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NtB Loves: Checkerboard Floors

I’m a huge fan of hardwood floors for both their beauty and their durability, but I’ll admit that they can be pretty boring. Paint can do a lot to fix up a dull floor, but painted wood floors can be a little overwhelming if you’re not showcasing them as the focal point of the room.

Painted checkerboard floors that feature wood floors are a good compromise, as they’re not so in-your-face as, say, a bright blue floor or as blah as a plain white floor, but at the same time they appeal to the eye. Here are six examples:

checkerboard floor

A soft, low-contrast checkerboard floor doesn’t steal a room’s thunder.


This patterned floor adds a lot of oomph to what might otherwise be a fairly drab kitchen. (via)

red and white checkerboard floor

This red and white checkerboard floor is playful and fun. (via)

checkerboard painted floor

The border on this painted checkerboard floor gives the floor the finished look usually provided by a fine rug. (via)

green checkerboard floor

In a room with built-ins like cabinets, your checkerboard floor colors can match or not, depending on the sort of look and feel you want to achieve. (via)

And when I say you I mean *you* — as DIY projects for the home go, painting a floor is one of the easier ones. The Wood Floor Guide has a how-to that takes you through the floor painting process step-by-step, though I much prefer the how-to on the This Old House web site because it includes not only steps, but also a video.

See a Penny, You Can’t Pick It Up

Looking for something to do with those thousands of pennies you’ve been stashing in coffee cans since you were wee? Coinstar machines take a cut of your jingly change, and rolling pennies just plain sucks. And saving those pennies for a rainy day might not be the best of ideas when some people want to kill the humble one cent piece. So what’s a thrifty guy or gal to do with all that copper (and zinc… mostly zinc, actually)? Lay a floor, of course.

penny floor

penny tiles

This penny floor can be found in The Standard Grill in the Standard Hotel New York. I imagine that laying a penny floor could take a lot of work, but hey, at least the materials will be cheap. Think about $1.96 per square foot, i.e., a 14×14 grid as calculated by Bridge Designs. Don’t forget about glue and all the other costs, however.

penny floor 2

Here’s another sweet floor, as found in a certain Mark’s home. Note the scrabble tiles inlaid in the wall.

penny backsplash


Then there are penny backsplashes and walls lined with pennies, like this one in a French shop from RB Architects. Neat, yeah?

For the longest wear and the most natural aging of the copper in your penny floor or penny wall, look for pennies minted between 1962 and 1982 since during this period pennies were comprised of 95% copper and 5% zinc. After that, the composition became 97.5% zinc with a mere 2.5% copper.

A Puzzle Ready to Be Solved

colorful flooring

Sometimes working with color can take major cajones, especially when it’s not paint or a new couch you’re talking about. When it’s the floor that’s colorful, you can’t just slap on a coat or throw a rug over it when you get a little bored. You’re in it for the long haul. Colorful flooring can be anything from painted wood to linoleum . In this case, I am pretty sure designers Tham and Videgard Hansson used tinted hardwood to create rooms that flow into one another like seasons.

colorful floor

White furniture is used throughout the house, which makes a lot of sense since each individual room reflects some of the color scheme of the surrounding rooms. It’s harmonious as a whole, meaning that working with individual rooms would be difficult, if not nightmarish. Plus, white furniture lets the flooring (and walls, in case you hadn’t noticed) take center stage.

colorful floor

I think I’m in love!

Here’s the floorplan, in case you’re wondering how it all fits together:

patterned floor design


Paint a Canvas Floorcloth

Let’s say you don’t have a thousand or so bucks lying around to spend on the perfect rug. You can forget all about it or lust after the rug from afar. You can look high and low for a cheaper version of the rug you really want. Or you can approach your little rug funding problem with the DIY spirit.

canvas floor covering

While I don’t know how feasible it is to dye a rug or draw on a rug, an artfully painted canvas floorcloth can stand in for other kinds of floor covering and are easy for the novice to tackle. So, floorcloths… right now you may be saying “Huh?” Which is okay, because I wasn’t aware that floorcloths existed either. Here’s the skinny:

The floorcloth originated in France and became popular in American in the early 1700s. At that time the floorcloth was made from recycled ships sails and the use was utilitarian. In early American colonies they were used to cover bare wooden floors or sometimes dirt floors. After being used for so long as a necessity, they eventually lost their popularity with the arrival of linoleum flooring.

The floorcloth eventually made a comeback but with a revamped attitude. Today’s floorcloth is not for necessity, but rather as a piece of artwork for the floor. The design is only limited by the imagination. Floorcloths are usually made from a heavyweight cotton duck canvas. Despite the fact their beauty comes from water-based paints, floorcloths are durable. The paint is sealed with several layers of water-based varnish so the floorcloth can just be wiped clean.

