When we moved into our 19th century San Francisco home in late 2016, we knew it was going to be a long road ahead of us. One bathroom, a kitchen remodel, and three years later we finally inhabited the finished space. Upon moving in we took tally of the most critical areas of focus (I’ll flag that we were on a tight budget) so when it came to flooring, we just settled on the original, skinny-plank white oak, stained walnut floors the home had since the day it was built.
There was definitely something special knowing these floors dated back to the 1906 version of the home (and imagining all the people who walked on them before us), but when it came to the overall mood, they presented a disjointed contrast from how we styled and reconstructed the home. I would sometimes look at them and try to envision what a lighter palette would be like. It had always been on our wish list to revisit them and I knew it would be something we did someday. When we started to consider it more seriously, DUCHATEAU reached out and we decided to collaborate with the San Diego-based brand — a luxury flooring and wall-covering brand that specializes in high-end engineered hardwood. This basically means the surface is on top of multiple plys of other wood which minimizes movement once installed.
Flooring wasn’t something I was so dialed-in on, so figuring out where to start seemed like a challenge. Would we have to demo the original floors? What finish would work best in the home? These were all questions I had but starting from the beginning was the first step. Contrary to my thoughts before we began the process, it was pretty seamless — considering how intimidating the world of flooring can be. I’m going to walk you through my personal process so if you are considering flooring, this can be a helpful guide.
Measuring The Space
Obviously the first thing we did was measure where we were installing — which was the living and dining room and the landings on the stairs. We had considered the stairs, but it would put us over-budget for installation. The upstairs floor and the stairs would just have to wait.
One thing to keep in mind when sending over the measurements is to always plan for a little more material than you need. This is in case something happens or there is inconsistency with the original measurement.
Making Up Your Mind
It can be hard to gauge what flooring really looks like online versus in person (although DUCHATEAU offers the technology to see each floor in a room, so that gives you a bit of an idea). DUCHATEAU’s Pure Bone (a lovely light tan with gray-ish undertones) from its Atelier line immediately caught my eye — there was something about it that felt so Parisian and calming and I loved the way it showcases the natural grains.
What was so convenient about working with DUCHATEAU is how helpful their local representative was! As a special added touch, he made the time to come out and deliver samples to us. We received our sample picks, Pure Bone and Seasmoke (a darker grayish color), and from there confirmed that Pure Bone was a no-brainer.
DUCHATEAU is known for its specialty treatment in its product, which is applied to the planks before (this ensures you know exactly what it will look like after installation). The brand uses techniques to create a matte, natural finish that is oil-based, which gives each plank small variations. They continue to age with time and the process is very different from polyurethane-covered ones you might see on the market. It all really depends on your level of commitment to maintenance.
Once the sample was selected the product was ordered it can take around four to six weeks to arrive considering the floors are made-to-order at the workshop. We received the flooring and then let it acclimate to the humidity in the home for a few days (for 72 hours) — this involved sitting in the house a few days before the installer came. This is a very important step with hardwood floors because you don’t want there to be any moisture when they are put in. We also had to clean up the trim around the space.
We had a flooring installer, Lori Wyzard of Bay Area Floors & Design Carpet, work with us on this. She came over multiple times to assess the space and offered guidance and feedback for the process. One thing to consider when redoing floors is what surface they are going on — we went directly on the existing floors. Obviously, this would raise the floors a tad, so that was something we had to mindful of, making sure the space was thoroughly measured and prepped (clean and trim removed).
The team nailed down the floors with a glue assist to install the floors. The planks were placed parallel along the wall in a random stagger. It took about four days (they had given us a week) and they moved our items throughout the house (so no furniture actually had to be removed). Because we were doing the landing, according to Wyzard, “We had to do some custom work to the landings since we were leaving the existing flooring on the stair case. The custom work included matching the new landing to the existing stairs.”
Once they were in and we finally got our eyes off them (yes, there was a lot of gawking) — the trim and final touches were finished and it was a done deal. We researched the way the floors should be cleaned (which is definitely suggested) so we can keep them looking like new for years to come. The floors have completely modernized and transformed the space — it really looks like entirely different space and so many people have commented on how much bigger it makes the house feel. Moving through it feels so much lighter and welcoming. If you are considering a floor revamp, I'd highly recommend.