Apartment Updates + DIY Checkerboard Floors!

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

My apartment is slowly but surely starting to come together. Today I’m sharing some photos of how the space looks now… as well as a how-to for my checkerboard floors. The project was a bit challenging (it took me about a week to complete) but I’m so glad I did it. At the end of the day it only cost me about $100 to do, and it really makes the space. I hated my floors. Hated them. They were a dingy looking gray painted plywood that looked like concrete. I know it may seem silly to spend so much effort on a rental, but it was inexpensive and makes the space so so so much better.

Anyway… you may remember that a couple weeks ago I shared some decor inspiration for the new place. My main colors are going to be emerald green and blush pink, and I’m going for a mid-century/Beverly Hills Hotel sort of vibe. There is still so much to do but it’s come really far in just a week! I feel like now that the floors are looking good I can really focus on making the living + dining areas really special and interesting. I am working on a dining room feature with one of my all time FAVORITE home brands (so excited), and still trying to figure out the couches. (I want to do two matching sofas, vertically oriented to face the TV… that way people can focus on each other without the TV feeling intrusive… or stretch out on the couch on the long way to watch a movie). This week’s big thing will be my credenza and TV, which arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday… I’m so excited for both items to get here. Like I said, there is still a LOT to do… but I think it’s kind of fun to share the process… so that you can see how things come along, rather than just one big grand reveal.

Also: you guys went wild on Instagram stories for a few things that I featured… the first being this brass middle finger sculpture and the second being these book cases! Instagram is a little annoying as I can’t link to stuff directly (I try to remember to put links on twitter but sometimes I forget).. so hopefully this post helps.

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

Product Details: Vintage lamp (it’s a million years old and has been in my family forever) // Pottery Barn Couch (you can’t tell from the back – or under all the pillows but this is really old and incredibly dirty and gross… I am going to donate it once I make the next big investment: a pair of matching couches) // Society Social Bar Cart // Weird Cat Wine Bottle Holder (a birthday gift from a dear friend!) // Chanel Book Set // Mud Australia Vase (a housewarming gift from my sister!) // Ladder to hold blankets (this is the best solution ever – I am always cold so have a million throw blankets, but they can be so cumbersome). // West Elm Curtain Rods (obsessed with this hardware, I think it looks so sleek!) // West Elm Velvet Curtains

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

Product Details: Pale Yellow Leather Moroccan Pouf // Horchow Coffee Table (last seen in my old apartment in this post!) // Palm Leaf Pillows (bought at Chairish, but sold out – these are similar!) // Rebecca Atwood Marbled Pillows // Brass Middle Finger Sculpture // Floating Book Cases (a word about these: on Amazon it says that they will take weeks to come… mine shipped within a few days – weird!)

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial, vintage Kartell skull stool | The Stripe

I bought this 8×10 Sisal Rug from Rugs USA (it’s so soft!) and this amazing vintage Kartell Rochetto skull stool (from the sixties) at Chairish. Oh and my slippers are c/o Birdie’s!

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

Alright, so here is the tutorial!!! (Apologies for the less pretty photos – most of these were taken with my iphone.) Honestly, I want to tell you that this was easy and that you should do it too but it was actually really, really hard. If I had known how hard it would be (particularly the taping, which took me a few days to finish), I might have thought twice. That being said, I am SO happy with how it turned out… it has really transformed the space and like I said, only cost me about $100 to do! Also, my room is really big (18×30) so if you live in a smaller space, it will be easier!

Emerald green is my favorite color, and every time I walk into my living room I just get so happy.

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

Start by vacuuming the space. Vacuum as if your life depended upon it. I went over my floors five or six times… the last thing you want to do is paint over dust, cat fur, your own hair.. gross! If you are painting over old paint or something that is not just paint (my floors were literally just painted two weeks ago) you may want to prime the floor, but I did not.


  • Two gallons white paint (I used Behr satin finish in Swiss Coffee)
  • One gallon colored or black paint (I used Behr satin finish in Garden Cucumber)
  • Lots and lots of painters tape. I think I went through 3 or 4 rolls!
  • Cardboard template (I made two 22″ squares).
  • Larger Paint roller + tray
  • Small Paint roller + tray

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

Night One: Section everything off with Painter’s Tape. Paint on the first coat of white. Hide your cat.

I opted to paint in sections… I did the checkerboard area, and then painted the area to the side a solid green. This let me have access to my computer and a place to store stuff while I painted. When it was all done I did two coats of solid green in the side area which was really easy!

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

The next morning: Paint on the second coat of white!

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

The next few days: Begin taping! This is (definitely) the hardest part. To be honest, it made me feel a little crazy. It took me a couple days to do and I actually started to see squares. The thing is, because of the negative space (the white diamonds need to be smaller to account for the space that the tape takes up), you really have to tape each diamond individually. I am a style blogger and not a decorator/professional painter/rocket scientist so there may be an easier way to do this, but I couldn’t think of one. So I spent several hours each day over the course of 3 days individually taping down my diamonds. I will say that the most important thing is the corners. Getting those nice and straight is what makes the biggest difference. Some of my diamonds accidentally ended up slightly larger than others, but no one can tell as my corners are all perfect.

