive is a good word for us. So we had Josh paint us a bunch of swatches:
Immediately, we both decided we hated the grey. It was very blue and brown. Red Oak is a very grainy wood with a lot of light and dark variation. And it seemed that the light spots turned very blue but the dark spots kept a lot of their brown. And overall, instead of seeming beachy like it might on hickory or maple, it just looked hideous.
The two lighter brown stains were...blah. Safe, practical, and super boring. They look the same in this picture, but the one on the far left "spice brown" is more cool and the one 2nd to the right "dark walnut" is more red.
The white glaze was thrown in on a whim. And we both were immediately intrigued by it. It also carried a sort of beach house look, but somehow more clean and modern. And Josh The Floor Guy said that white is surprisingly good for floors in terms of not showing dirt. Probably the best of all of the colors, he said. So that made us even more interested in the white. But it also tended to look just a little bit unfinished. And we worried that people would wonder if we even had the floors stained. We also wondered if we had the balls to carry off something that bold and unconventional. Hmmm...it warranted some thought.
And then there was the black "Ebony". Although we were both immediately drawn towards it because all the pictures in our minds and on our Houzz accounts had dark wood floors, it was VERY dark. And very cool, not a warm espresso color. And then there were all the horror stories about every speck of dust and every crumb of any kind standing out like dandruff on a priest. So we just weren't sure.
A day or two later, Big Daddy had gone to lunch at a local favorite called The Dodo. And as he looked down at their floors, he realized they were the exact size and type of wood as our floors, and the color was PERFECT. So he snapped a picture, we sent it to Josh, and Josh made up a concoction all his own to produce a lighter warmer shade of brown than the Ebony, but darker and more dramatic than the medium browns. With 2 parts Spice Brown and 1 part Ebony....
We saw the swatch and loved it. It looked just right to us. So we gave the go ahead. And within a couple of days, our hardwood floors were done! One thing to note, we also used a water-based clear coat, not polyurethane, because poly is quite yellow and we wanted to keep the color cool. We also chose a high-gloss because we like shiny things! (And the water base is not nearly as glossy as polyurethane).
Behold! Spiced Ebony!!
To be perfectly honest, we both expected it to be a bit darker. So when we first saw the finished floors, we were like, "....um...?" But the more we look at it, the more we like it. It's light enough to be classic and timeless, but dark enough to be striking. I can't wait to see how it looks with furniture!
And one surprise...
We chickened out on doing the whole house, but we both liked the idea enough to do one room in it. So Josh built in a threshold piece to divide the entry from the office and put on the white glaze. And we love it! Way more than I expected to. In fact, now I kind of wish we'd done the whole house in it! Ha! Oh well. I do love the color we chose. And now I know that in some future world where I refinish or install wood floors again (NEVER), the white glaze is beautiful, and I don't need to be such a wuss!
This is the whitewash. It looks kind of like natural, unfinished wood, but a bit cooler in color. Love it!
Next up? Carpet!
** I've added some pictures later, after the remodel was finished, at the request of some readers who wanted more pictures of the finished product.
If you stopped by, leave a comment! I'd love to know what you think.