The Treehouse: Floors

September 23, 2013

pulling up the carpet

Images and text by Gabrielle.

When we moved in, pretty much the first thing on my fix-it/change-it list was getting rid of the carpet in the dining area. Partly because the carpet was stained and worn, but mostly because carpet + eating doesn’t work for our family. I realize there are many, many people the world over who have carpets or rugs under their kitchen tables and get along just fine. But I feel like carpet under the table leaves me spending too much time scrubbing out stains from spilled milk, and I also find myself feeling angry at totally normal messes or spills that wouldn’t typically stress me out. Best to get rid of the carpet.

So we immediately started scheming about what kind of flooring we would put in instead.

My first instinct was concrete. I adore a highly polished concrete floor! And I like a nice industrial looking matte one as well. I like concrete floors when I see them in stores. And I like them when I see them in homes. Concrete floors appeal to me immediately whenever I encounter them. I’ve been warned the floors can feel too cold or unwelcoming, but after the old stone floors in France, I wasn’t too worried about it, and know I can warm things up with area rugs (just not under the kitchen table! Hah.).

But. After an initial consultation with a contractor, we thought we should also look at alternative options. Because he told us concrete floors would actually be quite expensive — even more expensive then hardwood! And he also said that the weight of the concrete floors might be too much for our house to structurally bear.

So, I didn’t totally give up on the idea of concrete (I’m wondering if there is a light-weight/skim-coat alternative? Or maybe a DIY version we can tackle ourselves?), but I began to think of second choices, and I landed on industrial grade linoleum/vinyl. Imagine the hallways of a school or a hospital. That’s the sort of material I’m thinking of.

We had this type of flooring put into the kitchen of our first home and I loved it! Because it’s industrial-grade, it’s made to handle high traffic and heavy use. The maintenance was wonderfully easy, you can give it high shine or keep it matte, there are dozens and dozens of color options available, and since the flooring pigment goes all the way through the material, if you scratch the floor, you don’t see a contrasting undersurface.

By the way, it’s been over a decade since we last looked into this flooring, but I remember hearing that true linoleum wasn’t really made any more, and that available options were all types of vinyl now. I have no idea if that’s still true.

Anyway, I started really thinking hard about linoleum/vinyl floors.

wood floors revealed

But then we got curious. We decided to pull up the carpet in the living room/dining nook area and find out what kind of subfloor we’d be working with.

Turns out the carpet was hiding (and happily, protecting) gorgeous hardwood floors!

We couldn’t have been more excited. The floors are truly beautiful, and in really good shape. We couldn’t believe our good luck! So of course, we immediately forgot all about the cement floors and linoleum floors and starting picturing our furnishings with these lovely hardwoods. We especially loved the idea of being able to use what was already there.

And then.

We pulled up the carpet in the dining area.

wood then plywood

Alas! No hardwoods there. Just plywood subfloor. Turns out the dining nook was an addition to the original floor plan. Seeing the plywood also explained why the beautiful wood was covered up in the first place — the owners had wanted one consistent flooring throughout that space. Which makes sense. We’ve already experienced that the two different floorings make the rooms feel smaller.

Which leads me to this: How hard would it be to add-on to the existing wood floors? Could we mimic the widths and the style and then refinish everything in the same finish or stain? Would trying to work with the existing floors end up being cost prohibitive compared to replacing them? I’ve never worked on any kind of wood floor restoration and don’t know what my options are.

It seems like I either need to add to the existing wood floor, or replace all the flooring in that area and pretend we never uncovered the beautiful hardwoods in the first place. Which seems like a shame. But then again, the existing wood doesn’t cover that big of an area, so maybe saying goodbye to it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

I know it’s hard to form an opinion without being in the space in real life, but I’d love your thoughts. How would you handle this existing wood floor? Would you do everything you can to work with it? Or say goodbye and go with something else — perhaps even a different hardwood?

P.S. — Curious about that white area between the hardwood and plywood? It’s a sloping transition made of wood and plaster. There was a lip where the hardwood ended, but the owners didn’t want to feel the lip under the carpet, so this made the transition more gradual. Here’s a close-up:

plaster transition

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{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary reynolds September 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm

We bought a 100 year old home which had beautiful hardwood floors in the dining room, but the wood floors in the kitchen were stained, rotted and simply unusable. We decided to install new wood floors in the kitchen only, but were worried that the 100 year old patina of the floors in the dining room could never be matched. Truth is, the installers did a great job– you could tell where old meets new, but the difference was subtle. Good luck!


2 Design Mom September 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I love hearing that, Mary! That’s how it looks in my head — that you can see the difference between the old and new if you look, but it’s not the first thing you notice.


3 Sarah September 24, 2013 at 8:48 am

exactly – this is one of those little quirky things that you’d never do when you’re first building a house, but which make older houses so nice… funny how that happens!


4 jill September 24, 2013 at 8:38 am

We did the same thing and the installers refinished and stained both new and old to match. Beautiful.


5 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Can you stencil some sort of cool pattern in the nook? Mimicking a rug or just something cool?


