Are We E-volving into Digitized Flat-World Consumers?
Did you know that the world is not flat? (Tell me something I didn’t know, right?) Well actually it’s way more than just round... Ancient greek philosophers like Aristotle, Eratosthenese and Pythagoras theorized that the world was a sphere and then centuries later explorers like Galileo and Magellan went out and proved them right. Navigating by the constellations above the horizon or seeing the round shadow of the earth during a lunar eclipse was ample proof that the earth was indeed not flat. “How does this tie into our modern day world of design?” you might ask. The world we live in today is round and yet many designers, consumers and hosts of companies who provide products for them treat the world as if it’s one dimensional. Look around you and consider all of the decisions you’re making based on a flat digital image. Our very tastes and behaviors are evolving towards what looks good on our Instagram accounts.
What looks good online doesn’t always look good in real life
As a professional interior designer who started my career 30 years ago, just before the internet became a thing, I have ALWAYS been drawn to textures that begged to be touched, memorable experiences that were intended be shared and artfully-layered interiors that beckoned me to sit for a while. Truly GREAT DESIGN, in my humble opinion, is steeped in art, science, architecture, culture and even a little bit of psychology. If done right, a well-designed space should invite the eye to come in, look around to find a focal point, experiencing the room in not only 3-D but by engaging the five senses.
Luxury Hardwood Flooring with “Good Sense”
With all of these thoughts in mind, take a little “Design Journey’ of your own through our newest collection of hardwood flooring, designed by an interior designer (yours truly), intended to be experienced by all five senses, and made to be a cut above everything else you’ll find in any big box store. Our hardwood flooring, like a luxury-performance vehicle, is not only beautiful, it demonstrates artisanal excellence that’s hand-crafted in the USA by an American hardwood flooring icon like my husband Don Finkell and his expert team who are passionate about what they do.
I am beyond thrilled to bring you luxurious hardwood flooring that, although is GORGEOUS, it performs well under a variety of conditions…whether it’s for a city dweller who sometimes spills a little coffee, or a dog-lover like me whose pooch splashes a little water or the busy family dashing out for a run or to tennis practice…bottom line, Emily Morrow Home is proof that beautiful design and great performance can be one and the same.
To borrow a fast food phrase, this season you can really “have it your way.” Do you want to use deeper, darker hues, or enjoy the ethereal effects of a layered off-white interior? Both are possible if you can’t decide.
Let’s say you’ve been eye-balling everything that pops up on social media feeds featuring navy blue or charcoal grey, but are afraid of being tied to that depth of hue. Do you think you might not want to live in so much darkness? Perhaps you’re imagining yourself coming into your home with the dreamy, creamy coolness and luxurious layers of off-whites and soft tans? That too is possible. In fact, you can do it all; it’s just a matter of balance – balance and a little smart strategy. The market certainly is offering endless options to consumers and providing tools making it easier to imagine via Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
Just yesterday, I opened my Instagram feed to see several posts from paint companies, design firms, and furniture companies featuring headlines like “dark walls are amazing, especially when paired with a pop of brushed gold and a lot of natural light.” Usually, when anything is trending upward, people can get stuck in a wait-and-see mode until they start to see the various ways it can be done and they find one that seems familiar and doable for their own home.
Don’t Be Afraid of the DARK
When designing any category of flooring for upcoming trends, it goes without saying that we know quite well what colors homeowners are going to be drawn to and what they’ll be choosing for the new colors as they plan their updates. For me, it’s always fun to find a few surprises, and believe me, there are quite a few right now. One of the biggest surprises is that grey is still right in the mix. Seriously, since 2007 I’ve been pontificating about grey and eventually dealers started seeing the “value” of the color (if you’ll pardon the pun)…consumers were asking for it, and the dealers responded by buying pallets and rolls of grey flooring to fill consumers’ demand for something new, grey.
Whether it’s the Color Marketing Group (CMG), Pantone, Elle Décor, or House Beautiful, fashion and interior designers, design editors, and homeowners are still loving grey. It is making gradual changes and is finding new ways of entering spaces, either by undertones of other colors or by partnering with vibrant hues or extremely light neutrals. But no doubt about it, grey is still strong. Personal expression is going to be driving the trends – while they seem to be going in every different direction, the personalized element is the common thread.
