The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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« Viking Range Color - What To Do? | Main | I'm back »

I'm (Kitchen) Floored!! (Again!)

Had you there for a minute!

I've talked lots about the lightness in Scandinavian kitchens. Light tones are seen in many kitchen materials such as walls, cabinets, countertops, backsplashes and so on. But, I think what is, really, a very cool look, and one that is very UNcommon here in the U.S. are super light floors as are often seen in Scandinavian kitchens. There is SOMETHING about a light floor, and I'm not even sure I can express what it is, but I'll try.

I think light toned floors contribute a number of interesting attributes to a kitchen design:

  • The space appears larger than it really is.
  • If the walls are light as well as the floors, the space seems to float, almost suspended, and there is a flow to the space that, in all light tones, almost defies description.
  • If the large elements such as cabinetry, are dark, the expected contrast is reversed and is a very cool look.
  • The space looks clean! One may want to choose an imperfect light floor, so the inevitable nicks and spots are not so offensive.
  • In my opinion, it is, at once, modern and elegant.
  • The light reflecting work of a light floor contributes to well being, especially in the winter months 
  • A light floor helps reduce the need for artificial lighting, a good green solution.

What do you think of light floors? Me, I'm crazy about them! If I didn't have red oak in my kitchen/family room area, I'd definitely bleach it, but it comes up pink. MAYBE, I'll paint them. Here you go, what do you think of light flooring?

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Reader Comments (17)

The kitchen photos are certainly fresh, sleek and the approaching summer makes them just feel so right, but as a former light floor owner, I would never, ever do that again. The constant battle for them to look clean exhausted me and they quickly became tired. Seven years ago I replaced my white tile kitchen floor (and every room in my house except for 3 bedrooms) with italian porcelain sautillo-looking pavers, glazed and painted my red oak cabinets creamy white, did the island distressed black, and I have never gotten tired of any of it. We love to cook, to live, to dance in our kitchen, so for us, light floors, no matter how fab and cool they look in photos, would just not make sense.

June 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Vatiche

I agree with you on a purely design sense -- they look wonderful in all these photos!--but I also have to side with Maria on the maintenance issue.

Back in the mid-80s light/white floors were a huge trend where we were. Showed EVERYTHING; spills, pet hair, dirt.

Mind you, they didn't have much texture back then.

I think the lighter wood floors in the last few photos would be easier to maintain than the white tiled kitchen.

June 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKelly M

I do love looking at white floors...just like I love looking at pictures of Paris in the 30s or pre-War NYC apartments: neither will be in my real life, but they are beautiful.

But after having white floors in a former home, I can't say they are beautiful enough for me to install them ever again. Every crumb, every dust speck, every pet hair, every shoe scuff made me insane...and I am NOT a fussy housekeeper. Keep the eye candy coming, but you might rethink adding white floors to your home...unless you have a live-in maid, that is.

June 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

Real life experience with light flooring...it's great to have that feedback.

I still maintain that a happy medium could well be light flooring with some texture to it, particularly if it's wood, and I mean wood in a matte, or very natural finish. While I have not owned it, I've seen it in place in Scandinavia many times, and it never jumped out at me as being difficult to maintain.

Of course, in all things, be it flooring, carpeting, paint, any material, the rule of thumb for optimal maintenance is to get materials in the middle tones, the tonal range easiest to hide most other bits and pieces of color.

Perhaps there are light floors and there are light floors, no?

June 6, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I see you have pics of both dark perimeter cabs with light island that blends into the floor and light perimeter cabs with dark island where the island stands out more. Just wondering which you prefer and why? Is there an advantage of picking one over the other?

June 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Hi Leslie. Well, of course, it is subjective, but to me, if someone told me I had to do it one way or the other, I would prefer the darker cabinets on the perimeter and the lighter island. The reason, for me, is that there seems to be more of a flow with the lighter island and the lighter floor. It is more connected, far less choppy. Not that choppy is bad, not at all, but for me, I'd prefer that sort of flow.

How about you, what do you like?

June 6, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Perhaps there are light floors and then there are light floors, no?

Exactly. *grin*

June 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKelly M

I actually prefer the lighter island with the lighter floors and the darker perimeter. But it seems most kitchen mags I see have the darker island and lighter perimeter. To me, it seems that the island would really stand out, maybe too much. If you did dark perimeter and lighter island, how would you handle the counters? I'm not crazy about the reverse look in this case with light counters on dark and dark on light. Looks too planned out to me.

June 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Theres light and there is white.

We have natural bamboo in one of our showroom displays. Similar to light natural maple- nice!

However we did an all white bath in our victorian. The floor is white tile/white grout and I can't wait to tear it out someday! Grout stains even with good sealing and shows every spec of dirt.

All white rooms are nice to look at but not to live in and maintain.

June 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMIKE

Hi Susan,

I absolutely love the look you have so beautifully illustrated here. I also agree with those who lament the maintenance issues. Our former home had solid cream tile in one room and it did indeed show every single hair and crumb. It was awful. In our current home (in which we intend to stay for a very long time), I am considering honed Tundra Grey Limestone tiles in a large format for our bedroom. I'm hoping the variation will hide the cat hair. With white walls and floor to ceiling glass, the room just begs for light floors. The redwood ceiling, stained a transparent grey, and the view of the garden warm the room up nicely. All in all, it's an incredibly calm look. I can't wait to see the end result and move in! In the rest of the house, the floors are polished natural concrete - a light greyish-tan with a bit of aggregate exposed in the polishing process. Although the floors came out a bit more polished than I prefer (again, showing too much dust), the exposed aggregate provides a lovely natural look with plenty of variation. Win some and lose some I suppose.

June 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter NorCal Eichler Owner

Light floors are very interesting when it comes home decor . While they are sleek, feel like they can ruin the integrity of your kitchen design.

June 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C.

Light floors are good specially if you are a type of person who cleans up your space at least twice a week, but if not i suggest try the dark or other toned colors for flooring as it may end up messy if not maintained.

June 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNYC kitchen Design

We installed a light mustard colored ceramic tile in our "not yet complete" kitchen in Chappaqua. It looks great. But with two dogs, it shows every paw print. When we do finally finish the kitchen (its an ode to Ikea right now), the floors are going dark. Probably mud color.

June 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Mark, oh I like that mustard color, I bet it's nice! And watch out for that mud color, as if it's too dark, it can show just as much as a light floor!

nyc, yes, it DOES have to do with how clean one is, after all. Even with mid tone floors, you can only not clean the floor for so long.

johnc, I don't think they have to be considered sleek, especially if they are textured.And, I don't think they'd ruin a kitchen design. I guess I disagree!

Norcal, your home sounds wonderful. I do like the sound of light grey flooring, and you are right to consider your garden, especially if you have large areas of glass. Please...send me images!

July 4, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

i have light flooring ( some kind of stone ) in the galley kitchen and it makes the small place look bright.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterindian yarn

indian yarn, what a wonderful blog you have! Thank you for your thought, I appreciate that.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Really a good post which gives a good idea for house owner who are willing to design and remodel the kitchen.

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Remodelling

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