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COVID-19 and the Future of Interior Design

COVID-19 and the Future of Interior Design

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

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

TRUST AND TRUE VALUE

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

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

OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

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

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

 

HOME IS THE NEW WORKPLACE

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

 

 

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How to Care for Your Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Floors

***This post has been updated from August 2018

By Kate Toburen Kranzlein, Marketing Specialist for Emily Morrow Home

 

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

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

Cleaning

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

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

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

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

Shoes

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

Moving Furniture

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

Pets

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

Bottom Line

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Definition of Luxury Hardwood: Emily Morrow Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RESEARCH EXCERPTS FROM ARTICLES CITED BELOW:

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

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

Wellbeing

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

Environmental, social & governance (ESG) criteria

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

COLDWELL-BANKER-REPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Universalis Rift and Quartersawn White Oak Herringbone Floors are representative of timeless materials that never go out of style and are built to last a lifetime
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Sharing Her Story by Burt Bollinger for NWFA Magazine

SHARING HER STORY BY BURT BOLLINGER

Published February 3, 2020 NWFA Magazine
Emily Morrow Home

Emily Morrow Finkell is providing her customers with American-made hardwood flooring with a very personal touch. With the launch of Emily Morrow Home, she has infused her life-long love of interior design into a series of made-to-order flooring collections that both tell stories and bring her unique life experiences into customers’ homes. This life experience includes more than three decades as an interior designer and flooring expert, including serving as Shaw Industries’ Director of Color, Style, and Design. “I’ve worked with a lot of wonderful people who taught me so much. Beyond interior design, I’ve learned so much about curating products into a collection as well as creating and launching a brand. I’ve learned the importance of knowing how to tell a story and how to make it easy to understand,” explains Morrow. Morrow’s first step to build her story outline was in-depth research. To do this, Morrow traveled the country, visiting with friends and flooring experts to seek out their input on what they wanted to see. She came away from those conversations knowing that they wanted something unique…something that could not be found at big box locations. “Those I reached out to wanted a brand that spoke to quality. However, they also wanted something they did not have to inventory, but rather work with sources that know the art of working with the design trade,” says Morrow. In addition to a brand that met these criteria, Morrow says she knew she wanted to speak to the idea of social responsibility and giving back. It’s a story that she has been able to tell through Emily Morrow Home’s manufacturer, American OEM’s unique set up, where the hardwood flooring is made-to-order in a plant located inside of a medium-security prison in Tennessee.

“Working with American OEM not only helps these men become reformed citizens, but they also become trained skilled craftsmen,” says Morrow. “By the time they are released, not only have they been paid, but they are frequently able to get jobs with us after they are released. It’s a program my husband, Don Finkell, developed in eight plants during his career in manufacturing hardwood flooring.” From a practical perspective, Morrow also believes this unique manufacturing process leads to stunning visuals. “It gives us so much design flexibility, and when so many dedicated hands can come together on a product, it allows us to do amazing things with wood. For example, some of our designs feature heavy scrapes, with black rubbed into the scrape. That said, for customers who have refined tastes, we also provide more traditional looks,” says Morrow. The unique manufacturing approach provides her collection to designers in a somewhat non-traditional way. “Rather than having to inventory all of this in their warehouses, because the team can turn orders quickly, buyers don’t have to commit a lot of capital for truckloads or freighters,” explains Morrow. As another way to make her brand unique and stand apart from others on the market, Morrow says it was vital that she told personal stories with color, style, and design.“It’s important that every style has a personal story behind it,” says Morrow. As one example, she was even able to gain color inspiration from her family trip to Kenya. “We were enjoying being unplugged, in the middle of the Serengeti plain, and while there I was completely filled with inspiration by the great migration of wildebeests. From the two weeks on safari came our EMH Color of theYear for 2019, Tusker Taupe, as well as our other newest colors, Great Migration, Moon River, and Serengeti Spirit.”

