A DIY Kitchen Transformation Using Vinyl Floor Tiles + A Video Tutorial!

The kitchen has seen a wild transformation! So far, I've shared the plans, the concrete counter DIY, and three tutorials for adding more work space - check out those posts here. But the floors! They made the kitchen into a wonderfully different space. I couldn't have been more excited to get started on the quick/cheap/transformative project of giving my kitchen floors a fresh buffalo check pattern. This DIY kitchen transformation using vinyl floor tiles is among my favorites yet - and it costs about as much as it does to paint a room!

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

I made my first-ever video! Check out the video below to see the flooring tutorial which includes an über satisfying timelapse and a favorite song. Then, read below for the detailed step-by-step guide.

1. Prep: Simply vacuum and mop. Being sure to get into all of the corners and edges, give your floor a really good cleaning. The vinyl tiles will stick to whatever you put them on and the goal is to stick them to the existing flooring, not the dirt or grease. If your floors are significantly damaged (like chipped, bubbled, or unlevel), I'd recommend taking more time during prep to resolve these issues. You may want to pull up the existing linoleum, scrape off uneven surfaces, or even level your floors. However, if you're doing this cheap and easy project as a stopgap like me, you can probably live with some of these irregularities if you keep in mind that the vinyl tiles aren't magic and you may see traces of your wonky floors.

2. Gather materials: I used Nexus Vinyl Floor Tiles in black, white, and grey. All are 12"x12" and are a thin 1.2mm thick. Any peel-and-stick tile should do the trick, but I chose these because they were the cheapest ($1/sqft!), and came in the colors I wanted for my pattern. Note that there are high-end vinyl floor tiles that can be grouted and have a much sturdier long-lasting finish. Check out the process and incredible transformation that Chris Loves Julia did in their Pittsburg kitchen remodel.

In addition to the tile, you'll need:
- Tape measure
- Speed square
- Straight edge (I used the side of my level)
- Utility knife

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

3. Measure: Planning exactly where the tiles will go is a critical step. For floors of all the same color, it is less crucial, but with patterned designs, you need to be mindful of how the edges will terminate. I laid out the tiles to do a rough plan of the flooring and instantly noticed that I didn't want full 12"x12" tiles at the edges of the cabinets. It made it look like I plopped the tiles on after the fact (which I was doing!). The solution was to cut them to around 6" wide to give the illusion of the tiles going underneath the cabinets.

In addition to considering how the tiles terminate at the cabinets, the edges where the tile transitions to walls and existing flooring are key. My kitchen had two points of entry where the flooring would transition from hardwoods to the new tile. It was important that these spots didn't have the floating-on-top-of-the-floor look, and even more important that the edges weren't 0.5" slivers of tile. Tiny pieces of tile on a threshold will most certainly get kicked up after lots of treading on them.

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

To make sure I avoided the two measuring concerns, I took the length of the kitchen and focused on just the last few inches that didn't make up a full foot. (Since the tiles are each a foot, I subtracted them from the equation.) The length I measured was 14'11", so I took the 11" inches and decided how I could use that amount to create two cuts on either side of the kitchen. Making each side 5.5" inches wide with 14 tiles in the middle was an easy solution. Then, I did this again in the opposite direction.

Once I knew how wide I wanted the edge pieces to be, I measured to find the middle of the kitchen floor. Since I'm a rule follower, I did as the packaging told me and started in the middle and worked my way out. If your kitchen has a different configuration, I fully support you starting at an edge. However, if the edge you butt your tiles up against, or the cut you made for your edge tile isn't perfectly square to the cabinets or prominent walls, you'll have a lopsided flooring pattern by the time you get to the other side.

4. Lay the tile: I placed the first tile in the center of the floor using the existing hardwood floors as my linear guide, since I used my speed square earlier to ensure the floorboards were, in fact, trustworthy. Then, I put the next tile adjacent to that one using the first tile's edges as a guide. I then spiraled out from the center. This provided me with corners as my guides, which maintained the pattern much better than had I gone in a stripe pattern.

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

The application was incredibly simple. I just peeled off the back paper and placed the tile on the floor starting with the corner or edge guide, then rolled the rest of the tile down. The adhesive has some give to it, so I could tug on the tile to slide it close to the previous tile for a tight joint.

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

Being mindful not to mix up the colors in my pattern, I continued the spiral application until I got to an edge that would require a cut piece. I saved all cut pieces until the end primarily because I wanted instant gratification without slowing down for cutting and measuring. Also, I frequently came across tiles with dented corners that wouldn't have worked as full tiles, but I could cut off the damaged part and have a salvageable cut edge piece. I saved these in a pile to use later for cut pieces, which helped preserve the intact tiles for the main attraction. We have a pretty good amount of flooring in the kitchen, but placing the tiles went surprisingly quickly. Since there's no cleanup, I was also able to stop at this point and save cutting the edge pieces for another day.

