There are countless posts on where to start when you are redecorating your home. I have written many of them! But the truth of the matter is you need to start from the bottom up and that means the floors.
This is partly because flooring is the most disruptive and if you don’t do it at the start you will never feel like it later. And I can vouch for this as all the floors in the new house need replacing and I’m already looking at the piles of boxes and the assembled beds and sofas and feeling like I can’t bear it. But without the floors we can’t build the shelves and wardrobes and without the shelves and wardrobes we can’t put anything away. So we need to address the floors.
The other point is that good flooring will elevate cheap furniture. A bad floor will take the good stuff down with it. And I know this to be true as I am currently looking at my great-grandmother’s elegant antique sofa and my beautiful curvy eco-sofa sitting on a pile of orange (I think it’s meant to be oak) engineered floorboards and they are basically having a fight. Not to mention that these boards were laid over whatever was there before (original floorboards?) and they don’t run under the skirting boards so a layer of beading has been added to the front of the original skirting to hide the join. How do I know this? Because it has fallen off in places revealing the gap and the ply underneath. So when the floor is redone the issue of the skirting boards will have to be addressed as well.
The hall has black and white tiles laid in a small diamond formation. In a small space this has made it look busier and it has become a slightly stressful place to be. There is also a black border round the edges which serves to draw your attention to the fact that the walls aren’t straight, as well as making you feel that you have a narrower space to walk in. So there is a busy pattern with wonky lines at the edge. There are also steps down to the kitchen and for some reason the pattern of the tiles seems to flatten the stairs, which makes them harder to see so you tend to stop dead and wobble at the top as you suddenly remember they are there. This puts me in mind of that video where someone has drawn hole on their hall floor and a succession of dogs run up to it and then jump over it. Needless to say, the cat stalks straight over the top. In this house we all need to be more cat when it comes to those steps.
In the kitchen the floor has been covered in large black tiles. The effect of this is two-fold; one, all the light is sucked out of the room and two, the contrast between the formerly white grout and the black tiles (some of which are matt and some of which are shiny – what horrors lie beneath and caused a partial replacement is a joy we are yet to uncover) gives rise to another checkerboard effect that serves only to remind you of the limitations of the space.
So, if you are starting from scratch invest in good floors. And while you’re at it, put heating underneath so you don’t lose precious wall space where you might need to put furniture. This is particularly true of smaller houses and even for larger ones that are open plan. Radiators need walls.
It’s generally said that keeping the flooring the same throughout will make the space feel larger as it will take the eye to the furthest point.
But consider your views. In a long narrow hall, leading to a kitchen (classic Victorian terrace) you might want to keep the floor the same as that will lead the eye to the garden. But you can change it in the sitting room which is off to one side as that’s a change of mood.
Likewise you might want to use different flooring to zone different areas in rooms which have to multi-task. In a kitchen, for example, you could use tiles in the working part and floorboards in the dining part. No, this won’t make the room look bigger ,but it might make you feel like you have two different “rooms” rather than one which is having to work very hard.
It’s all about your own layout though. For example, if I stand at the bottom of my dangerous steps in the kitchen and look to the front door I can see the sitting room floor as the door, for some reason known only to the Victorian builder, is on an angle. For this reason, we are going to make sure the hall floor and the sitting room floor match. The change will come at the bottom of the stairs leading to the kitchen.
Before you decide on your floors spend some time walking around and seeing what the views are. If you have a long landing with bedrooms leading off it then you can have different flooring in each of the bedrooms. But make sure that the room that faces the top of any staircase has a surface that goes with the landing, especially if you are a family that leaves all the doors open all the time.
Which means that while you need to start with the flooring, you actually need to start with the stair flooring as that is the spine of the house. All rooms lead off the staircase (or its landing) which is why I think a patterned stair runner is a thing of beauty and a joy and means you can use all the colours contained within it in different rooms and in different textures and still feel like you have created a cohesive space.
Finally, the other thing I have discovered – having spent the last 12 years in a house without carpet is that it does work wonders for noise reduction. For that reason we will be having hard floors and rugs downstairs as that is practical in high traffic areas and easy to clean but upstairs we are looking at a mix of carpet for the landings and stairs with sisal and cork in the bedrooms. I will, of course, keep you posted.