SPREADING THE WORD

Following Emily on Instagram yet? If not perhaps you are on Facebook? How about Twitter?  For Morrow, the final piece of her brand’s puzzle would be how she communicates her brand’s story to the world. In addition to creativity and finding inspiration from life experiences, Emily Morrow stresses the importance of digital marketing as a way to share her brand’s unique story. “Social media is essential, and everyone should be engaging with consumers through it. My advice with digital marketing is that we should make it personal if at all possible,” explains Morrow. “Today, there are so many ways to reach out to not just retailers and designers, but end-users to create demand and brand recognition. Ultimately, everyone has to do it their way and do what makes the most sense for their customer base, but everyone should try to find a way to tell their brand’s own unique story in as personal a way as possible.”

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Top 5 Design Trends for the New Year and Decade

EMH April May 2020 NWFA Top 5 Trends for the New Year and DECADE 

The roaring twenties are here and that brings not only a whole host of new ideas, new design trends, it also brings the much-needed look back over our shoulders at how trends have evolved over time. 

Why is it important to look back? It reveals the patterns that occur over a course of time that helps trend forecasters and design experts to discern what’s ahead…and thus we begin. Back in the 90’s one of my most brilliant friends led the creation of “color through the centuries” palette for a major corporation, all of whom shall remain nameless. That palette is a valuable timeline to follow how paint colors moved and changed, from warm neutrals to cool neutrals, or from fleshy pinks and grays to “peas, corn and carrots” and offered concise speculation as to “why” those changes took place. Unless you just entered the work place fresh from school, you’ll most likely clearly recall the first decade of the 2000’s. That decade was full of seismic shifts in the market, the economy and in consumers’ behaviors. The popping of the housing bubble wreaked havoc across the nation but started specifically on the west coast first. At that time, my focus was on the color, style and design development and updates on the soft surface side, which needed seriously updating. To update it meant traveling first to the epicenter of where trends initiate, the west coast. I spent not just days, but many weeks traveling up and down the entire west coast, from southern California to the pacific northwest. It was there, in that light, in those designer resource rooms and retailer showrooms that I saw the problem. Dated color lines looked old and stale in a showroom where hard surfaces had become such an important material. Frequently during my lifetime, I’ve worked in roles where I had to change hats from “product designer” to “interior designer” to “end-user”, in order to suggest or implement necessary improvements and updates while understanding how the form and function would have the most meaning and impact. For example working with dozens and dozens of retail floor stores and design studios, I’d work with the staff to pull their best selling samples of hard surface materials such as travertine, travertine nocce, granite, marble and other natural stones as well as the then “NEW” hand-scraped hardwood styles which at that time were very red, orange-red or reddish brown. Each of these hard surface materials needed to merge seamlessly with the carpeted areas throughout the aspirational “show homes” or “model homes” or else the sight line in the floor plans would be disrupted but an “off-putting” change in coloration. This goes back to the origins of what we hear all the time today as “open concept floor plans”, that truly is when we saw the shift to merging colors across all the flooring categories and no one was taking that approach in floor covering until then. It took the mindset of interior designers to demonstrate the importance of these materials needing to coordinate. Today things are both similar and different. Similar in that the materials still need to blend, different in that in some areas the hard to soft surface mix has shifted to 80-90% hard surface to as low as 10% carpet. Hard to believe while sitting in Dalton, Georgia, the carpet capital of the world.  

Remember Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia which states that an object at rest stays at rest while an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force.

