Today I am excited to finally reveal the blue and white checkerboard pattern I painted on my kitchen floor, as well as the mini refresh it inspired! Here are all the details and how to!
Our Pine Floors
Our kitchen is just about 5 years old and I love it. With its two-tone cabinets, blue tile backsplash, big BlueStar range, and of course the water views, it is my happy place.
When we were having the house built, though, I had to make a lot of decisions. A LOT of decisions . Many of them based on budget.
You can read all about the story of our home build in my post Chasing a Dream: Our Coastal Maine House Story, Part 2.
Even though our house is brand new, I wanted it to have the feel of an old Maine coastal home passed down through the generations.
Random width pine boards, secured with old-fashioned cut steel nails, and sealed with a clear poly/oil finish was an economical way to get floors with that “old home” look.
The thing with new pine, though, is that, unlike the old heart pine floors I was inspired by, it is soft and damages easily. The dogs and life in general have already given them quite a beating. And while I generally love the look of pine as it ages, it can turn a little too orange.
I have a lot of natural wood furniture in the house, including natural red birch lower cabinets in the kitchen. Sometimes I felt the combination of wood floors and furniture felt too heavy. I wanted something a little lighter and brighter.
And of course, maybe a little color…
Painted Wood Floors
One classic element of coastal cottage style is painted wood floors.
I chose blue painted wood floors for our upstairs hall bath and I absolutely love them!
But back to the kitchen…
The design wheels started turning in my head as I admired painted floors on Instagram, in design books, and magazines. It seemed like the perfect cottage vibe for our home. And the kitchen was a great place to give it a try.
I just needed to work up my nerve to do it! Because once I started, there was no going back.
I bought the supplies and one day grabbed the primer and paint brush. I did hesitate slightly as I held my brush above the floor.
But ultimately I trusted my design instinct and the vision in my head.
And I am so glad I did — it transformed the space!
Read on for all the how-to details!
Before I get to the how-to, I will say that painting a checkerboard pattern on your floors is not hard, but it is quite a lot of work and requires strict attention to detail (not always my strong suit….). It also took me quite a bit of time. The right tools definitely help. And I learned a few tricks which I will share with you.
Basically, though, if I can do it, you can too! Probably even better!
Let’s get to work!
These are the materials I used for this project:
- TSP cleaner
- Primer: I used INSL-X Stix Waterborne Bonding Primer.
- Two colors of paint: I used Benjamin Moore Floor and Patio Low Sheen in Chantilly Lace and Santorini Blue.
- Painters tape: I think Frogtape is the best.
- Medium sized angled paint brush
- Small foam brushes
- Paint roller with extendable/long handle
- Roller tray and liners
- Packing tape
- Yardstick (preferably not wood): Mine is metal. You want a good smooth edge and accurate measurements
- Tape measure
- Lint roller (suggested if you have dogs)
- Work knee pads
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
Step by Step Process
This is how I painted my floor from planning to finish
1 — Wash the floor with TSP heavy duty cleaner to prepare the surface for painting.
2 — Use painters tape to protect any vertical surfaces which come in contact with the floor. (Baseboards, cabinet toe kick plate, etc…)
3 — Using a paint brush and roller, paint the entire floor with primer.
4 — Follow with the base color.
I was doing a blue and white pattern, so this was white for me. I needed three coats in addition to the primer.
5 — Measure your space and determine how large you want the squares to be and how you want them laid out.
The overhang of the cabinets, island, and appliances and U shape of my space made measuring and layout a little tricky. I decided I wanted the design centered on all sides of the island. This is more my engineer son’s wheelhouse than mine, so I enlisted his help to determine how large the squares needed to be to achieve this configuration.
Keep in mind that if you are doing the checkerboard on the diagonal as I did, you need to use the diagonal measurement of the square. If you don’t have a son to do this for you, there are online charts and calculators!
In the end, the design did not end up being perfectly centered on all sides, but it is close enough!
Note: The calculations are much easier for a simple square or rectangular space!
6 – Create a template for the squares
I cut a template from a piece of cardboard and reinforced the sides with packing tape to create a smooth edge.
7 — Measure and draw any centering lines on the floor with a pencil
I drew lines down the center of all three sides of the island.
Note: My line was the “visual” center of each side, not including the part of the floor underneath the cabinet/island overhang.
8 — Using the template and a pencil, start to trace the pattern on the floor.
It was easy to center the diagonal squares on the lines just by lining them up corner to corner!
I used the template for all three of the centering lines.
9 — Using the yardstick, draw out the rest of the pattern.
At this point you don’t need to measure each square. Just use the straight edge of the ruler to extend the edges of the squares you traced with the template, checking every few squares to make sure the size continues to be correct.
