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COVID-19 and the Future of Interior Design

COVID-19 and the Future of Interior Design

The design business relies heavily on interpersonal connections between clients and designers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been keeping my finger on the pulse with peers via Zoom and teleconference.
Just as creative as designers are with color, styling, and interior architecture, we also can be just as innovative with how we conduct our business. Technology has been key to allowing us to do our jobs.

During a recent Emily Morrow Home Designer Pro-Gram Zoom discussion, one design team in Chicago explained how they were able to use FaceTime to “walk” their clients through the Chicago Merchandise Mart to show them looks they were recommending for their project. I asked how they were able to express the quality or texture or value of the products they’re selecting when the end-user can’t hold or feel it in person. Their response to me was that trust played an important role. That answer shouldn’t surprise anyone who understands the relationship and trust between design pro and client.

TRUST AND TRUE VALUE

Trust is at the heart of a great design project, as well as a design professional’s reputation. A client must trust a designer when it comes time to spend more on a particular visual or finish. Providing samples has long been a necessity to assure clients they were spending more money to get something more substantial. Sometimes it is “exclusive” or sometimes it’s a much better product, either by touch or weight. Because design consultation is considered a discretionary item, in today’s turbulent times, more and more designers are having to justify their work and price their services in ways that don’t seem to exceed the value they are bringing to their clients. More than that, designers are being asked important questions about the “why” behind their choices. Now more than ever before, designers are also being pressured to provide products that are “better” in terms of how and where they are made. As such, designers are working closely with retailers to learn the facts about where a product was made and by whom. Designers understand they have to have peace of mind that once installed, there won’t be pushback.

Because product knowledge is so important, sales associates must be ready to speak openly, easily, and with confidence about products. Designers are asking all of the right questions and providing solutions to their clients. One thing in particular that designers do best, both in commercial and residential design, is to put the human needs first. Today, consumers are demanding to know what each product contains.

OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

Homeowners were quarantining at home and seeing the various cracks, chips, and fading materials that they cannot wait to replace or update. Flooring is no exception. We saw an immediate uptick in online sample orders during the first weeks of the COVID-19 quarantine. The idea that homeowners would be interested in home improvement after spending unprecedented time at home seems obvious in retrospect, as does the color and design trends that are now gaining traction. There is currently a desire for calming and soothing color palettes, as well as bringing cheer into a space. Blues, squad, greens, and warming earth-tones are all trending upwards. Beyond comforting and soothing color palettes, there is also a desire for bringing health and nature into interior spaces. One way to bring the health and nature themes into the home is through the use of natural materials, such as hardwood flooring that is light, matte, and has cleaner grain. Trends indicate this style of flooring will outsell dark or muted wood floors. Floors that are plasticized, still will have their place in the market, but in a head-to-head comparison for a quality custom built home, hardwood floors will take first place. If it looks and feels close to nature, it is going to be an easier sell to homeowners than the plastic-looking materials. From a broader trend perspective, healthy homes are homes that you would consider luxurious and beautiful. I fully expect that healthy homes, even if located in urban areas, will include hardwood as a primary building material.

Because product knowledge is so important, sales associates must be ready to speak openly, easily, and with confidence about products. Designers are asking all of the right questions and providing solutions to their clients. One thing in particular that designers do best, both in commercial and residential design, is to put the human needs first. Today, consumers are demanding to know what each product contains.

 

HOME IS THE NEW WORKPLACE

One final trend we are seeing during the past few months is that working remotely is the new corporate norm. This provides numerous opportunities for us as flooring providers and interior designers. We must help homeowners define spaces within their home more definitively. There is the resting “oasis” space and the “work” space. If homes are now our sanctuary from the work world and our work worlds are now within our sanctuaries, what shifts are going to happen as a result? We also expect to see more merging of commercial and residentially styled products that perform under the pressure of daily wear and tear. Commutes are now taking place just across the kitchen or just across the hallway from the bedroom. With the merging of spaces, we will see an uptick in the quality of the finishes being used. If you’re now spending longer days at home working, designers and homeowners are trending strongly already toward a preference for anything that lasts longer and looks good longer.

 

 

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Sustainability for Millennials: Our Future in the Hardwood Flooring Industry is in their hands, Emily Morrow Finkell

Paris, France – April 26, 2016: Close-up of sustainable building in Paris with green facade made of living plants. Three pedestrians are walking in front of it.

For NWFA Magazine: July 31, 2018: Look around you right now where you are sitting or standing and see if you can spot a “cloth shopping bag”, a collection of used aluminum cans or a reusable water bottle. Look a little harder, perhaps around your home, and you’re likely to see evidence of “sustainability”…or what someone thinks “sustainability” involves. Not to suggest that today’s newest consumers don’t know or understand “sustainability”, it’s merely to suggest the opposite, that WE don’t understand the “new” definition. It has expanded and evolved since the early days of the “Cradle to Cradle” discussions in the design world as well as our floor covering industry. Today it includes carbon footprint, “farm to table” and even checking hidden labels to see the country of origin where our products are sourced and manufactured.

