White kitchens with dark floors- I don't get it

marvelousmarvinMay 23, 2013

I've been looking at a lot of pictures of white kitchens, and it seems like most of them use dark wood floors in those kitchens.

Is there an underlying design reason for why you'd choose dark floors in a white kitchen?

I get that white kitchens makes the kitchen look bigger, airy, bright, and all that.

I get that you'd choose wood floors to 'warm' up the kitchen so it doesn't feel sterile or cold.

And, I get that you usually choose something darker for the floor.

But, it seems incongruous to me that you'd choose dark floors which don't seem that 'warm' to 'warm' up a kitchen.

And, if you're trying to make the kitchen feel airy and bright with all that white, then the dark floors would seem like they'd negate that feeling. To keep the space light and airy, wouldn't you want flooring that wasn't so dark?

Do you think this white kitchen/dark floor combo will look dated in a few years? Or, is there a underlying design reason for why this combination works and thus it won't become dated that soon?

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Alex44

I agree with you. I am currently deciding on flooring, and after looking at photos of 10,000 kitchens, I think the high-contrast look is going to look dated soon.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 3:20AM
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kksmama

I love my floors, they are very warm and medium dark - and they go throughout the whole house. I'm planning a white kitchen because I like white cabinets and my space is open to lots of windows but doesn't have them. White cabinets will give me numerous choices of counters and backsplash - which could be cool or warm (as can white).

I don't think I'll ever tire of the floor or the cabinets, and I'm sure I'll not undertake the expense or hassle of replacing them (again) - they are the highest ticket items in the house.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:08AM
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palimpsest

Dark floors have a grounding effect, and to some extent make the white of the cabinets brighter by contrast.

The feeling of "light" or "dark" in a room is influenced mostly by the vertical surfaces in the room (walls and cabinets) and not as much by the horizontal floor.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:12AM
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raenjapan

One element of good design is contrast. Some people find this less important than others, but I'm a big fan. :) My house is already very light and airy, and the dark floors kind of ground things.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:14AM
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fsteph

Same here, I currently have light oak floors and natural cherry (builder grade) cabinets.. I'm replacing it with a white perimeter cabinet and a walnut island. I will be staining the floors an espresso stain because I like the contrast and it makes the floor look classier especially with the contrast.

Honestly, it's a personal choice, do what you like.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:45AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Dark horizontal surfaces expand the space. They make it feel larger by moving the eye around the room and by reading as a "negative" to all of the other :positive" space. It's why a lot of restaurants and cubs paint the ceiling black. It makes it feel bigger than it really is because it disappears.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:58AM
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eve72

Probably just a fad like everything else. When enough get tired of it, something else will come along and be the new "in."

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:19AM
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catbuilder

What's to get? If you like it, do it. If you don't like it, do something else. There's no need to put down somebody else's choices because you "don't get it".

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:32AM
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may_flowers

There's not a bit of "put-down" in his question. Where did you get that from?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Linda1228

It's all about personal choice. The only reason I didn't go with dark floors was because of dust and scratches. I have dark countertops for contrast -- but went with Honey Oak floors and I love them -- again, it's personal choice.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:50AM
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palimpsest

I don't know how faddish it is. To some degree it may be regional. There are very dark floors in my complex renovated in the 1960s, and dark floors in 70s and 80s buildings as well. I think the very light phase in the late 80s and 90s may be more faddish over time than darker, with dark to medium dark being more common over time.

I think light or dark all have their place.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:08AM
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rosie

Umhm. As said, many currently like it, not everyone wants a "warm" tone, it has valid design use, and, most particularly, it's been in style for some while now.

The same could be said of the gorgeous light honey-colored maple floors of the 60s and early 70s--except the vital last element. Walking through a lovely modern home with sunlight streaming on one of those is about as close as I've come to a religious experience. :)

But that look has been sadly out of style for a couple generations now, so no one has to be confused about what others see in it because no one's "getting it"/getting it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:16AM
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palimpsest

I don't get the current affection for floors that are distinctly Red to my eye. But I have specified them for clients who want that Brazilian Cherry look and have made it work. It's all going to come down to personal preference.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:56AM
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threegraces

I like the look but choose lighter floors for our white kitchen due to blending with the rest of the house's 100 year old floors and the fact that we have a white, heavy-shedding dog. White dog hair + dark floors = no bueno.