6 Kelly September 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Hello Gabrielle,
I love your blog and these days am looking especially forward to posts about the treehouse. I had something similar happen for our renovation. Although labor intensive, I pulled the original flooring out of a bedroom and installed it in our great room addition. Since both floors were laid at the same time, they were a perfect match. Perhaps one of your bedrooms has the same flooring underneath the carpet?
Best wishes to you and your delightful family. I am looking forward to the Big Reveal!


7 Design Mom September 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Oh man, that would be great! So far, we haven’ found any other hardwood under the carpet (though there’s still some to pull up), but there is matching hardwood in the kitchen. Hmmm.


8 Lesley September 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Kelly’s idea seems the best…we pulled up floors in one room and put them in another. The installer should be able to “thread” them in so that you don’t even see any horizontal seam. It’s easier to re-do/match a standalone room, but work them into the dining room for one long look.


9 Bekah Palmer September 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

My husband just patched a spot in our floor where we opened up a wall. He found someone on Craigslist who was selling maple flooring from an old basketball court. It matches really well. I’m sure in your area there is a place that specializes in recycling old homes.


10 Amy September 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Pull up the wood floors and reuse them elsewhere in the house. Then design your space the way you want it while still getting wood floors elsewhere…


11 Kate September 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

We pulled up carpet in a living room that adjoins our kitchen and replaced it with hardwood. The floor guys were able to marry the new wood beautifully to the old wood. They then finished (or re-finished in the case of the kitchen wood) it all to match.


12 Gwennie September 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

When we gutted the kitchen of our 95 year old house, the floors were unsalvageable. We put in new hard woods and they match up very nicely with the rest of the hard woods in the house. They have taken quite the beating in the last 8 years: lots of cooking, dropping things, two kids and hundreds of people at countless parties, but still look great.


13 Rachel W September 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I would definitely try to keep the wood floors and have them matched in the dining room. You may need to sand the old floors and have them refinished to match the new ones but there’s no sense wasting all that gorgeous hardwood! If you do decide to go the linoleum route, there’s a product called marmoleum that is awesome. Comes in a bunch of different colors and styles and is eco friendly. Good luck!


14 Design Mom September 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Thanks for the marmoleum link, Rachel!


15 Bethann September 23, 2013 at 7:01 pm

We have marmoleum in our kitchen. Our room is combined kitchen/dining/living, and the marmoleum is only in the true cooking space. We love it – it’s easy to clean, maintain and looks cool. That said, your space is begging for that wood to continue, and I bet it will be pretty cost effective to add wood to just that space. That wood is gorgeous!!!


16 Amber September 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

My vote is to keep with the hardwoods. Even with ‘sistering’ in new boards, it might be too challenging to match exactly ( However, laying the same species of wood in the same plank width in a pattern (herringbone, maybe?) would unite the space without having to match exactly.


17 Amanda Robinson September 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I would try and match to the existing flooring and possibly stain them all the same color. You might make an interesting transition with two different stains of wood (a checkerboard) where that transition is that the previous owners created. Sounds like so much fun!


18 Karin September 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I would install new hardwood in the dinning area using a contrastin pattern, herring bone or even just right angle or maybe even square wood floor tiles.


19 darci September 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

i was going to suggest the same thing. Hardwood, but run the boards perpendicular to the rest of the room


20 Erin Christensen September 26, 2013 at 8:09 am

I was thinking the same thing as well… the dining room is already a defined area with the windows, why not use a pattern to set it off further. Maybe something circular like this:

Or you could do the herringbone or maybe add a border?

I’d try to keep the hardwoods at all costs!


21 Hope September 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm
22 Erika September 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm

That is helpful – thanks! I am having the same issue right now and can’t decide what to do…


23 The Other Robin September 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I love the idea of linoleum, too! There is a product called “Marmoleum” that offers great options including “Glow-in-the-dark Marmoleum weld”! Can you imagine? If you search it on Pinterest, you’ll see lots of fun and crazy patterns.
I would probably try a good hard-wood installer first to see if it’s possible to match the wood closely, then, if not, jump on the crazy-fun flooring train!! But my whimsical sense of style is not for everyone!
You’re getting sleee-py!!


24 The Other Robin September 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Oopsie! I see Rachel already referenced the Marmoleum! Great minds, and all!


25 allysha September 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I’d probably keep the original wood. I like the suggestion of doing a different pattern in the dining area. I had thought of just having the wood perpendicular, but a herringbone could be really nice. So fun, though! What a great house.


26 fran September 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm

That wooden floor is beautiful – it’d be a shame to cover it up again. I reckon a good fitter will be able to do wonders with the dining nook; whether it’s matching new planks exactly, or finding a way to blend a new pattern in.


27 Cathi September 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

You are indeed lucky!!
There has to be some way to match the original hardwood floor. I’d say a really good handyman could match it and make it more than work. Even if you had to make a small step up to a subfloor in the dining area. Loving the tree house!! I might add that I have a bit (okay, a lot) of tree house envy. ;)


28 Becky September 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Some friends just installed beautiful cork floors in their dining area – the cork looks similar to hardwood at first glance (it’s in long “boards”) but it’s got a lovely matte finish. And it’s softer underfoot, which makes me think that dropped glasses would be less likely to break.
In any case, you could always use that lovely hardwood elsewhere! Or, you could sell it to one of those wood reclaiming outfits to help defray the cost of the new flooring.