Next, consider how frequently you’ve seen headlines or heard references made to the millennials generation. It’s known as the next frontier for brands who seek to connect with their spending power. According to recent statistics, millennials spend approximately $200 billion in 2017 and studies have revealed their willingness to spend on “sustainable” brands. According to an op-ed article in Business of Fashion and the State of Fashion report by B of F & McKinsey, “nearly 90 percent believe they will help create more sustainable products by convincing businesses and governments to change existing practices…and would be willing to boycott a fashion brand if it was not sustainable.” What this means in our floor covering industry is not yet known but we should certainly be paying attention. Not only are they our future consumers and homeowners, they are our future work force, employees and business leaders.

Today we have emerging professionalscoming into the work force with multiple degrees, motivated to live differently from their parents who are less motivated by wealth and more motivated by health. Whether they identify as “millennials” or “HENRYs”, (High Earners Not Rich Yet) this generation’s biggest challenge is discerning truth in advertising from fiction. I happen to know many of these HENRYs…in fact I might even be their mom or their friend’s mom. My son Will Morrow is a “twenty-something” and epitomizes who and what HENRYs are. He’s working hard, living lean, saving and investing his income and is also very involved in his community, with a deep-seated commitment to ensuring his future in his (and my) hometown of Dalton, Georgia. Just so you know, the future is in wonderful hands and I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future leaders when I spend time with my own young adult children and their friends. They are smart, kind and very savvy. They’ve seen the world, they’ve worked hard to get through college and are now entering the world filled with both knowledge and “heart” and just so you know, they also are wiser than you’d think. They have a broad reach of social connections. At any given hour of the day, they get Snapchats, texts and messages from friends who are thousands of miles away and are living a well-connected life where age and income matter less than their passions, hobbies or interests.

“Those aged 26 are smack dab in the middle of the millennial generation, “the group of 93 million comprises people born roughly between 1980 and 2000,” The Journal writes. By comparison, the baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964 and numbering 78.8 million at their peak, have now declined to 74 million according to the latest census. Millennials, aged 17-37, are vital to every brands’ future, as they are “entering prime spending years as they buy homes and make improvements. Their outlays are growing as more of the generation moves into adulthood.” Their importance will only continue to grow up till about age 50 when their household spending is expected to peak, according to spending wave research conducted by Harry Dent.That means from now until about 2040, millennials will be the key consumer segment driving the U.S. economy.”

So many companies, for example those who produce food, fashion, flooring, have murky marketing campaigns that create an impression of being “sustainably-made”. It’s hard to see through the smoke and mirrors oftentimes and as an industry we do have a responsibility to make sure we are all being honest about what we make and how we make it. We all get that “feel good” warm fuzzy when we do business with companies who have been recognized for responsible stewardship only to find that some of these labels have been misrepresented.

In May of 2018, my daughter Mary Morrow traveled with a select group of Furman University students who spent three weeks studying “Slow Food Italy” on a small farm in Sora, Italy. Mary explained that we should seek out food that might take longer to grow, but is cultivated without harmful chemicals, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, using the methods of our grandparents rather than mass-producing food is our best bet for quality health as well as the refined enjoyment of flavor and dining experiences. These students not only studied food, nutrition and “farm to table” methods but also visited the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. They examined the seeds, the plants, the animals, and the preparation of each as well as the effects on our health. Thanks to her explanation of what many US fast food companies do to potatoes in order to make “perfect French fries” I can no mindlessly longer enjoy them. As she described her own purpose in “Slow Food Studies” as a Health Sciences major, it occurred to me that the study of slow food is a movement going on around us all and represents a broader shift in how our younger generations are seeing the world and how they view quality living. Take the same concept of mindful eating, and apply it to mindful shopping…for fashion and the home.

Gone are the days when US designers and home owners thought bamboo flooring was a “sustainable” option because it was plentiful and grew quickly…now we know it is imported from China which contributes to its carbon footprint, we know it does not handle scratches or moisture well…and then there’s this to consider:

Certain bamboo flooring from China  potentially contains high levels of toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde-based glues and finishes. As the bamboo must be sliced or shredded initially, it must then be adhered back together to form the planks that make up flooring.Sometimes, the adhesive used can release VOCs into the air over time, which makes the bamboo unhealthy for you and the environment.” – Brittney Smart, Home Edit.

