October 08: Your Living Space

October 08: Your Living Space


Flood relief

Question for Debbie Halhoun with Floors are Us: What should you do if you spill water on a wood floor?
Answer: “Get it dry, get it quick,” should be your motto, says Halhoun. While damage is preventable, a speedy response is your best chance at saving your hardwood floor from tragedy. According to Halhoun, “If you spill water or any other liquid and let it sit, once the moisture seeps in, it’ll allow the wood to expand and potentially start to warp.” Enough warping may cause the wood to pull away from the subfloor (called “buckling”) and even, she warns, begin to crack. 

Grab a towel! You’ll save a world of trouble if you clean up spills as soon as they happen.

Here’s how it works: With its natural affinity for H2O (after all, it’s an ex-tree we’re talking about), wood typically responds to seasonal changes in humidity by expanding and contracting. One unattended spill, however, can be bad news if it soaks through the finish; your floor will suck it up like a runner, post-marathon, and start to discolor and swell. 

Still, once water has done its worst, there’s no need to give up hope: Depending on the extent of the damage and your flooring’s manufacturer, Halhoun says, floors can be “sanded down lightly” to reduce the appearance of warping and buckling. Individaully damaged boards can also be taken out and replaced. As for unsightly stains, Halhoun says that different finishes have different care requirements and water tolerances, but if all else fails, periodically refinishing is a surefire way to cover up watermarks and wear. Better, however, to keep on your toes and deal with spills right away to keep your hardwood looking like new. “It’s really best just to take it up quickly,” Halhoun says.—Lucy Zhou

Greater latitude

Is this a visual aid from your kid’s astronomy class, a machine-age interpretation of the medieval-era globe, or just a reminder that what goes around comes around? Either way, it’s a cosmic way to light up your life, courtesy of The Shade Shop.


Chic transparency

Goodbye, vinyl siding; hello, world. Nicky Adams’ book Glass House reveals the intimacy glass walls allow between you and your surroundings, be they wildlife or a cityscape, via a collection of homes that must surely prevent their owners from throwing stones. The photos might get you reminiscing about “The Jetsons,” or they might just inspire you to pick up a crowbar, tear down those walls, and invest in some clarity.—Suzanne van der Eijk