29 Emme September 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Go with the gorgeous hardwood and match as best as possible! If you need to transition more smoothly, paint a colorful edge to delineate the dining space- that will make the potential differences in the wood less noticeable!


30 Amy M. September 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Stick with the existing hardwood!!! Hardwood installers can match anything. They will weave in the new planks with old at the transition into dining nook and stain to match perfectly. Once they are done you won’t even know there are two eras of flooring.


31 Jennifer September 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I’m not sure what to do about your current question but it looks like you already have some good suggestions. I was going to say I have also been looking at linoleum and share the link for the Marmoleum but someone already did. I’ll be anxious to see how you like it if you go with linoleum. It feels like I have been looking at flooring forever and it seems almost impossible to find a baby/kid friendly, low toxin, durable floor.


32 Amy September 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I installed Marmoleum in the kitchen of the house we sold a few years ago. It survived, very nicely, the baby, toddler, elementary school, and tween years of my two boys. One of the best things about Marmoleum is that it is a completely natural product. When it was installed, the house smelled like linseed oil! I loved it, it looked great, AND it was a big selling point when we sold the house.


33 Jennifer September 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Thank you Amy! It is so nice to read your experience with Marmoleum. That is what I am leaning towards right now and I’m glad to hear how much you loved it.


34 Tanya September 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm

You should have no problem matching and refinishing the floor. Or you could put doen a transtion strip and do something differnt in the dinning area. With all the money your going to save I would have a company come in and do the work! Great find!!!


35 Robin September 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Marmoleum comes in lots of colors and is very hard wearing and environmentally friendly. When we added on to our old house we kept the original hardwoods and added Marmoleum in a similiar color to the hard woods. Its great with little kids and big grownups!


36 Jennifer September 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

When we remodeled our kitchen we put in hardwood floors to match the ones in the rest of our house. It was pretty easy for them to make it look similar enough in both width and color, so unless you’re looking right at it them side by side you don’t really notice they are different. They also put in a piece that transitions between the two since we have a difference in height of our floors. It looks great, so definitely consider doing it!


37 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Check out these poured resin and thin concrete floors


38 jen September 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm

i think it’s golden what you discovered! i would keep it and work to match the dining floors. i actually prefer having a rug underneath the dining table and found a great solution with high traffic flor tiles.
that might be a nice interim solution. if you go for


39 K September 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

It looks like the hardwood floors are of varying widths, which should make it easier to match. It would break my heart to rip out something so lovely. I’d find a good match and refinish everything together.


40 Erin September 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I would put in new hardwood to match the old hardwood..but run it in the opposite direction and then stain everything the same. You could also put a pattern around the outside edges of the dining room floor to mimic the idea of a carpet. Don’t pull up those floors!! :)


41 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

We ran into this issue when we added a room on to our (1950′s) house. We were told by a general contractor that the new hardwood flooring would clash with the old hardwood flooring. What ended up happening was that we found a fantastic wood refinisher who was able to make it all work without having to stain or sand our old hardwood. You cannot tell where the old and the new meet. A skilled woodworker can make magic happen! (BTW, we just moved to the north bay and are in the process of laying new hardwood to match the existing hardwood. We meet tonight with our hardwood contractor and are excited to see the magic happen again!


42 Erin S. September 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm

We have old(ish) hardwoods in our living room/dining room, and when we opened up our kitchen, we installed new hardwoods in there to “match.” I am SO happy we did this. The consistent flooring really makes the space flow and feel bigger. The hardwood contractor matched the type of wood and width and stained to match as close as possible (we didn’t even have the original floors restained . . . which would have made it even more seamless if we had!). While the new wood definitely has fewer dings than the older floors, we’re doing our job denting it up and scratching it with just living in general. :) (And it makes me stress less if the kids drop utensils or things on the new kitchen wood floors . . . they are just helping it blend better! Ha!) All of this to say, I would definitely bring in a hardwood guy and talk to him about the type of wood in your living room. If it was custom, I could see it being hard to match, but standard, easy-peasy! Good luck!


43 Amy September 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm

We had wood flooring put in my daughters room and stained it to match the hallway outside her room. It’s an exact match. You would never know it wasn’t original to the house. We had a really good wood flooring installer. It took him 3 days. to do the job. It was a little messy due to the fact that they have to sand the floor between coats of stain, but totally worth it.


44 Mika September 23, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Agreed. Keep them! Figure out what species they are, have a ‘picture frame’ border made of wide planks and mitred corners. Fill in the middle running the same direction in random width planks like yours. Then stain the whole floor to match :)
You’re so lucky to find original hardwood underneath!


45 Heather September 23, 2013 at 5:45 pm

What about adding tiles to that area…something to complement the hardwood that you already have? I think either slate or terra cotta tiles wouldn’t be too expensive. Here’s what I envision…you could do a border around the perimeter, and then lay the tiles diagonally in the center in a diamond pattern (rather than laying them like a checkerboard). The side tiles would frame the center area which would be under the table. Cute?


