Cottage Talk: First Floor Wood Debate

Hello friends!  I’ve missed you all.  Though I must admit this internet break has been just the R&R I’ve needed.  There is a possibility I won’t be a Christmas Grinch this year and that would be awesome.  I’m sadsies I can’t decorate my Cottage fireplace mantel (its currently covered in debris) or put up a tree (table saws and hvac ductwork crowding up the floors) but good things come to those who wait and I know that by this time next year Me and My Cottage will be in a whole different state.
The post today is focused on my current debate- Wood finish for the first floors.  For those of you who follow me on instagram or facebook, I apologize because this is old news.  But I know a lot of you check in via the blog (or subscribe to the RSS feed and get DM delivered to your email) and I wanted to share with you as well.
So the deal is that Dad says my original painted pined floors are too beat up and I need new wood.  I spent a few weeks being depressed about this,  but construction must go on, so now I want to choose a wood that I love and feels really fitting for my 100 year old cottage.
The top contenders are “Walnut” and “Espresso.”  Both are by Appalachian Woodand the species is Red Oak.  Appalachian doesn’t provide room views of their wood and only gave me a single board to use a reference which makes this process much more difficult.  Vendors, don’t you realize that provided samples results in sales?  So frustrating not being able to make an educated decision.  But the price is right, so I’m going to try.
(FYI- I’ve already tried discount places like Lowes and Lumber Liquidators and no one has anything I Like at the price-point I want to pay.)
Here is what the internet tells me Espresso and Walnut look like…
Based on this sampling alone, the walnut looks a little red and I prefer the neutral brown of the espresso.  
Then we factor in real life photos taken by me, against my rugs with my single board samples.  Don’t be fooled by the grain- it is the same wood, just different grain variations on each board.  This is typical of red oak.
(Above is my bedroom- the 2nd floor will maintain the original pine)
I love drama of darker floors, but they also feel a little modern to me.  My cottage is not modern and I want to keep the architectural elements in line with the cozy, traditional feel.  That being said, the darker looks much better against my blue kitchen cabinets.  (No picture, sorry- the doors need another coat.)
Then to confuse me further, I spy that Appalachian has another finish “Treebark” that looks really spiffy on the interwebs, but looks totally different in the sample version.  What the What?
I think I will need more boards of each sample before I am able to commit.  I sure do like the internet version of Treebark.
As is always important when planning a big purchase, I have looked to my inspiration for direction.  Here are some floors that inspire me…  (All taken from my pinterest “Wood Floors” board.)
dark wood floors white walls

medium dark wod floors

honey oak wood floors

dark 3in wood
medium dark wood with sisal
As you can see, I am drawn to both dark and medium tone woods.  Confusion!  I wish Santa would just deliver me a perfect surprise.
  1. Quite nice and informative post! I had no idea about the difference between walnut and espresso. Learned a lot from this post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Your cottage is looking great! Wish I live in a properties like this too. Thanks for sharing this inspiring photos. 🙂

  3. God, you’re so lucky to have a traditional cottage like that. Jelly.
    I’m feeling the espresso, too. I think you’re smart to stay true to the vibe of the place.

  4. Presuming that the floor on the second floor will meet the floor on the first floor at some junction, which sample looks best with the second floor wood floors?

  5. You’re kid-less! The darker the better! Our floors are light and could not be stained darker during the refinishing due to splotchiness. We have four kids and no matter how often we vacuum and leave our shoes at the door, our floors are perpectually filthy and are so scratched after only 2 years. Indoor ride-on toys and my obsession with moving around the furniture don’t helpp either.) So go dark and revel in every bit of your perfectly maintained, kid-less floors! Good luck!

  6. Nancy

    I like the Espresso! Your cottage has the most amazing bones and wonderful characteristics. Lucky you. Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Holidays!
    xo Nancy

  7. Sarah K

    I personally like the darker floors..Cant wait to see your decision! Whatever it is I am sure it will be beautiful.

  8. Andrea

    While I personally prefer the Espresso, I think the actual Treebark would be beautiful for the look you are going for.

