interior designproductsrugs and flooring

real homes: paint it black

by Grace Bonney

i love magazine homes and their perfect styling, but i’ve always much preferred learning from real homes and the decisions that regular people make around the house. not to say that regular homes can’t be well styled too, but it’s great to see design details put into practice in more attainable settings.

kelsey keith of designage recently moved from park slope to the east village and sent over some pictures of her new space. what i was struck most by were the beautiful black floors in her new bedroom. if you’re lucky enough to land wooden floors in a nyc apartment, they aren’t always perfect and a coat of black paint (well, several to be precise) can sometimes be a fantastically chic fix. i’ve always seen perfect black floors in celebrity homes and in glossy magazines but it’s nice to see the idea used in a room home. the edges may not be perfect, but i think the floor gives kelsey’s bedroom an instant upgrade from normal and expected to elegant and sophisticated.

have any of you tried black floors at home? i’ve always wanted to paint our living room floors black but we’re in a rental so that’s just not happening. i’d love to see others that have tried this. thanks to kelsey for sharing!


Suggested For You


  • i love it. i used to live in a loft with painted blue floors, but it lacked the gloss seen here. man, i really wish i wasn’t a renter – it’s so hard to hold back on ideas.

  • these are gorgeous. i love the reflections it creates. i also love painted wood floors in a white glossy paint. when the walls are white as well it just feels like you’re walking in a bright cloud. this reminded me of the sneak peek you featured about a year ago of andrew sitford. ah, if only i could paint my brick walls white and have white glossy floors.

  • I think its a simple, cheap, chic fix for older wooden floors. So its either spend the money and replace $$$$ OR paint ’em glossy black! LOVE IT!

  • I’ve always wanted to try a black floor, too. My husband isn’t sold on the idea, however. We’ve refinished most of our old wood floors except my studio..hmm…

  • I like the result!
    I really love your deco approach, I am tired of seeing things that obviously don’t work in real life in deco mags, but anyway I bought lots of deco mags.

  • Painted floors require a very strong friendship with your mop. And consider that the same dirt collects on non-painted surfaces, too… it’s just harder to see. Scary!

  • I agree, painting the floors is one way to spruce them up a bit, and I think it looks pretty nice here. Obviously not for everyone, but what is? :P

    Also, haha, let’s get this girl some bookshelves!

  • we had black kitchen floors and used a heavy duty floorpaint for it. loved the look, it was glossy so it was easy to clean, and yes, the dust showed up fast – but hey, we knew when it needed a mopping!
    love this real home – real live beauty.

  • I have black painted wood floors and I love them. They are rather difficult to keep clean, but not so much that it isn’t worth it. This home is beautiful.

  • I love the black floors! Although, I do agree that they will get incredibly dusty. And I disagree with Kristan, I think the books on the floor are just fine. Just fyi I tagged you in my blog!

  • Everyone thought I was nuts but I painted our LR and kitchen floors black too – I love how they look and often get compliments. It’s not nearly as radical a look as many people think, and is a super way to get a big bang for your buck.

    As Susan says, the dust does show up quickly, but she’s right – they’re easy to clean, especially if they’re glossy.

  • What a great idea. I’ve seen black floors in magazines before but was afraid to try it – like you said, I wanted to see it in a real person’s home! This has inspired me to actually do it. Thanks so much!

  • I live in an old duplex and the kitchen floor was so scratched up that the landlady painted it forest green. I love it! In fact, it was one of the factors that helped me decide to move in. A great idea!

  • @elisabeth, I did the green painting in the last photo – I’m settling into a new place myself and should have some new work soon. Be in touch if you are interested in seeing more of my work. Some pieces are here: http://www.hiiin.com, Thanks!

  • I really like painted floors…but I’m afraid to try in it my own house! We have old dark wood floors (I think they’re fir…??) but my dad pretty much wrecked them when he laid down carpet like thirty years ago. They’re stained and have splinters showing in some places. What do you guys think? Once you paint, can you never go back to natural wood?

  • We had a black floor in the bedroom and battleship grey in the kitchen.

    They don’t get dirty any faster than the rest of the house floors, they just show you the rest of the floors are really dirty. :)

    We used industrial oil paint to do ours – at the time we got it free because of our job so we weren’t picky about the colors.

  • Thank you, Grace, and thank you readers for all the comments!! It’s been really fun to put this apartment together. (And you can see more pictures and details of the room if you click on my name to the left!)

  • *Sigh* As much as I love dark, glossy flooring, they are frustrating. If stuff from outside can be tracked onto your floors easily, I wouldn’t advise them. Any piece of dust, fuzz, fiber, hair or fur will show up immediately, no matter when you last cleaned them. If my cat plays or baths on a freshly cleaned floor, any loose fur shows.

    So, if dust, etc. bothers you, I can’t recommend them.

  • These pictures are lovely.
    But the black floors in my last apartment (last renters’ work) drove me crazy…compared to the wood floors in the rest of the apt. I have ocd with dust/dirt on the floors tho….

  • I painted my kitchen floors black about five years ago, and I loved them until recently, when I became enamored of white floors. So that is going to happen soon. You can see the floors here:


    Both black and white floors show dirt and everything else, but my Swiffer vac and I have a very good relationship.