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

5. Cut the tile: The vinyl was very easy to cut with a quick score and snap technique. The trickiest part was measuring and ensuring the cuts were square. To do this, I set up my cutting station on the counter and used the edge to line up the tile along with my trusty speed square. Keeping the tile squared to my two tools, I measured the length of tile needed, lined up the edge of my speed square to that mark, then butted up a straight edge to the speed square (since it was too short to go the length of the tile). I pressed firmly so nothing would budge, then gave a single score down the tile with a utility knife. No need to press hard. After scoring the tile, fold it to snap the tile into two pieces.

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

When I got to spots needing multiple cuts to account for moulding or other floor obstructions, I followed the same steps as above. The only difference is the measuring is more meticulous, and the scoring/snapping technique is a touch more challenging - but totally doable! Any edges that didn't get a perfect cut can be filled in later with caulking to blend into the cabinets or baseboards.

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

6. Get under appliances: Make sure the tile edges go partially under appliances and furniture pieces to give a clean continuous look. To do this, you'll need to move the appliances temporarily out of the way. Ross was out of town, so I used my brute strength to shimmy the fridge and stove out of the way. If you don't have room to slide appliances around, you can lift the appliance up a few inches, then have an assistant tuck a piece of scrap lumber underneath, so you can squeeze in your tile. Be careful when moving appliances that you don't kink any gas or water lines!

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

7. Clean up: There's nearly no clean up other than recycling the paper backings and tossing out the scraps. On a few tiles, the adhesive oozed out of the seams a couple of days later. You can use olive oil or goo gone to clean up these spots.

That's pretty much it! Super simple, relatively quick, and cheap!

If you didn't catch the video, you can watch it here. This is my first video tutorial! Should I make more? What else would you like to see from me in video format? 

The Gold Hive Vinyl Floor Tutorial

Picking a Kitchen Floor Pattern

The phase 1 kitchen earned several upgrades already, like new paint, hardware, concrete countertops, and even more countertops. However, the floors didn't get much love other than a coat of poly when we refinished the the rest of the floors. As much as I love the fir, the wood was pretty damaged. Nearly every plank had either huge gouges or was brittle from years of termites gnawing on the softwood. The previous owner made attempts at repairing the mangled boards by filling the cavities with wood putty, but it definitely didn't help the aesthetics.

The Gold Hive Kitchen Flooring Damage

These photos don't do justice to the damage. We lived with the flooring as-is for a couple of years letting those termite gaps fill up with a hefty amount of cat litter and crumbs. But, I lost my patience and had to remedy it. Knowing that the kitchen will eventually get a full gut renovation, I had the opportunity to do whatever I wanted without it impacting the future plans - even if it pushes my design boundaries. So, I jumped on to the graphic look and committed myself to installing a funky pattern that I like, but wouldn't be my first choice for a permanent kitchen floor. This transitional renovation fix lets me get the bold/graphic/retro vibe out of my system before having to make the forever-flooring decision. Win win.

The Gold Hive Graphic Flooring Inspiration

Sources clockwise from top left: Megan Pflug Designs/A Beautiful Mess/Allison Burke Interior Design/The Art of Doing Stuff

At first, I was sure that I would install the checkerboard pattern to get that retro diner vibe. But after a few Photoshop mock-ups, I realized that with the large amount of uninterrupted floor space, the high contrast of black and white was too busy and could give us vertigo. The idea of modern geometric shapes was also appealing, but I worried I'd spend years cutting the tiny pieces. It didn't take much for me to fall for the buffalo check pattern. The grey neutralizes the high contrast black and white, while also adding texture with the illusion of the weaving pattern. It also has enough style that I can feel confident I didn't play it too safe.

Since this was merely a temporary solution that really only needed a bandaid, I found a flooring solution that was quick, cheap, effective, and super easy to install. The perfect improvement project for a newbie DIYer or renter.

I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. The installation went swimmingly and the result is sleek, clean, and full of personality. Come back next week to get the full tutorial and link to all of the sources! Subscribe, so you don't miss out.

Weekly Roundup

Domino compiled a collection of some gorgeous wallpapers for spring and I think this floral one from Sandberg Wallpaper's Brunnsnäs Collection is my favorite. 

On Wednesday, I shared the story of our floor refinishing. We hired the job out, but it's totally DIY-able. Cathy and Garrett of The Grit and Polish did it by themselves and boy, do those floors shine!

