Step Up Your Floor Decor

Stephanie Woodmansee of Henry & Co. Design shares some often overlooked ways to “step up” your floor décor game.

Interior designers often refer to the ceiling as the fifth wall—an area of opportunity for unexpected adornment. But don’t forget the floor! Undoubtedly, it is vital to the structural foundation of the house, but it can support the design foundation as well. Interior designer Stephanie Woodmansee of Henry & Co. Design shares a few uncommon ways to “step up” your floor décor game.

Foyer with wood floors painted to mimic marquetry. Round hall table topped with vase of delphiniums and eremurus.
To make a grand entrance in this historic Kansas City home, designers Henry & Co. Design had Dean Barger Studio custom paint the floor to mimic marquetry. Photo by Read McKendree


From an elegant marquetry-inspired style to a mod geometric motif to a transitional checkerboard pattern, the design and color options are endless when it comes to painted wood floors. They are also an affordable alternative to professional refinishing and can be fun and cathartic for the weekend DIYer. See more painted floors below.

Floral-patterned abaca rug in sunroom.
An Abaca collection rug by Patterson Flynn covers the floor in this sunroom designed by Henry & Co. Design. Photo by Read McKendree


Sisal, seagrass, and jute are perhaps the most popular members of the natural fiber rug family, but a few lesser-known fibers are having a heyday. Abaca is three times stronger than sisal and can be woven into statement-making patterns. Hemp is soft like cotton but eight times stronger and can be mixed with finer materials like silk and wool for a more formal aesthetic. Cork is hypoallergenic and, because it is moisture-wicking, it inhibits the growth of mold and mildew.


Scored concrete floors are more than durable—they are also low maintenance, making them downright dreamy for hightraffic areas. Aesthetically, they bring depth and texture into a space and can be custom mixed, poured, and scored for a look that is totally bespoke. New engraving technology now allows for finer, more intricate design motifs.

Inspired Painted Floors

Interior designer Jeffrey Bilhuber,

In this Jeffery Bilhuber designed home, an intense blue entrance connects to a white living room through the consistency of a white-painted floor with gold motifs. See our interview with Jeffrey Bilhuber. Photo by Julian Wass

Bunny Mellon cupboard in Nantucket house

Painting the floor brings a warmth and understated sophistication to a room, a design trick Bunny Mellon used in many of her homes after traveling to Sweden and seeing it done there. See more ways to channel Bunny Mellon’s style. Photo by Bryan Huffman, courtesy of Gibbs Smith Books

Antique console with mirror flanked by miniature portraits. Hardwood floor is painted with a stenciled pattern.

In this 19th-century, Greek Revival house in Virginia, Amelia Handegan had the original hardwood floors stenciled with a floral pattern, adding a  contemporary note to the sophisticated antiques. See more from our interview with Amelia Handegan. Photo by Max Kim-Bee

Bedroom with painted floor at the Kips Bay Palm Beach show house in 2021.

In this guest suite designed by Brittany Broomley at Kips Bay Palm Beach 2021, the floors are painted white with a pale gray pattern of octagons and squares. See more from this Kips Bay Palm Beach house. Photo by Sargent Architectural Photography

Home gym/wellness room with Peleton stationary bike, large ottoman, paintings on walls and striped wooden floor. Green portieres with blue and white Greek key trim flank doorway.

In the wellness room of the Flower Atlanta Showhouse, Fran Keenan painted the white oak floors with stripes at a 45-degree angle, “to infuse a little energy.” See Fran’s video of the wellness room and more of the Atlanta Showhouse. Photo by David Hillegas

By Margaret Zainey Roux