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Here's a floor that Atlanta artist Nancy B. Westfall painted in her daughter's room.
Gregg Irby Fine Art / ASSOCIATED PRESS
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By DIANA MARSZALEK
For The Associated Press
When it became clear that allergies would prevent Nancy B. Westfall's infant daughter from having a rug in her room, the Atlanta-based artist turned instead to paint, a few stencils and a plan.
Westfall used the baby's bedroom floor much like she would a canvas, painting on it a diamond-shaped pattern that gave the space a custom look you simply can't achieve with a kid's area rug.
Eleven years and another house later, Westfall remains a big fan of bringing floors to life with color instead of covering them up.
"They look pretty refinished, and they look even better painted," Westfall says.
You don't have to be a professional artist like Westfall to do it, although proponents of painting the floor say it does require patience and nerve.
Rachel Cannon Lewis, an interior designer in Baton Rouge, La., encourages clients to consider it. Painting a floor, whether it's wood or concrete, can be more affordable than tile, carpet or other floor coverings, she says.
And in homes that date back more than a century, painted floors are more historically accurate: Back then, people frequently painted their wide, plank wood floors to protect them from warping, Lewis says.
Plus, painting just looks good.
"I'm starting to think of the floor as the sixth wall," says Lewis, who considers floors "an overlooked opportunity to get creative and introduce color." (The "fifth wall," by the way, is the ceiling).
Painting floors yourself can be a lengthy process, Lewis says, primarily because the thin, oil-based paint she recommends requires multiple coats, with lengthy dry times between each one. Getting fancier by, say, creating a pattern with paint or a stencil, requires even more patience and precision.
Even if you hire a professional painter, however, "You have to be willing to embrace the idea that it's going to be a different solution than what most people tell you to do," Lewis says.
"There are going to be friends that come over who don't get it, and your mom is not going to get it," she says. "But I love the notoriety that comes with pushing the envelope and going for it."
Painted floors are not as durable as some of the alternatives, especially in high-traffic areas, says Sidney Wagner, a Charleston, S.C., interior designer.