DIY Project: Painted Floor Runner

My good friend, Sarah, lives in an amazing loft space in Brooklyn. The only downside: shabby-looking old factory floors with about a centuries worth of grime imbedded in them. I decided to lend a hand and upon inspection, painting seemed like the perfect solution.

All it takes is one look her home’s collection of mid-century furnishings to know that Sarah and her husband James are true lovers of design (check out their most recent project here). So naturally, Sarah came up with the idea of not just painting her floors but channeling Ettore Sottsass, the eccentric and visionary Italian designer behind the Iconic 80’s design collective Memphis, for a painted floor runner.

Memphis fan or not, the basics of painting a floor are the same, so keep reading to see how we transformed this floor from grimy to gorgeous with a little sand paper and paint. –Megan Pflug*

*We’re so thrilled to introduce our newest DIY contributor, Megan Pflug! Megan is the Special Projects Editor at One Kings Lane and will be sharing projects with us twice a month. You can check out her column, Weekend Decorator, every week at One Kings Lane. Welcome, Megan! –Grace

The full how-to continues after the jump…

The Memphis Group
Bacterio is the iconic print we used as inspiration is also featured on the base of this Sottsass table lamp pictured to the above.

Here’s All You’ll Need:

  • Floor Paint
  • Paint tray
  • Sand Paper and pole sander
  • Dust mask
  • Paint roller and pole
  • 2 inch paint brush
  • Painters tape
  • Pencil & eraser (optional)
  • Image editing software (optional)
  • Printer (optional)
  • Small artist paint brush (optional)

Resources: Benjamin Moor floor paint in Chelsea Gray and Sheep’s Wool

Prep Your Floors:

1. Begin by sanding your floor with 150 grit sand paper. We used a pole sander, which is like a Swiffer but it holds sand paper and will save you from having to sand on your hands and knees. I also suggest wearing a dust mask.

2. Use a vacuum and then a mop to clean the floors and get rid of any dust. Once the floors are dry you’re ready to move on to painting.

The floor before



Not all floor paints are created equal. Someone at your local paint store can best advise you on the right type of paint. As a general rule, oil paints are more durable but give off fumes and take a long time to dry. Water base paints are easer to work with, dry faster and are less toxic. 


1. Begin by painting a border (about 6 inches thick) around the edges of the floor. I found that I could do this neatly without the use of painters tape but it’s really a personal choice. If you’re worried about getting paint on your walls or molding you should apply painters tape before you begin.

2. Finish painting the interior sections with your paint roller attached to a pole. The pole, basically a long screw-on handle, really makes quick work of a lot of square footage and saves you from having to lean over. I highly recommend it!

TIP: Depending on your floors and the kind of paint you use, you will probablly need to do a second (and maybe a third) coat. Always work in thin coats and allow them to dry compleatly to avoid clumps. The manufactures instructions will advise on drying times and the use of a primer if needed.

Adding Pattern:

Stanley poses on his new catwalk.

We used two long lengths of painters tape spaced 30 inches apart to delineate the edges of our runner.

Taping together our enlarged Bacterio Template

Creating a pattern template:

We found an image of the Memphis print Sarah wanted, known as Bacterio, online and used that as inspiration for a drawing of our own. We then used Photoshop (but any photo program will do) to enlarge our interpretation of the pattern to our desired scale. Then we printed our over sized image in sections and taped the pieces together to make our life size template.


Next, I used a pencil to shade the back of the template creating a sort of DIY carbon paper. This tequnique will allow you to trace the design on the front of your paper while transferring the design to the floor. You might need to re-shade the back of your template if the transferred lines start getting too light.

Because this pattern is pretty organic, we simply traced our template multiple times moving it between the taped edges until the runner was filled in to our satisfaction.


We finished the runner by painting in the shapes using a small artist brush and then stood back to admire our postmodern masterpiece.




Photography: Lesley Unruh

More about Megan Pflug: Megan is an & artist and home decor editor with strong DIY tendencies. My passion for home decor & making things is a 24/7 affair. Presently I’m the Special Projects Editor @ Live Love Home.
I have a BFA in painting from RISD and an MFA from Columbia. I came to the world of home decor and DIY through a love of art, a need to making things, and passion for elevating every day objects and place through thoughtful inspired design.

  1. Veronica says:

    I’m not a big fan of painted floors since they get shabby pretty quick. I think an alternative solution for the problem they had would be to dye the floorboards a darker color. This way you don’t lose the natural wood vibe but get ride of all the stains the floor may have. I’ve learned over the years that white and light colors are not your best friends for furniture or floors, (Don’t get me wrong I love it!!!)

  2. What a clever solution. It looks so fresh and clean.

  3. Melinda says:

    I think the floors look awesome, but not nearly as cute as the cats!

  4. What a brilliant idea. It looks so striking!

  5. This looks so good! Love the leopard print floor runner – such a fun, eclectic touch.

  6. Lisa Hamrick says:

    What caught my attention was the first photo where it looked a bit like sun-dappled shadows. Nice job!

  7. Wow. This is an idea that if someone told me about it I wouldn’t think it would work but seeing it here I absolutely love it.

  8. AMAZING. I love it. And I love the colour too.
    Norah @

  9. What a great idea. It changes the whole look of the room. It’s amazing what difference a little paint can do!

  10. Maya says:

    I love this :-) Really good job – AND the cats obviously love it!

  11. mahasitha says:

    Looks like sunbeams. I like it!

  12. Kirstin says:

    those cats are awesome! the floor runner is pretty great too, I really love painted floor patterns. i’m kinda bummed that i’m moving into a fully renovated rental for the next 3 years. it’s so nice, but there’s no leeway at all for any permanent decorating projects!

  13. Very creative! I love painted anything – but what is nice about this project is that it can easily be duplicated. Appreciate the instructions.

  14. MAM says:

    we can se sunlighters on the floor? what is it pliz?

  15. Lesley says:

    love the floor! and love the artwork on the wall at right in the first and last photo— do you know who the artist is?

  16. Nina Joy says:

    Nice! Great diy inspiration.

  17. Mimi says:

    Gorgeous! I have to know – where are those shoes from?!

  18. Suzanne says:

    I recently painted my kitchen/dining floors: two things, I used a motorized sander to do the initial sanding job. It’s a big machine and takes effort but it also had a dust catcher so that part was minimized. Floor washing is necessary to keep the floor looking spiffy. I have a system down even with two country dogs racing in all day. It works. Finally, I love it! It makes me happy, my painted floor, and is so cheerful. I recommend this to anyone who can’t replace but wants to rejuvenate their floors.

  19. Hanna says:

    I am also curious about the artwork!

  20. Hiroko says:

    Nice design!! It seems so new.

  21. Kaizer says:

    Tell me friend after this hard work did she reward you in kind?

  22. Marit says:

    A nice answer to the “what to do with the damn floor” problem. But Grace’s lack of proofreading does you no favors. “..grim imbedded..” ? Yuck.

  23. Gladys says:

    Is there a method for concrete floors? Those of us us in the south and west deal with slab houses. Please post if ya’ll find some creative ideas for concrete floors. Thanks!

  24. Nadine says:

    I love it! And it’s a great idea for people (like me) who are allergic to dust and don’t want carpets around the house.

  25. Elena + deco says:

    If you like this style, check also these amazing painted rugs in Paola Navone’s greet retreat for inspiration:

  26. merlinconeer says:

    Wow !!! Its such a creative idea. your floor looks too good and attractive to anyone. You have done great work.


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