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Emily Morrow Finkell Discusses Flooring Trends Ahead of Domotex USA

As published in Flooring Trends Magazine on January 16th, 2019: click here for original article

Emily Morrow Finkell knows floors. Finkell, a former interior decorator, is the founder and CEO of Emily Morrow Home. Her company is one of the leading purveyors of American hardwood flooring, and has a pulse on flooring trends around the world. With 30 years of experience, it’s no wonder she’s considered the authority when it comes to luxurious yet affordable hardwood floor design. NAFCD caught up with Finkell ahead of Domotex USA where she will be hosting a design panel and lunch during the show’s inaugural breakout sessions from 11:30 am to 1 pm on March 1.

NAFCD: What do you think is going to be a hot trend in flooring for 2019?

EMILY MORROW FINKELL: Thus far it’s looking like a beautiful year for Emily Morrow Home hardwood. It’s a definite advantage to be “geeked out” as a trend forecaster. One of the hottest 2019 trends is the “Maximalist” trend which I forecasted as a coming trend in an article for Floor Covering Weekly back in 2017, and also in a blog post following High Point Fall Market. Today, maximalism fuels the consumers’ desire for “more is more,” and fortunately we have products which are styled perfectly for this trend. How does this manifest itself in hardwood and interiors, you might ask? To boil it down to the most simple terms, we will see longer and wider planks, as well as more variety in how we are installing hardwood planks, such as herringbone or chevron. For us, we are addressing this hunger for “more” in our 2019 Winter Market EMH introductions: “Great Migration” and “Tusker” for example boasts a 9 inch wide format which coordinates effortlessly with our herringbone, all in a sliced face white oak.

NAFCD: What is one formerly popular trend you’ve seen go to the wayside, and why do you think that happened?

EMF: Truthfully, we are seeing the fading away of “reactive” looks which were pretty hot the last two years, but anytime I see something come onto the scene that is “trendy” instead of a lasting “trend,” I will let others follow that until it fizzles out, which is usually pretty quick. What I do think people liked about the “reactive” looks was the movement of color. What people did not like about it was the way the color never stayed the same, hence the name “reactive.” It’s funny how the one thing that can draw people in can also be the very thing they tire of quickly. I do think some manufacturers have produced looks that mimic “reactives” however again I think to the less trained eye, they’ll tend to stay away from the look.

NAFCD: What’s one trend you’d like to see make a comeback?

EMF: My FAVORITE trend that has actually made a come back is the use of warm metallics, like aged bronze and gold finishes in lighting and kitchen and bath hardware. In one swift move, changing from brushed nickel to gold hardware can make an immediate update to an otherwise stale space. There’s a nice tie-in to hardwood flooring as a result of the warming of metallics which we have conveniently addressed in our 2019 Emily Morrow Home introductions. “Lewis & Clark” is one of our newest styles which is our nod to the warming of the palette. It’s a golden tan white oak with a sweeping sophistication making it easy to warm up an interior that might be starting to feel too cool with an all gray and brushed steel palette.

NAFCDDo you find trends vary from region, or are they typically pretty similar across major marketplaces?

EMF: Over the course of my career at Shaw as Director of Color, Style and Design, one of the things I enjoyed most was keeping up with how colors that were selling tended to move and shift both nationally and globally. Our team had created a map of the USA which showed the top selling colors and styles from top to bottom and updated it quarterly. Prior to the 2007 down turn in the economy, I would see more regional shifts in the colors and styles. Then the recession happened and everything stopped moving and basically shifted into the super safe “gray beige” world. Since the rebound and our “Trump-bump” we are beginning to see signs of more movement again geographically. One other aspect that has changed is I’ve observed a more rapid adoption of global trends here in the USA from abroad.

In 2017 another mega trend I reported on in some publications was the Hygge trend which in essence is all about “comfort” based on Scandinavian design influences. Imagine seeing a tidy basket of small kindling next to a sleek, contemporary fireplace, an oversized woolen throw and a cup of hot tea steaming next to the felted wool sofa or chair. The sense of comfort and simplicity of the materials is my briefest explanation of “Hygge,” and you’ll always find hardwood in a Hygge inspired room. What’s more nurturing that hardwood finishes and I am thrilled that eight of our 12 new introduction are “natural grade,” where we have sorted out the heavier character and knots, leaving a “clean” wood grain visual.

NAFCDFrom a flooring perspective, are trends dictated by taste or by the accessibility of materials?

EMF: For sure yes on both taste and accessibility. Our tastes are improved as our horizons are broadened. The more of the world we see, the more options we realize that there are to have. With this in mind, once you’ve seen the floors of your dreams, you can then bring that dream to reality, as long as it’s attainably priced for your budget. We are seeing looks in various price points that enable consumers attainable luxury hardwood flooring when historically it might have been too labor intensive to install. We have already watched the shift in the marketplace from more solid hardwood floors to more engineered hardwood floors.

Of course there’s always going to be an exception to this rule in areas like the Northeast where we still see more solid hardwood floors due to how homes are constructed, homes with crawl spaces versus slab construction. With the shift towards engineered, we are enjoying a wider variety of wood species as well as more options of how we are finishing the products. With engineered hardwood manufacturers can use a thinner wear layer for the veneer making better use of “premium” materials and using the less premium (still hardwood) for the platform. Hopefully everyone is working with US made products so they’re not surprised with a paper thin wear layer that will immediately be punctured with someone’s Christian Loubitain high heels.

NAFCDHow do things like tariffs and/or the global economy affect trends?

