What You Didn't Know About Splatter Paint Floors

The original DIY.

Spatter-dashing—the method of painting floors with splattered speckles of color—is an iconic design technique that dates back to the American Colonial period and challenges our pristine floors with three words: let’s get creative. The constellation-like patterned floors can be found most often among New England homes, specifically in coastal beach houses in Cape Cod and Nantucket. It’s unclear whether or not this whimsical approach was functional, perhaps serving the purpose of hiding sandy floors in a busy beach house or acting as a more economically feasible rug, but it most definitely became a design representative of its time.  

Floors weren't the only place in the home for splatter during the Victorian era, as “Speckleware” was the term for the speckled enamel kitchenware that became popular in 1850. After that, linoleum and glass tiles were made and sold already speckled. Color-dusted floors and accessories made their mark on the Colonial design era, and are now as classic as the homes that house them and as unfussy as 19th century summers on the Atlantic coast. Most wondrously, the design of spatter-dash dots and dribbles draw nostalgia for the culture, perspective, and sentiment of the place from which they were first made.

Although the historical background of spattered grounds is what makes the designs so interesting, we’re not above attempting to recreate these quintessential yet underrated floor patterns. Technique and color are the keys to making a true archetype of these Victorian-age floors—think Jackson Pollock meets rainbow sprinkles meets Starry Night. Historic images show designs that are subtle yet artful, careful yet creative. The most exemplary spattered floors have a darker base, while the scattered spots are lighter in color. Paint-dipped forks or brushes are perfect for emulating the original spotted floors, driving just enough splat for smatterings of bright freckles across the ground. While we're unsure of the exact original floor-splattering techniques, we have to assume the Victorians weren't afraid to get messy, based on the outcome. If you're brave enough to pull a Pollock, the results could be revolutionary—emblematic of design beginnings and reinvented for the sake of modern creativity.  

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