My husband Marcus and I own a modest mid-century, traditional American ranch-style house in Houston, Texas. We love our home: it’s not very big, but it’s the perfect size for us, our daughter, and our supermutt Rufus, in a lovely, quiet, family-friendly neighbourhood. Because it’s an older home, it has certain charms, one of which are the solid oak hardwood floors that run through most of the house:
Cool, right? But they don’t run through the entire house.
So while the house has its partially-wood-floored charms, it does have a few drawbacks, and therefore, Marcus and I have decided to redo our very aging kitchen and our horrifyingly large brick fireplace. And because of the new kitchen layout, we’re going to have to rip up the flooring in the kitchen and family room, the only two rooms in the house that don’t have hardwoods. In these rooms, previous owners had laid down vinyl flooring, designed to look like hardwoods:
But honestly? The photo above is very flattering. Anything more than a cursory glance at these floors will tell you that they are decidedly not made of wood. Also, the difference in appearance between these floors and the floors in the rest of the house is startling, even with just a quick glance.
So the fact that we had to pull up this flooring excited me. I know that general thinking is that you don’t put wood floors down in a kitchen, but I love the look of the wood flooring. And the chance to change the floors in these two rooms to match the rest of the house? Yes, please. So, when we met with the contractor, I eagerly told him our plans.
“We’d like to put hardwoods in our kitchen and family room, please.”
“Wait … you mean engineered wood, right?”
“Uh, no … I mean hardwoods. You know, like in the living room?”
“Well … sure, we can definitely do that. But you know, most people don’t actually use real hardwoods that often anymore. And the engineered woods look just like the solid wood. Heck, even some laminates look a lot like the real thing nowadays. And they’re a helluva lot cheaper to install.”
My ears perked up. “Did you say ‘helluva lot cheaper’? I do love helluva lot cheaper…”
“Absolutely. You should take a look. Besides, in a kitchen, where there’s the chance of accidents involving water (God forbid), it would be a much more expensive fix if real wood floors were ruined. I’d get the look without the expense, if I were you.”
So Marcus and I decided to start looking into laminates. Of course, since we couldn’t actually bring a sample of our living room floor with us, we stood in front of the huge display of laminate flooring and had to just guess which worked. We wanted laminates that were the same colour of our living room, with the effect of having slats of wood the same width as the wood in our living room as well. I guessed that this one was close:
while Marcus was convinced that our floors were darker, and chose this one:
We bought two samples, excitedly discussing how impressed with both were at how much the laminates really resemble wood flooring. When we returned home, we rushed into our living room, each of us ready to mock the other for not knowing what colour the floors are after having lived in the house for almost 6 years.
Turns out that neither of us were right.
My choice was noticeably lighter, and Marcus’ was noticeably darker — and we can’t see to find any which are exactly the right colour. Still, because both of these have the effect of being made of narrower wood slats (matching our living room), I think we’d be open to either.
So, what do you think? Which of these should we use — the lighter one, or the darker one? Help us make up our minds in the comments, below!