Thus began the shift to coordinating carpet and hard surfaces, that previously had been done only by a few companies. Doing so shifted from a once-myopic approach to color development to a design-focused approach to product development, not just of one category, but to multiple categories so the consumer who is shopping for flooring could easily find colorations that simply fell into place during their selection process. These colors are what I classified as “Commitment Colors” (my own term rather than an industry term), meaning colors that aren’t easily changed out, but are “installed”, examples are counter tops, cabinets, hardwood flooring, and natural stone or tile. In the design world, both residentially and commercially speaking, there are “commitments” like these finishes which have a shelf life of eight to ten years at the most and the remaining colors in the market places are “fashion colors”, i.e. accessories or smaller items which can be changed out easily, frequently and relatively affordably. These items are things like artwork, rugs, pillows, drawer pulls, light fixtures and upholstery. Changing out the “fashion colors” helps to bridge the gap between the old and the new, making a “dated” interior look and feel up to date. Keep in mind, there is Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia. The law of inertia states that an object at rest stays at rest while an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force. The market, consumers preferences are like a massive object that will not move until an external force causes it to move. The forces that can cause a change are typically major ones, a failing economy, a change in political climate of a nation, to use a memorable example, the attack on September 11th, 2001. Following that attack, consumers flocked to colors and interiors that “soothed” and “calmed” in aquas, light blues and gentle greens. The housing market bubble and recession that followed led to preferences that became super-safe with stable colors of stable navy blue and gray. Navy blue suits, pants and jackets became essential for those who might need to spiff up their attire after having been laid off and needed to interview for jobs. Then gray entered the scene during this time frame and really hasn’t left us yet. There are still parts of the country that are just now installing gray items. These areas that were the last to adopt a new trend are always the last to leave that same trend. 

Now that we’ve looked back, let’s look ahead to the TOP 5 NEWEST trends

1) GOLD FEVER 

We have a lot to look forward to in the new decade. We are seeing “gold” in the new decade. Both the metallic gold and color gold. Wall colors are going to stay either “White Heron” BM OC-57 or “Thunder” gray BM AF-685 for a bit longer but the fashion colors we’ll see added to the spaces will include timeless favorite combinations of “navy blue and white” which just so happens to be among *my lifelong personal favorites. Also expect the gradual emergence of the buttery “Golden Straw”  BM 2152-50 or other warm colors such as the pinkish “First Light” BM 2102-70, Benjamin Moore’s 2020 Color of the Year. 

2) LIGHT-BRIGHT

“LIGHT” is a key theme for the new decade’s trends. Lightness in color is essential for the transition of the new trends as it helps make the shifts easier to manage for all interiors. Just think back to my previous color forecast which included “Sea Salt”, “French Limestone” and referenced the “Hygge” movement starting back in 2016, we can expect to see more of those light and airy trends for quite some time. Hygge is a Scandinavian term for making things calm, comforting and eliminating clutter, bringing order into the home. But like always, there will always be an opposite reaction in the market place which brings me to “maximalism”, everything and the kitchen sink. The clash of colors, the clash of design styles all require there to be one element that allows for some much going on, and that is hardwood flooring, especially lightness and brightness in color, clean without much character, longer and wider planks, and lots of color punch. 

3) SAY IT AIN’T FAUX 

Whether it’s the Hygge or the Maximalist trend, both call for one thing, and that is “real hardwood”. There’s no room for “faux” materials in this new decade…we are now entering in the wonderful world of “natural fibers, natural materials” as well as premium finishes and installation methods.  Consumers who have been eating “clean”, are on regular shipments of “organic” ingredients, are meal prepping in “glass only” containers are the same consumers who are becoming very weary of the “fake” plastic feeling of their “non-hardwood” wood look alike flooring. These are the same consumers we have all been talking about as “millennials” who at first were labeled as someone who lives with their parents but now we are learning this same generation will be the recipients of a great deal of wealth as they inherit from the boomers’ estates. The millennials do know better quality, and aren’t shy about asking questions, perhaps much to your annoyance if you’re in the retail business, but know this, if you educate them in a non-condescending way, you’ll earn their business. All of our surveys and research indicate that the millennials DO WANT to and are now beginning to own their own homes, they aren’t willing to trade down in quality, and they do appreciate “natural” premium materials. Keep in mind though that this demographic group OWNS DOGS and they LOVE THEIR DOGS…so flooring in this new MUST BE PET FRIENDLY (see trend 5)…it’s not optional anymore, it’s a must have.

