As much as people fuss about what color and/or treatment to apply to the walls in their homes, designers know the flooring choice is what grounds the space. In many ways, that grounding is what will make or break the room, pulling the rest of the elements together.
With the increase in open floor plans, the way a floor flows and transitions from one area to the next has become even more important than it was in the past. And with the amount of real estate flooring occupies — it is the biggest visual element in the home — changing flooring is an investment (and lifestyle disruption) most people prefer to make infrequently, unlike the simple update of painting walls.
Hard-surface flooring — hardwood, tile, laminate and the like — remains the go-to choice over wall-to-wall carpeting. For those with allergies or difficulty breathing, hard surfaces are considered more hypoallergenic. They also are generally easier to clean, because it is much easier to wipe away a spill than to blot and pray it doesn’t stain. Also worth noting, from a resale perspective, hard surfaces are preferred.
Although consumer preference for hard-surface flooring isn’t new, what has changed in flooring trends are color preferences, sizes and manufacturing technologies.
Wood and Wood-Look Floors
Hardwood floors are not going anywhere. In fact, their use is expanding, with an increasing number of homeowners extending it into the kitchen. Some are even choosing to carry hardwood into the powder room, entryway and main bath areas.
There are definite regional and demographic differences when it comes to color. Some areas seem to be making the transition away from the dark black and brown tones toward lighter-colored flooring options, while others are staying dark. I find my clients are mixed in terms of preference, but they are going for extremes, either light or dark.
The difference is in the undertones; whitewashed and grayed finishes are prevalent. For those who prefer to stick with brown tones, there is a shift away from reds and oranges, in favor of more neutral browns and golds.
Finishes are veering toward a more satin or matte look. Less sheen, along with some of the more textured surfaces that are available, is more forgiving of imperfections, including dust and scratches. These are all strong considerations for those with young children or pets with claws that might mar the surface.
The “bigger is better” trend holds true when it comes to plank size. Along with getting lighter, top hardwood sellers are going wider, with preferences leaning toward planks that are at least 4 inches, although 5- to 10-inch widths are common. Planks also are becoming longer, especially for medium-high and premium brands.
For areas where hardwood may not be an option, such as condos and basements, there are many alternatives, including engineered hardwood.
Laminates have made great strides as printing technologies continue to advance. Some brands are almost impossible to distinguish as laminate, particularly to the untrained eye. Wood-look tiles also are now readily available at all price points, again relying on advances in printing technology.
This is a good sign for those who want a continuous-look floor throughout but would prefer something other than hardwood in areas prone to wet conditions, such as entries, bathrooms and even laundry areas, which often tie in to mudrooms and side entrances.
Technology is at the point where some brands will be able to offer a tile or laminate that looks identical to their hardwood or engineered hardwood offerings, thereby maintaining the look, and possibly even the feel, while ensuring better protection and lifetime wearablity. Expect to see transitional lines in the not-too-distant future.
Vinyl and Tile
As with wood, bigger is better when it comes to floor tile. Rectangular and larger square tiles often are preferred as they help visually enlarge spaces and minimize grout lines.
The same printing and technological advances seen in wood are improving the look of tiles: ceramic, porcelain and vinyl. Several brands now offer incredible facsimiles to natural stone and hardwood. Such enhancements bring higher-end looks to a more accessible price point. Vinyl tile, which can be significantly warmer under foot, will undoubtedly make a dent in sales over the coming months.
High-Fashion Area Rugs
With the preference for hard-surface flooring escalating, it should come as no surprise that the demand for area rugs also is on the rise. Not only do area rugs help define open spaces, they provide warmth and aesthetic appeal. As any designer can attest, a great area rug has the power to instantly alter the look and feel of a room.
Area rugs and carpets are shifting away from beige toward gray undertones, similar to the trend with wood options. But drama — bold colors, prints and patterns — remains high style. Keep in mind that pattern can go beyond color differentiation — in many area rugs, texture creates the pattern using a combination of varying tuft and loop lengths.
Geometrics and stripes are both popular pattern choices. While we are more likely to see patterns in area rugs than elsewhere at this point, that is starting to change. Tile options are becoming bolder, and we will see an increasing number of installations that create geometric designs, be it herringbone or something new and interesting.
Christina Mogk is the lead designer for mecc interiors inc., an accredited and award-winning Toronto-based design studio specializing in mindful, easy, classic, confident interior decorating, interior design solutions and project management for residential clients.
This article was provide by Multibriefs.