46 Katie September 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I agree that a tile floor might be a fun addition. Could introduce some color and pattern with a graphic design. Think Moroccan…a wide array of colors and designs. Also, tile adheres to the 70s vibe of the house since pottery was one of the things the 70s did well!


47 Cory September 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

My design two-cents:
I would KEEP the wood floor…it’s a beautiful color and the varied plank width is interesting and unique and they are in great shape. I would let the Dining Room have it’s own identity – it’s a three-sided glass box. I would put down a wood threshold (perpendicular to the direction of the wood from and it spans the opening of Dining Room) and put down a Cork floor in the Dining Room. Cork is warm and eco-friendly. You can create great patterns too. It can even be a DIY project!


48 Michelle September 23, 2013 at 6:51 pm

We had concrete floors throughout our entire house. They were great except I have 4 young boys and the floors were impossible to clean. Any black smudge was there for life. We were lucky to be renting so when we moved (2 months ago) it became our landlords problem :)


49 Melissa September 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Good to know! That is the exact opposite of what I thought. I always thought they’d be EASIER to clean, not harder. Thanks for sharing this.


50 Nicole September 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm

We added space after laying hardwood and were able to get the same width and thickness of hardwood with a similar satin finish from a hardwood specialty supplier (that milled and finished the wood). We had extra so sending a sample was easy but perhaps you could print out photos that you color match as close as possible and take exact measurements of the different widths to a wood floor supplier. Your floors are gorgeous by the way – what a lucky find!!


51 Jeanne September 23, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I don’t know anything official about it, but I’d leave the wood floor and get some wood that harmonizes with the existing wood but make it look special somehow with a bit of a border or pattern in that area? Just a thought…


52 Kimberly September 23, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Hello friend to the south! I am SO NOT a design person but I am going to throw this out there. What if you went with matching color but laid the wood in the dining room perpendicular to the existing floors? Thus “separating” the space but keeping the stain uniform so it wouldn’t be a visual shock.
So happy you are transitioning in so well. Time to change your “about” paragraph at the top left of your page- you are now living in a tree house!



53 Angie Sz September 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Is your sub floor a bit below the hardwoods? Depending on what that difference in height is, you can install new hardwoods that will flow right into what you have – and you can very likely find floor boards that match – for that small amount of square footage the cost should not be much.

If you want it to all look like the same floor your challenge will be #1/the height difference and #2/the finish. Your old floors were likely finished with an oil based varnish and they don’t sell oil based anymore (at least not here in California) so it is tricky to match the finish. For a bit more $ and the hassle of removing everything in the living room you could have the new and old hardwoods sanded/finished and then it will all look the same. If current hardwoods aren’t that big of a space – and it’s in your budget – maybe just have new hardwoods put down to cover the entire space so it is seamless. Hardwoods are not that expensive these days – I have heard good stories about Lumber Liquidators (we have here in Southern Ca – maybe you have up there too?)

My two cents would be to keep the wood at all costs … but you have killer style and whatever you do will be great!


54 Design Mom September 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Yes. That’s exactly right! I think the right hardwoods would even it out.


55 Kristian September 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I would either try to match the existing hardwood since it sounds like some people have had luck with that or find the same species/kind of wood (doesn’t have to be the whole floor, even just some inlaid with other wood types) and put it down in the dining room in a different pattern. I would still look like it flowed together.


56 amy j. September 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I think you could try and match the hardwood, but if you don’t want to fool with it and it would be pretty costly to refinish the entire space, I’d do tile in that area. A beautiful natural stone/slate…even brick would be beautiful. it would make that area seem like a sunporch. It wouldn’t look weird, it would look intentional and really bring focus to that area of the room. I’d use this “find” as a positive to play with the floor!


57 amy j. September 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm
58 amy j. September 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm

And…this is tile! We’re planning on using this in our remodel…it comes in all kinds of “finishes”…from typical hardwood, to unusual wood grain and rustic finishes like barnwood…


59 Aja Lake | the gold hat. September 23, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Hey Gabby,

I am a total preservationist, so I’d say, by all means, keep the wood! My partner is a flooring installer (@hohmanhardwood on Insta), so I did a little research for you. He said to pull out each piece of wood that butts up to the transition from the joint and then “toe in” your new pieces. As for leveling the transition, he said you could use patch or shims. To make it match, install the new flooring and then sand the entire floor (old and new). When you’re ready to apply the finish, tinting may help to match the tone. Feel free to email him if you have any questions (hohmanhardwood at gmail); he said he’d be happy to help. Good luck!


60 Design Mom September 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm

So helpful, Aja! Thank you.


61 Amy September 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Wow this is all just as exciting as France! Can’t wait to read and see more about this house.


62 Anna-Katrin September 23, 2013 at 8:17 pm

What a find! I would say have a flooring contractor out who could identify the type of wood and then get something to match. If you plan on refinishing the rest anyway, they should be able to give you a nearly seamless look. If you do decide on something else though, please do linoleum (Marmoleum) over vinyl. Linoleum is made from linseed oil and is very sustainable, rapidly renewable, and doesn’t offgas. Vinyl contains lots of nasty chemicals, plasticizers, etc. (think pthalates and all those things we are now being told to avoid exposing our children to). Marmoleum truly has some beautiful colors and patterns too, so I know you could come up with a really cool look if you go that route. Best of luck!