4) MOODY BLUE  

It’s always exciting when you see your own favorite design elements come into vogue…sort of. What happens is this, I have a few things that I have always adored, regardless of whether they are “in” our “out”. It becomes annoying when all of a sudden your most cherished thing is splashed across every magazine cover, social media post and inside the covers of shelter catalogs, making your “special” thing feel less unique. That’s the case with the massive blue trend we are seeing in interiors. You can easily find it, it’s a color of the year for several companies, from Sherwin-Williams “Naval” SW 6244 to Pantone’s “Classic Blue” 19-4052. It was just yesterday when I designated “English Royal Navy” as a color of the year, which should tell you this…some colors are going to always be around, especially colors like Navy Blue which have a universal appeal regardless of gender, of socio-economic status or design style. Navy Blue is making a huge splash because it can be “nautical”, it can be “coastal”, it can be “urban”…and it works especially well with light whites and looks amazing with brushed gold accents. For the world of hardwood, I don’t suggest you go out and get blue hardwood flooring but you do need to have an awareness that consumers are going to be painting walls this color and your offerings of flooring will need to coordinate well with it.

5) HEAVY PETTING REQUIRED

We are now in a time when it’s not a trade-up or optional add-on to have some product that is pet-friendly. Look around you and you will see an endless array of pet-friendly or kid-friendly products labeled as “performance”. They are spill-proof, splash-proof, resist fading and surface scratching. These performance products at one time had a small niche market. Companies and brands like Stainmaster, Sunbrella and Crypton blazed the trail years ago showing consumers that they can spill on fabric or carpet and the liquids would bead up and roll off. That was then and this is now. We have fashion and interior brands that have brought “performance” into the mainstream mindset where it’s now an assumption rather than a add-on that products will stand up to some form of spills and traffic. Think about our attitude towards vehicles. We are the same consumers who have a huge appetite for SUVs with four wheel drive although we rarely engage that feature. We are also the same consumers who love kitchen appliances that are commercial-grade. Gas ranges, freezers and refrigerators that have an ultra-commercial look to them, have commercial-type options but are set up for residential use is where you’ll find a majority of the activity at shows like KBIS and IBS. We have to have hardwood flooring that can be submerged in water, endure a family of kids, dogs and muddy boots now and still look beautiful after all that abuse. Thanks to innovations in technology we can have it all. Today our industry does have companies like American OEM that makes Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Flooring “OMG Proof Protection”, “WetWorx” and there are other trade and brand names for hardwood finishes that can endure. What’s next? Stay tuned!

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DO YOU HAVE 2020 VISION? | Emily Morrow Finkell for NWFA Magazine


2020 Vision BY

Published By NWFA Magazine on  

As an over 50-year-old person who wears bifocals and has astigmatism, I can assure you that I don’t have perfect vision. What I do have, and offer to share with you, is my 2020 vision for design trends. The year 2020 is going to be one where we see that our specific market preferences are not entirely unlike 2019, but what will drive these preferences will be new and altogether unexpected. 

If you look at what is watched most often on streaming platforms, you’ll see that circa 1995 is very well represented. Shows like Friends have recently been rediscovered by the millennials (as they didn’t get to watch it when it was broadcast 25 years ago). Besides Friends and the reboot of Beverly Hills 90210, you’ll see cultural influences as seen on these shows from the ’80s and ’90s interiors emerging in 2020. As with every trend that has cycled from decades past, I asterisk them with this: Any trends from years past will undoubtedly be improved upon thanks to modern innovations.

These fashion trends aren’t just a passing fancy that will come and go quickly. Most likely, you can expect to have many “blasts from the past” making a big comeback. 

Behind almost every interior design trend, are the runway fashion trends that spark it, and haute couture houses like Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Saint Laurent, and Celine are hot on the ’80s while J. Crew specializes in making the ’80s trends applicable for the everyday person. Without going too far into “back to the future” mode, let me list some of the fashion trends that will impact interiors for 2020. 

