Sara Peterson's Kitchen Redo: What Goes on the Floor?

Sara Peterson, HGTV Magazine's Editor in chief, opens up about choosing the tile for her complete kitchen overhaul.

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One of the hardest things about renovating a kitchen is figuring out what to figure out first. I now know that choosing what to put on the floor is a great place to start because new cabinets can’t be installed until a new floor is installed. (And new countertops can’t be installed until new cabinets are installed, but that’s another post…to be continued!)

I love, love, LOVE patterned tile in a kitchen. We feature kitchens in the magazine all the time that have fun, eye-catching patterns — on the floor, on the backsplash. But it’s pattern overload to have it on both the floor AND the backsplash, so I’ve decided to put pattern on my floor and to go big with it. Chevron is hands down my favorite pattern in the world, so I chose 24-inch-by-24-inch light gray porcelain tiles with dark gray lines to make rows of large chevrons span across my kitchen floor (Nemo Tile Soiree tile in extra brut gray to be exact).

Porcelain is about as durable as flooring gets, so I knew I was being smart in the wear-and-tear department. Also, my house is open plan — the kitchen is open to the living room and dining room — and last year I had the amber-color oak floors refinished and restained a soft matte gray color. (And, yes, you can change red oak floors to pale gray. The secret is the floors have to be bleached first, sometimes a few times, before they’re white enough to hold a new color.) So, because I had light gray wood floors surrounding the kitchen, I wanted to find a tile that would look good right next to gray wood floors. I’m a fan of changing up flooring materials in an open plan layout. There’s no rule that says all the floors have to be the same material. But I do like the color of the various flooring to be more similar than not. Therefore, the gray-on-gray porcelain tile floors were the winners. The tiles also came in 8-inch-by-8-inch squares, but I thought the chevrons would be too small and therefore the pattern in that size too busy for my liking.

The tiles took 10 (long!) weeks to arrive. That gave me plenty of time to practice my pattern. Our creative director at the magazine, Cindy Searight, had the brilliant idea of scanning a photo of one of the tiles, then printing it to scale on paper so I’d be able to play with a bunch of paper “tiles” on my floor. This way my contractor would know exactly how I wanted the tiles to be positioned. Next decision: grout. I’m going with a light gray grout that matches the light gray in the tiles, with the thinnest of grout lines — 3/16 of an inch — so the chevrons can meet with barely a grout line between them. As I watched the tile guys on install day, I’m relieved to say that I’m really happy with how these chevrons are shaping up!

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