The hardwood flooring industry can so easily be compared to our food industry here in the states. While we enjoy a vast variety of options of super cheap and super fast foods, we are paying a price that cannot be seen right or felt away. We are bringing materials into our homes that might be inexpensive and readily available as a DIY product, but it’s important to ask yourself: “how long will it look good, how long before it “uglies out” and how long will it last?” What if we saved up just a little more money and earmark it for US made hardwood flooring that doesn’t have to be replaced, that will look good for decades, that actually adds to the homes overall value and curb appeal? Why not fall in love with premium hardwood flooring rather than loathing the cheap base grade flooring we feel we must have as first time home owners? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we considered our flooring as much as we do other things in our lives? It would make our homes more valuable in the short and long term, and help to make our indoor air quality better with low to zero VOC hardwood (especially Emily Morrow Home Hardwood) and will last a lifetime, which truly makes it a sustainable material.

 

 

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How to Care for Your Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Floors

***This post has been updated from August 2018

By Kate Toburen Kranzlein, Marketing Specialist for Emily Morrow Home

 

Do you want to take care of your new hardwood floors so that they last a lifetime? (They can with the right care, by the way!). Simply keep them free of dust and debris, no wet mopping, and no harsh chemicals. “Less is more” is the best rule of thumb!

Now that you know what to do, let’s talk about what not to do to your hardwood floors to keep them looking pristine.

Cleaning

While using a vacuum is physically easier to use when cleaning hardwood floors than a traditional broom or dry mop, vacuums can oftentimes damage the surface of your floors. To avoid this, do not use the beater bar on the vacuum because that can scrape and dent your floors. Also, vacuums can create denting if dropped. Using a dry mop with little moisture is one of the best ways to dust your hardwood floors. Swiffer Wood Cleaner and Bona Floor Care have products which are gentle and ideal for Emily Morrow Home hardwood flooring that removes the dust and debris of everyday life without leaving a dull or sticky film to attract more dirt later.

No harsh chemicals, furniture polishes, or wood waxes should ever be applied to Emily Morrow Home’s hardwood floors.

Additionally, wet mopping your hardwood floors can lead to long-term water damage due to the overexposure to moisture on the porous wood*. A better option would be a dry mop or Swiffer mop.

*Knowing this, keep your house’s air moisture levels consistent to ensure that warping and cupping do not occur

Shoes

Try to avoid walking on your hardwood floors with high heel shoes. High heels create a lot of pressure in a small area which can create indentations on the hardwood floors.

Moving Furniture

If you move any furniture, use soft gliding pads underneath to reduce any scratches or indentations. Otherwise, if you move furniture, pick up the furniture completely off the floor and gently place it back on the hardwood in the desired location. Do not drag or scoot furniture across your hardwood floors.

Pets

The Emily Morrow Home hardwood collection is pet-friendly, and our durable construction proctects against most everyday scratches that your excited pooch or feline might inflict upon your floors. With our UV cured Aluminum oxide finish, our hardwood floors can stand the test of your pet’s “Scooby-Doo” moments. We caution you, though, in remembering that long exposure to moisture can damage hardwood floors. So, if your sweet angel has an accident or spills his or her water bowl onto your floors, you will want to wipe it up as soon as possible.

Bottom Line

Hardwood flooring is strong and tough, and it can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. We hope these simple care and maintenance tips will keep your Emily Morrow Home hardwood floors looking gorgeous for years to come.

 

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Grown in Seconds: What Does it Mean for Hardwood Flooring? Emily Morrow Home

First published in NWFA Magazine August 1, 2017, Grown in Seconds: What Does it Mean for Hardwood Flooring? Emily Morrow Finkell

After nearly 30 years as an interior designer, one of my favorite things to do is mentor and see new design students and new graduates “get their wings” and begin working in the real world. One way I’ve been able to work with those coming into the design field has been at the university level where I have served as a judge for senior design projects. On a recent project, one of the project prerequisites was that the students specify finishes and materials that were either recycled, rapidly renewable, or reclaimed.

In the competition, all but one student included flooring that was either bamboo or reclaimed material. Those students all received words of praise from the panel of judges and the professor. I withheld any negative remarks until I was completely surprised to hear one student be reprimanded, nearly ridiculed, by the professor for specifying hardwood flooring that was made in the U.S. for her project.

I was happy to offer the student encouragement and supporting data that she, in fact, had chosen well with her flooring. I also recommended that she and the others should visit the NWFA.org and woodfloors.org websites to find more information on the subject. This occasion occurred on the heels of having given multiple CEU-eligible presentations on “Sustainable Floorcovering,” so fortunately, I had the most recent data memorized. Specifically, the fact that U.S. forests are regrowing faster than they are being harvested. To which the professor retorted that these trees are probably not the same quality as those that had been taken already and that we should leave the forests alone.

Although I’ve told this particular story several times, it bears retelling as it is indicative of the misguided and misinformed, although well-intentioned, professionals who believe using bamboo (or another wood-lookalike substitute) over hardwood floors is better for the environment.