From these trends, there will undoubtedly be some impact on our interiors choices, not in hardwood flooring, but as pops of color and sparkle for accessories. 

You may have already seen some of these examples in a Target or Home Goods store near you. For those of us in the floor covering world, we are all striving to stay one step ahead of trends, in the sweet spot of what matters most. Many years ago, I said there’s a big difference between trends and trendy, and to sum it up simply, trendy includes things that pop up and go quickly like reversible sequins on pillows, while trends are things that have a much longer shelf life, such as brushed gold lamps, fixtures, and accessories.

My eye is always on the longer sustaining trends, but knowing full well that the trendy can impact us unexpectedly.

Color and design professionals understand that the colors that are trending are affected by finishes, gloss levels, and even practical things like cleanability. That said, hardwood flooring colors are easily going to be well within the matte range of gloss levels. We can say with confidence that glossy-shiny is passé and will be for some time. We can also say that the reds, oranges, and wine-colored woods from the late ’90s and early 2000s aren’t coming back anytime soon. We do see the old-fashioned hand-scraped cider-colored floors on occasion, but it’s typically in an installation where the project was built without a designer or specifier involved.

In 2020, we will see a darkening neutral palette with more warm grays, charcoal to full black, as well as espresso browns.

The counterbalance to these dark neutrals will be accent-colored walls as well as lighter case goods and upholstery colors; creamy off whites with bright pops of color in trims; contrast welting, fringe, and tassels. 

With major companies tapping into the performance brand fabrics like Sunbrella, Crypton, and Revolution, consumers now are becoming more and more knowledgeable and thus confident in their expectations of life with a dog and an off-white sofa. (It can work.)

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Step into performance flooring, and you’ll find a wide variety of options as well. The hundreds of wood-looking vinyl, composite core, and ceramic products have so over flooded the market that consumers are looking around for something special. 

More times than not, they’re looking for the real thing…real wood is a real as it gets. 

Without a doubt, our digitally overstimulated appetite for ease and convenience is shifting to what is lasting and enduring. This is no different from when the over 50 crowd decided they wanted sophisticated and timeless classics instead of trendy styles that they tired of easily, or simply didn’t last long enough. My research time and again is turning up consumers who are asking for quality materials, and working with retailers and contractors who know their stuff and can guide them through the very confusing process of selecting hardwood flooring.

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What’s possible today wasn’t possible a few years ago, and that is waterproof and splash protection for hardwood flooring. 

Innovation, as defined by Merriam Websters Dictionary, is “a new advancement or a change made to an existing product, idea, or field” and manufacturers of floor covering are always innovating. Things that work for one category can sometimes be applied to an altogether different category, much like the transfer of using aluminum oxide in laminate flooring to hardwood flooring resulting in scratch-resistant surfaces. In the tidal wave of products that are “waterproof,” we can now find a handful of hardwood flooring brands that are protected from splashes, spills, and the occasional pet accidents. This is a giant step for our industry, which allows consumers new-found confidence that they can indeed turn back to real wood flooring.

Knowing that the Baby Boomers continue to age gracefully and carry their purchasing power with them into the decade of the ’20s, they will be a major catalyst that will influence our decisions for what they demand and what we manufacture. The same needs might apply to the performance of finishes to what they want and need.

The top design styles based on age is something to watch.

According to a recent Architectural Digest article by Lindsey Mather, “Millennials (those ages 18 to 34) are seemingly obsessed with modern, minimal midcentury design, called ‘mod visionary.’ Alessandra Wood, a design history Ph.D. and the director of style at Modsy, isn’t surprised. ‘Younger generations living in cities are likely living in smaller apartments and condos, so a minimalist aesthetic is more appropriate – perhaps even necessary – for the size of their spaces,’ she explains. ‘Midcentury-style furniture tends to feel more open and less bulky, and is known for being livable, which translates to both comfortable and stylish. Urban areas are also the prime location for the industrial aesthetic, with tons of converted lofts and newer buildings mimicking the loft-feel.”