I had a crack in the floor from where the plywood intersects that ran straight down the middle of my floor. I used this as my anchor to get my first row of diamonds straight. I started out by placing my two templates around the crack and taping around them.

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

From there, I taped the next row, and then the next.

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

It looked like this…

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

And then there was wine and cheese and my friend Stanley hanging out in the crawl space…

And then after a bit of wine it looked like this! (Just kidding, the below photo was taken a full day after that first one.

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The StripeDIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

Once I finished taping, I started the green! Using a small paint roller I added the first coat.

Note: You will probably mess up at some point. It’s fine. That’s why I kept a wet rag next to me at all times… anytime I accidentally colored outside the lines I could just wipe it off. The paint will easily wipe off at first, but once it dries you have another situation on your hands.

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

And then the second coat. And then I left it overnight. In the morning I peeled off the tape… it felt like Christmas. (I also ran around with a white paintbrush, dabbing paint over the nails – those are what those “holes” are, above. Some people recommend coating in polyurethane to seal it in/give it a shiny finish. I skipped this as I didn’t want mine to be shiny and actually think it will look cooler a little bit scuffed up.

(Just in case you want to pin this project for later… here’s a handy little graphic!)

DIY checkerboard floor tutorial | The Stripe

Leave a Comment


  1. Things are coming along great, you’re making excellent progress! Never thought checkerboard floors would look so chic and stylish!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      thank you so much, charmaine!! i’m so thrilled with how they turned out 🙂 x

  2. carrie says 4.18.17

    Wow! What a huge undertaking. But the result is amazing! I checkerboarded an ugly table in my first NYC apartment and even that tiny space was a lot of work. Good job!!!

  3. Theodora says 4.18.17

    This is AMAZING!

  4. Zara says 4.18.17

    Hi Grace, first time commenter here! Your space looks like it’s coming along greatly and the checkerboard floor looks awesome!

    Just a sidenote: please don’t donate your “old, dirty and incredibly gross sofa”. Seems like you are thinking that donating is just another way of putting away your trash for good. We all should donate preloved/unused stuff that are still in good condition.

  5. Jessica says 4.18.17

    Wow! I love it! Thanks so much for sharing pics on your new space, it is my favorite thing you’ve been posting about recently and it is so fun to see it all come together. Also…love your plans for the couch set-up…nothing better than being able to stretch out (and pass out!) in front of the TV.

  6. Brittany says 4.18.17

    holy crap, lady! way to go! what an improvement!
    ps who would care about spending money to upgrade a rental? it’s your home! you live there, you need to love love love it.

    xo, brittany

  7. Neha says 4.18.17

    Grace !! You did a phenomenal job with this. Kudos to your patience.
    I love the beverly hills hotel vibe – so chic.


  8. Hitha says 4.18.17

    This looks incredible – and so worth all the hard work! Can’t wait to see the floors in person 🙂 (Hint, Hint)

  9. Briana says 4.18.17

    Wow, this makes such a difference! Really creative idea.

    Briana | youngsophisticate.com

  10. Emily says 4.18.17

    This is amazing! I adore your color scheme and the Beverly Hills Hotel inspo! The floors look truly breathtaking. Also, obsessed with your slippers.

  11. Maureen says 4.18.17

    Those floors are super impressive and completely make the space so much happier! I also love the idea of painting the windowsill and would never have thought to do that. Both colors really brighten up the room. Also, definitely not silly to invest time in a rental – especially in New York 🙂

  12. Kristin says 4.18.17

    So, so cute! I absolutely love it. As someone who rented in NYC for ten years – I completely agree on making your apartment a true “home” for you even if it’s “just a rental” …. You are so creative! And I love your zest for life! 😉

    • Kristin says 4.18.17

      Also – 1-800-Got-Junk is a great way to rid yourself of the sofa. They’ve taken several pieces of my furniture and donated what they could and tossed what they couldn’t. Hassle-free and easy-peasy! 🙂

      • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

        Thank you so much!!! I usually use Vietnam vets, and they are great but I will look into this too!

    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      aw thanks for the sweet comment!!! I know I will be here for a while – I signed a two year lease and will probably stay even longer… so I want it to feel like a true home.

  13. Dana says 4.18.17

    I LOVE seeing your new place come together – it looks SO good!

    Pink Champagne Problems

  14. diana pearl says 4.18.17

    I’m totally living for all your apartment updates, so please keep them coming! I cannot believe you undertook this project — it looks AMAZING but OMG, seems like a lot of work! Very impressed. Can’t wait to see more and more updates as the space continues to come together. The pink/green theme is amazing!

    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      aw good!!! So glad you like them.
      This was a lot of work but I am sooooo glad I did it, it makes such a difference! xx

  15. Alice says 4.18.17

    I’ve LOVED following this update on Instagram stories – it’s been wonderful to see your new flat come together 🙂

  16. Caitlin says 4.18.17

    Your space is coming together beautifully! I love the vision you have for it, it makes following along so fun!
    xo, Caitlin

  17. Sam says 4.18.17

    SO impressed with this project and how far along you are with your apartment after so short a time! Looks amazing!