Let us take this as a cue that we all have a responsibility to share useful information whenever and however possible. With that in mind, I wanted to share information I recently learned at the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association’s (HPVA) annual meeting in Vancouver.

The presentation was given by Mike Snow from The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and was titled “Grown in Seconds.” The simple message is this: it only takes seconds for the hardwood used in a project to grow back in the U.S. AHEC’s website, growninseconds.org, features straightforward and compelling data as well as graphics to support their message.

For example, the site states the amount of carbon stored, the carbon footprint, and the volume used per species. There are so many reasons to love U.S. hardwood, certainly for its beauty and overall variety in aesthetics, but add to that the knowledge that it comes from forests that are vast and diverse. Most importantly, these forests are “replenished by natural regeneration and harvested selectively.” Their research has clearly established that U.S. hardwood is a low carbon material and “as they grow, trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere, storing carbon while growing, when harvested, and after being manufactured into products.” The group’s collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service Inventory and Analysis program enables them to know the rate that American timber grows, as well as how quickly it’s replaced by species in states and counties all across the U.S.

Having grown up in a family that comes from a long line of builders going back three generations, I’ve always been keenly aware of the sweet smell of freshly cut wood and newly bulldozed earth that go back to my earliest memories of checking on all the job sites with my dad before or after school. Going even deeper for a moment into sensory memories, the kinesthetic experience gets even better for me as an interior designer as wood cabinets, hardwood floors, walls, or ceilings are being installed. The scent of wood is exceptional and unlike anything else, certainly better to breathe in than the smell of synthetic materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC). For reasons that are sensory, kinesthetic, cerebral, and emotional, I am certain we will continue to see hardwood flooring and hardwood materials as a whole continue to remain a major player in the interiors industry.

Sometimes it is difficult to explain logically why one material is preferred over another, especially when there may be less-expensive and more easily obtained materials at every corner big box store to compete with. Logical, rational thinking can also sometimes dovetail nicely with very important factors when putting together a design project, and in the case of hardwood grown in seconds, it’s easy to justify why we love wood. Wood is naturally beautiful, and unlike the wood-look substitutes, its authenticity is immediately apparent to four of the five senses: touch, sight, smell, and sound.

Whether it be an architect, a design professional, a builder, or a homeowner who wants to be set apart from the pack, choosing quality materials that last and look not just good enough, but superior to the alternatives, makes hardwood a winner every time.

Let’s take our opportunities with students, interns, co-ops, newly hired sales people, or even our friends and family to share this incredibly important information about our forests and hardwood as a whole. Imagine seeing a forest replenishing itself even more quickly than the gorgeous hardwood floor going into your project.

Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design, LLC in Dalton, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor.

Grown in Seconds: What Does it Mean for Hardwood Flooring?

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The Definition of Luxury Hardwood: Emily Morrow Home

Don’t mistakenly equate “luxury” with “expensive”. It’s more about a customized look… and it’s currently what Emily Morrow Home’s customers desire and designers demand. “Interior designers work with demographic groups that generally are higher earning households, and their clients generally are hiring the designers to help create an interior that adds to their overall quality of life and pleasure,” said CEO Emily Morrow Finkell. She explained those clients are hungry to create a space that’s completely unlike the interior next door. These custom options, from cut to color, help differentiate high-end hardwood. Morrow Finkell says that having a range of format offerings is essential to curating a luxury line. “Having a variety of options,” she echoed, “either custom or herringbone are essential.”

Below is the interview recently conducted between Emily Morrow Finkell and Floor Covering Weekly for their 2020 FCW Luxury Issue

Q1) What defines high-end hardwood: the cut, finish, design, etc.? Please explain. Why are these attributes important? 

A1) The definition of high-end hardwood certainly should be looked upon in the same light as diamonds since they both begin with the “cut”… the more precious the part of wood that is revealed by the cut, the harder it is to achieve that particular cut, the more desirable it is. Quarter-sawn veneers and select grades of North American white oak are among the most timeless requests in the world of luxury hardwood especially if it’s domestically-grown and domestically-harvested, it leaves no doubt of its origins. Today’s consumers insist on knowing how it’s made, if it is “safe” for the end-user as much as it is for those in the factories, think of this material almost like the entire “clean eating, farm to table, organically grown” version of hardwood flooring. Colors and finishes for the flooring need not hide or disguise the beautiful flecks, grain and medullary rays of the material but rather allow the natural eye see and appreciate it for its natural beauty. Some of the color influences are also drawn from other natural materials like “limestone”, salt, plaster, natural linen, jute, hemp and the natural-neutral colors of wool. The colorations, although subtle are critical that they are “just right”, not too gray, not too yellow, not too pink, not too green…but “just right’ in almost every light source. Beyond the cut of course is the size (thickness, width and stability) of the plank…keeping in mind that having a variety of options, either “custom” or “herringbone” coordinates are essential. 

