For better or for worse, there are so, so many decisions to be made during a remodel. Not the least of which is what to put beneath your feet. And there are no less than a million bajillion choices to choose from. (Just in case you thought you’d be overwhelmed.) But in this sea of options, sometimes you need to just stick to your guns and go with a classic. Because whoever said classic had to be boring?

Let’s take a little ‘walk’ over some go-to flooring.


1. HARDWOODS. Duh. But there’s so much more here than meets the eye. Just as there isn’t but one way to skin a cat, believe me, there isn’t just one way to have hardwoods. I, for instance, stained our old Brookside tudor’s hardwoods darker than dark chocolate. Just how dark? Let me paint a visual – when the kids jack the floor with their toys, I use a black Sharpie to hide the scratches. That’s pretty dang dark.

But take the townhouse in Corinth that we just remodeled. Ashy, blonde floors with hints of gray. Love it.


Or the house Julie Manna did out in California:  a perfectly brown stain that was all sorts of beautiful.


And then of course there’s your traditional and classic hardwoods you simply just can’t go wrong with. Like in this Mission Hills house we remodeled.


_untitled_ _untitled_ _DSF1363#6A72And finally, Jim Scovell’s house. Spaces magazine did an article on his floors years ago. They’re reclaimed red oak boards of varied widths salvaged from a chicken coup up in New York. Crazy character. Crazy beautiful. The floors are a major player in this house.


All of these, hardwoods. And yet various different stains and board widths can lend an entirely different tone to your house.

Now may be a good time to mention that I think that the number one thing you should consider doing to a newly purchased house is refinish the floors before you move in. Nearly every Kansas City house that has been untouched in the last 60 years has hardwoods stained with a tinge of yellow/orange. It’s not a problem. It’s just not current. Sand them and wash over a fresh stain and you’ll feel as though you remodeled your whole house. It was transformative in taking our house from 1929 to 2014.

2. BRICK. I just spent time at a family farm where both the pool house and the screened in porch were floored in brick. I’m now a believer. It was ideal for the situation. I didn’t worry when my daughter walked through in a dripping wet swimsuit. Because not only was the water not going to swell any hardwoods it wasn’t going to be so slick as to cause to fall anyone else walking by. It also just brought an earthiness and coziness to the room that I loved. In the picture below you can see where Scovell Wolfe installed brick in a family room this summer.


Anywhere that you know people will be traipsing through with dirty shoes or wet feet, brick is your new best friend. And any room where you want to add interest without buying all new furniture and art, consider brick.

And as you can imagine, brick is not brick is not brick. There are hundreds of different shades and dozens of different patterns by which to lay the brick…

3. PATTERNED TILE. What I like to call dirty tile. Say what? Yep, you read that right – dirty tile. Though – hello! – it’s not in fact dirty. It’s something I’ve more or less always been aware of, but until a friend recently voiced her complaint about white tile, I hadn’t been completely conscious. This friend mentioned how she wanted to retile her bathroom because it was all white tile! Uh, excuse me?! Because me, being a Brooksider, who is constantly confronted with original bathrooms full of pink, green, purple, yellow and black tile, white tile sounds like an absolute gift from above. That is until you have kids and a full time job and a million other things to do before you find the time to mop your bathroom twice a week. I have a hunch that it’s why Carrara marble is becoming so incredibly popular. It never looks dirty because of the inherently dirty look to the tile! That, my friends, is what I’m suggesting. Tile that naturally looks dirty less than clean hides everything better.


Or, in the instance of this picture (not the greatest quality pic – but a high rise condo we did years and years ago designed by Jan Burkett that makes my mouth water), dark tile does the same trick. It’s not an invitation to live filthily. It’s just not an invitation to stare at every water spot and speck of dirt.


And then there’s straight up patterned tile. This takes major bravery. But it pays in dividends. It can’t be used everywhere. Maybe one room on one floor and a bathroom on another. But it packs a big punch.

Obviously there are thousands more options when it comes to what you lay on your floor. These are just some oldies, yet goodies. If you’re trying to be original, you don’t necessarily have to lay some crazy, new experimental material down to separate yourself from the pack. Maybe just rethink one aspect of a classic. And if you want to be uber traditional, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to be boring. Go bold or go home, people.