Our medium stain floors do not show dirt. It's embarrassing to see my socks sometimes and realize how dirty my clean-looking floors really are. I love the red oak we chose for our floors.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:02AM
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ZLauren

I'm not sure that there's a difference between having white cabinetry with a dark floor than there is a dark countertop, actually.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:04AM
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chinchette

I have Brazilian Cherry but I thought it was already "out", or going out. But everyone loves my floors. I still love them. I've always loved the color red, and I like red tone wood. One thing great about Brazilian Cherry is it doesn't have to be stained. Wood that is not stained a color has a natural beauty to me. The Brazillian Cherry holds up really well and doesn't dent. It would be different if it was oak that was stained to look like BC.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:08AM
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palimpsest

I agree with the durability of the Brazilian Cherry and I am glad that one of my clients used them. She is very hard on things and since the flooring is both hard and not stained (ie a natural color), scratches are not common and not apparent.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:19AM
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finestra

It is just personal preference. If you don't "get" it, then maybe you don't like it either. Always go with what you like because you are the one living there. I always associate modern/sleek white kitchens have unstained wooden floors, but in the past few years I have seen them with dark floors too. I have had dark stained floors for over 25 years and I love the look and the contrast. My home is very traditional. I think dark gives it a very deep, rich (not in the $ sense) look. I also have a ton of windows, so there isn't need to lighten up.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:34AM
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zeebee

I love my floors, they are very warm and medium dark - and they go throughout the whole house. I'm planning a white kitchen because I like white cabinets and my space is open to lots of windows but doesn't have them. White cabinets will give me numerous choices of counters and backsplash - which could be cool or warm (as can white). - kksmama

This is me - medium-dark stain with a golden undertone on the white oak parquet and plank floors on the other two levels of the house. We began kitchen planning with the same tone of oak floors as a given, for continuity and unity. We will end up with some white cabinets because DH loves them and we don't want an all-dark kitchen.

I don't think dark floors negate the effect of white cabinets; to my eye, the contrast can lighten the room and make a creamy yellowy white appear brighter, and if the white picks up the floor undertones, the entire effect is harmonious.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:20AM
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kksmama

Too funny, threegraces! My choice was also influenced by my dog's hair color :)

"blending with the rest of the house's 100 year old floors and the fact that we have a white, heavy-shedding dog."

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:36AM
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Linelle

I love light, bright and airy, but do like the look of dark floors with white cabs. I have red oak floors, and dark would be a nightmare with all the cat hair with which I have to contend. I do have dark counters and they in no way negate or reduce the light effect of the white cabs. Without that contrast, it would be a little floaty and undefined, like pale eyes without some eyeliner and mascara.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:42AM
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rosie

Absolutely!

ZLauren, I'd have a dark floor with white cabinets. I'd never have a dark counter with white cabinets. :) Big difference for me, but it has to do with the way the whole room comes together. as Palimpsest said, dark floor grounds a room.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:46AM
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hsw_sc

kksmama Too funny, threegraces! My choice was also influenced by my dog's hair color :)

"blending with the rest of the house's 100 year old floors and the fact that we have a white, heavy-shedding dog."

Same here! We have Golden Retrievers and I decorate to accommodate the inevitable. I love dark floors though.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:46AM
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nosoccermom

Is this again for your rental house?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:47AM
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kompy

I have wanted a white kitchen since....well as long as I can remember but probably around the time I got in the KD biz...which was 1983! This is my third remodel and the other two times, I couldn't afford it. The first remodel in 1994, I was a newlywed and young, the second time in 2001, it was supposed to be a flip house ....and this time, I am divorced and am getting what I want...no compromises. I didn't have enough money to do ALL that I planned, but I am almost done with phase I (the L-shape).

My floor LOOKS dark in all the pictures, but it just photographs that way. Maybe that's why you are seeing so much dark flooring on Houzz.com. My actual floor color is a medium/dark brown w/ highlights of other colors going through it. I LOVE it. I was hoping it wouldn't show every bit of dust and it doesn't. It's probably the easiest floor I've ever had to keep clean.