Q2) Why does wood sell well at the upper end? 

A2) Wellness, holistic homes and “healthy” living are major catalysts. Although it may sound like I’m repeating the same thing if you listened in to my presentation on Thursday for NWFA’s “Changing Market Trends”…you’ll begin to understand that it is a BIG TREND…and no one else seems to be talking about it, except me…so that is an indication that our industry is focusing on other things that they perceive as a higher priority. “Hipsturibia” and “holistic residential ares” are designed and constructed with the natural materials, although the per square foot price tag is on the high end, it is a trade off for what these consumers’ value over those from 20 years ago, who wanted the maximum square footage “McMansion”. Those who wanted “McMansions” probably loved their “Big Macs” while today’s homes are “conspicuously comfortable and natural” just like the uber-organic “Whole Foods” deliveries brought to their doors. 

Q3) What are the benefits of choosing a luxury wood?   

A3) Key themes for my brand and products have been “custom options”, premium cuts as well as timeless designs and colors. Knowing the higher end consumer’s desires and design styles has proven to be beneficial in curating the collection. Knowing the “whys” certain colors and finishes were trending upwards, and understanding that I didn’t want to be everything to everyone, but my particular segment of consumers.”Tendencies” and behaviors are the key, like in playing doubles tennis, when you see your opponent at the net reaching overhead with their tennis racquet, you should expect there to be a tennis ball coming at you right away.  Interior designers work with demographic groups that generally are higher earning households, and their clients generally are hiring the designers to help create an interior that adds to their overall quality of life and pleasure which includes what can be best described as the “spiritual” need to have a place that exudes who they are, unlike the interior of the space next door, unique. “Customization” and “experiential” both helped craft and define the collections of EMH hardwood. A love of travel, having a curiousity about the world and a desire to bring the most natural and healthful materials into a space, are at the heart of EMH and EMH for Louis A. Dabbieri. Without seeing some of the places I was inspired by, it’s still possible to imagine the colors of the Serengeti or the cloud of gray dust and blur of zebras and wildebeests when clicking on the videos showing the “Design Journey” for styles named “Tusker”, “Great Migration”, “Serengeti Spirit” …just to name a few. Taking those experiences and translating them into colors and finishes that leave no doubt that when looking at the flooring you are indeed seeing those very things in your minds’ eye. 

Wellness has been a huge priority in the Morrow-Finkell household as you already know, I’m a breast cancer survivor with now a daughter who’s a Covid-19 survivor and it goes without saying that everything we have touched, everything we have brought into our home has to pass a series of criteria: where did it come from? Who all has been in contact with it? What are the ingredients? How long would a virus or bacteria last on it? Where does this go when its useful life is over? Knowing that viruses live longer on plastic than they do on wood is one statistic many consumers will not forget after this pandemic is over. Living better, living longer are a priority over living “large” and brandishing designer handbags. Today’s consumers are living with health and wellness foremost in their minds. It isn’t your imagination that it’s the millennials, Gen-Y and Gen X’ers who have been the most outspoken for the “more senior” family members to “stay home and wear a mask”, while standing outside their windows or delivering their groceries to them. It’s the same consumers who are the recipients or soon to be on the receiving end of the ‘“transfer of wealth” already documented in various reports. 

 

RESEARCH EXCERPTS FROM ARTICLES CITED BELOW:

The researchers behind the new study tested the virus’ life span in a 71-degree-Fahrenheit room at 65% relative humidity. After three hours, the virus had disappeared from printing and tissue paper. It took two days for it to leave wood and cloth fabric. After four days, it was no longer detectable on glass or paper money. It lasted the longest, seven days, on stainless steel and plastic. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-can-coronavirus-live-on-surfaces-how-to-disinfect-2020-3

According to Rachel Graham, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, smooth, nonporous surfaces like doorknobs and tabletops are better at carrying viruses in general. Porous surfaces — like money, hair, and cloth fabric — don’t allow viruses to survive as long because the small spaces or holes in them can trap the virus and prevent its transfer, Graham told Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-can-coronavirus-live-on-surfaces-how-to-disinfect-2020-3

Wellbeing

The health of individuals – mental and physical – society as a whole, and the wider natural environ- ment. Growth in demand for a healthy outcome is driving innovation across the real estate sector.

Environmental, social & governance (ESG) criteria

A generic term used by investors to evaluate corpo- rate behaviour against a set of non-financial perfor- mance indicators including sustainable, ethical and corporate governance issues such as managing the company’s carbon footprint and ensuring there are systems in place to ensure accountability.

COLDWELL-BANKER-REPORT

Watch for housing developments focused around wellness, “hipsturbia” neighborhoods, and communities catering to active seniors, millennials, and LGBTQ. When it comes to luxury condos in big cities, we are already seeing more buildings offering unique hospitality and services for pets and children, as well as five-star hotel-condo models. New definitions of luxury are emerging, creating greater diversity within the marketplace. A one-size-fits- all approach to connecting with tomorrow’s affluent consumers is not the future of our business!