Last week, I asked you to weigh in on whether or not I should re-paint the kitchen cabinets a deep green. The votes are split, so I don't know what my plan is, yet. With color on my mind, I was taken aback by this house in a nearby neighborhood that hit the MLS this week. Wowza!


Michaels is having a killer sale on frames right now, including online. Alternatively, if you need custom framing, here's $10 off your first order at Framebridge.

I've watched every.single.one of Casey Neistat's videos, so I've developed a crush on his wife and her entrepreneurial, no-nonsense, sarcastic spirit. Resource Magazine featured her so I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. I searched all around town for the latest edition but couldn't find one, so I read the preview online. Candice and Casey are each highly driven makers - truly inspiring for this couch potato.

I'm not a big clothing shopper, but I did get some new shoes this week. I've been wearing Birkenstock clogs for ages so these are a major upgrade in the style department. And yes, those are technically men's shoes, but so what - plus, my feet are too big for lady shoes. 

We went to the movies for the first time in probably two years (I've mentioned I'm a homebody, right?) to see Get Out. It was exceptional. I can't stop thinking about it, and I can't stop listening to this Childish Gambino song that was featured in the film. Speaking of songs in movies, I'm also digging this song by Michael Kiwanuka which plays during the opening of the show Big Little Lies.

Spring has sprung so the front yard is gaining new blooms. San Diego is still getting much-needed rain which is making the fresh plantings very happy. The Arabian lilac is one of my favorite new plantings with its half-purple and half-green leaves.

Happy Friday!

What's The Story, Flooring Glory?

The Gold Hive Master Bedroom Floors

Refinishing the hardwood floors was the last step in remedying the odor issue. Once all was said and done, the smell disappeared and the flooring was revived – win win!

As a reminder, here’s what the flooring looked like.


The 100-year-old quartersawn oak was actually in pretty great condition throughout most of the house. However, the urine stains (the dark spots seen above) and termite damage warranted repairs. Plus, there's no better time to restore the floors than when not living in the house.

The very first step was to make a mess. All drywall, painting, and bathroom construction (stay tuned!) occurred before the flooring crew set foot in the house. There's no sense in making that oak perfect and shiny, to then drag a bag of demo debris over it. I've heard professional painters say to paint after floor refinishing because dust can get into the paint, but I sided with the hardwood guys that said to paint first. It makes so much more sense, I mean, I've been known to drop a cup of paint from the top of a ladder.

Oops. Thank goodness for rosin paper. Once I was done spilling paint, the sanding process could begin.

That freshly sanded oak makes my heart skip a beat! I also have a crush on this sander. Ain't she a beaut? Looking back, I think that retro pale green influenced my kitchen cabinet color.

The floors had previously been refinished, but in the back of the closets was the original wax finish. It was pretty dull, but there's something so special about finding a part of the house that hadn't been messed with over the years - even if its a small bit of dingy flooring. Below, you can see the wax finish transition to the glossy polyurethane before getting sanded down. Also, note the termite damage.

All of the boards that were brittle from termites gnawing on them had to be replaced.

It's no surprise to find a few boards that are beyond repair, but the bummer was discovering that termites had eaten through the subfloor, too. It was so chewed on that I could easily poke my finger straight through to the crawl space. Half of the master bedroom flooring had to go. This is where I can't stress enough the importance of house maintenance. This back corner of the house was termite heaven because of the moisture that built up in a non-vented crawl space. There's also no record of termite treatments after 1982. People, these are BUGS inside of your floors/walls/furniture/etc. Get them out before they do this!

Local suppliers were out of the quartersawn oak and tried to convince us to use plain/flatsawn wood. We insisted on using the same type of cut as the existing flooring, and even though it delayed our move-in date, it was well worth the wait. Once the matching hardwood arrived, it had to acclimate to match the house's humidity.

During the acclimation time, we brainstormed how to finish the floors. The sanding did wonders for the small stains and scuffs, but the urine damage was still noticeable and would stand out even more when coated in polyurethane.

I was prepared to stain the wood a dark shade in order to hide the stains. But at the last minute, Ross made his biggest design contribution to date - he declared, "no stain!"

The ghosts of urine blemishes remain, but we couldn't be happier with the choice to keep the white oak light and natural.

After an application of wood putty and another few rounds of sanding, the floors were coated in an oil-based satin polyurethane. The finish is just shiny enough without being glossy, and its amber tones add to the patina of the 100-year-old wood.

Once the flooring was complete, it felt like a whole new space - almost ready to be lived in. But before moved-in, there was still so much more to do. Which of those projects do you want to hear about next? The bathroom remodel? The kitchen update? More odds-and ends?