The other reason I went with this combination is my house. My home is somewhat a formal Colonial built in the 1930s. My fireplace is flanked with built in white cabinets and black marble....so this just seemed to go with my house! Lucky me! :-) KOMPY

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:57PM
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kompy

My REAL floor color....not so dark as shown above. And it's less red than this one shows. There are golden highlights running throught it.
KOMPY

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:59PM
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kompy

And a photo of my living room.....my kitchen just goes with this house!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:09PM
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marvelousmarvin

Two followup questions:

What exactly is the grounding effect?

When people are putting in dark floors for the kitchens and assuming they aren't using those same floors throughout the rest of the house, are they also putting in similar dark floors and dark carpets throughout the house?

Cause if dark horizontal surfaces make rooms look bigger, then wouldn't we want to put dark surfaces in every room to make them look bigger?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 2:10AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Dark stained (or even black painted) wood floors make a fantastic backdrop for a Persian rug. Black just might be the new Black.
Casey

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Linelle

To me grounding effect is like anchoring, appearing solid and firm and permanent. Reliable, strong. Something on which the other elements can sit in quiet confidence.

I had a near-white Pergo floor in my kitchen and dining room. It had a floating feel to it, kinda weird. It's okay for a ceiling to appear to float away, but not really what's under your feet.

When you have a lot of white (or cream) in a kitchen, something needs to hold it down a bit, to add some weight. A relief for the eyes. Variety.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 10:41AM
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palimpsest

I painted my stairwell walls black and it looked bigger because the walls receded and the corner boundaries blurred, so it can make things look bigger under the right circumstances.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 8:01AM
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raee_gw

Kompy, your house is a style that I've always loved. Beautiful!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 10:40PM
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susanlynn2012

I agree that I love Kompy's kitchen and style of her home. Thanks for sharing. Also thanks Kompy for showing close-up of your floors which are very pretty.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 11:37PM
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kateskouros

if you don't like white kitchens with dark floors, then you definitely shouldn't have one. i'm glad we cleared this one up.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 12:48AM
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CEFreeman

Kompy, I'm here with you about divorce and making it YOUR OWN. Permit me to yell that more loudly: YOUR OWN!!! And if it be in stages, all the better. More time to change your mind 1000 times.

I have floors similar to yours, but a bit darker. Mine also have beautiful color variations in them, but they're not leaning towards red.

I love red so much I have 27 different red crape myrtles, about 72 red regular and Japanese Maples, red clothing, red roses, heuchera, dianthus, you name it. Ironically, nothing in my house is red. When I go gray, my hair will probably go red. I've always hated "kinda" red, which is what I see in Cherry, off-colored paints (hate pink), bad combinations, etc. HOWEVER. The integrity and beauty of the wood and its grain is unparalleled. My hair? Well, I haven't ruled out scarlet.

I love my dark floors. They're not black or ebony dark, but walnuty-chocolatey brown. They don't match my cats and dogs, which would have been heaven, but they do match a dark brown felt marker when I scratch the crap outta them.

"Getting" it doesn't necessarily mean not liking. (A little insecurity peeking through in that poster?) It simply says to me that someone doesn't see the attraction since it's not "them". I'm here to tell you I don't get white kitchens. Doesn't mean I don't love them or stare at them for hours online. I just don't "get" why one wants something like everyone else. (Sorry guys. Just my own "don't get" thing, right?)

Anyway. This goes to a thread on quality items, IMHO. Quality flooring, cabinetry, well made, clean or definite lines, etc. I don't feel these things won't ever go out of style but the ancillary/accents might. If the bones are solid...

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 11:06AM
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cardamon

I totally agree with Kateskouros. You don't need what you don't get. I wouldn't get one if I didn't get it either. I happened to get white kitchens with dark floor so I got one. Always get what you like. It is just that simple. In my opinion of course:)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 12:54PM
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snookums2

"But, it seems incongruous to me that you'd choose dark floors which don't seem that 'warm' to 'warm' up a kitchen."

Natural materials warm up a space.