Tax law changes in 2018 that limited deductions for state and local taxes provide further fuel for buyers to move from places like New York and California to Florida and Arizona.

Another recurrent theme is the broad concept of wellness, which has come to mean much more than spas, pools, and exercise rooms to include everything related to holistic well-being. Increasing focus on green design is giving rise to rating systems that certify buildings as eco-friendly, while similar certifications are taking root to score buildings’ wellness.

Finally, there is a widening recognition of the increasing influence of several demographic groups in the luxury home market. 

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) estimates the worldwide wellness market to be worth $4.5 trillion, with the strongest growth coming from the spa industry, wellness tourism, and the emerging industry of wellness real estate,1 which has taken flight by responding to rising demand for buildings that support the holistic health and well-being of people who live and work in them.

“Luxury is the trend leader in wellness, but developers are starting to leverage the benefits to create more affordable smart-healthy homes and neighborhoods,” says Scialla, noting the sharpening focus on wellness at the center of new home conception, design, and creation.

With luxury goods, the craft origins, high-quality materials and small production runs that characterise the industry, assist audit trails. We can see who and how things are put together and the possible side effects during the manufacturing or distribution process.

The total number of luxury consumers is expected to reach 480 million in 2022, a 20% increase from 2015. As opposed to conspicuous consumption, social status today

is signaled through the consumption of experiences rather than material goods. By 2023, the experiential segment is forecast to account for nearly two-thirds of the total $1.2 billion luxury market.

Universalis Rift and Quartersawn White Oak Herringbone Floors are representative of timeless materials that never go out of style and are built to last a lifetime
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A Custom Connection | Luxury Hardwood Flooring

BY EMILY MORROW FINKELL AND PUBLISHED BY NWFA HARDWOOD MAGAZINE ON JUNE 1, 2020

What makes a wood floor “award-winning”?

Is it unique, showcasing something that no one else can recreate in any other material? Having been born in the carpet capital of the world and having worked in the flooring industry in all the categories, one of the first things I do (as do many of you) is look down as soon as I enter a building. It’s a blessing or a curse that comes from my upbringing in Dalton, Georgia, and is also a direct result of having been trained to know on sight “excellence” in materials, quality, and craftsmanship. My parents have been in the commercial and industrial construction business for more than 60 years and always modeled that behavior of observing a building and deeming that it’s of good quality or not so good quality.

A custom installation of Emily Morrow Home’s Authentic Luxury in a herringbone

Over the years of looking at flooring that literally “floored me,” some of the common attributes were very customized, thoughtfully designed, and installed according to the specific clients’ unique wants and needs. Customization is where we can connect with the hearts of consumers who love hardwood for its inherent warmth, quality, and the special feeling someone gets when they know their floors are “fingerprint individually” made just for them. That’s the moment when we find a significant shift in a consumer’s decision-making process; when they determine if or if not their floors need to be unlike anyone else’s or at least not feel like it’s at every big box store across the nation.

During our quarantine period and while almost everyone was shut down for business, my business was rolling along since most of what I create is “made to order” and the “customized” sense. Most of the consumers who aren’t impacted by recessions or pandemics want something “unique” that requires a series of back and forth conversations about species, quality, performance, color, and overall aesthetics. To make that dream a reality, it takes someone committed to delivering something beyond their expectations. Customization isn’t just the product itself; it’s how the relationship is handled, it’s the services you offer, and it’s the attention to their life and their needs. Perhaps this is a carryover from being an interior designer for so long, or maybe it’s my wish to treat others as I want to be treated, but the consumer’s experience is part of the package.

Color-wise, it’s essential to know without a doubt what colors are selling, what colors are trending, and even more important than that is to be able to understand and explain “why.” Anyone can parrot what they’ve read or heard some design maven or color forecaster say at an event, but it is a different level of knowledge for someone to possess to be able to rely on the perspectives of history, how colors have and will be trending, and knowing where and how it makes sense for various parts of the country.

Travel is the best teacher.

Attending markets is another great way to add to that knowledge base. The looks that are selling well and are trending strongly in this new decade are warmer than in the past five years. That’s not to say some hint of taupe isn’t important, just that “warmth” is more desirable today than before. Our vernacular is going to have to shift along with the trends and to make certain the homeowners, the retail sales associates, the sales reps, the brands, and the manufacturers are all speaking the same language. If someone is asking for a warmer “white oak,” that might not mean they are thinking “red,” but rather a “touch of gold.” Specificity is needed, with pictures.

Speaking of pictures, scan through sites like Pinterest and Instagram and see what many users are posting. You’ll see a subtle change in the look. Remember when we couldn’t get enough of Joanna Gaines’ Shiplap? Well, even Joanna has changed her look.

