Jessica installs Karndean’s blue Michelangelo Mosaic vinyl tiles in her kitchen

Retro-blue-kitchen-floorReader Jessica and her husband Ernst were having problems finding a fitting floor for the kitchen in their 1949 modest home in California. Their list of desired floor features included durability, a dirt and fur camouflaging color and a style that was different from the stone-like tiles that couple found at most flooring showrooms. After looking for what seemed forever, Jessica and Ernst discovered our story about Karndean’s Michelangelo Mosaic 12″ vinyl tile squares in Adriatic Blue. Jessica admits she originally had her doubts about installing a blue floor — especially since she let her color challenged husband make the final decision — but now she is happily in love with her new blue kitchen floor.


Jessica’s comment on our original story:

I never came back and said if I like my blue kitchen floor. I LOVE IT!

It is so cheerful, looks retro, doesn’t show the dirt (to the point it can get quite dirty) doesn’t show dog hair, easy to clean, did I mention I love the blue? So glad I did my own thing and went with something different. There are a lot of things more important than kitchen floors, but it is fun if every morning your floor puts you in a good mood!

blue-vinyl-kitchen-floorI asked if Jessica and her husband tackled the installation, her reply:

We had someone install it. The old sub floor was in pretty bad shape. And we got the flooring at cost (nice to have a friend in the business) so we hired a pro to install. The only care it requires is a ph balanced cleaner like Bona.

blue-mosaic-vinyl-tileIt really was a crazy experience trying to find something different in the flooring department. Some stores looked at me like I was nuts for not wanting tile. I like tile, but h*** grout. And this little house is so cute and special, it needed something more “age appropriate” than tile. So blue floors it got!

Retro-blue-kitchen-floorOur pilfering pooch, Molly, looks guilty because she just ate half the roasted vegetables. Another great thing about these floors, I dropped a bottle of red wine from the counter top — it bounced — didn’t break! Can’t do that with tile!

Jessica, I think your floor looks fabulous — and as someone who also has a large furry dog who tracks in dirt, its easy care and “always clean” look sounds just dreamy. Thanks so much for sharing your flooring results with all of us. Here’s hoping Molly doesn’t try to sneak any more snacks without permission next time.

For the full story about Jessica and Ernst’s flooring search, read Jessica’s blog post Did June Cleaver have Tuscan floors?


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  1. lynda says

    These floors look great. I wish they made this design in the loose lay product Karndean has. The loose lay product looks so DIY friendly. I agree, I am tired of the faux stone look for floors and the counters. your kitchen looks great. Looked at your blog, good to know that Benjamin Moore Dove White matches Ikea cabinets. What did you choose for your counter? It looks like solid surface, but I can’t tell. Very nice kitchen. Your hard work paid off. I just ordered some of the Karndean samples. Samples are free.

    • says

      Since half the cabinets already were Ikea white with Ikea speckled black counter tops, we just matched that on the u*** side of the kitchen. One less decision to make, just match the existing. I don’t know the exact name, but we got it at Ikea and our contractor installed it after we ripped out the chipped tile.

  2. Janet in CT says

    Looks absolutely terrific! I think I would make that same choice for this house we are in; the floor needs to be redone. I really like how you mixed the white fridge and stainless range – perfect combination. But I do have a question – how did Molly get the veggies? But consider yourself lucky it wasn’t a friend’s $1000 lottery ticket, which happened to my cousin! She looks so cute!

    • says

      Thankfully Molly waited for the oven to cool, and then very quietly climbed up and took what she wanted. I only heard her when she was whimpering because she couldn’t reach the ones in the back!

  3. Marta says

    I’m not usually a fan of darker floors, but your kitchen is so bright it really highlights this floor. I’m a big, BIG fan of floors that don’t shatter everything that’s dropped on them, and especially floors that hide the dirt and dog hair!