"And, if you're trying to make the kitchen feel airy and bright with all that white, then the dark floors would seem like they'd negate that feeling. To keep the space light and airy, wouldn't you want flooring that wasn't so dark?"

That isn't always the goal. If it is, a dark floor might not be the best choice. People who choose the really dark floor like that high color contrast. I don't want a light airy kitchen but have light cabinets. One, because I like them. Two, it's better for the light conditions in my space. But I want a warm kitchen. My floors are in the mid toned range. Not dark but not bouncing light around either. They're warm, so, so is my kitchen even though it's light.

"Do you think this white kitchen/dark floor combo will look dated in a few years?

Functionally, people immediately found that the dark floors and furniture show every little speck of dust or dirt, smudge mark, etc. Many won't choose the same again. So that might have started already.

Yes, I think the mood of the public will change or shift fairly soon, as it naturally does en masse and with things that are more on the trendy side. But it's not just the color, depends on the styling too.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Sun, May 26, 13 at 13:55

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 1:54PM
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jaynees

When we redid our kitchen last fall we did white cabinets and dark floors. Yes, the floors tend to show everything, but we sweep/swiffer just as much as we did when the floors were neutral and showed nothing at all. Our kitchen gets a LOT of light from the back wall of windows in the eat-in area, and so the dark bamboo floors get nice and warm for our feet - a definite plus.

Will it be dated in the future? Who cares?! We love it! And since we plan on being in the house at least another 10 years, we can always change the flooring down the road if we don't like it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 6:34PM
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Locrian

My DH just asked if I wanted to put in white cabinets from Lowe's. He prefers a medium-to-darker toned wood flooring... To him "white kitchen, clean kitchen" and dark floors "don't show the dirt". He also likes the "crisp-ness" of SS appliances.

FWIW, I prefer blonde tone floors and light-to-medium tone cupboards. And marshmallow white appliances ;-)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 8:52PM
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debrak_2008

I'm glad you asked the question. I have lots of questions I want to ask but can't find the words. I'm worried that I will offend people.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 9:34PM
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doonie

The contrast between the white and nearly black seems more formal to me. Kind of like a traditional tuxedo. I think the dark floor serves to anchor the bright whiteness of the kitchen. Contrast can be cool! It's a far cry from tie dye!

I think there is a certain tension it creates. And I think that personality has something to do with people who prefer that look to live in. I find most high contrast kitchens stunning, but it's too much energy for me to feel relaxed in personally. It would be interesting to have some sort of personality, interest profile of people who end up with that type of kitchen.

I appreciate the beauty of those kitchens, like I appreciate the beauty of dressing up. However, I would feel always undressed in such a kitchen with my flip flops and Chacos!

Here is a link that might be useful: Interesting blog on black/white decorating

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Mrs_Nyefnyef

Setting aside what's in and what's out, or the grounding effect, or the aesthetic of the contrast of dark and light, be aware that a dark floor shows every speck. My friend has the white kitchen/dark floor combination. She has to swiffer daily. She tells me that even 10 minutes after swiffering, if her kids and the dog come in from outside, the floor looks dusty immediately. I am staying with natural oak floors for my white kitchen. I've had natural oak floors before, and I know they make my life easier because they do not show dust, and even spills are hard to see on natural oak.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 10:32AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Contrast is the design element of making dark surfaces work correctly for you in whatever context, even monochromatic color schemes. Using light colors for vertical surfaces and dark colors for horizontal surfaces moves the eye around the room, which makes it appear larger visually. The lower contrast of light on light can appear "bright" but generally doesn't "feel" as large because of the low contrast. The popular white on white kitchens would be very static and sterile without some type of dark surface in the mix somewhere for all of that light to play off of. There is nothing to stop the eye when you have white counters on white cabinets with a white floor. That dark element that creates a visual grounding could just as easily be the black slate of my 40 year old entryway as it could be the "current" popular dark wood. The design principle is the same, regardless of the material.