63 Emily September 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Wow! I loved seeing your surprise find and all the amazing suggestions. I agree to keep the wood, and make the dining space it’s own cozy nook. I can definitely see something like a a dark slate floor in that small space to contrast with the wood. Can’t wait to see what you decide!


64 Carey September 23, 2013 at 8:23 pm

We just did a kitchen remodel and replaced the old tile flooring to match the wood floors in the rest of the house. The wood floors in the rest of the house were not standard, so our contractor recommended Amber Flooring ( out of Oakland. They matched the wood/pattern/finish so well, you can’t tell where the old floor ends and the new flooring starts. It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth it.


65 Emily September 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm

What if you found a similar wood & finish, but put it in at an angle? Then it might not matter as much if it’s not a perfect match.

Our kitchen and living room had continuous pergo flooring, but then our dishwasher flooded our kitchen and we had to rip up the flooring in there. Our landlord didn’t have any extra of the original flooring, so he found one in a different colour and put it in perpendicular to the flooring in the living room, so it didn’t matter so much that they didn’t match (plus they define separate areas without making each space seem smaller).


66 Chelle September 23, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I’d keep the original wood, acknowledge the addition and the house’s history, and go with a complete contrast, maybe linoleum squares in a checkerboard pattern. Or a contrasting wood parquet? Quirky, but definitely a statement.


67 Leah September 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Gabrielle,

Just a tip re. the oil-based varnish mentioned in a comment above. You still can buy oil-based paints and stains in Nevada, and the Treehouse is only 2 hours from Reno. My mother-in-law lives in the Sacramento area and always drives to Reno when she needs paint for her various remodeling projects. Good Luck with the space. I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with—if it were me, i’d go with the wood and make it work ;-)


68 rochelle September 23, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I just dealt with the **Exact** same thing…but in my bedroom. I had 2 spots that were trouble – one – like yours, that sloped and the other a patch in the middle of the nice floors. The sloping area I ended up covering with a new engineered floating hardwood floor that now is a reasonable match. There was no exact matching the stain or the width. After they were installed I painted it all white. I simply love the painted wood floors – they are so clean and fresh and all the diparate colors and widths are no longer a problem. The area that needed the patch I wrestled with — and then finally – tired of wrestling, I tried painting it white like the rest of the floor. suddenly it was all ok — it is mostly under an area rug, but even those areas that are not are not a big issue once they have been painted. Painting is a big commitment…but I think a great option and I haven’t regretted going that route.


69 Annie September 23, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I think you should go with a different hardwood. Maybe do some borders with different woods and then a pattern elsewhere too.


70 Lismarie September 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm

My brother installs hardwood floors (he’s very good) and has said that wood floors can usually be matched. Ask around and find someone who really knows what they’re doing.

The other alternative that I would suggest is doing a different type of flooring in a similar color/tone. My parents have laminate flooring in their living room and tile in their adjoining kitchen. They are both very close in color/tone, so the space isn’t broken up visually. Perhaps a concrete floor in the dining nook stained to match the wood?


71 Shannon { A Mom's Year } September 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who can’t handle a rug under the dining room table!


72 surb September 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Have you thought about doing a stone or travertine tile? You could keep the gorgeous wood and use the tile as an accent for that gorgeous, bright dining area.


73 Heidi September 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I once attended a floor “ageing” party. My girlfriend had added on to her house and put in new fir floors, and she wanted them to look old so they would match the original fir floors in the original house. People wore cork books, hit the floor with chains, you get the picture. I just kind of watched. My husband refused to attend, because it hurt so much to see a beautiful floor get wrecked.


74 Mrs. LIAYF September 23, 2013 at 10:13 pm

The same thing happened in our house – we pulled up carpet in the dining area and found lovely original fir floors, then pulled up carpet in the nook and found plywood.

Our house was 100 years old, so it was small grain fir – something you can’t buy anymore. However, we located a restoration store that sold reclaimed flooring from old houses that were being torn down or renovated. We bought enough for the nook (and a bit more) and a reasonable price for our flooring guy. The plan was to have a flooring installer weave the old flooring into the original flooring, sand, and refinish everything.

If you decide to do this, make sure you have an experienced flooring person. The first guys we hired did not have experience in fir flooring and nearly oversanded/ruined our fir floors (which had never been touched). The second guys we hired had to repair the damage (gut wrenching), but the result was really very lovely.

Your nook looks not huge, so you only have a small amount of square footage to deal with. If you can’t match the width/height of the boards at a local home supply store, try to find a salvage/restoration store. The floorboards may be a lot less expensive, and may already have a similar finish. Perhaps find an experienced, small-business flooring person who needs to fill hours with smaller jobs. :)


75 Martha September 23, 2013 at 10:44 pm

As much as I love the industrial grade linoleum in my kitchen and bath I am a sucker for that gorgeous wood floor! I say leave it. A good flooring person can match it amazingly. I say leave it.


