sally kohn sarah hansen

Remodeling 101: The Case for Unstained Wood Floors, from a Stealth Design Nerd

Editor’s take note:  This is the initial in a sequence of posts by Sally Kohn— journalist and CNN political commentator, TED discuss giver, and structure aficionado—chronicling her adventures in reworking.

sally kohn sarah hansen
Earlier mentioned: Escape from Brooklyn: Sally Kohn with her spouse, Sarah Hansen, an environmental justice advocate, in front of their new Bucks County property, which they share with their daughter.

It started off with also substantially darkish wooden. The house we bought—a late 1700s financial institution barn which experienced been converted into a residence in the 1950s with the support of renowned woodworker Wharton Esherick—had, as you may well picture, a good deal of dim wooden. Darkish wooden beams. Dim wooden bookcases. Dark wooden cabinets and railings. And darkish wooden floors. And despite the soaring ceilings and the actuality that it was, without the need of a question, far more roomy than the Brooklyn, New York, apartment from which we ended up going, all that dim wooden felt like a ton for our pretty modernist, minimalist design and style sensibilities. But what could be performed?  We figured a refreshing coat of paint and far more upholstered home furnishings than wooden furniture was our finest hope.

close up of custom wharton esherick counter set against oak floors
Previously mentioned: A seem at the contrast concerning the authentic floors and the unstained version.

Then I observed the raw wood flooring. I’d never refinished floors, so I did not fully grasp that when you sand them down, they don’t keep the coloration of the stain. Relatively, and surely in our scenario, in which the floors hadn’t been refinished in a long time, when I showed up on a June morning to pick out stain shades for our newly refinished flooring, I was stunned to see what appeared like brand name new flooring. It felt like stepping into an alternate universe. Like an individual experienced absent to the leading of a mountain somewhere in the pristine Pacific Northwest (I’m not at all guaranteed that is the place our floors are from, in all probability not, but I envision that all of the prettiest wooden comes from there) and laid virgin blonde hardwood afresh underneath our bare feet. It was gorgeous. And along with the clean coat of white paint (thank you Lick White 07 Matt) the full household just seemed clear and dazzling and spectacular.

And then I was meant to choose a stain to darken the floors all over again?  I picked just one, thanked my wonderful Bucks County, Pennsylvania, floor guy—the wonderful Michael Biafore—and drove back to New York. And then it strike me. Why do we have to stain them darker? Simply cannot we just depart them shiny and clean up and mild?

bona natural seal traffic hg
Above: To the rescue: Bona’s Normal Seal and Traffic Hd combo.

That’s just what we did. Mike used a coat of Bona’s All-natural Seal to seal the floor—turns out that stain also serves the function of sealing, so we necessary something apparent that would serve that purpose. And then we secured it with a handful of coats of Bona’s Targeted visitors High definition in Extra Matte. The success are even better than I imagined—and make a very sophisticated, Scandinavian search, the gentle flooring juxtaposed against all the dim clever Esherick woodwork.

detail of oak floors with bludot walk in the park white oak dining table and poly bark wishbone chair
Previously mentioned: A look at of the eating space.

My only problem, at the time, was that we had just bought a couch with light-weight-wooden legs and a gentle-wood dining desk, thinking that it would be required in opposition to the darkish flooring. But the superior information is that the “honey” legs on our BenchMade Fashionable Skinny Excess fat sofa and chaise glimpse attractive versus the bare-wood-on the lookout flooring, as does our BluDot Walk in the Park white oak dining table. Whereas ahead of it felt like the darkish wood was all the notes of our home’s composition, now it is as nevertheless there’s all these mild woods acting like levels of foundation notes so that the dim woods of the beams and the Esherick woodwork can actually glow as a standout melody, without the need of the full room sensation overwhelmed.

oak floors with benchmade modern sofa and tom dixon fan chair via lightology
Over: The honey-coloured sofa legs are in harmony with the unstained flooring.

Closing point I’ll make is that in our outdated Brooklyn apartment, which had medium-dim stained floors with a seemingly absurd quantity of ridiculously shiny end used on best (not our executing), which seemed to scratch if you appeared at them amusing and the scratches confirmed, with the uncooked-searching flooring, which I’m fearful we have presently scratched a handful of moments, you really don’t recognize except if you’re seeking. And the scratches by some means appear purely natural, far too. Or, additional actually, they do not wind up my Kind A self as deeply as they normally would, because they mix in a bit better. Which is a thing.

The full expertise has turned me into an unstained-wooden evangelist. Now, when I listen to mates are refinishing their flooring, I virtually-far too-enthusiastically attempt to market them on the unstained route. And I’m wanting for other ways to function unstained wood into my Diy renovation jobs, so stay tuned. But mainly, for now, I just gaze lovingly at the unstained floors in our new-to-us dwelling and come to feel their shiny glow warm my heart.

For additional remodeling intel, see:

Transforming 101: What to Know About the 4 Most Common Wood Flooring Finishes

Reworking 101: A Guide to the Only 6 Wooden Flooring Kinds You Have to have to Know

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