  • have tried black floors and found that scuff marks were an issue. looks great at the start tho!
    the apartment looks really inviting.
    helen, i love your painting, off to check out the others :)

  • I like the black, but I think I would go for more of a semigloss or even satin finish, personally. It’s a good solution for damaged or just plain unattractive wood, though I imagine it would take about the same amount of work as refinishing.

  • When I moved in, we updated our painted (light ice blue – horrendous!) floors to a meditative, matte (atlantic :) ocean blue. We used super tough outdoor rated paint, and make sure to vacuum regularly and mop weekly. Not wearing our shoes indoors keeps it clean.

    I would think black would be problematic, especially glossy, for keeping clean and nick-free. My friend rehabbed an old firehouse with tin ceilings – and painted those embossed tin tiles a glossy black. Now that was a gorgeous place…

  • I painted a linoleum floor in a powder room (red) and my laminated kitchen countertops (black).
    The prep is important: the surface needs to be clean (rubbing alcohol) and dry. Apply two coats of Kilz. Paint: High Gloss Acrylic applied with a sponge brush. With these intense hues it took about five coats, dried thoroughly (like 12 hours each coat). Protective Finish: High Gloss Polyeurathane, three coats. The kitchen project took about a week. That was five years ago and the paint has just recently started to show wear and chipped spots. Time to do it again!

  • In our last home the kitchen was tiled with these horrid sort of marbled brown deals. I painted them and the awful tan fridge both black. It was the best decision.

  • I have black carpets thorughout my flat, it looks great but I do have to vacuum all the time as any crumbs/dust etc shows up straight away.

    Great job.

  • off the subject of black floors (which i think turned out gorgeous) – one thing that burns me up about these sneak peeks are the succulents (aloes, jades, etc) that pop up everywhere. they must buy them right before they start taking the photos because for the life of me i can’t keep succulents alive more than a month! how do they do it???

  • elizabeth

    i’ve killed at least 2 dozen succulents over the years and the key seems to be lots and lots of direct light and very little water. over-watering is almost always the culprit. i did 1 tbsp of water for a medium sized plant every week and finally stopped killing it ;)


  • Love your comments on the succulents. My hubby hass decided to never water ours, which kills them just as thoroughly as overwatering. Silly boy thinks it never rains in the desert (or Southern California).

  • I wish I could do that in my loft! We have “artistic freedom” but the floors are the one thing they asked us not to touch. We have one area where the slats got messed up, and I’d love to just hide it all away!

  • A few of my apartments have had the wood floors painted black. It may look nice, but it looks awful when it gets dirty and chips. The paint chipped all over the place at my computer desk from the rollers on the bottom of my chair. I came to loathe it from my experiences.

  • In Tracy Porter’s book titled: Tracy Porter’s Home Style- Creative and Livable Decorating Ideas for Everyone, she discusses how she actually painted her floors black, she didn’t feel that they worked for her lifestyle.

  • i painted the floors in my entire upstairs; the bedroom is glossy white and the studio is an olive green. they’re pretty easy to take care of (i used outdoor porch and floor paint), and much like simply painting walls, it’s the cheapest room makeover ever.

  • I have painted my floors black and I LOVE THEM!!! However, cleanliness with dust bunnies and dog hair is a major issue…but the things we do for fashion. I will mention that the “poster” of these pics, really should clean up the edges! Sloppy work takes away from the drama of the courageous, bold effect.

  • It looks very modern with the contrasting black and white. In my grandma’s house, we used to have a black floor, it’s not paint-glossy, more to like stone glossy. I think it was a polished cement, not painted. Boy, it was very cold at night on that floor (Don’t ask me how I know it).

  • the floors are so gorgeous and irresistible, if i owned my place, i think i’d have to totally ignore the hard-to-clean comments and go for it.

    this is one of those cases where you tell yourself every excuse against all warning for the sake of beauty!

  • these pictures are fabulous! I love the way they look. I was looking for ideas and this was perfect. My house is very old, I just ripped up carpeting off the stairs and painted the stairs black and white. I started ripping up carpeting in the foyer, the luan was damaged so ripped that up, and there were old hardwoods under them ( not in good shape) I have decided after seeing these pictures, I am going to paint them black! lots of work ahead, but thank you :) I just love your pics, they gave me incentive :))

  • Black floors! We moved into a 1960s highrise in prestigeous Preston Hollow neighborhood in Dallas. The 100 yr wood floors were dingy and deep brown. We wanted a “loft” feel and decided to paint the floors glossy black. The effect is modern and sleek which transformed the unit from traditional to ultra chic. Yes they can show the dust, but the dust would be there anyway right? We always receive raves from any who visit. Be daring!

  • I have been on the fence about taking up the carpet in my house. After seeing these pictures and reading the comments, I cant wait to stop at the store on my way home to pick up my black paint to start my new project!!!! Thanks!

  • Just purchased a 1880’s victorian in the Philly suburbs. My second and third floor wood floors were previously painted “poo brown”. Considered refinishing them, but really like the look of these black floors. Did you clear coat over them? Anyone think black wood floors would totally kill the charm or appearance of the era home?

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.