Bare necessities: how to give your floorboards a Scandi look

Simple ways to revive old wooden flooring and give it a fresh, Scandi feel

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Scandi style is easy on the eye and easy to achieve. One of the best ways to get the look is by revamping your floorboards. Old varnishes can give wood an orange or yellow appearance, which is much less attractive than its natural hue (above). The old gloss polyurethane varnish contained oil-based resins and its orange cast shoulders most of the blame for floorboards like this. However, UV light is a culprit, too and all timber floors take on a warmer tone over time or will bleach in strong sunlight.

With a little bit of love and a lot of elbow grease (you will need to sand off the old varnish before applying any new treatments), it is simple to turn your old wooden floor into a beautiful feature, creating the perfect base for your fabulous furniture – be it Scandi, traditional, shabby chic or contemporary.

room with wooden floor

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Some new-generation water-based floor finishes, such as Mylac Natural lacquer from Mylands, use acrylic resins and, although applying any wet product to the floor initially makes it appear darker, in this case the matting agents neutralise the effect and the natural colour of the wood is unchanged. Two coats are recommended for most rooms and three for high-use areas.

Bona Naturale by Bona is a water-based matt finish made from natural oils and waxes that won't alter the colour and texture of the wood. It is usually applied by trained contractors listed on the website, but anyone who is competent at DIY can do this and you can buy it from Wood Finishes Direct. An advantage of these products is that, not only do they cure quickly so they can be walked on shortly after application, areas of localised wear – around the sink or cooker, for instance – can be carefully refinished to avoid a visible seam.

room with scandi floorboards

(Image credit: TBC)

For a truly Scandi look, once you have sanded and washed your wooden flooring, is to add a white wash. Wood lye can be used on new or freshly sanded solid softwood or light hardwood. It bleaches the wood giving a soft white-wash effect and it can help prevent the yellowing process. The Organic and Natural Paint Company sells an eco-friendly wood lye for that has a light-coloured, natural look for Scandinavian style floors. However, this is not recommended for heavy-use areas, such as hallways or living rooms, as it is only slightly dirt repellant.

An alternative is Chalk Paint, which has a matt, velvety finish and can be used on wooden furniture and floors to give a white-wash or limed effect. The great thing with this paint is that you can add as many layers as you like and it dries very quickly. For handy guides and videos on how to create different effects with this paint, visit Annie Sloan.

For more information and advice on choosing and maintaining wooden floors, check out our essential guide to wood flooring.