Home & Garden

A Southern Tradition: Painted Floors

To bring the timeless look home, we asked six modern Southern tastemakers from Texas to North Carolina to weigh in on their favorite floor hues

Photo: Photo courtesy Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. Photo by Robert Lautman

Bathing floors in a sea of color has long been a way to update timeworn hardwoods, to unify a space where different types of materials come together, or to simply add visual interest. Case in point: Virginia’s own Thomas Jefferson decided to employ the technique at Monticello back in 1805 after seeing painted floors at the home of portraitist Gilbert Stuart. In a letter to James Dinsmore, Jefferson writes: “I was at the painting room of Mr. Stewart who had first suggested to me the painting a floor green, which he had himself tried with fine effect. He observed that care should be taken to hit the true grass-green, and as he had his pallet [sic] and colours in his hand, I asked him to give me a specimen of the colour, which he instantly mixed up to his mind, and I spread it with a knife on the enclosed paper.” Jefferson’s finished project (shown above) still feels as current today as it did more than two centuries ago. To bring the timeless look home, we asked six modern Southern tastemakers from Texas to North Carolina to weigh in on their favorite floor hues and where they use them. Mark your paint decks.

off-black.pngColor: Off Black, Farrow & Ball
“This black grounds every other color in the room and blends beautifully with neutrals, both warm or cool.”
—Fran Keenan, Fran Keenan Design, Birmingham, Alabama


2.OysterShell.pngColor: Oyster Blue, Benjamin Moore
“I never met a painted floor I didn’t like and I love this color—it’s soft with undertones that really brighten up a space. It’s a versatile color too, happy and warm but also sophisticated. I love it on a porch.—Amy Berry, Amy Berry Interior Design & Decoration, Dallas, Texas


Green-Blue_0.pngColor: Green Blue, Farrow & Ball
“Painting the walls and ceiling a traditional white and using this non-traditional paint color on the floor like this hue is a fun way to instantly modernize a space.”
—Charlotte Lucas, Charlotte Lucas Interior Design, Charlotte, North Carolina


Country Dairy.pngColor: Country Dairy, Behr
“This creamy off-white instantly warms up the room and does not have the icy-cold feel that you might find in a brighter white. I love using it in foyers, sunrooms, or even breakfast rooms.”
—Andrew Howard, Andrew Howard Interior Design, Jacksonville, Florida


Skylight.pngColor: Skylight, Farrow & Ball
“I love using a muted blue-gray in laundry rooms for the clean feel we all want with our linens.”
—Betsy Berry, B. Berry Interiors, Charleston, South Carolina


1.DeepOcean copy.pngColor: Blue Ocean, Benjamin Moore
“I painted the floors of a guest house this perfect blue-green. It makes you feel like you’re on a permanent vacation!”
—Callie Jenschke, Supply Showroom, Austin, Texas


EDITORS’ NOTE: While the entry hall floor at Monticello (above) is a custom blend, the restoration team recommends Sherwin-Williams Arugula  or Ralph Lauren Green Hull for a similar look.