  4. says

    I installed a darker floor in our kitchen (using the Armstrong Striations tile in “Stardust” – I wrote about our experience and results on our house blog) and we really like it. Just looking at the detail picture those tiles give a very period appropriate feel to the kitchen. I wouldn’t be surprised if people ask if the tile floor was original or not. It looks great!

    • Roundhouse Sarah says

      I love Armstrong’s Striations line! My parents installed this in their kitchen in ‘atmosphere’. Even though its 12″x24″ we found 5 different ways to lay it, they liked the herringbone pattern best.
      And I guess you could cut them in half and have a more authentic 50s streaky vct look and layout.

  5. Robin, NV says

    What the what?! Where the heck was I when the original post about these floors came out? I LOVE this. This is my dream floor. Now I’m wondering what the Venetian Blue would look like in my kitchen.

    • Lauryn says

      Ha, Robin, I was thinking the exact thing … I can’t remember when I’ve missed a blog entry, but somehow the original one on this flooring escaped me! And I LOVE this floor … it immediately took me back to my childhood home (built in 1965; we were the first owners). I’m not sure if we had a floor in it like this one, but it definitely has a similar feeling.

      Jessica, the blue is great and is a lovely contrast with the cabinets. And I agree, a happy kitchen floor makes for some happy mornings, for sure. Nice work!

  6. Kathryn says

    Looks great!
    Any suggestions for non-carpet flooring for the living room of a 1957 ranch? There are so many colorful choices for kitchens, but I don’t know what to do in the living room!

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Yes, I’d say that a light natural oak floor would look very good. The wood flooring comes in durable pre-finished planks of varying widths–a narrow width (up to 3 1/2 inches) would be good for the period. Wider floorboards were popular in earlier centuries.

      • hazeldazel says

        Second the cork idea, it’s soft, moisture-resistant, sustainable and very appropriate for age of the house. I’m planning on doing cork throughout my 1959 ranch and just put a flotaki rug under the couch/coffee table area. We’re on a cement slab foundation and the hardwood floors just kill our feet now.

    • says

      Mary Elizabeth, some random width flooring was popular in the 50’s and 60’s – my parents have random width pegged flooring on the first floor of their 1951 Colonial; my mom suspects that they were an upgrade put in 10-15 years after the house was built. I’d say these would make sense only in a house that has a strongly colonial or rustic style though. Concrete or terrazzo could make sense in a very modern house. But most modest houses from the period, whether they lean traditional or modern, would have had simple site-finished oak strip flooring, and that would be my first choice. Engineered wood, laminate, and pre-finished wood would be close but not quite perfect approximations, and would be worth considering. Then there’s the finish – polyurethane is the obvious choice but didn’t exist back then. You could go with an oil based, which is cheaper and easy to apply, but has really bad fumes and takes several weeks to cure, or a water based poly, which is most likely a professional job even if you’re really good, but will cure to full strength in about 48 hours. If you want the latter to look authentic you’ll need to stain the wood as the finish won’t darken it at all. Not that there’s anything wrong with contemporary Scandinavian blond wood. How much to darken it is debatable; a natural or light amber stain will look like period floors looked when they were new; medium brown or darker amber will make them look more like they’ve been in the house all along.

      • pam kueber says

        Our 1951 living room was always carpeted. Only subfloor underneath. I wanted hardwood. We found a company that manufactured REAL WOOD tongue-in-groove red oak flooring. I saw no need to do “engineered” or whatever that is. Had it installed, sanded, stained (natural), polyurethane on top. I do not recall it being excessively costly.

        The floor still changes color due to sunlight / UV. It’s lovely.

        • Andrew Wall says

          A quick comment about wood floor finishes. Modern poly finishes cannot be touched up due to damage or wear, so the homeowner must commit to reapplying the product to the entire floor or , worse, sanding and refinishing the entire floor. I had tried Watco Oil in the past as an alternative, and was unhappy. I then used Waterlox tung-oil based finishes, and they wear like iron. Originally used on boats. Have been renting my former home with oak strip flooring from the 1920’s for 6 years to multiple noncaring pet owners, and this finish is the bomb. I have no affiliation the company, just a huge fan.

