Old & New : Blending a New Floor with an Existing Floor

When I bought my one bed, one bath condo I knew that it wasn’t going to be my forever home. I was in my late 20’s, single and no kids (other than the dog). Logistically a one-bedroom condo wasn’t going to work long term. To have two people in this home would be crowded, never mind adding kids to the picture. BUT the condo was a great price, in a great area and close to transit and the local collage. It was the prefect investment property and future rental unit.  

The selling price reflected the condition of the home and that was perfect for me. The whole unit needed work. The building was built in 1974 and this unit hadn’t been renovated since. Well that’s not fair. There were probably 20 coats of paint on the walls and a new (basic white) fridge was recently bought. But the bones were the same – Parquet flooring in the “dining room”, bedroom and the entrance. Lime green carpet in the family room. California ceiling in the kitchen. Pealing linoleum tiles in the kitchen and don’t even ask about the bathroom. Scary.   

  • 1970, carpet, lime green, retro, renovation
  • California ceiling, renovation, old school, 1970
  • parquet floor, 1970, renovations

When I was picking the finishes for my condo, I designed it for me. When I did the floors, I choose a laminate for the main area of the condo and a carpet for the bedroom. One of my preference in a home is carpet in the bedrooms. I find that carpet in the bedroom adds warmth and coziness to the room but not everyone will agree with me there. 

It’s been a few years now and, as carpets tend to do, it has started to show ware. Granted, I had a cat temporarily living with me which added to the waring but carpets in general don’t have a long shelf life. As it has come time to replace the carpet, at the same time, I am preparing to move to a new home (aka a new project) with my boyfriend. This means, my condo is going to move into its new role – a rental property.  

Thinking about what needs to be done before I can rent my condo, I decided that it would be better to not replace the bedroom carpet with carpet. Carpet is more maintenance, higher risk with a tenant and a less appealing feature to most prospective renters (or buyers).  

The Challenge 

The condo as a whole is only 750sf and open concept. The laminate flooring that I installed in the main area of the condo was purchased 6 years ago and may not be available or hard to find. If I can’t find the exact match, that means I either a) install a new floor throughout (no thanks! $$), b) find a close match and play tricks with the eye or c) choose something completely different. 

Spoiler alert: Option B is one of my favorite things to do when designing. 

Option 1 – Find a Close Match, Continue the Pattern 

Whether you are replacing a flooring type or tying into an add-on room, you can blend the transition by finding a close match. Easiest way to do this is to find something that’s close by the same manufacture. Same board width and a close match in colour. When your installer goes to lay the new floor, have them remove some of the original floor and mix in the new where the old meets. Once you get into the room, you won’t be able to tell that it is a different because they aren’t side-by-side nor is there a clear transition spot.  

If the close match is by another manufacture, you may not be able to do the above. The way the boards link together may differ between manufactures; they may not link. If this is the case, have your installer install a threshold between the two spaces. Then continue the install in the new room with the new material. Since the threshold typically falls at a doorway, having this transitional piece looks like an intentional design element and not an add-on. 

Option 2 – Find a Colour Match, Change the Pattern 

If the closer match is a different material, thickness or just a more budget friendly option, you can trick the eye by changing the way it is installed. 

Nowadays, there are much better vinyl plank flooring out there than there was 6 years ago. Vinyl plank products now look like laminate but they often have an insulated pad on the back, making them warmer, and they are more sustainable to scratching and water. In my case, where the base floor is concrete, a vinyl plank flooring is a better option but I don’t want to replace the whole apartment. 

  • flooring, laminate, wood, interior design
  • flooring, design, interior design

As long as the colouring looks similar to the flooring you are trying to match, you can get away with the change in material by changing the way it is laid. Have your installer install a threshold where the two materials meet. Then have them do a herringbone install or box install instead of continuing the pattern you already have.  As long as the colouring is close, the eye won’t be able to tell that they are different materials at first glance.  

Side Note – you can do this technique if you have the same flooring as well. By changing the pattern, it differentiates one room from the other, elevating interest and design. 

Option 3 – Choose a Different Colour or Material Altogether 

What many people do if they can’t find the exact same flooring is they will choose something completely different for the new or updated room. This is always an option as well, although not my favorite. Having too many different floorings, especially in an open concept floor plan, can be distracting and look choppy. That said, sometimes the budget just won’t allow for the ideal and you have to go with what works for you. 

If you are going to install a different flooring in the new or updated room, I would recommend changing the pattern when you install it (see option 2 above). If it’s going to look different, make it look intentionally different.  

When you have two different laminate colours (for example) and they are both laid in the same pattern and direction, the flooring can look like an afterthought. However, if you lay one in a straight lay and the other in a herringbone pattern (for example), the change in flooring colour looks like it was an intentional design decision.  

  • wood floor, transition
  • wood floor, transition

In the ideal world, you would decide on your flooring from day one and never change it. In reality, life changes, needs change. Money can be tight, then not. You make decisions based on what is going on at that time in your home. No decision is ever then end all, be all. Some will cost more than others but with a little creativity, there is always a way to make it work. 

If you have questions on how to blend your flooring into a new or update room, send us an email at designhelp@designonthemind.com  

As always, we love to hear your stories. Comment below and share your success and failure too. After-all, you learn more from failures than any win.  

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