The ideal kitchen floor is durable, comfortable to walk and stand on, smooth but not slippery, easy to clean, not injured by grease and water, and attractive in color and appearance. The wooden floor finished with paint or oil or covered with a good quality of plain or inlaid linoleum meets many of these requirements.
For the walls, smooth hard plaster finished with good quality oil paint is perhaps most satisfactory. Oil paint will stand repeated washings with lukewarm suds made from neutral soap, and can be renewed easily. Wall oilcloth applied like wall paper can also be washed with fair success if water does not get into the seams. If ordinary wallpaper must be used, a coat of varnish brushed on after it is hung will help to prevent steam from loosening the paper and will give it a more durable finish. The glaze on oilcloth and varnished wall paper, however, is irritating to the eyes.
A wooden strip or molding four or five feet above the floor cuts off the lower part that receives hardest wear. If painted or stained a different tone from the rest of the wall, this dado prevents differences in the two sections from showing up and the lower can be washed or refinished without making the other look shabby.
The woodwork should be plain, and there should be as little of it as possible. The baseboard especially should be designed to shed dirt rather than to form a resting place for it. Woodwork finished with the same oil paint used on the walls is economical of time and materials. Spar varnish applied after the wood is stained gives a smooth durable finish. For some kinds of wood, oil well rubbed in is satisfactory.
The color in which walls and woodwork are finished should depend on the lighting of the room and on its exposure. Light tans and grays with enough yellow to give them life are generally best because they are neutral, do not show soil quickly, and yet reflect considerable light.