How’s it done? First, you need to acquire a piece of canvas — it is possible to buy pre-cut rug sizes that are already primed. If it’s unprimed, you’ll have to hit it with a layer of gesso and then a layer of latex paint, allowing for a 2-inch hem all around. Note that you’ll still need to apply the latex layer even if you buy pre-primed canvas. The next step is painting your canvas floorcloth with whatever design you like. You can rock ‘n’ roll freehand, use a stencil, or have someone who’s a better artist than yourself sketch out a design before you paint. Then you’ll need to seal your canvas floorcloth with a few layers of acrylic (non-yellowing) matte varnish. Finally, apply paste wax for a nice soft sheen.

Descriptions of canvas floorcloths don’t do justice to them. Check out this gallery of stenciled floorcloths for ideas and inspiration!

(Again, via Sterlingspider, who is awesome.)

The Monsters Under the Bed

The stylish Sterlingspider wrote to point this totally sweet rug out to me. Monsters in the bed? Monsters under the bed? Tentacles, claws, and paws? What’s not to like?

Boogieman rug

Unfortunately, my dreams of owning it were crushed before I even saw it as she mentioned the price in her e-mail. How much are we talking here? A cool $1,400 will buy this 8′ x 10′ Boogie Man Rug, which is a tribute to all things that creep and lurk under the beds of wee ones. Jellio recommends placing it underneath your child’s bed, an idea that I imagine may lead to sleepless evenings and overnight luminosity. Of course, if you don’t have a kidlet who’s of the impressionable age where the Boogieman seems oh-so-real, you could display this scarily awesome rug right in your living room.

Creativity Underfoot

Tile floor? Nope. Painted floor? Nope. Tinted floor by PG MODEL? Oh yeah.

blue hardwood floor

Now I love painted hardwood floors — I’ve even considered them for my own house. But the thought of having hardwood flooring installed that is already tinted in one of any number of beautiful bright colors is just too tempting. Why should I do all the work when I can just let someone more qualified lay my floor?

Cute Cocks Underfoot

I love roosters almost as much as I love dirty jokes. Roosters in the kitchen, roosters in the bedroom…what? You were expecting me to use a synonym, perhaps?


Here are three playful — and reasonably priced — rooster rugs, a rooster runner in ivory, the rooster meadow rug, and a rooster garden rug in yellow. I don’t know that I’d do up my entire living room in rooster paraphernalia, but a rooster runner in front of the kitchen sink? Bring it on.

Inspired By Escher


Making your own Escher-inspired patio is easy when you’re using tiles from Gecko Stone. Here’s a super sweet lizard tessellation in the courtyard and entrance of the Tjapukai Theatre.


If you’re using tile, you can always use the Sunshine City floor in Tokyo as your starting model. Hint: It’s just squares and halves of squares.


And this? Those who have the patience can emulateAndrew Lipsom, who built Escher’s Impossible staircase in his attic. That really blows my mind.


Serious Steal: Vintage Persian Baluchi Sumak Kilim

Kilims, if you didn’t know, are flat tapestry-woven rugs produced in parts of the Middle East. Geometric patterns are the norm, with diamonds and octagons predominating, and lighter colored kilims are more common, though modern-day weavers are getting bolder in their color and pattern choices.


Unlike more expensive collector’s rugs — specifically sought-after pile rugs — kilim tend to be reasonably priced. This particular 3′x5′ rug is only $30 and shipping is free, though it is being sold via eBay so let the buyer beware.

Colorful cast-offs

Every now and then I’ll come across a tale of some enterprising individual who built something grand from scraps, and I’m more than a little envious of their accomplishment. In Costa Rica, near where my mother has a vacation home, there’s a lovely house a construction worker built with the leavings from various work sites. You’d never know it wasn’t crafted from specially chosen materials. Seriously, it’s gorgeous.

That’s one way to use it up!

Likewise, I would never guess that this floor, which was laid down by the people behind Diary of a Vermont Eco Builder, was crafted using leftover pieces of Marmoleum. As you know, I’m not a huge fan of lino , but the pattern is fab and the Marmoleum adds a real splash of color to what may be an otherwise plain kitchen. I say could because it looks like the countertop is also made of Marmoleum…a lovely reddish-orange Marmoleum. Mmmm…

The reason I’m not redoing my floors and walls with cast offs is that I don’t have a supplier. The Vermontians used leftovers from their own construction projects so it wasn’t really an issue. What I’d really like is to find someone who’s looking to unload a bunch of flagstones or round bits of concrete with flat tops or anything else I could use to create a little garden path. Any ideas? I’m scouring Craigslist as I write this!

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