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Unstained white oak plank: White oak floors in their natural state make a space feel so calm and serene. There's a casual and unfussy feel to this room that I respond to, and of course, the light floors make this space look lighter.
I'm leaning the direction of unstained floors because of the light and airy feel they create in a space. Since we're dealing with a smaller, urban home and light is at a premium, there's a good argument for lighter floors.
The thing about unstained light wood is that it can take on the color of the clear coat. And it goes more golden toned when you use oil-based polyurethane or tung oil. Also, wood is a natural material: It's going to age, weather and change color due to sunlight exposure and use. These are all things to consider when picking the color of your flooring. It's not just about what color it is now, but what color it will be in 5 or 10 years.
Stained oak herringbone: I love the grayish tone of these white oak floors.
Tip: Beware of selecting wood colors based on photos only! The lighting of a photo can drastically change the true color of a floor (of everything for that matter). Make sure to see a sample in person, and make sure to get a current sample. In this image, the left side of the room looks like the oak has been stained a gray tone, but in the far back right corner, you can see the the floors are stained a brown color.
I'm thinking that these gorgeous chevron-pattern floors are something other than oak, but that color can be achieved with stain. I love how the brown isn't too orange or golden, and the stain is light enough to let you see the wood grain.
These wide-plank reclaimed wood floors are what I would die for — they're warm, rustic and inviting, without being too rustic. They still work well in a modern space.
When going with a stained wood floor, it's critical to consider the table's wood tone a as well.
Tip: Don't forget contrast. Here the table is more brown than the floors, but the white chairs break it up a bit. Wood chairs would have been too much.
Next: More ways to design with wood
What's your verdict? What floors style would you use?