The “farmhouse rustic” has become more of a “cottage with class.”

Rough-edged planks have morphed into smooth millwork. Shiplap of gapped rough sawn wood is now shiplap of smooth painted planks –similar, yet different.

Lighting is also changing with the looks of interiors and flooring. Notice now that as our metallics have gone all out “gold” or “old gold,” lighting is also putting out more lumens, thanks in part to newer LED light bulbs that can be warm or cool. Although brighter, LED lighting is also less forgiving,
and the surfaces of the finishes need to be much less reflective (matte), so that there’s little to no glare in the interior. Everything adds up to “the new look” when combining matte, light, and bright.

Flooring that falls into the new look includes rift sawn white oaks with wood rays, which say, “I’m the real thing.” Faux finishes are no longer in designers’ repertoire, but rather natural materials like plaster,hardwood, wool, cotton, and linen. Polyesters and plastics have their place in the world market, they just aren’t “aspirational” materials and aren’t in the “dream homes” of 2020. Clean and natural are adjectives once applied to our eating,but those same consumers have studied up and decided they like the look and feel of authentic hardwood. It stands to reason, that something so natural, that feels so right, has to be better for us to live with. For these reasons and many more, we should be seeing a gradual and noticeable return to authentic, real hardwood floors.

 

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Emily Morrow Home | NWFA and FCW | Adapting to Changing Demands

Adapting to changing demands as featured in Floor Covering Weekly
Monday, May 4, 2020
By Morgan Bulman

[Chesterfield, Mo.] The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only disruptive challenge the hardwood floor industry has faced. For the second day of the NWFA’s first-ever virtual Expo, a session tag-teamed by Emily Morrow Home CEO Emily Morrow Finkell and Anderson Tuftex’s director of brand strategy Katie Ford outlined how to stay steady with wood in an unpredictable marketplace.

Define your business
“Our industry is continually being disrupted,” shared Morrow Finkell during the online webinar. “We have to accept that change is constant and that it really is up to us to adapt and evolve.”

Some of the biggest complaints listed by Morrow Finkell included internet sales, fake wood, cheap imports and the uncertainty of a post-coronavirus retail market.

“Ask yourself some tough questions: What is unique to your business? Who are you hoping will buy your products? Do you know how others see you? What types of products best fit your business and your customers?” she posed, while offering listeners to review and define their value disposition.

Elevate wood’s qualities
Authenticity as a business is key, especially in order to sell an authentic product. Morrow Finkell revealed one of the most important qualities of wood is its natural authenticity, especially considering the current wellness culture consumers are living in, particularly in light of COVID-19.

And although industry professionals have a tendency to get hung up on who to sell to, whether its Baby Boomers or Millennials, “the wellness initiative is huge for every one of these demographics and will continue to expand,” she said.

In fact, Morrow Finkell referred to the Global Wellness Institute, which reported “health and wellness” is now a 4.5 trillion-dollar market and that 134 billion of that amount is devoted to holistic-oriented real estate. This can include anything from available exercise equipment to sustainable building materials like flooring.

“Designers almost always advise their clients to go with natural materials, nine times out of 10,” she noted. Wood has always been the top, coveted flooring visual, but as the market becomes oversaturated with lookalikes, Morrow Finkell believes there’s untapped potential in offering premium, high quality products consumers are starved for.

“Wood is synonymous with wellness,” she stressed.

“Hardwood is truly timeless,” but a great way to stay on top of changing market demands is to keep tabs on what customers are looking for. And, right now, there are three aspects to keep tabs on:

1. Light and neutral colors: Plaster, jute, wool, linen and muslin – this is what has inspired the light and ultra-matte colors of Emily Morrow Home. “Organic is a huge buzz word,” shared Morrow Finkell. Natural, organic and plaster-inspired color palettes are trending.
2. Dark statement stains: Interiors in general are trending light – white cabinetry, light fixtures, fabrics. For these home choices, dark woods offer a great deal of contrast, revealed Morrow Finkell.
3. Premium cuts and graining: When it comes to wood, quality sells well. “If you have a premium brand, you need to have a premium sample experience,”. To receive free samples of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood, simply text EMILY2 to 900900.

 

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HAPPY EARTH DAY 2020!

HAPPY EARTH DAY 2020!

The sunrises and sunsets in Kenya and Tanzania were beyond description. This particular one was a view of the river where we saw so many hippos and crocodiles.