        • says

          I only brought that up because it could be cheaper, especially if the floor is concrete. And although I don’t like prefinished floors as much, if you’re handy you could install them yourself when just about everyone advises against ever doing your own sanding. Except the crazy carpenter next door to me, who tells me his 8 year old could do it.

          • Mary Elizabeth says

            Well, among DH and myself and sons-in-law, we’ve DIY’d about every type of real wood flooring there is. Prefinished tongue-and-groove oak is the easiest we’ve done and the most durable, and in one house we matched it to the floor in the next room that had been laid down raw, sanded, and finished with multiple coats of poly. No one could see the difference. So, Pam, the look is the same in the end. And you don’t have to clear everyone out of the house and wear protective masks to do it. And you can walk on it as soon as you are done. It comes in a variety of color finishes from natural to a dark brown stain.

            If you have old wood floors that need sanding, I recommend hiring a professional. One of our relatives damaged a 1900 wood floor in the family homestead (Grandma was literally born in the house) with over-enthusiastic sanding. As for your carpenter neighbor’s bragging, Chad, I can’t imagine an 8-year-old operating one of those big sanders–I can’t even control one myself.

            And I agree with Chad that if your house has a strong colonial vibe, wide planks are a good bet, especially if you are furnishing with neocolonial 1950s maple rockers, etc. That was the look they were going for. Even so, you can get prefinished wood.

        • Pnutlaf says

          “Real Hardwood” floors, as in single solid species of wood all the way through, is a great choice for raised pier and beam homes that have a wood subfloor. These are often nailed or glued to the wood substrate (rarely ever floated).

          If you have a concrete slab you are going to be hard pressed to find any solid hardwood floor manufacturer who will warranty an install directly onto concrete. You are often required to lay down a plywood substrate over the concrete and then put the solid hardwood down via nails.

          “Engineered” hardwood floors are usually 3 to 5 ply. These are essentially strips of plywood with a top ply of the chosen finish hardwood. It is inherently more stable when it comes into contact with small amounts of moisture coming up from a slab. Solid hardwoods are more prone to natural variations that can manifest themselves after being installed on a concrete slab. Wood directly laid on concrete is almost always glued and will be engineered.

          So… it depends on your subfloor as to you best choice. Solid wood is not always the “best” choice.

          Laminate is a whole other animal and I would steer clear.

      • says

        I’d give some consideration to shellac over stain\poly for a vintage look – prior to the early 1960s, if you had a wood floor it was more often shellacked than anything else. Our house is all shellacked floors and we love them. Shellac is easier to apply than stain\poly because it’s all one step, and the material is natural (the VOCs are minimal compared to stain\poly.)

        The finished look is very different – with stain you will see the grain of each board darken compared to the rest of the wood, whereas in shellac it will highlight only slightly. (If you click on my name, you can see pics on our blog of our floors.) Maintenance is actually easier over time because shellac is easier to work with. When it’s put down, it is recommended to throw a coat of paste wax over the top of it, though.

        Another thing about shellac – it does not change colors from UV light.

  7. Deb Cerrone says

    I love your blue floor! Of course that could be because I have one too. Mine is a little lighter than yours and is linoleum. I also used the same old kitchen ads for inspiration. I’ve got the red lino counter tops and white cabinets. You did a great job renovating those cabinets!

    • says

      Painting those cabinets white gave us the most bang for our buck of all the things we did to the house. I still need to sand and paint the glass cupboard doors that go on the hutch, but after painting every single entire surface in this house inside and out, we are taking a painting vacation.

  8. says

    This tile is a similar color and speckling to what I picked up on craigslist for my bathroom walls. A friend said they look like the 90’s, though he agreed after a bit of discussion that that’s fine. I both a lot! And I think this kinda handmade looking color mixture might be the holy grail of undatable flooring.