76 Laura Zarrin September 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict on HGTV usually uses old wood to match the existing. No clue how doable that is, but she seems to always have a flooring guy who can do this. Your floors are so beautiful, it’d be a shame to cover them. Good luck.


77 val September 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I just adore your posts about The Treehouse. Ironically my hubby and I moved into our forever home at the same time, and I felt in the same boat as you blogged on your huge traumatic purge. Sadly I’m still in mine, but you have given me hope.

I like the idea of trying to either reuse of the planks from another spot in the house or make a marriage of new and old wood floors. Good luck!

We removed and renovated our entire MCM home with strand-woven bamboo after contemplating cork, concrete and Marmoleum. Concrete was a huge thought for us. We too loved the look of the stained concrete, and thought it would be great because we have radiant heat. After visiting and standing on them in our neighbor’s homes I can honestly say they dropped to third choice. Concrete is really hard on your feet and back, and unless you have radiant heat, you will have a very cold floor all year round. Cork fades and dents too easily, so if you have lots of glass and kids, like we do here, it’s not the best option. Marmoleum was the most sturdy and had some cool colors, but can be a bit sterile feeling.


78 dj September 23, 2013 at 11:23 pm

One year after we married, we bought a farmhouse built in 1900. It had been in the same family for 96 years, but was a rental for 20 years before we came along, and sadly neglected/abused. We tore every wall back to the studs, and started over. The wooden floors were in such poor shape that we decided to use them as a subfloor, sanding them then topping them with tar paper and salvaged hardwoods.
Because we were starting our family, and because of budget and time constraints, we worked on the house in phases. So even though the kitchen/dining room united with the living room via a huge double doorway, we only floored the kitchen and dining room to start with. When I laid the salvaged hardwoods (while 7 months pregnant!), I ran staggered strips into the living room area, and simply left them. We sanded and finished in the kitchen/dining room (where we lived for the first 2 years), and sealed off the living room until time and money allowed.
Later, when it was time to floor the living room (7 months into my second pregnancy), I just started the flooring where I left off. We sanded all three rooms to keep the finish unified, then sealed them. Thirteen years later, we’re still living hard on the same floors.
My point in all this is to suggest that you use a sawzall (or similar tool) to remove staggered sections of the boards in the living area where they meet the dining area, then insert flooring the proper size (like teeth in a zipper!) and carry that same flooring through into the dining area. Sand it all and seal it all to unify the finish. It will get you the floors you want for the least cost, and with the right tools, it’s totally a DIY project.
Another option (lots less work, yet very sensible with your layout) would be to install a board perpendicular to the flooring — like a door sill — and continue with new flooring of similar size on the other side of the board, in the dining room. We used that tactic between our large upstairs hall and the bedrooms.
The floors you uncovered are gorgeous. It would be a shame to lose them.


79 karina September 24, 2013 at 2:53 am

Paint! I would paint the flooring in the dining area. We painted the flooring in our kitchen in an olive green tone kitchen and LOVE it. And if a scratche happens, i just grab the pot and paint it over.

And if we are fed up with the green one day, we can go white, grey, black… or maybe hague blue? I also painted the floor of our balcony! looks great!


80 karina September 24, 2013 at 2:56 am

PS. I know my paint idea doesnt solve your problem about the flooring on the two areas looking different. But I like the idea of defining different areas. You could even paint a striped floor… or checkered!


81 suzanne September 24, 2013 at 4:45 am

hi! you CAN add on to your existing hardwood! we did this exact same thing in our home recently and the results are beautiful and seamless. we live near you (just over the hill in orinda) if you need the name of our hardwood guy! he’s fabulous and reasonable.
good luck!


82 Carrie September 24, 2013 at 5:49 am

i haven’t read all the comments – but have you thought of a painted wood floor? we are renovated our old (1894) kitchen and i don’t feel like trying to match the original wood floor with something new, so i was thinking of doing a painted wood floor – do you have any experience with that? or thoughts?


83 Zoe September 24, 2013 at 7:06 am

Here in New England houses have patched and hodgepodge hardwood floors all over the place. It becomes part of the charm, if in fact it is ever noticed at all.
I would hold off judgement until you call in a really good hardwood flooring contractor and get their advice — they really are true craftsmen and I wouldnt proceed without expert advice! It would be nice though to level height of the two rooms!


84 Debbie September 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

I agree with a few others above that using the linoleum in the dining area would be nice and there are so many colors to choose from. You should try to get rid of the white sloping material so that the transition between wood and linoleum would be smoother. Another option that I think would work well is to have a good wood flooring installer feather in a new floor with the old. They take out a few existing planks so that the transition is not a straight line which would make it more visible. The idea of using the kitchen wood is a great one too! Depending on how much light the kitchen gets versus the living room, the wood may not exactly match in color at the moment, but the sizing should.
I would steer away from any time of concrete skim coat, because it would tend to crack over time because of the difference in movement between the materials, and since you are dealing with two spaces that were built at different times and therefore potentially have different things underneath them which can create different temperatures and movement conditions. (basement vs crawl space; room vs ground; heated space vs unheated space, etc).


