Decoupage kitchen floor — Missy’s unique and long-lasting vintage magazine floor

I’ve long been a fan of Gloria Vanderbilt’s collage art and her decorating style, too. She has a beautiful eye for mixing pattern, color, materials — all of it. Reading her book about collage a few years ago, I saw that in the 1970s she had vintage wallpaper pasted onto her bedroom floors in her Manhattan apartment. And it was spectacular. Here’s another take on the idea: Missy’s kitchen floor, made with the pages of vintage women’s magazines from the 1940s and 1950s. She tells us how she did it. >>

Missy writes:

Hi Pam, you contacted me about doing a story on my magazine ad floor. I would love that!

You should know, I don’t currently have it, it had to be taken up after 12 years. I don’t have a before picture, it was white stick on tiles, and the only reason the floor had to come up was because the tiles started breaking off under the magazine ads. If it had been a solid piece of linoleum, I’m sure it would’ve lasted even longer.

Info on how I did it: I bought a giant box of old magazines at an auction for $2. Chock full of 1940’s-1950’s Better Homes & Gardens and Woman’s Day. I wanted a unique floor for my vintage kitchen, so I thought, I’ll give this a shot. Worse case, I pull it all up, including the sticky tiles that were down, and get new flooring put in.

I used wallpaper paste for unpasted wall paper, working in sections, I painted the paste directly onto the existing flooring, and laid the ads in alternating directions. When dry, I painted on about 6-7 coats of clear oil based polyurethane. Oil based poly does yellow slightly, but in this case, I was okay with that, it just adds to the vintage. It also holds up better than latex based poly. It held up unbelievably well, over 12 years of kids and pets, and twice a week mopping!

Thanks for sharing the photos, Missy, I love the floor — and your whole super cozy kitchen!

Readers, you can follow Missy on Instagram at @cherrywinksvintage.

And a reminder, dear readers, to be aware when dealing with the materials and layers and products in our old houses — such as old floor tiles, adhesives, etc. — that they can contain hazards. Consult with pros to assess what you are dealing with so that you can make informed decisions. For more info, see my Be Safe/Renovate Safe page.

Gloria Vanderbilt inspiration:

  1. Lindsay says:

    I noticed that Missy’s process for doing her floor involved oil-based polyurethane. I used wallpaper paste to glue an assortment of maps to the floor of my children’s playhouse. While I wait for the paste to dry and cure, I’m trying to figure out what kind of urethane to use to seal it and make it durable. I’m scared to death that oil-based will make it transparent (like a paper sack that’s had greasy food in it, fore example). Has anyone else done anything like this? Do you have to somehow seal the paper first before applying the oil-based polyurethane? Or maybe I should use water-based instead…..but I like the durability that the oil-based gives. Help!

  2. Joan Gresch says:

    I didn’t decoupage a floor, but I did 3 walls in my 70’s bathroom recently. I live in a 1924 English Cottage/Tudor, but my second bath is an add-on from the 70’s. Therefore, I didn’t feel like I was removing anything attractive or historic (goodbye fake wood paneling!) I’m in love with shabby chic/vintage/French, so I purchased several small and large posters at craft stores featuring photos of French sights. I put these up first (with regular wallpaper paste). Then I began filling in the gaps, with sheet music, scrapbook paper, and copies of vintage paper ephemera I have (old magazine ads, photos, etc.). I even used a few travel photos from myself and neighbors. I used a random pattern, and all the items are either black and white or sepia. That goes well with my black and white vintage style floor tile, clawfoot tub, French shower curtain, and my alley-rescued vintage sink and pine medicine cabinet. All my decorations are also vintage and are black and white or sepia. It is so unique, and I love it!

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