Do you find yourself drawn to natural materials because of their beauty? Have you ever considered that it’s your most basic of instincts guiding you to choose something that is better for you. We spend a good portion of our lives in our homes, even more if you’re working from home, and can either choose to have healthy natural materials that make us feel good and look beautiful, or the alternative option of high VOCs, products laden with chemicals the likes of which we are only beginning to discover. As a survivor of breast cancer and an interior designer I’d like to help you see the many ways you can attain a healthy home for you and your loved ones.
CAN YOUR DECISIONS HELP YOU STAY HEALTHY?
Decorators and designers are experts at choosing what’s going to work best for their clients. We do continual research into what’s new, what’s going on in the materials world, whether something is going to last and look beautiful for a long time or wear out quickly. Designers want your decisions to be “investments” making your homes become more valuable, not necessarily so you can sell it for more money than you have in it, but so you can enjoy the value of it while you are living there. If you’ve ever prepared a home to sell by repainting the walls, installing new carpet or hardwood floors only to find yourself loving the transformation and wondering “Why didn’t I do this years ago?”.
WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER?
We are now looking ahead into what is even more important than aesthetics, health and wellness. If something is beautiful but makes you feel sick, can you really enjoy it? Oftentimes it takes time to discover the hidden costs of certain decisions and we find ourselves at a crossroads, between “cheaper” flooring, furniture and other products that are made with elevated levels of chemicals that have compromised the health of our homes and offices. If you’re not in the space for long periods of time, no big worry; however if you are quarantined at home and working from home, then you’re finding that the materials you want around you are made of the most simple ingredients. Natural hardwood is one of my areas of expertise and I have learned and seen the best and the worst in this specific industry over the past 30 years. What I hope to do is help you with finding not only beautiful hardwood flooring, but also flooring that is made in the United States, of the most natural of ingredients, that will last a lifetime if treated with a little love.
INCREASED SCRUTINY OVER INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Not to be too much of an infomercial, but it’s important to start by stating that all Emily Morrow Home hardwood flooring exceeds (and in some certifications are exempt) all the indoor air certifications because we do not add any formaldehyde, our manufacturing process is incredibly simple, using UV lights on our finish line, essentially “baking” in the stains and protection of aluminum oxide that in the end make it possible for the end users to install the flooring products and walk on them the same day. There is no need to allow them to cure, or sit for days and ours have zero VOCs or indoor air allergens to be concerned with. I think it’s important to design a space that, yes is beautiful, and even more importantly to be a space that everyone can relax and enjoy without worry or fear that it’s easily damaged or even worse, bad for our health.
Think about it~ Let me know what YOU are doing to stay healthy!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
“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.
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.
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