My home is a petri dish
My own home has always been the best petri dish for anything going on in design, and I’ll admit that my paint colors have been grey since 2006 or 2007, starting with my Revere Pewter at both my former and my current homes. From our current home’s front door, which is “Bear Creek”, to our living room and keeping room, which are “Wrought Iron” and “Chelsea Grey”. What I love about grey is what the rest of the world loves about grey: it is so easy and looks smart. Whether your metallic finishes are oil-rubbed bronze, nickel, or the newest brushed gold, grey simply works. I know we will reach a day when we are ready to pitch it all out for something that is inconceivable today. I do remember when grey felt old and tired and we were drawn to warm colors like Hepplewhite Ivory and Adams Gold, circa the 1990s.
I think the best way to encapsulate our new color trends discussion is to start at the end of 2018, where we began to see and feel “Inhale” and “Release” from CMG, a creamy white associated with deep meditative cleansing breaths to minimize stress as well as open up smaller spaces, visually expanding them. Who wouldn’t love that? White isn’t the only option for a small space.
Then we turned the calendar page and leapt right into 2019 and discovered a new grey, City Grey, an internationally acclaimed dark neutral that is very dark, 70 percent black. Darker shades can play up the size and make it feel cozier. Dark colors blend and blur lines and corners much the same way they do in fashion and flatter practically everything that surrounds it. While we may have felt the “ahhhh” of the “Inhale and Release” in December, that was just to get us through the end of the year and ease us into the urban vibe and faster pace of 2019 with City Grey.
What’s new about this grey, you may ask? This has a little sheen to its finish, unlike the matte and muted greys. We are finding these greys influencing our other colors in the trends list. For example, our deep green certainly is deepened by black, and greyed pastels are tinted by lightening it with the addition of white.
According to CMG Contributors Judith van Vliet, Sandy Sampson, Mark Woodman, and Maryanne Cole, “Urban and urbane, City Grey is the look of color modernity. Originally emanating from CMG’s Asia Pacific 2017 color forecasts for 2019, its appeal is international, and its applications seemingly endless.
“Strong, decisive, and influential, City Grey is appealing as a neutral color that is anything but neutral. Its depth defines its bold stance, its contemporary attitude, and its decisive industrial edge. It connotes the foundation of the urban landscape, the hushed night as it falls over a city, and the fortitude of a cityscape.
“For interior, it casts a like attitude. Simple enough to coordinate with other aesthetics, City Grey is capable of standing on its own. As an accessory piece it takes on new substance; as a background, it demands to be seen; and in furnishings, flooring, textiles, and more, it creates an interior environment that comforts with its depth.”
The Dark Side
Overall, when you turn the pages of shelter magazines in the coming months, you’ll see deep, dark, not gloomy, but certainly dramatically dark receding walls, and mid-value darkish flooring accented with large-scale patterns in various pops of color in accessories. The deep greens we are seeing are akin to the hunter and pine greens of the late 1980s, as are the inky navy blues. The combination of the navy blue, hunter green, and a swath of black make Black Watch Plaid, which has made its presence known across various categories from runway fashion to interiors. Ralph Lauren elevates this trend well with the Black Watch Plaids from RL Home and RL Mens and Womenswear, as does Barbour for men, women, the home, and pets.
What does our industry do with this type of information? For starters, this information is applicable to your graphics, your logo, your brand imaging, and even your room scenes. And don’t forget that your retail and digital presence should reflect that you not only know the design trends but also know how to pair them with flooring. Your team should also be well-versed in the design and color trends so that they too can reflect your company well.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By, Emily Morrow Finkell Published in NWFA Wood Flooring Magazine FEBRUARY 1, 2019
I’ve been in the interior design profession for what feels like a lifetime (nearly 30 years) and in the floor covering industry for more than 15 years. After all that time, it still always takes me by surprise when someone I consider to be experienced asks a question about where they can install hardwood flooring or the type of flooring they should use in specific projects. Recently while traveling, our guide said something that was both profound and witty: “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”
What I strive to do for my customers, friends, and the greater design community is to identify what they need to know, pinpoint what they don’t, and help them fully understand. One of the ways I do this is through a presentation I frequently present at designer events titled NWFA: Designing with Wood Floors. The CEU-eligible presentation analyzes the use of wood flooring as an element of design so that design professionals can become more familiar with wood floors to properly specify the product that will perform best in their clients’ projects. Being able to understand the advantages and maintenance of hardwood floors is part of growing in understanding hardwood flooring.
