Leah Steen's Cost-Effective Solution for Floors with Flair

The interior designer offers an appealing and affordable way to make your surfaces underfoot shine
Leah Steen in a kitchen transformed by a decorative-painted floor. The dynamic geometric pattern, composed of Floral White and Bittersweet Chocolate shades, was inspired by a designer fabric. The 15-by-15-foot kitchen’s formerly boring floors

Even interior designers can be surprised when it comes to home design. For instance, I continue to be amazed by how often the very basic element of flooring is routinely overlooked. Maybe it’s because people are so focused on what’s in front of them, rather than what’s underfoot, or because of the fear of a hefty price tag, that so many floors go needlessly bare.

Because budgets are an important factor for my clients, over the years, I have developed a go-to list of cost-effective solutions for beautifying floors that won’t empty the bank. One of my favorite techniques is to employ decorative painting to imitate a high-end custom tile look. For example, for Catherine and Dennis Bye’s 1940 Laurelhurst home, whose 1980s kitchen do-over was budgeted for a few years away, fine artist and decorative painter Tina Randolph (206.992.5975; tinarandolph.com) applied a transformative geometric pattern, inspired by a David Hicks' fabric, onto the kitchen’s formerly blank oak floors. Using an oil-based primer, floor and patio paint from Benjamin Moore, and multiple layers of clear-coat finish, along with careful application of yellow FrogTape, Randolph created a vivid floorscape, which easily stands out in, and up to, this very heavily trafficked area. “We were absolutely thrilled with the result, and it gets so many compliments,” says Catherine. “Knowing that we would eventually remodel allowed us to take some design risks, [but] now we plan to keep the floor, and design a new kitchen around it!”

Super DIYers can try their own hand at this treatment, or consider hiring Randolph to do it. Happily, her rates, ranging from $12 to $18 per square foot, are eminently affordable for projects great or small. 

More Ways to Cover Your Floor for Less
Resize retail: 
Use local carpet specialists, such as D.A. Burns (Ballard, 4411 Leary Way NW; Bellevue, 13830 Bel-Red Road; 206.782.2268; daburns.comto resize off-the-shelf rugs to the exact specifications of your room. They can cut rugs to any size and even rebind to match the original binding style.

Carpet remnants: Visit carpet stores such as Great Floors (multiple locations; greatfloors.comto shop for remnants from previous orders, often for sale at a fraction of the original price. Staff can cut and bind carpets to create customized area rugs in any size.
eBay: Shop the auction giant to snap up vintage rugs from exotic locales, from Iran to Turkey, for as little as a few hundred dollars. Often such rugs don’t come in standard sizes, but they may be worth a little creative space planning. L.S.

Leah Steen is an interior designer and owner of Revival Home & Garden (by appointment only, 206.763.3886; revivalhomeandgarden.com).

 


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