  9. I think that if you like the darker floors and they go better with the cabinets you should definitely go that route since I don’t think the floor color alone will make the cottage look modern. You’re a master of mixing styles, so I’m sure other elements of the room will temper the more modern floor color. That being said, I’m sure whatever you pick will look great 🙂

  10. I, personally, prefer a darker stain… but the one on the right does look a bit red… whatever you choose I know will be fabulous though!! xo

  11. jerri

    I absolutely agree with you…………. Tree Bark, looks to be the winner. It contains a mixture of both the Walnut & Espresso.

  12. Good luck, this is an important decision. I put red oak in and did a clear finish with the varying colors showing through. I like it until I see some of the images you pinned and think….maybe it needs a stain.

  13. I forgot two important comments:

    (5) Inspiration image #2 – I WANT THAT INLAID OAK FLOOR. It could just be delivered to my kitchen. Absolutely fabulous.

    (6) Or, on second thought, I’ll just take the whole kitchen from image #4. Look at that work table!! And the full-height carrara slab backsplash! (That is on my short list of kitchen finishes titled, “No, Unless I Win the Lottery, in Which Case, Immediately.”) And there is an ARCHED PANTRY DOOR with DIVIDED LIGHTS. I am in love. And little corner nooks with spoons! (But those lamps would be broken in ten seconds, and I don’t even have kids.)

  14. My thoughts, for what use they may be:

    (1) I love oak floors. Especially for old houses. And even more ideal to do the downstairs in hardwood and the upstairs in pine, which I understand was traditional. So happy you’re going with that.

    (2) I am having tribulations with wood floor refinishing of my own, and I am glad (for just this one reason) that I don’t have a handy father like you, because this way nobody can tell me that my floorboards are too damaged and I need new. I have decided I am refinishing them, period. But I may have to look into your Appalachian Wood people for the replacements I will need for the damaged wood around the radiator…don’t suppose they’d sell me just eight linear feet?

    (3) The walnut color is very pretty. (I do like a dark finish on oak.) HOWEVER, I am concerned that the stain color looks a bit…trendy. The espresso looks (from the images on my screen, which I know are not entirely reliable color-wise) much more like the stain color I have seen on oak items that date from a century ago (including but not limited to my great-grandmother’s dining room chairs, which are currently well-loved in my dining room :D). I could not be more enthusiastic about your intention to go period-faithful with this.

    (4) I also like the tree bark color from the internet picture…not sold on the color of the sample.

    Good luck! Can’t wait to see the finished floors!!

  15. Brian


    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?


  16. The Now

    My family owned a hardwood flooring co and I worked out of the showroom and I can tell you …don’t go off of the pics. I know you see a picture and want that exact look but it’s not guaranteed to be the same in person. Totally frustrating and confusing I know! Walnut is my fave so I am partial to that stain. If the dark looks best with the blue maybe go that route?? I love the pine in your room!! xoxo

  17. Leah

    my monitor has the walnut looking less red than the espresso. i like the walnut, but any of the choices you showed are beautiful! not much help here :(!

  18. Such a tough decision! Why can’t everything on the internet look exactly the same in person??? I’m pretty sure that when I try to copy outfits they always turn out to be epic failures…however, I’m still pretty partial to the Walnut…it doesn’t seem like it’s dark enough to give off a really modern vibe…but hell, what do I know?!? Nothing. The answer is literally nothing (c;

  19. i love dark wood floors too (if it were a newer home). but i totally get the wanting to be somewhat respectful of the age and originality of the home. i actually really liked the simplicity of the treebark SAMPLE. and the color reminds me alot of the original hard wood floors in our 70 year old home. you design/decorate with such lovely pieces and accents, that i think it would be nice to have a simple unassuming floor that doesnt steal the show from the rest of your beautiful surroundings.

  20. Erin

    The debate is back?

    So I like the picture of the treebark. Can’t believe they don’t offer a plank sample!

    All I can offer is that walnut usually has a cool undertone. It looks like espresso is warm, but I can’t be sure. Not sure about treebark.

    I’m so helpful, right?

  21. Something to keep in mind, though you’re not going too dark on your floors — the darker the floor, the more dirt/dust you’ll see between cleanings. Shouldn’t be too bad since the Red Oak isn’t as clear as a Maple. Good luck!

  22. I’m no help here. The Espresso and Walnut are both really beautiful…

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