Oh man guys, hello from not Tulum. We’ve been foiled by tropical storm/hurricane Earl. I hemmed and hawed over canceling but after the kind folks at Papaya Playa Project said it was no bueno and we could change our dates I reluctantly gave in to Mother Nature.

So, how about a #homespeacehome update. We closed on the house back in May but since we’re technically in our apartment lease through September we took our sweet time moving in. We used the overlap to our advantage and addressed some of the structural concerns, replaced rotten fascia boards, etc. Here’s a PSA: clean your gutters. You’d be shocked at how much damage overflowing gutters can cause.

Once we got the bones of the house back into good shape we shifted gears to focus on foundational elements like floors, walls, windows, doors, trim & electrical. We’re tackling what we can right away–floors, walls, doors, trim & electrical–but are pushing off replacing our single pane windows for a bit because sigh, #budgets, and I’d rather have new bathrooms.

Floors Before

Refinishing the floors was one of the first decisions we made and something I knew I wanted to do while the house was empty. The house had 2.5″ plank white oak throughout and carpet in the master. We tore up the carpet almost immediately and were happy to find the hardwood in perfect condition underneath.

The existing finish on the floors was what I like to call No. 2 Pencil–that awful shade of yellow-y orange– with a shiny shiny polyurethane topcoat. It had to go. Flooring really sets the vibe for a house and I fully admit to waffling a bit over the direction I wanted to take ours at first.

Mark Sikes

Carrier & Co

Initially I had considered going light and whitewashing the floors à la two of my favorite interiors: Mark D. Sikes’ California home and Carrier & Company’s Cooper’s Neck Beach project. The Cape Codder in me can’t resist the airy, coastal feeling whitewashed floors lend to a space, and the thought of blonde dog hair disappearing was appealing, but ultimately I knew in my gut that whitewashed floors weren’t fitting with the style and location of our 1950s home–or even my own aesthetic if I’m really being honest with myself.

Floor Stain Options | Lindsay Speace Interior Design

So, the hunt for the perfect medium brown finish began, and this is where my Goldilocks complex took over. It couldn’t be too red or yellow, it couldn’t be too dark, it had to be just right. Our floor guys patiently put down a few swatches but I wasn’t feeling the initial round of options. The lights–Early American, Special Walnut, and Provincial–were too light and the darks–Jacobean and Dark Walnut–were too dark (Jacobean) or slightly red (Dark Walnut) on our floors.

Custom Floor Stain Mix | Lindsay Speace Interior Design

It was time to get fancy (read: difficult) and try out a custom mix. I requested a 50% blend of Dark Walnut and Provincial somewhat on a whim and it ended up being exactly what I was going for. Not too yellow/red, not too dark, just right.

Dark Floors With Pets

If you’re considering dark floors and are worried about how dirt, dust, pet hair, etc. will show I think the above photo is a pretty good example of what you can expect. There will definitely be upkeep, but personally–and this might be weird–I’d rather see the dirt so I know it’s time to clean. I’ll get back to you on how I feel in a few months. 😉

We chose a satin (not shiny) waterborne finish (Bona Traffic HD) primarily because waterborne finishes will not amber or yellow over time (and I’m taking no chances on going back to No. 2 Pencil!), but they’re also very low VOC so there’s no overpowering odor. I’ve heard that a semi-gloss finish can help with disguising dirt and dust a bit better, but I was feeling the matte look for this house.

Custom Wood Floor Return Cover

Lastly, we replaced all of our hideous builder’s brass floor register and return vent covers with custom wood grates that sit flush in the floors. The return register in our living room is huge! It made such a difference replacing the old vent with something less obtrusive.

Custom Floor Register Cover | Lindsay Speace Interior Desisgn

Here’s how the floors look today from the same perspective as the before photo. Truthfully I think they photograph a bit red in certain light but Garrett thinks I’m crazy. Thankfully there’s no red in person. Apologies for the grainy photo I didn’t get up early enough for the best light. 😉 Also, that entry is primed for wallpaper which is why the paint looks super thin.

Floors After | The Pursuit of Style

Overall we’re really happy with how the floors turned out! As a designer I think it’s easy to feel pressure to do something “different” or “unexpected” because we’re so over exposed and everything feels done, but classic is classic for a reason and I have to remind myself that sometimes you really don’t need to re-invent the wheel.

Brody | The Pursuit of Style

I have plenty of more updates to share but this post has gotten insanely long so I’ll save those for another day. If there’s anything specific you’d like me to share along the way or questions you have please do drop me a line in the comments or via email. Hopefully I can make these progress updates a semi-regular occurrence!


  1. Floors are lovely & yes, there is a hint of red in the photo…truly amazing people are blessed with color vision! Looks like puppy loves the floors too. Great job! Can’t wait to see how hsh develops!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you for this post! I’ve been struggling with exactly these issues. This is so helpful and I just might copycat you.

  3. Can I ask where you go to have custom wood grates made? Would a flooring store supply them? They make such a difference on your floor!

    • Hi Christine, I worked with a local company to have ours made but I’m sure a flooring store could direct you to a supplier. It’s definitely an easy upgrade!

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