Celebrating EARTH DAY while working from home has been interesting. Typically Earth Day would be one of those days we are running in circles… just wishing we could be home, or be outside…and today, you guessed it, we have all that and more! I’ve enjoyed being able to stay home without any worry that I’m somehow letting someone down, not being somewhere that I’m supposed to be, and it goes without saying our dog Donatella is LOVING it! While we have been quarantined in our little Rocky Face abode, I have been able to drive to my office in Dalton since literally no one is there. It’s quiet for writing articles for NWFA magazine, EMH blog posts, plan virtual cocktail party for designers, host an occasional webinar, take an order or check on the status of orders at the plant. Now more than ever I’ve come to fully appreciate the fact that Emily Morrow Home is a “boutique” brand and company. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay “hands on” with a majority of the marketing because I know exactly what I want…based on all the conversations and discussions over the years with friends like you.

One “quarantine-achievement” in particular that I’m beyond proud of is the launch of the Emily Morrow Designer Pro-gram. It took a quiet mind to lay out the program in a way that enhances everyone’s enterprises, flooring retailers (check), distributors (check), decorators (check), designers (check), retail sales and design associates (check)…and the launch party is next week. Don’t worry, it’s a virtual cocktail party and thus far with have just around 100 RSVP’s who will be joining us. By the way, let me know if YOU or you know of someone you’d like me to invite, the more the merrier!

On Earth Days of the past we celebrated nature in all its glory and (think about this) we had zero worries IF we hugged a person. On this 2020 Corona-virus-impacted Earth Day, I celebrate the earth and nature FIRST, but I also pause to feel grateful for Apple’s MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhones since without those tools, I wouldn’t be able to stay so well connected with YOU. I’m a hugger…and I think this pandemic might just make me think twice about hugging…but meanwhile, I’m still sending “air hugs”.

If you’d like additional reading material check out NWFA’s April May 2020 Issue just released and my article is linked here for the  TRENDS of the NEW DECADE.

Enjoy Earth day ~  let me know HOW you and yours are celebrating!

Cheers!


This is just a glimpse into some of what we’ve been up to…sending out EMH hardwood samples, loading up EMH Cares Quarantine Packages and much more…all from our dining room table or back porch….and OH by the way, I found a missing memory card from my Nikon camera which was FULL of more amazing photos from our Safari in 2018. Some are below.

Elephants in the sunset, taken by Emily Morrow Finkell August 2018 in Kenya.
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Donatella the Truffle Dog will send you 2 free “puppy-size” EMH hardwood samples when you text ‘EMILY2’ to 900900

Donatella the Truffle Dog and I are offering a little extra help as we all work to get through the next few weeks of living in a world where quarantining is the best and smartest option. With our digital marketing capabilities we can easily process hundreds of requests for small hardwood samples in any given time without you having to trouble yourself. Once we send out confirmation that the sample order is going out, we provide the ‘nearest retailer’ information, give hardwood flooring and on occasion answer design-related questions…all of which I believe helps close the sale for you.

Feel free to use our COUPON CODE of “EMILY2” with your sales associates, your designers or any customers that you think can benefit from this service.

Simply text “EMILY2” to 900900 and we’ll take it from there!

Meanwhile, please feel free to read through the following, our installation instructions, our wonderful product warranty which includes a little more information about OMG Proof Protection.

 

Emily Morrow Home Installation Instructions

Emily-Morrow-Home-Warranty-OMG-PROOF

How to care for your Emily Morrow Home Hardwood floors

 

Thank you!!!

 

 

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While Quarantined…Where do you go to find inspiration for your designs?

A serengeti sunset is beautiful until you figure out that in the distance is a burning prairie in Kenya, photo credits – Emily Morrow Finkell August, 2019.

When asked recently by a member of the press, “Where are you finding creative inspiration during the quarantine?”…and my first thought was that there really wasn’t a creative moment in this whole adventure of staying at home. Then it dawned on me…I had been going back through photos of our treks, clearing out memory cards from my camera and one in particular was from our 2018 trip to Kenya. As any good photographer would do, I didn’t immediately “delete all” but instead “viewed all”…and am “keeping almost all” of the images. So many of the photographs are astonishingly beautiful, causing me to ask myself “how in the world did I miss this one?”. You know how it is when you first get home from a trip, there’s a rush of activity, the usual stuff you have to do when you’ve been out of pocket, and for us, when we got home from Kenya we moved right into product development of the new Emily Morrow Home hardwood styles, all of which were inspired by our travels, many of which were the Safari, and then we ran right into winter market. Quite honestly I never really got a chance to sit down and absorb all the photos I had taken, only a few of the ones that fit the story line of my products. Now that time has elapsed, and now that I have some spare time to do this, I’m amazed at the phenomenal images that have managed to go unseen until this week when I found them, they are treasures. One of my favorites is this shot. I just love the textures, the mix of colors, the contrast of the gorgeous sunset and the threat of danger from the fires. It’s amazing how immediately one image can call to mind such a rich blend of sights, the smells, the sensations in my memory banks. Once again, I am so inspired!

 

Enjoy the journey!

Emily

P.S. Share your favorite travel photos with me at emily@emilymorrowhome.com