85 Becky September 24, 2013 at 7:45 am

We live in a 103 year old farmhouse in Portland, OR. We still have a mystery floor in our dinning area as well. For some reason it has laminate hardwood installed over hardwood. Before we moved in we had the upstairs refinished (the hardwoods had been hidden under carpet and linoleum (that was a fun project), and there were several old vents no longer in use. The company that refinished the floors also put patches in to cover up the old floor vents (one was quite large). The wood they used was repurposed hardwood, also 100 years old, taken from another house. You can’t even see there the vents were now, and the “new” hardwood matches the old hardwood perfectly.


86 Bonnie @ The Pin Junkie September 24, 2013 at 7:53 am

Carpet in the dining area doesn’t work for me either. Your hardwood floors are beautiful and very fitting for a “tree house!” It would probably be very affordable to keep the existing wood floors, just give them a good cleaning or new finish maybe, and replace the plywood in the small dining area with new wood flooring that matches.


87 Sarah September 24, 2013 at 8:45 am

i would definitely keep the original wood floors, and add on – i wouldn’t worry about mimicking the width – as long as the color is consistent, and the seam is well-done, they will flow and even add more warmth.


88 Mary Ann September 24, 2013 at 8:58 am

A friend told me once that the house he grew up in had carpet everywhere, including the kitchen and bathrooms. If ever milk spilled, it would stink for months. His mom made the whole family use sippy cups all the way through his middle school years when the finally replaced the carpet with tile. He remembers how embarrassing it was being an eighth grader having friends over and telling them they had to drink from a sippy cup. So, I’m glad you tore up the carpet. I think you should keep the original wood floors and try to match new wood floors in the dining nook. If you refinish the old with the new, it should flow well even if the boards don’t match exactly.


89 Kate September 24, 2013 at 9:05 am

We had hardwoods added to a new space adjacent to existing hardwoods and it turned out fantastically. It you look closely you can tell the existing hardwoods are more scratched etc. but at first glance you can not tell! I was doubtful but it worked out so well. If the difference bothers you, you can always refinish the existing hardwoods to get a more similar patina. Hardwoods are so expensive you would most likely still come out ahead!


90 Kate September 24, 2013 at 9:33 am

Terracotta hexagonal tiles would look really beautiful too! Just add a threshold and it’ll look great.


91 jennifet September 24, 2013 at 9:44 am

I say you fly Jenny Komenda in to install your floors for you! :-)


92 Laura September 24, 2013 at 10:20 am

We had the same issue and tried to match existing hardwoods – but the older wood did not take the stain as well as the new and we ended up replacing all the wood in the end. Much more expensive than we had planned. Perhaps you could do a painted wood floor? Paint would match both old and new?


93 RachelD September 24, 2013 at 10:28 am

Please keep the old floors! If you really want the dining nook addition to match it, you will need to have new wood (of the same species) laid in that space and then have all the floors sanded and refinished at the same time. You’ll need to be out of the house for probably 5-7 days while this is going on because of all the dust and then fumes from the polyurethane. You can choose a stain to unify the spaces. We did this in our home (laid new floors where there had originally been carpet to match up with original floors) and it looks perfect and no one can tell what is old and what is new. If you go this route, you should absolutely hire someone that specializes in hardwood flooring and not just a handyman. We made this mistake and it was costly and time-consuming as well as frustrating. Luckily my husband and his parents were able to re-finish the floors a second time and as I said, they are beautiful and no one can tell what is old and what is new.


94 Michelle September 24, 2013 at 10:33 am

I agree with avoiding concrete! We have them throughout our entire space, and while beautiful and industrial, they really are more difficult to clean. A huge issue is that you don’t “see” the dust and dirt on the floor like you do with other types of flooring.


95 Don September 24, 2013 at 10:44 am

Maybe this has already been suggested, but I vote for keeping the beautiful hardwood floor. In the dining area, I’d suggest going for a hardwood there too, but laying the boards in a different direction (e.g., perpendicular to the existing floor). This way you can keep the wood theme (even trying to match the color and board widths) without killing yourself trying to match it exactly. (Or worse, pulling up some of the existing floor to try and blend it into the newly-laid floor.) . It gives an obvious transition from living to dining rooms and you’re eye will notice the change in pattern as the main distinguishing feature.


96 carole September 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

How about a take on a marquetry floor? Since your space is constrained on three sides with just a border to the existing wood floor, doing something just a little bit funky could actually be a real visual treat, would allow you a little creativity, would still maintain the easy cleanup of wood and would give you a chance to express your family’s creativity. By creating a border around the edge, you could do anything in the center you wanted – a pattern, an initial “B,” anything really.


97 thecreamline September 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I would go to a few tile stores and look for a small lot of larger slate tiles. Slate looks pretty against wood (esp if you refinish, which you should do now if you plan on it at all) and is natural-looking and easy to care for. Such a small square area could easily be done in a day for not too much $$. We put slate in one of our bathrooms and it’s gorgeous.


98 claudine September 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Hi. I know that you already have a LOT oc advises about what you should do and here am I. Doing the same. I am a french architect and I had the concrete floor issue with an old house too. The resin is a good solution. Nice look and much warmer that a real concrete floor but with the same raw material/industrial look. And less expesive. Check the brand Weber.


