Working With Existing Floors: Design Tricks

THE PROBLEM: You’re not a fan of your floors

Flooring is a biggie. They have the potential to totally compliment your furnishings or fully oppose them. So what do you do when you can’t change the floors, like in a rental, or your current budget doesn’t allow for brand new floors right away? Here’s some ideas to make working with existing floors work with your decor.

family room with orange tile with furnishing in neutrals, greys, and yellow

USE RUGS: 

Simple, right? Rugs are an easy way to hide floors while simultaneously working as a way to pull together accents in a room. 

KEEP IN MIND: 
  • Rug size for your room. There’s plenty of articles about picking the right rug size. If you’re trying to hide your flooring, be sure to get the biggest size recommended, or layer multiple rugs to cover a larger space at less cost.
  • Colors. While the goal is to hide the floor, inevitably something will be visible (unless you’re putting in carpeting) so try to use colors that help visually change the floor coloring. For example, you can cool a very warm colored floor with a blue-grey rug, or you can warm up cool colored flooring with a creamy white. 
  • You can still use rugs in a space that has carpet! We recommend cleaning the existing carpet well to bring out its truest color and remove any stains. Then choose rugs that are low-pile or flat-weave to avoid odd levels of cushioning underneath your furniture. Natural jute rugs and layered hides are a great option for this scenario!
living room with terracotta tile floors and warm grey and white painted walls. furniture in neutrals and a large rug

USE PAINT: 

Wall color is a really easy and inexpensive way to change the overall look of a room. Just like rug colors, it can tone down existing floors or warm them up, whichever you’re trying to achieve.

KEEP IN MIND: 
  • Always test paint colors in multiple areas – try them in places closer to light fixtures, closer to windows, near the ceiling and near the floor to be sure you’ll like it when the whole room is that color! 
tiled floor office with black desk and pink desk chairs. overhead hanging light along with desk lamp

USE LIGHTING: 

Trickier to get right, for sure, but a definite game-changer. Ever noticed your paint colors seem to change throughout the day? It’s because they’re in different lighting! A paint color lit by your south-facing windows will be vastly different from the same wall lit at night by a floor lamp. This is another reason why when you’re choosing paint you should test it in multiple areas and view it at different times of the day to be sure you like it in all aspects. The same effect is happening on your floors during the day. 

KEEP IN MIND:
  • There are many different types of lighting styles and lightbulbs. A recessed light in the ceiling will give off a much different type of light than a table lamp. Assess what you have existing and find areas that are usually darker or where you notice the flooring the most. Add light to those places first.
  • Lumens/watts/kelvins/soft-white/daylight, etc. If you’ve had to buy more than 1 lightbulb at a time, you’ll know this can get immensely confusing. Besides matching your bulb wattage to your fixture, a good rule of thumb is to just make sure that all your bulbs in a room are the same style (LED is the best in terms of efficiency), the same brand, and also the same brightness/color. Warm white will give a more yellow glow, whereas soft white is creamier and neutral. If your hardware store allows bulb returns, I’d try one of each in the space before loading up on bulbs for the whole house.
warm existing floors are toned down by white walls, white bookcases, and neutral furniture and rug

USE YOUR DECOR:

Arguably this is step 1, but if you’re bringing existing furniture to a new space and can’t do much to change the pieces, there are still things you can do to help make your items cohesive. Things that are less expensive to replace or add in like pillows, throws, and accessories can help tie your color scheme together and work with the floors the way your rug, wall color, and lights do. 

KEEP IN MIND:
  • Furniture covers for things like sofas and armchairs can be much less expensive than new furniture for an instant refresh
  • Neutrals are the easiest way to mute unwanted colors, but even white has cool or warm variations. Having a photograph or even fabric/paint sample with you while you shop can help get the right color relationship on the first try.

Have you had to deal with working with existing floors that weren’t your favorite? What other tips would you add to this list? 

Love, HAVEN

Need help with a room refresh? Check out our other posts!

Refresh Your Space on Any Budget

Trends vs. Classics – Keeping a Space Current Without Regrets

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