Flooring options for 1895 dutch colonial

dizbugMarch 31, 2012

Hi all,

We have just purchased a beautiful dutch colonial built in 1895 which has a great room addition on the back side of the home. There are original wood floors in the formal livingroom and dining room (front side of the home) which aren't in great shape, and the great room addition has (ugly) grayish ceramic floors that don't really fit with the old character of the home. We were first thinking about taking out all of the floors and replacing them with the same type of wood flooring throughout the entire bottom floor. However, I'd like to explore other flooring options that might be appropriate for just the great room (livingroom/kitchen combo) so that we could leave the original wood floors in the front of the house for now. Any ideas? Would doing a travertine tile floor with perhaps a mosaic type look work? I like this look, but to me might be more old world than early 1900s. All advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Without some more ideas of the house's size and features, I'd hesitate to say much, except that travertine/mosaic would be totally out of character for such a house/period/space. If the house is a mansion, travertine would have been out of range and definitely out of character.

Using tile and marble for flooring in kitchens is a modern convention, original flooring for a kitchen would usually have been wood, or linoleum in all but a few cases. The kitchen was the place for servants, and needed to be easy to keep clean as well.

For middle class dwellings, even those where there was space for large gatherings, wood was the way to go, more likely with a border of some design to give it a fancier look. I have been in some houses on tours where the owners had larger incomes, and even in those with ballrooms, the floors were wood. This may have something to do with the acoustics generated by wood--a softer surface for sound reverberations, and therefore a less harsh quality to incidental noises and enhanced listening pleasure for music.

Your best bet is to refinish the original floors, and replace the inappropriate ceramic with wood, adding a patterned border if you feel the need for enhancing the style. Many people are finding out that tile and stone, while they may look nice, are actually not great for kitchen use--being too hard for long periods of standing, and the easily chipped surface should something be dropped on them.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 6:45PM
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I think removing the original floors just to make one area match would be a real shame. I too think that travertine or mosaic would look very out of character. I would leave the original floors (refinish as necessary) and install wood where the ceramic floor currently is. You could even buy reclaimed hardwood flooring to get the same look and plank size as the rest of the 1895 floor.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:49AM
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Strip flooring (fir, maple, qs oak) would look period appropriate. That's what's in the c. 1895 rennovations to my much-older upper Hudson Valley house. I have wood in all rooms, including the kitchen.

Please don't tear out original flooring in order to have some modern version of floor-through matching of materials. Refinish what you have, if necessary, and install period compatible flooring in newer areas. Don't be afraid of threshold breaks where the flooring materials don't match. That's a 20th c modern convention.

Frankly, unless you have an unusually robust heating system the idea of marble floors chills me to the bone. Ok for foyers, perhaps, but I wouldn't want to live with it elsewhere.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:54AM
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