    • pam kueber says

      Spy, the link to our original story is in the first paragraph, in blue bolded…. it discusses this line and gives you links to Karndean’s website.

  9. Scott says

    That blue is very attractive and nice it has some sheen/shine to it. That’s starting to become hard to find.

    I’m usually not drawn to anything with a neutral scheme but their Navarra Chalk that resembles little stones is quite the looker too.

    • Jessica says

      Thanks, and I saw the neutral stone pebble pattern too. This Kardean line really is unique, wish I hadn’t stressed so much about it!

  10. Anastasia says

    Vinyl is fine if /INSTALLED well, unfortunately as a renter I’ve had MORE then my fair share of incorrect installations. This is NOT something I remember from my childhood in various grandmothers’ kitchens.

    Your Floor is EXQUISITE! and definitely a lovely departure from the trite, tired, & overdone trends I’ve gotten so tired of seeing. LOVE the way it looks. & I definitely agree with you, I’ve seen flip after flip of new style tiles added to older houses & BOY is it obvious. So again, WELL DONE!

  11. gsciencechick says

    I love it! We also have a blue floor, but it is ceramic tile. It was one of the things DH liked when he bought the house. It does have white grout which we must get steam cleaned and sealed a few times per year. We have white cabinets as well, but we have blue pearl counters, a blue mosaic tile backsplash, and a Big Chill Fridge in Beach Blue.

    Your floor is a nice option if we ever need to rip this one out, but I still dream B&W checkerboard.

    • Jessica says

      I love the checkerboard look too and originally wanted yellow and white checkerboard. I just missed out on one of the major brands having a yellow and white pattern in vinyl, but it was discontinued. But in retrospect, the darker color we got really hides life’s little messes. And I would have never been able to choose between a 45 degree angle or not!

  12. Cynthia says

    Beautiful floor, beautiful installation job. The color and texture are gorgeous. If the photos are this appealing, then actually seeing the floor everyday must make you feel terrific!

  13. Toni says

    Back to Marmoleum for just a second. The company says you need one of their certified installers but if you have someone old enough to have installed the real linoleum back in the day, they can do a fine job of installing Marmoleum and doing the seams. Who do you think lays the commercial flooring in hospitals and other businesses? My installer did just fine as an experienced linoleum installer not Forbo certified. I LOVE my floor. And it’s been peed on, mud tracked, no red wine but a few other things I would not have chosen to have to clean off of it and it looks just like the day it was put down.

    • Jessica says

      My sister has Marmoleum in her bathroom and just loves it. The color selection is gorgeous, and it is supposed to feel wonderfully warm on cold mornings. I’m just so glad there are some choices out there when you want to do something a little different.

  14. sandi says

    I used a lighter version of that same flooring in my remodeled 1954 pink and mint bathroom, and it looks FANTASTIC! Easy to clean, compliments the color scheme, and fits right in with the style. LOVE IT!!

  15. Mary F. says

    I just got some samples of this line in the mail. Surprised to find out it’s actually textured- I thought it was smooth. I’m wary about dirt eventually getting in between the “pebbles” and not being able to get it out. My parents had the old asphalt tiles with that 70s Moroccan thing going on and we tried everything over the years to get the dirt out of the pattern to no avail. Never again. But that blue is so great……..

  16. Mary F. says

    Oh, I forgot! You can see a floor very similar in the movie “How to Marry a Millionaire” with Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable. It’s in the apartment that they rent 🙂

  17. Kristy says

    I love how this floor looks. In the pictures it looks like the floor looks seamless, I wonder if you can actually see the individual tiles or does it all blend in?

    • jessica says

      You can see the invidual tiles, but they blend well together too. I don’t get the sense that dirt is getting caught in the “grout” areas, the floor doesn’t show the dirt but it cleans up beautifully, which I usually just use plain water to clean it. I love it, it always looks good!

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