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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here at Emily Morrow Home, we’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on our beautiful new hardwood products and our theme this year is “Design Journey.” If you find yourself in Las Vegas this coming week, please plan to come visit us in Booth #925 at Surfaces 2019! You won’t be disappointed in our gorgeous new products, unmatched craftsmanship and designer-inspired color palette.
Also, we’re very proud to announce that Emily Morrow Home is nominated for three Floor Covering Weekly Dealers’ Choice Awards. Visit ourCampaign Page for more information on how to post to our selfie “Snap and Give” campaign. For every selfie submitted Emily Morrow Home will be making a $3 donation to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation.
To find out more about what FCIF is doing for those in the flooring industry click here. Please #VoteEmily!
Emily Morrow Finkell knows floors. Finkell, a former interior decorator, is the founder and CEO of Emily Morrow Home. Her company is one of the leading purveyors of American hardwood flooring, and has a pulse on flooring trends around the world. With 30 years of experience, it’s no wonder she’s considered the authority when it comes to luxurious yet affordable hardwood floor design. NAFCD caught up with Finkell ahead of Domotex USA where she will be hosting a design panel and lunch during the show’s inaugural breakout sessions from 11:30 am to 1 pm on March 1.
NAFCD: What do you think is going to be a hot trend in flooring for 2019?
EMILY MORROW FINKELL: Thus far it’s looking like a beautiful year for Emily Morrow Home hardwood. It’s a definite advantage to be “geeked out” as a trend forecaster. One of the hottest 2019 trends is the “Maximalist” trend which I forecasted as a coming trend in an article for Floor Covering Weekly back in 2017, and also in a blog post following High Point Fall Market. Today, maximalism fuels the consumers’ desire for “more is more,” and fortunately we have products which are styled perfectly for this trend. How does this manifest itself in hardwood and interiors, you might ask? To boil it down to the most simple terms, we will see longer and wider planks, as well as more variety in how we are installing hardwood planks, such as herringbone or chevron. For us, we are addressing this hunger for “more” in our 2019 Winter Market EMH introductions: “Great Migration” and “Tusker” for example boasts a 9 inch wide format which coordinates effortlessly with our herringbone, all in a sliced face white oak.
NAFCD: What is one formerly popular trend you’ve seen go to the wayside, and why do you think that happened?
EMF: Truthfully, we are seeing the fading away of “reactive” looks which were pretty hot the last two years, but anytime I see something come onto the scene that is “trendy” instead of a lasting “trend,” I will let others follow that until it fizzles out, which is usually pretty quick. What I do think people liked about the “reactive” looks was the movement of color. What people did not like about it was the way the color never stayed the same, hence the name “reactive.” It’s funny how the one thing that can draw people in can also be the very thing they tire of quickly. I do think some manufacturers have produced looks that mimic “reactives” however again I think to the less trained eye, they’ll tend to stay away from the look.
NAFCD: What’s one trend you’d like to see make a comeback?
EMF: My FAVORITE trend that has actually made a come back is the use of warm metallics, like aged bronze and gold finishes in lighting and kitchen and bath hardware. In one swift move, changing from brushed nickel to gold hardware can make an immediate update to an otherwise stale space. There’s a nice tie-in to hardwood flooring as a result of the warming of metallics which we have conveniently addressed in our 2019 Emily Morrow Home introductions. “Lewis & Clark” is one of our newest styles which is our nod to the warming of the palette. It’s a golden tan white oak with a sweeping sophistication making it easy to warm up an interior that might be starting to feel too cool with an all gray and brushed steel palette.
NAFCD: Do you find trends vary from region, or are they typically pretty similar across major marketplaces?
EMF: Over the course of my career at Shaw as Director of Color, Style and Design, one of the things I enjoyed most was keeping up with how colors that were selling tended to move and shift both nationally and globally. Our team had created a map of the USA which showed the top selling colors and styles from top to bottom and updated it quarterly. Prior to the 2007 down turn in the economy, I would see more regional shifts in the colors and styles. Then the recession happened and everything stopped moving and basically shifted into the super safe “gray beige” world. Since the rebound and our “Trump-bump” we are beginning to see signs of more movement again geographically. One other aspect that has changed is I’ve observed a more rapid adoption of global trends here in the USA from abroad.
