Remodeling 101: The Case for Unstained Wood Floors, from a Stealth Design Nerd

Editor’s take note:  This is the to start with in a collection of posts by Sally Kohn— journalist and CNN political commentator, TED chat giver, and structure aficionado—chronicling her adventures in reworking.

sally kohn sarah hansen
Earlier mentioned: Escape from Brooklyn: Sally Kohn with her wife, Sarah Hansen, an environmental justice advocate, in front of their new Bucks County house, which they share with their daughter.

It began with as well a lot dark wooden. The household we bought—a late 1700s bank barn which experienced been converted into a dwelling in the 1950s with the support of well known woodworker Wharton Esherick—had, as you could possibly envision, a large amount of dim wood. Dark wooden beams. Dim wooden bookcases. Dim wood cupboards and railings. And dim wood floors. And even with the soaring ceilings and the simple fact that it was, devoid of a doubt, far more roomy than the Brooklyn, New York, condominium from which we had been relocating, all that dark wooden felt like a large amount for our fairly modernist, minimalist style and design sensibilities. But what could be carried out?  We figured a clean coat of paint and extra upholstered home furniture than wood furniture was our greatest hope.

close up of custom wharton esherick counter set against oak floors
Over: A glance at the distinction amongst the unique floors and the unstained model.

Then I observed the raw wood flooring. I’d in no way refinished flooring, so I didn’t have an understanding of that when you sand them down, they don’t keep the coloration of the stain. Instead, and absolutely in our situation, where by the flooring hadn’t been refinished in many years, when I showed up on a June morning to pick out stain colours for our recently refinished flooring, I was shocked to see what appeared like brand name new flooring. It felt like stepping into an alternate universe. Like someone experienced absent to the top rated of a mountain someplace in the pristine Pacific Northwest (I’m not at all absolutely sure that’s in which our flooring are from, likely not, but I visualize that all of the prettiest wood arrives from there) and laid virgin blonde hardwood afresh beneath our bare toes. It was beautiful. And along with the clean coat of white paint (thank you Lick White 07 Matt) the complete dwelling just appeared cleanse and vivid and breathtaking.

And then I was meant to select a stain to darken the flooring once more?  I picked one particular, thanked my wonderful Bucks County, Pennsylvania, floor guy—the terrific Michael Biafore—and drove again to New York. And then it strike me. Why do we have to stain them darker? Just can’t we just leave them shiny and clean up and light-weight?

bona natural seal traffic hg
Earlier mentioned: To the rescue: Bona’s Organic Seal and Site visitors High definition combo.

That is just what we did. Mike utilized a coat of Bona’s Normal Seal to seal the floor—turns out that stain also serves the objective of sealing, so we necessary a thing crystal clear that would serve that reason. And then we guarded it with a couple of coats of Bona’s Targeted visitors Hd in Additional Matte. The outcomes are even improved than I imagined—and produce a really innovative, Scandinavian seem, the mild floors juxtaposed versus all the dark clever Esherick woodwork.

detail of oak floors with bludot walk in the park white oak dining table and poly bark wishbone chair
Previously mentioned: A watch of the eating place.

My only worry, at the time, was that we experienced just bought a couch with gentle-wooden legs and a gentle-wooden eating desk, thinking that it would be important in opposition to the dim flooring. But the superior information is that the “honey” legs on our BenchMade Present day Skinny Unwanted fat couch and chaise glimpse beautiful versus the bare-wood-hunting flooring, as does our BluDot Walk in the Park white oak dining desk. While before it felt like the dim wood was all the notes of our home’s composition, now it’s as while there is all these mild woods acting like layers of base notes so that the darkish woods of the beams and the Esherick woodwork can truly glow as a standout melody, devoid of the entire space sensation overcome.

oak floors with benchmade modern sofa and tom dixon fan chair via lightology
Higher than: The honey-colored sofa legs are in harmony with the unstained flooring.

Ultimate issue I’ll make is that in our old Brooklyn apartment, which had medium-dim stained floors with a seemingly absurd quantity of ridiculously shiny end applied on top rated (not our performing), which appeared to scratch if you appeared at them amusing and the scratches confirmed, with the uncooked-on the lookout floors, which I’m frightened we have presently scratched a handful of situations, you don’t recognize unless you are searching. And the scratches somehow glimpse purely natural, far too. Or, far more honestly, they do not wind up my Variety A self as deeply as they generally would, given that they blend in a bit far better. Which is one thing.

The complete practical experience has turned me into an unstained-wood evangelist. Now, when I hear good friends are refinishing their floors, I pretty much-way too-enthusiastically check out to promote them on the unstained route. And I’m hunting for other strategies to function unstained wooden into my Do it yourself renovation assignments, so stay tuned. But mostly, for now, I just gaze lovingly at the unstained flooring in our new-to-us house and truly feel their brilliant glow heat my heart.

For more remodeling intel, see:

Remodeling 101: What to Know About the 4 Most Common Wood Floor Finishes

Transforming 101: A Guideline to the Only 6 Wooden Flooring Styles You Need to have to Know

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