Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cool, Hep Fifties Flooring...

If you're into Mid Century Modernism, chances are you love the cool designs of the vinyl asbestos flooring from the era, like these:
But people go ape these days when they hear the "a" word. Besides, it's not available anymore.

You can get some sort-of vintage-look flooring these days -- there's been a revival of linoleum, which has a look I love, but few vintage patterns are available. Linoleum has gone "uptown," I'm afraid. In any case, I'm also looking for projects, so making a vintage-look floor myself fills the bill.

Right now, I'm collecting vintage 'fifties design ideas off the these (which were no doubt unearthed after being covered with other flooring, carpet, etc., and show damage that's only to be expected after 60+ years of wear and tear):

My plan is to stencil the design on economical vinyl flooring, either sheet or tiles. Since the flooring will be the background for whatever design will go on it, it needs to be somewhat subdued. Here are a couple of designs I like from a big box store.

Whatever retro design I choose, it will be stenciled onto the flooring. I'll need to lightly sand the area where the painted design will go ... and hope that the finish polyurethane will bring the shine back. This will be something to research and test before actually doing it. However, it shouldn't be an insurmountable problem, as floor stenciling has been a craft project for DIYers for years.

My first step, after preparing the floor, will be to cover adjacent walls, cabinets., etc., with a drop cloth because layer one of the design will be gold spatters, and spattering goes everywhere. This will take some advance practice to get right. Here's a tutorial on spatter painting.

I might consider a darker spatter pattern first, then the gold. That might be more in keeping with vintage designs. In any case, once the gold flecks are thoroughly dried and cured, it will be time to paint the pattern.

There were some quite intricate "atomic" designs in those days, though most were found in textiles. My idea is to keep the floor designs as simple as possible.

Once the design is decided upon, it will be stencil-making time. There are numerous tutorials online about making stencils.  Here's one:  After stenciling the floor, it's sealed with either a sealer made for vinyl floors, or good ol' polyurethane.

Here's how an MCM pattern in my colors (at least, for now) might look on a contemporary floor. The  problem with doing these designs in a computer graphics editor is that they are so precise. No subtle variation in color, no slightly wavy edges. But at least it gets the idea across.

Since floors are the last thing to do in room fix up (and only the baths and kitchen will have vintage look flooring) there is plenty of time to research more designs and create the final version.

In the bathroom, a new tub enclosure is on the agenda, which will involve tearing out the current ceramic tile, installing new furring strips on the outside wall, adding backerboard, etc. After which comes reglazing the tub itself. We will DIY that using ultra thinned oilbased enamel applied with an  ultra-fine foam roller, in many coats with sanding between. (More on that technique in a later post.)

In the kitchen, as already discussed, we're looking at cabinet and countertop refurbishing, plus general fix up (wall paint, new range hood, stuff like that).

So while necessary but more mundane projects are underway, it'll be nice to have this fun project to look forward to.

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