In 2017 another mega trend I reported on in some publications was the Hygge trend which in essence is all about “comfort” based on Scandinavian design influences. Imagine seeing a tidy basket of small kindling next to a sleek, contemporary fireplace, an oversized woolen throw and a cup of hot tea steaming next to the felted wool sofa or chair. The sense of comfort and simplicity of the materials is my briefest explanation of “Hygge,” and you’ll always find hardwood in a Hygge inspired room. What’s more nurturing that hardwood finishes and I am thrilled that eight of our 12 new introduction are “natural grade,” where we have sorted out the heavier character and knots, leaving a “clean” wood grain visual.
NAFCD: From a flooring perspective, are trends dictated by taste or by the accessibility of materials?
EMF: For sure yes on both taste and accessibility. Our tastes are improved as our horizons are broadened. The more of the world we see, the more options we realize that there are to have. With this in mind, once you’ve seen the floors of your dreams, you can then bring that dream to reality, as long as it’s attainably priced for your budget. We are seeing looks in various price points that enable consumers attainable luxury hardwood flooring when historically it might have been too labor intensive to install. We have already watched the shift in the marketplace from more solid hardwood floors to more engineered hardwood floors.
Of course there’s always going to be an exception to this rule in areas like the Northeast where we still see more solid hardwood floors due to how homes are constructed, homes with crawl spaces versus slab construction. With the shift towards engineered, we are enjoying a wider variety of wood species as well as more options of how we are finishing the products. With engineered hardwood manufacturers can use a thinner wear layer for the veneer making better use of “premium” materials and using the less premium (still hardwood) for the platform. Hopefully everyone is working with US made products so they’re not surprised with a paper thin wear layer that will immediately be punctured with someone’s Christian Loubitain high heels.
NAFCD: How do things like tariffs and/or the global economy affect trends?
EMF: where do I begin…I think this is question that is impacting us all. For me, I am fortunate that we are sourcing and manufacturing our products here in the USA and are not fearing for what is around the corner. I am thankful for this and don’t wish that worry on anyone.
NAFCD: Anything else you’d like to add?
EMF: I am so grateful that we’re going to be hosting Domotex USA in my home state of Georgia where we all enjoy immense pride in our floor covering industry. With friends all over the world, I am so thrilled that they’re coming to us so that we can shower them with our gracious Southern hospitality!
First published for the NWFA Magazine March 28, 2017:
Every dog has its day…right? These days it seems as if dogs are living the high life. We’ve seen a growing number of adorable pooches who have their own Instagram and Facebook profile pages as well as a large following. Everywhere I’ve traveled recently, it’s been easy to find hotels that are “pet friendly” complete with dog treats and courtesy leashes in the lobbies.
This past week, I listened to some entertaining “dog tales” from the National Wood Flooring Association team about Michael Martin’s dog “Woodrow Forest Barker” aka “Woody”. He’s become the NWFA’s adored mascot. As the NWFA team told cute stories on Woody, I couldn’t help but think there are a lot of “Woodys” out there who hold special places in the hearts of the homeowners who are also choosing furnishings and flooring for their homes.
Homeowners are now designing their own spaces around the needs of pets and are choosing products for their home that will live up to the daily wear of tiny (or large) paws. If you spend any time searching HGTV.com, Pinterest or Houzz you will easily find posted photos of “pet projects” which feature custom-tiled dog bathing areas, comfy indoor air-conditioned and heated kennels fit for a king or a King Charles Spaniel. Beyond “dog specific” areas, the human-occupied spaces also include custom details like built-in dog feeding areas within the kitchen cabinets and fashionable dog sofas and beds with cushions upholstered in colorfully patterned fabrics. Speaking of fabric, check out the expansive selection of upholstery fabrics by companies like Sunbrella, Crypton and other “performance” brands. For years, the family dog wasn’t allowed on the furniture becasue of the damage it could cause but now the upholstery choices are made based on what would be “pet friendly” and easily cleaned. Now the family dog might have its own sofa covered in Crypton fabric with designs by either “William Wegman” or “Thibaut”.
