The Impracticality of Hardwood Flooring

By Kate Riley April 10, 2019

My absolute hands down favorite flooring choice for a home is real wood, even more than engineered hardwood. I love the look and feel of real wood in a home, in family rooms, bedrooms, anywhere. Real wood has the warmest look and a softness underfoot that tile and vinyl can’t really compete with.

But today I’m sharing my tale of woe regarding my hardwood floors, specifically in my kitchen. My kitchen addition was eleven years ago and I at the time I chose more traditional style cabinetry. If I was doing it again now I’d go with a different cabinet style like Shaker and quartz countertops not marble but that’s not the point. The focus today is on the hardwood flooring, more specifically, it’s impracticality in kitchens.

Because I’m a lover of consistent flooring throughout downstairs community spaces, when we added this kitchen to the house eleven years ago I opted to continue the hardwood into the space for seamless flow. The truth is that over time we experienced water damage in this space on several occasions, first where that French door access has to the courtyard, next under the sink and dishwasher, and this month, under the icemaker.

I’m not alone in this experience, my parents chose hardwood for their new build fifteen years ago and when their icemaker leaked a huge section of the flooring had to be replaced at great expense. I’ve heard other stories of water damage from friends and clients too because hardwood flooring’s greatest foe is water.

Ever since I refinished my hardwood floors in a dark stain a year and a half ago I’ve been anxious about any water that spills on it, whether it’s from the dishwasher or the pet bowl or any moisture spill at all. Aaaaaand just last month, the icemaker started leaking and now look what’s happened to my beautiful floors… they’re buckling from moisture and I will need to have these boards replaced. This wood runs under under the cabinetry which means the cabinets and countertop next to the fridge have to be removed to adequately repair the floors. UGH.


I have a client with a full house renovation right now and she also wanted hardwood in her home and for it to flow into the kitchen. When she asked what I thought I said to her “hell no!” Hardwood is great for foyers and living rooms and bedrooms and home offices or in any space where there’s little danger of water damage. However, hardwood is a terrible choice for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or basements and if you install it in those spaces, you’re asking for trouble.

Thankfully in these modern times we have really good alternatives that look just like wood!

I’m still in love with the wood look porcelain plank flooring in the Las Vegas fixer upper …

and I really love the look and feel of the luxury vinyl plank flooring in my upstairs studio rental (seen below).

So the two best and most practical choices for kitchen flooring are tile and waterproof luxury vinyl, and if you love the look of wood these days you can get it in those materials. (There is also the option of polished or honed cement flooring for those who like the modern or industrial look.)

But never ever ever again would I install hardwood floors in a kitchen. If you disagree tell me why! Do you have hardwood floors in your kitchen? Have you experienced water damage or have you been able to maintain them over time?


Bold Colorful Bathroom Tile

By Kate Riley April 8, 2019

There’s a bold blue subway tile at my local Starbucks that I’m in love with and I have to touch it every time I stop inside for a coffee. Bold colorful tile is a major commitment but when it’s the perfect hue in the right space it makes an incredible statement.

Have you noticed how wall treatments are trending away from all white and more toward the dark and dramatic? The look can be achieved with paint or wallpaper, but I give a virtual high five to anyone who goes all the way with a bold color tile installation in a bathroom as a backsplash behind a vanity or bathtub and inside walk in showers.

Blue and white is timeless as is a classic subway installation, find the adriatic sea tile pictured in this space at Fireclay Tile.

bright bazaar


Glossy navy blue is a sophisticated choice and the vertical installation feels fresh.

topps tiles


On a slightly smaller scale the beautiful blue tile in this niche is perfect paired with a contemporary wood vanity and brass accents.



All shades of blue work well in a bathroom especially ones similar to bodies of water like shimmering turquoise or glossy aquamarine.

sophie robinson interiors

williamsburg hotel

This backsplash appears to be panels cut to different sizes (not tile) and painted a matte blue, but a similar effect could be achieved with large scale navy tile like this cut in an abstract geometric arrangement.


Hexagons are another classic geometric shape, these complement the wood frame window nicely.




Olive and moss green have been trending for a year, green is a hue that adds an organic feeling to any bathroom.

deco tiles


This glossy green tile is striking with brass fixtures, don’t you think? I love the skinny tiles installed in a vertical stack bond formation.

fireclay tile


Mossy greens are more subtle like the autumn tones in nature.

adele lapointe

I don’t think I’d ever choose brick red tile for a bathroom, but this vertical offset installation is well done.


Pink bathroom tiles are making a comeback, for the ultra brave go all out with a hexagon installation like this!



A dramatic look can be achieved by choosing black tile instead of color, made more beautiful when paired with white and wood and brass.

jean stoffer



drummonds uk


Black zellige tiles are imperfect by nature of their creation, the variations in the tiles adds inviting texture.


amber interiors


If a dark or intense color tile on the wall is too much for you, I offer these alternatives… consider it on the floor instead. When tile colors or patterns are underfoot, they’re more subtle.

in honor of design


… or try a a softer hue but in a larger scale stack bond format like this contemporary installation.

studio black

You might also like: creative tile patterns with basic shapes or patterned tile + bathroom vanity combos.

Are you a fan of bold colorful tile in a bathroom? What color would you choose?

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