The article also highlighted that the 55- to 65-year-old Baby Boomers, most often received ‘refined rustic’ as their result on the style quiz. “‘Refined rustic, in particular, blends classic forms with a more informal rustic style, suggesting that these generations are looking for a comfortable feel to their homes,’ says Wood. Perhaps life has taught them that a sharp-lined, sculptural armchair – a sure bet for millennials – isn’t what you want to cozy up in, well, ever.”

Besides performance innovations and the ’80s and ’90s fashion trends, which we will see in 2020, expect to see some familiar trends. 

Gray, taupe, greige, and chalky off-white are going to remain strong depending on where you are geographically. These neutral colors serve as long-standing timeless trends that won’t go away for quite some time as they are very practical, forgiving colors that help disguise the tracked-in dust and dirt of pets and people.

In a recent design project, my client showed me a photo of swept up shed dog hair from their chocolate lab. I emphasized the importance of that practical knowledge stating that it can be the perfect palette for their home so they won’t struggle with unsightly dog hair on their furnishings and flooring daily. In the same week that this client showed me their dog’s hair color, I also spoke to a group of regional flooring retailers and designers where one of the attendees stated, every person I know has a dog, and that dog rules their home or apartment. Employers are even permitting employees to bring their dogs to work as a way to attract and retain skilled and talented employees. We will see more and more performance, and pet-friendly features work their way into our world. With both fabrics and flooring already addressing this need, what will we see next?

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 an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at emily@emilymorrowhome.com.

SOURCE: architecturaldigest.com/story/top-interior-design-stylesbased-on-age

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Domotex USA 2020 | Emily Morrow Home to host Design Personified: Behind-the-Scenes Mill Tour

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Emily Morrow Home Featured on Fox News

Emily Morrow Home Hardwood was one of the featured manufacturers at the Inaugural “Made In America Expo” in Indianapolis, Indiana where Carley Shimkus of Fox & Friends News shared the story of our commitment to American-made, higher-end hardwood flooring that has a unique manufacturing model developed by Don Finkell, at American OEM, inside a medium security prison just west of Nashville, Tennessee. Click here to see the interview in full.

Fox & Friends News Carley Shimkus interviews Emily Morrow Finkell

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Saturday, October 5th, 2019 Fox & Friends interview Emily Morrow Home at the Made in America Expo where company was named the “Made In America Manufacturing Community Award” 2019 winner 

On Saturday October 5th, 2019 Fox & Friends Carley Shimkus interviewed Emily Morrow Home at the Made in America Expo in Indianapolis where the Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Company was named the “Made In America Manufacturing Community Award” winner.

The “Made In America Living Room”, designed by Emily Morrow Home, featured sliding chevron barn doors *made of sliced white oak from the same hardwood as the flooring in Montezuma, Indian, which coordinated with the warm gray white oak floors “Paddock”, a modified version of mid-century modern sofa made in Lenoir, North Carolina by Aria Designs, hand-woven rug and pillows made by Patricia Lukas’ Loominaries of Candler, North Carolina. The color palette of the Living Room was inspired by the American Flag which was featured among the made in America accessories.

The Made In America Emily Morrow Home Team: Spike Tilden, Don Finkell, Emily Morrow Finkell, Don Blair, and Joe Miller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Made in America Community award was a nod to the “community” aspect of the prison industries enterprise which is at the heart of the Emily Morrow Home design aesthetic, artisanal visuals for hardwood flooring.Emily Morrow Finkell accepts the award as a way of showing her admiration for her husband Don Finkell’s lifetime of work with the prisoners within his program.

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If you would like to locate the nearest retailer(s) who carry the Emily Morrow Home Hardwood or the Louis A. Dabbieri Exclusively by Emily Morrow Home, feel free to contact us at info@emilymorrowhome.com, call 1-866-775-3877 or click here to locate your nearest retailer,

keeping in mind that our presence across the USA is growing weekly and it might not reflect the complete list of floor covering retailers.