According to a 2015-2016 survey conducted by the APPA, sixty-five percent of U.S. households, or about 79.7 million families, own a pet. The pet industry is expected to surpass its $62 billion dollar record set in 2016 according to the American Pet Products Association. “The pet humanization trend is alive and well and continues to drive growth at the premium end of the market,” said Bob Vetere, CEO of APPA. “As millennials prepare to take the reins from the baby boomer generation as the primary demographic of pet owners, they stand to further develop this trend.” Pet owners are a very diverse group of consumers. Young singles, newly married couples, young familes, empty nesters, retired seniors are just some of the types who are dog owners. Regardless of the age or phase in life, dogs enhance our lives in some wonderful ways.Whether it’s young professionals or retired seniors who otherwise would live alone, they feel that owning a dog is an ideal solution. Pet ownership can provide for social opportunities with other pet owners. Pets, especially dogs, can help you connect with other people, helping reduce stress, loneliness and giving a sense of responsibility and sense of purpose which contributes to overall well-being.
We’ve witnessed the influx of “Pet Protect” carpet, resilient and WPC flooring over the past few years as the demand for products that perform has continued to grow. It goes without saying that stone, porcelain, ceramic tile, LVT, WPC are easier maintenance for cleaning up not only spills but also pet accidents and muddy paws. Don’t forget though that there are endless hardwood floor options which are incredibly durable and stand up to daily wear quite impressively. Aluminum oxide finishes have elimated a large percentage of typical surface scratches and current flooring trends happen to include many species like white oak and hickory species which are inherently harder than others. Further current hardwood trends such as low to zero-gloss, face-sawn, wire-brushed and various other hand-scraping techniques make for a very forgiving flooring aesthetic as compared to the higher gloss smooth wood floors of the twenty years ago. Suffice it to say, homeowners need not compromise on the style or quality of their hardwood floors if they have a dog to consider, merely to be cognizant of the wood species, the type of finish, UV or oil-rubbed, as well as adhering to the manufacturers recommended maintenance for cleaning.
As we move into this economy which follows the recent presidential election, we’ll continue to see the introduction of more and more pet services, pet-centric products and pet-home products. Hopefully we will also see more hardwood flooring companies provide comprehensive and relevant information to consumers on dog-friendly products.
If you or someone you know are thinking about tackling some renovations or updates to your home this year…you’re probably a little torn between “if, how much and where” to use carpet, hardwood floors or rugs…or a combination of each. The first thing to ask yourself is how much of the legwork are you willing to do and whether or not you want to bring in the help of a professional. Perhaps it would be money well-spent to tap into the expertise and guidance you’d receive from someone who does this type of thing regularly and knows the potential pitfalls as well as the newest latest things to choose from.
As a professional interior designer and a floor covering expert, here are some of the typical questions people ask me…
Where can I install hardwood floors…can they go on my slab floor or in my basement?
How do I clean hardwood floors?
What do I need to consider when shopping for hardwood floors?
How do I tell the difference between “real hardwood” flooring and “wood look” flooring?
How long will this look be in style?
Do hardwood floors add value to my home or is that a myth?
How can I find a good installer that I know is reliable and skilled?
