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New England Practical: The Case for Painted Wood Floors in the Summer Cottage

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New England Practical: The Case for Painted Wood Floors in the Summer Cottage

May 30, 2018

This past weekend I made a beeline for one of my favorite summertime haunts: Nunan’s Lobster Hut in my hometown of Cape Porpoise, Maine. My favorite thing about it is not the long rows of benches that line the interior, or the way the building is perched over a salt marsh, but the gray boat paint that covers the wood floors, tables, and seats. I imagine that the owners stock gallons of the gray hue in a storeroom and add a new coat each season, the layers building up for each of the 65 summers they’ve been serving Maine lobster in the rough.

This made me think of the painted wood floors so often seen in summer cottages in Maine and on the Cape. Like splatter-painted floors (which “hide a multitude of sins,” Justine writes of her own cottage floors in DIY: Splatter-Painted Floors), they’re grounded in New England practicality: They’re cost-effective, brilliantly conceal summer debris like sand and dirt, and need only another coat of paint when they wear. They’re also wholly charming and evocative of the carefree summerhouse.

Take a look at a few favorites in summerhouses past.

In a cottage perched on a salt marsh in Falmouth, Massachusetts, the architect/designers painted the wood floors throughout in a California Paint high-gloss finish, for practicality&#8
Above: In a cottage perched on a salt marsh in Falmouth, Massachusetts, the architect/designers painted the wood floors throughout in a California Paint high-gloss finish, for practicality’s sake (and brightness). For more, see A Shipshape Cape Cod Cottage Inspired by Wes Anderson’s ‘The Life Aquatic’.

Further inland, in the Catskills, Lisa Przystup and Jonathon Linaberry painted the existing wood floors of their farmhouse in Sherwin Williams&#8
Above: Further inland, in the Catskills, Lisa Przystup and Jonathon Linaberry painted the existing wood floors of their farmhouse in Sherwin Williams’s Extra White as a cost-saving measure. Photograph from The Catskills Farmhouse of Two Brooklyn Creatives, Weekend DIY Edition.
The floors in Mjölk’s Renovated Scandi-Style Cabin on a Lake are also painted white, these in Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: The floors in Mjölk’s Renovated Scandi-Style Cabin on a Lake are also painted white, these in Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White. Note how some wear is part of the appeal.

Justine&#8
Above: Justine’s 1807 cottage on Rock Harbor on the Cape has painted and splatter-painted floors throughout, like here, in the sunny master bedroom, where the wide-plank floors are a light shade of gray. Photograph from The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod: Justine’s Family Cottage.
Elsewhere on the Cape, Julie&#8
Above: Elsewhere on the Cape, Julie’s cottage bedrooms have white-painted pine floors. For more, see Cape Cod Summer Bedrooms Refreshed with Farrow & Ball Paint.
More white-painted floors, which add brightness but don&#8
Above: More white-painted floors, which add brightness but don’t necessarily hide as much dirt, from A Tiny (but Glamorous) Seaside Cabin on the Riviera.
A Cottage Reborn in Coastal Maine has hardwearing bathroom floors in a light gray.
Above: A Cottage Reborn in Coastal Maine has hardwearing bathroom floors in a light gray.
An unexpected shade that works: pumpkin-hued, splatter-painted floors in Justine&#8
Above: An unexpected shade that works: pumpkin-hued, splatter-painted floors in Justine’s yellow summer kitchen. See The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod: Justine’s Family Cottage. For more on splatter-painted floors, see DIY: New England Splatter-Painted Floors.
Designer C. S. Valentin preserved the original yellow-painted wood floors in the bedroom of a sea captain&#8
Above: Designer C. S. Valentin preserved the original yellow-painted wood floors in the bedroom of a sea captain’s house in Bellport, Long Island. See A Colonial House in Bellport with Uncommon Style from French Designer C. S. Valentin.
More yellow, these in a Hawaiian cottage. The paint color is Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: More yellow, these in a Hawaiian cottage. The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Pale Moon. See Hawaiian Summer: A Charm-Filled Stone Carriage House on the Maui Coast, Restored.
Green splatter-painted floors in Justine&#8
Above: Green splatter-painted floors in Justine’s guest bedroom on the Cape. Photograph from The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod: Justine’s Family Cottage.
Narrow wooden stairs are painted in Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: Narrow wooden stairs are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Martha’s Vineyard in An Artist’s Cottage in Truro, MA, Gets an Overhaul from a Boston Design Duo (Ikea Included).
Dark gray floors add some drama in the 00s cabins of a California lodge. For more, see Steal This Look: Manka’s Vintage Bath in Inverness, California.
Above: Dark gray floors add some drama in the 1900s cabins of a California lodge. For more, see Steal This Look: Manka’s Vintage Bath in Inverness, California.
Simple gray-painted floors convey summertime in stylist Tiina Laakonen&#8
Above: Simple gray-painted floors convey summertime in stylist Tiina Laakonen’s Hamptons home. See Rhapsody in Blue: A Finnish Stylist at Home in the Hamptons. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista; for more, see the Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home.
Designed to hold up to foot traffic from summer guests: navy-painted floors in the living room of the Bellport house. See A Colonial House in Bellport with Uncommon Style from French Designer C. S. Valentin.
Above: Designed to hold up to foot traffic from summer guests: navy-painted floors in the living room of the Bellport house. See A Colonial House in Bellport with Uncommon Style from French Designer C. S. Valentin.
In Justine&#8
Above: In Justine’s cottage dining room, the black splatter-painted floors make sand harder to see, all part of the charm of a summer cottage. For more (and how to get the look), see DIY: New England Splatter-Painted Floors.

And, in the Catskills farmhouse, Przystup and Linaberry transformed a cluttered attic into a summer bedroom. The main change? Painting the tired wood floors in Tricorn Black. For more of the project, see Before & After: An Airy Summer Bedroom in a Catskills Farmhouse, Transformed with Paint.
Above: And, in the Catskills farmhouse, Przystup and Linaberry transformed a cluttered attic into a summer bedroom. The main change? Painting the tired wood floors in Tricorn Black. For more of the project, see Before & After: An Airy Summer Bedroom in a Catskills Farmhouse, Transformed with Paint.
For much more on the pros of painted floors, see:

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