  18. Andi says 4.18.17

    Gorgeous! I would have done pink or gold if I was living alone haha!!!

    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      omg gold would be SO pretty!!! I thought about pink but think I’m going to do more pink accent pieces (throws, pillows, etc) to complement the green!

  19. Sarah says 4.18.17

    This transformation is AMAZING! Seriously you should be so, so proud of yourself. I’m wildly impressed and inspired. Come decorate my home for me?! 🙂

    Not much more to say other than this is super cool and I can’t wait to see what else you do with the place (not that it needs much, it’s pretty incredible as it is now). You mentioned new sofas – are you thinking you’ll do white or ivory again or is that too much work to take care of?


    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      thank you so so so much sarah!

      I actually just finalized the couches. Working with Room & Board on those… doing a soft gray velvet! The ivory one got SO dirty from sitting on it in jeans… I don’t think I’d do ivory again! xo

  20. Debra says 4.18.17

    “Hide your cat” LOL! Loved that!
    What a great decision the green and white floor was! Very excited to see the rest.

    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      Hahahahaaha… my cat got out and got green paint all over his feet! Silly kitty.

  21. Rachelle says 4.18.17

    I just rented a place, finally living alone and I made sure to paint to whole place white and people didn’t understand why I was putting my money in a rental, well home is my favorite place and where I spend the most time so might as well make it pretty. The floors came out amazing and you have so much patience, moving and decorating can be exhausting but it’s so fun.


    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      I’m glad you agree! I got a LOT of questions on Instagram stories (some bordering on slightly rude, like “Why would you put all this work into something that is not yours!”) about the rent/buy situation. At the end of the day I am like you… home is my favorite place. I work from home and entertain a lot so I want it to be pretty! Glad you like the floors and thanks for the comment! xx

  22. carrie says 4.18.17

    I’m so impressed with how quickly you jumped into all this!!! Xo


  23. Maggie says 4.18.17

    Thank you for posting this!! If you remember I posted the other week asking for pics and a tutorial. Thanks for doing it–your place looks amazing so far (honestly can’t even tell that you just moved in) and is giving me some serious inspo! Please keep it coming 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 4.18.17

      Aw, that was you!! Good – I am so glad you enjoyed it!!! LOTS more home content in store… I still have so much more to do! xx

  24. Lori says 4.18.17

    Amazing Grace! What a transformation the color blocked floor made. I love the little touches on your bar cart ~ the skull, kitty, hat box, Chanel Book Set. Thanks for sharing the fun with us!

  25. Emily says 4.18.17

    Wow Grace that really makes a huge difference! Your living room looks stunning!! I love the green…all of your hard work definitely paid off. I’d kill to have my living room floor look like that!!

  26. Julie says 4.18.17

    All the hard work paid-off, it looks great!

  27. Joanna Bradley says 4.18.17

    Grace, you did an awesome job! I love the floors, but what I mostly wanted to say is that your cat wine bottle holder is going to make the PERFECT gift for my best friend. So thank you thank you for sharing!!

  28. elizabeth ashley says 4.19.17

    I can’t wait to see how your apartment turns out! It looks like fun amidst the hard work 🙂

  29. A Girl, A Style says 4.19.17

    Grace, it is looking SO great already! And I LOVE those emerald chequerboard floors so, so much!!

    Can’t wait to see how you bring the whole place together.

    Briony xox

  30. Cathy says 4.19.17

    Thanks for this! Brilliant idea and well instructed. Sharing!

  31. Gina says 4.19.17

    I love what you’re doing to your new place – especially the color combos. Where did you get an indoor Lilac plant?

    • grace at the stripe says 4.19.17

      Hi Gina,
      It isn’t a plant… it’s just a lilac branch that I bought at the local market and stuck in my ginger jar vase!

  32. Cy says 4.19.17

    Wow! A lot of work that really paid off. I had no idea Kelly green was your favorite color. Mine too. I also look best in all shades of green, but sometimes it’s hard to find in fashion. Your apartment looks amazing. The best part of moving, redecorating the new space! My favorite elements are the floor and that Kartell stool is everything! Great job! I’m lucky, I have lovely hardwood floors or would be very tempted.

    • grace at the stripe says 4.19.17

      Aw, thank you Cy!!! So happy with how it turned out!!! Hope you are having a great week! xo

  33. Joan Sabran says 4.21.17

    Grace. The floor looks fantastic. I recommend sealing with a Matt finish sealer. It does scuff up pretty quickly. Especially in the high traffic areas. I did our home office several years ago (mine was a concrete slab, so easy job) but paint does chip quickly. Just a thought. Congrats on your new pad. Wishing you lots of happiness in Bklyn.
    Xoxo Joan

  34. Shannon Cannon says 4.23.17

    They look great! I applaud your patience on this project because I definitely couldn’t do it.


  35. Katie says 4.23.17

    Love your new floors! They are so cute and really brighten up your space!


  36. It’s beautiful. It is a good choice of using emerald green and blush pink color. Its final outcome is amazing. Your tutorial is awesome.