You CAN do dark on dark monochromatic schemes, (the opposite of the white on white kitchen) but again it's the light elements in the room that make it work in a balanced way and give the room the "lift" that it needs to relive the eye from all of the similar value elements. Think of a room with dark purple walls, black woodwork, and dark stained wood floors. Put in a dark red couch and oriental rug. Seems overpoweringly dark in your mind, right? Now, put in a white couch and add just a few white accessories like a leaning bookcase and chandelier. Keep the dark red oriental rug. The couch seems to "float" in the room, and now it works. The eye sees the space as visually larger because it moves from the light object to the light object, with the dark, "disappearing". (If the lighting is right, and that's a whole other discussion.)

Contrast between light and dark as a design element works, no matter if the materials are currently popular or not. And it's why most "safe and neutral" color schemes appear to be so bland and fail so spectacularly in the hands of non professionals. Mid toned beige on beige doesn't offer any contrast for the eye.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 11:46AM
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chiefneil

IMHO natural materials like wood floors aren't really subject to trends and fashion. Yes, there might be a wood species or color of the moment, but IMHO it's much more likely that the cabinets will become "dated" before the floors.

Wooden floors can last for decades, even centuries, and look just fine; even retaining a classic and beautiful look after decades. Meanwhile cabinet styles and colors come and go.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 12:23PM
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marvelousmarvin

Okay, I now understand the importance of contrast for a kitchen.

But, what if I used dark colored countertops with white cabinets to give this kitchen that contrast. If I have that contrast with the countertops, do I still need the contrast from dark floors?

When I think about it, I think there's some possible options for the floors:
1) With dark countertops already giving you contrast, I don't need dark floors anymore- I could go with light colored floors or grey floors.
2) Try to match the darkness of the countertops with similarly dark floors.
3) Get darker floors than the countertops because things near the ground should be darker in color than things further up.
4) If I get black countertops, get med brown to dark floors as long as there's something black in the floors that matches the countertops

But, I'm not sure which one's the best choice.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 2:53AM
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kksmama

Thank you, Hollysprings! That is a really helpful explanation. Marvelousmarvin, I don't think there is a "best" choice - just a best for you. Perhaps it would help you to look at Houzz, choosing pictures you like and then analyzing WHY you like them with hollyspring's explanation of contrast in mind. I am realizing how important are inspiration pictures. Everyone agrees that you should get what you like - but it is good that I didn't trust myself until I'd looked at pictures, because what I *thought* I liked didn't show up together in a way I found attractive.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:46AM
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mpagmom

Wood floors are like jeans. Some prefer a dark rinse, some prefer faded, and some like the regular medium blue denim. I love gray jeans, but they are harder to find. They all work and you don't have to match the color to anything.

The very dark wood floors have been more popular the last five years or so. They aren't as warm as lighter floors, but they still look great. They aren't necessary for contrast if you already have white cabinets/black counters, but they are part of a look that many prefer.

I chose a medium stain for the floors in my white kitchen with dark counters because they show less dust and look great with the area rug in my great room. The shade is similar to the floors I once had in a Victorian house built in 1895, and it is similar to the floors my friend has in her house built in the 50s. I consider it to be warm and neutral and I can't imagine ever tiring of it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 9:13AM
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kompy

Posted by CEFreeman (My Page) on Sun, May 26, 13 at 11:06
"Kompy, I'm here with you about divorce and making it YOUR OWN. Permit me to yell that more loudly: YOUR OWN!!! And if it be in stages, all the better. More time to change your mind 1000 times."

Thanks CEFreeman! I love my new kitchen. It's SO me and everything I ever envisioned for my 'new' 1930's home. Someone mentioned not being able to relax in such a formal look. However, when I step in to my kitchen....my shoulders drop 2", I sigh, smile and just feel good. It's amazing what a space can do for you. Fung Shui, maybe? DId I get lucky on that? I think I just followed my instincts on my PLAN. If you look at my renderings....they're almost identical.

I got my tile backsplash installed this week. Painting starts soon. Now, I just need to find the perfect fabric for my pinch pleat cafe rod curtains!

KOMPY

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 11:25AM
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sapphireriver

Pretty! What kind of tile is your backsplash?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 1:03PM
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kompy

I got it at The Tile Shop and it's called 3x6 Meram Blanc.

It has a high polish and square cut, not beveled, or chiseled in any way.

It's beautiful!

KOMPY

SEE LINK BELOW

Here is a link that might be useful: Meram Blanc Tile

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 5:26PM
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