99 Emily September 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm

We did the same thing and had beautiful hardwood with some ply wood. We hired a floor guy and he matched the wood, put it together like a puzzle, re-finished and re-stained it all. You cannot tell were one floor ended and the other began.


100 Hillary September 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Hi! If you love the hardwood floors you discovered I would say keep them. In the nook you could add hardwood in a cool pattern like herringbone or something then have everything sanded and stained to match to create uniformity. What a great discovery under old dingy carpet!!
Good Luck!!1


101 Chris September 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm

When we has this issue our builder got wood to match the existing flooring and at the join laid a line of the planks at right angles and then butted the new flooring up to this. Then we got the whole are republished in one go. Once it was done no one ever noticed that the wood was two ages. Good Luck


102 Jennifer September 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Consider painted wood, perhaps done to look like a cool rug, in the dining area only. It’s cheap and cheerful and gives you time to determine your heart’s desire!


103 Lori S. September 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Those wood floors are beautiful and I am all for keeping what you have. We just bought and renovated the home in which I grew up. The main floor was carpeted since before 1971 when my parents bought the house. When my husband and I bought it we were thrilled to find oak floors under the carpet but not so thrilled with the orangey stain. The kitchen didn’t have hardwood. Our lovely contractor put wood in the kitchen, sanded all the wood and stained it. You can’t tell the difference between old and new. Long story short, go for it!


104 jackie September 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I second the vote for hardwood at 90 degrees in the dining area. Tearing up or covering up those beautiful floors seems heartbreaking!


105 Jessica @ Little Nesting Doll September 25, 2013 at 8:29 am

I would definitely leave the existing floors–I don’t think it’s that hard to get a close match to hardwoods if you know what kind of wood it is (my parents did that at their house a few years ago and it wasn’t a big deal). And you can always have the existing floors refinished when the new floor is installed and stain it all one color to make it more cohesive. If it were me, though, I think I would put in the new hardwood in the opposite direction from the old floors–perpendicular to what’s already there. That way, any difference in the floors looks a little more intentional. I would never, ever be able to rip out old hardwoods. :)


106 Ann September 25, 2013 at 11:26 am

My goodness, how beautiful! Refinish floors and layer just a bit of area rugs in high traffic areas and you’re done!


107 Ann September 25, 2013 at 11:44 am

Oh, sorry and I would do some amazing simple ceramic tile in that deck eating area. Something on the darker lakestone grey/blue color scheme with a grey grout. Won’t show dirt at all! I think that blue stone would be beautiful but I think it would be too heavy up there. Seneca Tile makes ceramic and concrete tiles.


108 Jen September 25, 2013 at 11:51 am

Hi Gabby,

We live in Rockridge, Oakland and used Le’s Golden Floors to match our dining room to our kitchen. The match is exact. Everyone thinks they are original to the house. Customer service from the owner was ok, but the price was good the work was good. Based on those two factors I would recommend him. Good luck with the renovations. I also have an electrician, painter and contractor I can recommend :)


109 Laura September 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Our neighbors had new hardwoods installed in one room to match the existing. It looks fantastic; I’ve never been able to tell the difference; I wonder if they can. But, it looks great.

I should take my own advice… the ONLY carpet in our house is white carpet in the dining room. (Why? Whyyy?) We have beautiful hardwoods everywhere else, but when I’ve pulled up a corner of the carpet , I see that somewhere along the way, someone installed linoleum on top of the wood in the dining room. I’m sure that’s why those floors weren’t restored when the rest of the house was, and it makes me anxious about doing it myself. I suppose we should call in the pros to either fix or replace.


110 Jeaneane September 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm

We tackled my sisters floors this summer and we found THE EXACT THING…beautiful hard wood EXCEPT for the place that she was using as a dining area (same situation…this section of the house was an add on). What she did was get the hardwood in tip top shape and then used the industrial vinyl tiles (she would tell everyone “think grocery store” but in super great colors!!…she went with cinnamon brown and cream) for the dining area and it looks FANTASTIC!!! Everything was actually completed in a few days. Easy-peasy!!


111 Elisabeth September 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm

There is a growing trend for nicely finished plywood flooring. I think it could be really fun to have plywood in the dining nook abutting the original hardwoods. I also recommend for ideas. The plethora of photos has been a God send as my husband and I remodel our 80 year old craftsman.


112 Marille September 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

It’s totally doable to feather in new hardwood with the existing wood. I helped my dad do it when we moved into our place. Just make sure it’s the same width and then do a new stain so it matches. It’s pretty simple.


113 Lesley October 2, 2013 at 5:23 am

This is my kind of project. I studied historic conservation in grad school, and one perspective I gained is to value authenticity, above all. I also value the ability to read a space, so that I can and appreciate the history before me. What people think about is now, but try to think 30 years down the road. New wood might look new now, but how about in 10, 20, or 30 years? Eventually everything will seamlessly blend, and you’ll maintain your authentic, historic space in the mean time. I’m not a fan of techniques to age materials to make them match, but that is because I want to be able to see and appreciate the history before me.


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