So for sake of time and interest, let me walk you through the basic process of how and why certain colors, finishes and “looks” are created in flooring today. For starters there are major trends going on in the world and more specifically the USA that serve as a guideline for what we will see in new product introductions. If for example, single family, new home construction starts are up and remodeling projects are up, you’ll see many more higher quality “enduring” products enter the market place. Like a see-saw, if the multi-family households increasing then you’ll find more of the value-engineered and performance products come into play. Homeowners want to know that the materials that they build into their homes or update their homes with will not only endure, but will stand the test of time. Many home projects are showcasing custom-type kitchen cabinets, luxurious bathrooms, very specific and unique aesthetics that go well beyond the “beige options” of the early 2000’s. Grays, taupes, creamy off whites and white-whites are clearly making homes look and feel entirely fresh and certainly not dated for the early 2000’s but positioning them for the next decade of color and design trends.
Today’s flooring options, especially hardwood flooring, is durable beyond what one would expect if they based their judgement on flooring of twenty years ago. We have technology built into each layer of hardwood from the face, to the core, to the back. Advanced aluminum oxide finishes not only resist surface scratches and daily wear, but also popular hardwood species like white oak become even harder and more stable when pressed and cross-plied with similarly-hard species. Many imported hardwood products are often imposters to “European oaks”, having “genteel sounding” names and romanced with wonderful storylines but when the rubber hits the road, or the can of soup hits the floor, the truth comes out and the shortcuts can be seen and felt, leaving many homeowners disappointed in their flooring choice, perhaps disillusioned in hardwood unnecessarily. If one does hire a professional designer and or a professional installer, then their chances of loving the outcome are much greater since professionals have typically worked with their “tried and true” products and brands, knowing that their reputation and livelihood is at stake with word of mouth and social media being one of the primary platforms on which they showcase their work.
How does one clean a hardwood floor? There are some great options today for keeping hardwood flooring clean, and like many flooring types, the less you do, the better. For wood, only a barely “damp” mop or dry “swiffer” type pad will work well. Little to no moisture is best. Assuming your floors are pre-finished, it doesn’t take much to keep them looking like new as long as you’re not dancing in heels, abusing them carelessly. Oil based hardwood flooring, is another thing altogether. I can hear the “Cinderella song” in my head right now just thinking about waxing oil-based floors. Knowing the right type of flooring for the right areas is so important once again going back to the values of working with a professional designer or installer. There are some basic things you should consider when choosing hardwood flooring for your home. I’d suggest sticking with porcelain tile or vinyl flooring for the full bathrooms where showers and bathtubs create a constant moist environment. Powder room type bathrooms on the other hand are beautiful when hardwood flooring is used and especially so if there’s a harmonious and continuous flow of the same hardwood flooring going throughout an open floor plan. Many times, I am asked if hardwood flooring is okay for kitchens to which I always answer “YES, absolutely”. In face, hardwood flooring is my personal favorite option for kitchens as it adds so much warmth, character and personality to the kitchen which has become the #1 area of the home where families and friends gather and generally the largest part of a home’s budget. Hardwood flooring and kitchen cabinet styles have both evolved over the years to provide homeowners wide options of colors, stains, finishes…giving a high end, luxurious first-impression for the rest of the home. Kitchen cabinet companies have been showcasing whites, off-whites, grays and even some robins egg blues at recent builders, kitchen and bath shows. Some “stained wood” finishes still sell but the biggest trends are found in painted finishes as they give a super-custom furniture effect when base cabinets might be one color and island bases are another and mixed together skillfully so that it looks and feels like actual furniture.
How does a designer or homeowner find a skilled installer? In today’s market, I’ve found in my research that most skilled and reputable installers are covered up with projects and booked a month out at least. Hopefully restlessness doesn’t kick in and cause one to choose an installer that is available on the spot. He or she might be free for a reason. It’s important to know that the NWFA has a wonderful website and team of experts that you can tap into to locate credible, certified installers that you can rely to install your investment for you in a way that you’ll be happy with today, tomorrow and for years to come. There are installers who might be “experienced and skilled” who might not yet have gone through certification with the NWFA. Let’s all encourage these skilled installers to consider the importance and value of “certification” as it sets them apart from the rest of the pack of installers, and allows them to force the competition to step it up in their own credibility. Currently there are over 1,200 NWFA certified installers across the USA.