Furthermore, it dives in deeper in helping designers understand both the history and progression of the different types and species of wood floors so that they can specify hardwood floors in the best ways. Finally, the course helps explain how cut affects both the appearance and performance of wood floors. This is where I take off my industry hat and put on my designer hat and compare hardwood in the same light as diamonds, where the cut, clarity, and color change the look and value of the materials with which you are working. Hardwood floors are an organic material that naturally responds to its environment and can change over time. It’s important that designers have realistic expectations in regards to its performance and can explain that to their clients.
The Royals loved herringbone flooring
Historically hardwood floors were only enjoyed by royals and upper-class individuals because it required intense labor by expert craftsmen who would work on one floor for years. This is why many of the castles you might visit on a trip throughout Europe will still have the original hardwood floors intact. During our trip to Normandy, France, every interior we walked through, both modern and historical, had intricate herringbone and parquetry designed hardwood flooring. This is due to both the ease and accessibility of the smaller size of the wood used by the craftsman as well as the fact that these herringbone and parquet designs were, and still are, incredibly long-wearing if maintained properly.
Currently, we have a very diversified market where we can install on a wood subfloor or concrete slab, opening up more and more homeowners to the possibility of having hardwood floors in their homes. Today’s preferences are for domestic species like white oak, maple, and hickory with waterborne finishes due to increasing EPA VOC regulations. It has reached the point now where it’s expected that the products will be GreenGuard certified, and don’t be surprised for the specifier to ask about the safety of the product.
The shift in the marketplace has gone from primarily solid and partially engineered to the reverse due to the versatility and dimensional stability of engineered hardwood floors. There are plusses and minuses of each, but the plusses are now stacked more strongly behind engineered. Most people want a certain look at a certain price, and engineered hardwood floors allow manufacturers to take a particular cut of hardwood that might come at a premium and make that the featured surface layer of their products. Both solid and engineered floors can be sanded and refinished, but solid offers the opportunity for more numerous times than engineered. The sandability of engineered hardwood floors depends on the thickness of the top veneer layer. Additionally, engineered can be installed above, on, or below grade. Because of its cross-ply construction, engineered floors are more dimensionally stable, allowing for installation on wood or concrete subfloors, which includes basements.
What are the NEWEST Colors and HOTTEST Finishes?
Beyond solid and engineered, the options shift to finishing, which includes site finished, where the finish is applied on the jobsite. The other option is factory finished, where the finish is applied at the manufacturing facility. The manufacturing environment for factory-finished products also allows for enhancements like UV lights on the finish line, as well as adding aluminum oxide for scratch-resistant surfaces. Another aspect of finishes is that the color possibilities are truly endless; there is something for everyone. The 2019 Essential Trends: Color and Style Forecast for hardwood floors was recently released in the October 2018 issue of Hardwood Floors and further details my thoughts on the colors to watch this year. Grays are still strong, taupes are on strong hence the Emily Morrow Home 2019 Color of the Year being named “Tusker Taupe” as well as gesso-plaster white effects as well as the other end of the spectrum with the luxurious deep black of “Total Eclipse” and dark chocolate “William & Mary” (pictured below).
Luxury hardwood is like diamonds
As in diamonds, the cut of hardwood dictates its appearance. In the 1800s, quartersawn was typically used due to both the fashion and function of the times. Today, many hardwood floors are made from plainsawn cut wood because it is a more efficient cut with less waste. In the design world, I frequently get requests for rift and quartered partially for its look as well as for its cache. Rift and quartered is more efficient today with minimal waste but has a longer production time, which does add to the expense of the product. See the graphics below for additional details on how the different types of cuts affect the appearance of the wood.
There’s Nothing Like the Real Thing
The performance of hardwood floors always comes as a surprise to non-industry persons. Hardwood is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs or loses moisture based on the surrounding environment, swelling when it gains moisture and shrinking when it loses moisture. Hardwood is a natural material and should be desired more for its natural imperfections than for its perfections. If cared for properly and in areas that aren’t exposed to moisture, hardwood flooring can be a lifetime investment that adds not only beauty but also value to your home. It is the only flooring category that is known for adding to the value of the home rather than adding to the cost, and that’s because it’s the real thing, not a copy of a wood look.
Caution: Having Hardwood floors Can Make you LOVE your Home More
The bottom line and the sweetest part of this flooring material is that its advantages and benefits far outweigh any negatives. It adds stability and overall value to the structure, provides excellent insulation, and is durable, long-lasting, hypoallergenic, beautiful, sustainable, and timeless, creating a sense of pride and enjoyment for a life well lived.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at email@example.com.