Keep in mind that if somehow the size of some squares ends up being a little off, it won’t be noticeable. Just make sure the lines are straight and you should be good!
10 — Tape the lines with painters tape
Before taping, it helped me to mark each square B for blue or W for white.
You only need to tape the squares that are not the base color. For me that was the blue squares.
Remember you are taping on the OUTSIDE of the lines.
It is easier to get sharp corners if you tape and paint in two phases, doing alternating squares in each phase.
I did it in in one phase. I just wanted to get all the taping out of the way at one time, so I had to be very careful taping the corners. You can get a more precise corner if you mark the corner on the tape with pencil and then use scissors to cut a straight line. Some corners I painted free hand. In retrospect, it might have been faster if I had used the two-phase method!
Note: Some people do not tape their pattern, but do it freehand. My hands are not that steady! Go for it if yours are, because taping is kind of a pain!
11 — Fill in the taped squares with your paint!
Again, this took me several coats
12 — The fun part! After the paint has dried, remove the tape and admire your checkerboard floor!
13 — But you aren’t quite done yet…
I am a perfectionist, so I went around with tape and a foam brush and touched up areas where the line wasn’t clean.
A small foam brush is best for painting a clean straight line without tape.
And while I got pretty picky with my lines, when you look at the floor as a whole, you don’t notice the small imperfections!
14 — I used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get rid of any pencil marks that were showing.
15 — Enjoy your new floors!
Takeaways and Tips
- Wear a pair of work kneepads. You are spending a lot of time on your knees!
- I vacuumed and swept the floor each time before beginning work. With two dogs and two cats, though, we have a lot of pet hair in the house. I used one of those lint rollers with the sticky paper to clean each square before I began work on it. Still, there are some pet hairs painted into our floor….
- The white paint definitely shows the dirt more than my natural wood floor. It doesn’t actually get any dirtier, but I can see it more now. Maybe that is a good thing, though — it is encouraging me to clean my floor more often!
- Some people choose to finish the floor with a polyurethane topcoat. I opted not to. I know that our floor will get a lot of wear and tear, and I want to be able to easily touch up the paint when I need to. That said, I am not opposed to the paint taking on a “patina” over time. I will see how it goes. I am not ruling out putting some kind of finish on the floor in the future.
- Be patient and precise, but don’t worry about perfection! Your painted floor is hand-done and one-of-a-kind! No one will notice the small imperfections unless they get down on their hands and knees and inspect it closely. And you shouldn’t care about what those kinds of people think anyway!
- If you want a floor that will remain pristine, this is not for you! I want our place to have the feel of any old family home, so this kind of floor is exactly the vibe I am going for!
Wallpaper in the Cabinets
As often happens, once you make one change, you end up making others!
I switched out the peel-and-stick wallpaper on the back of my glass-front cabinets. Applying paper to the back of your cabinets is an easy way to add some color, pattern, and just plain fun to a storage space. It also makes your dishes pop!
Keeping with the blue and white check theme, I went with a large gingham pattern that I ordered from Spoonflower. They have a huge selection of unique patterns. This particular one was designed by Danika Herrick. I have linked it just below!
Hanging peel-and-stick wallpaper in a small space like a cabinet can be a little tricky. The sticky backing attaches immediately to any surface it touches. The good thing is, you can just peel it off and start over. I found it easiest to do the space between each shelf individually. The linear pattern of the check actually helped me keep everything straight!
Again, patience is key!
I am so happy with how it turned out! I smile every time I open the cabinets!
A Few Other Details
Now that the floor and the backs of the cabinets are blue and white, I wanted to add back in some more texture and neutral touches to the kitchen.
To complement the new floor I ordered a jute runner from Etsy. It shipped directly from India! I love how the whimsically curved border contrasts with all the straight lines in this space.
A wicker tiered stand adds texture and storage space for fruits and vegetables to the countertop.
Since I am spending more time admiring the insides of my cabinets, I decided to update and unify my glass collection with new tall, low, and juice glasses in a simple striped pattern.
And I had to add in a bit of texture in the glasses cabinet too, with a set of four wicker-covered tumblers.
My Kitchen Refresh
So there you have it — all the details of my little kitchen refresh!
I hope this post encourages you to sometimes make those bold design decisions.
And maybe paint a floor in your home!
I am so happy I made the leap. It transformed my kitchen.
It just feels right, when before it didn’t quite.
The floor now accents the natural wood cabinets instead of blending in with them. And I love how you can still see the character of the random width boards with their old-fashioned nails.
The whole space feels lighter and brighter, and makes me happy.
And that, really, is what design is all about!
Now, what floor should I paint next???
Happy summer and be well, friends!