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What's the best way to disguise old parquet?

My new (old) house came with classic golden parquet flooring. I hate it, but replacing it isn't in my budget right now. What are my options for refinishing? Can I whitewash it or do I have to go darker?

The sky's the limit in terms of options, but the real question is how much life is left in the floor. Is it thick enough, for instance, to allow re-sanding? If you have a fat floor, sand away; you can remove the parquet pattern and either go very dark with a black or brown stain or whitewash it with a bright, high-gloss paint (avoid a middle-of-the-road whitewash that offers little bang). Whether you go light or dark depends on the effect you want to create: A dark floor offers a rich foundation and grounds a room, while a high-gloss white floor can suggest a modern insane asylum but is also extremely chic. If your floor is thin and sanding is out, your best option is to install wall-to-wall sisal carpeting and overlay an area rug that defines the space and provides a blueprint for furniture. Be sparing, though, when it comes to furnishings: You don't want to cover up your pièce de résistance.

Architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Hannah is the president of Taylor Hannah Architect Inc. in Toronto. Have a design question? E-mail

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