EMF: where do I begin…I think this is question that is impacting us all. For me, I am fortunate that we are sourcing and manufacturing our products here in the USA and are not fearing for what is around the corner. I am thankful for this and don’t wish that worry on anyone.

NAFCD: Anything else you’d like to add?

EMF: I am so grateful that we’re going to be hosting Domotex USA in my home state of Georgia where we all enjoy immense pride in our floor covering industry. With friends all over the world, I am so thrilled that they’re coming to us so that we can shower them with our gracious Southern hospitality!

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A trip to Africa inspires EMH 2019 by FCW Morgan Bulman

A Trip to Africa Inspires EMH 2019 Products…Originally Published in Floor Covering Weekly on Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Storyboards are essential to the design process and help Emily Morrow Finkell transform inspirations into products.

They heard it before they saw it. For several days, Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO of Emily Morrow Home, waited to witness the “Masai Mara,” a migration of nearly two million wildebeest across Africa in search of greener plains and savannas. On the second to last day of her trip to Kenya this past August, while perched atop a safari jeep with husband Don Finkell, CEO of American OEM, cameras and scopes zoomed in, Morrow Finkell saw movement across a nearby river. They felt the wildebeest hooves echo like a rumble of thunder as they took off in a blur of color — a moment that would later serve as the chief source of inspiration behind Emily Morrow Home’s 2019 hardwood collection. For a short video clip of this experience, click this link “Emily Morrow Home’s Design Journey“.

“You can see the dust, the wildebeest, the zebras and other smaller animals all getting caught up in the herd as they’re migrating. They’re giving birth, they’re dying, there’s this whole circle of life story that was the biggest key for my products,” recalled Morrow Finkell. “Our products are natural and when you bring them into your home, you’re living on them, you’re experiencing important chapters of life with them. And they’ll last, they’ll be there for it all.” 

Dalton, GA: The Emily Morrow Home collection for 2019 is twelve-SKU range of cooler browns and warmer grays, drawn from scenes Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO, observed of lion fur, zebra manes and the hides of rhinos, elephants and, of course, wildebeests. But her recent visit to Kenya isn’t the only story — a mixture of other memories and travels also appear in the upcoming collection.

For example, Paddock, a gray brown with subtle shading, ushers in sights from the Kentucky Derby. And, similar to that, Justify is a warm brown that mimics the Triple Crown-winning racehorse it’s titled after.

“The one thing I can’t not be is personal. Even when we have had designers and architects help with the inspiration, providing so much input into the products, colors or finishes, we work together on the naming process,” Morrow Finkell told FCW during a visit to Dalton. “There’s a reason behind why we do it. I think everyone likes to have a connection to a name. It makes it more memorable and we can immediately call to mind with our imagination the reasoning of the names.”

Each SKU is different, whether it comes down to an oil-rubbed look, a super dry low gloss, an ultra-micro bevel or a white plaster imitation. Yet despite the variability, there’s still some flexibility with the possibility of further customization.

“We find ourselves collaborating with a number of groups, such as for luxury high-rises, when there are times a project calls for something more unique or special to best fit that space,” said Morrow Finkell. “Everything is semi-customizable and we’re going to take that to the next level. That’s not to say that people won’t find exactly what they want with our original creations, but if our customers feel they need to make something more custom, we do have that design flexibility.”

One aspect that is the same across the collection is the addition of MorCore, which will give the floors an enhanced 3.55 mm wearlayer. The thicker platform, Morrow Finkell mentioned, is in response to designers asking for a little bit more when it came to the wearlayer, which is previously 2.5 mm thick. Both, however, also come with a “Donatella the Truffle Dog” scratch resistance.

New to the collection is the upgraded MorCore, which features a sturdy 3.5 mm wearlayer.



For Morrow Finkell, the collection now has even more to love. With a greater durability, an increased width and length, and a higher impact resistance, Emily Morrow Home wood flooring can be used for both residential and commercial undertakings. In fact, the new white oak option in taupe, which features a smooth surface and is seven inches wide, is currently being installed with Apex Wood Floors for a commercial project to elevate a luxury appliance showroom in Chicago.

“Because our products are so incredibly well-made and constructed — all the way down to the wearlayer, warranty and finishes — they can go across all categories with no issues or hesitations at all,” explained Morrow Finkell.

Morrow Finkell also suspects there will be a few winners in the new collection of twelve, but she’s excited to see the market’s real response. For her, it’s about creating something fresh, but not something so new that people can’t embrace it and put it in their own homes.

Currently, advance previews of the collection are being shared with select customers across the U.S., but is set to be fully unveiled at the Carpet One winter convention in early January with Emily Morrow Home as a vendor to CCA Global Partners, then at TISE later that month and Domotex USA in February. The collection announcements will also include EMH’s 2019 Color of the Year.

 

The 2019 hardwood collection from Emily Morrow Home will feature a product inspired by the company’s 2018 color of the year, a matte black, called Total Eclipse.

 

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2019 Essential Trends: Color and Style Forecast

Emily Morrow Home “REFINED SIDE” a warm gray white oak engineered hardwood flooring

Emily shares the Essential Trends in 2019…Color and Style Forecast with NWFA Magazine October 1st, 2018 issue. Read below for the entirety…

While it’s still 2018, those of us in product design and the development world are already living and working well into the 2019 calendar year. What, you may ask, does next year have in store for design trends, especially those that will impact our hardwood flooring choices? Here, I will share some very important and exciting insights that might just surprise you.

As someone who has not only professionally forecasted design trends and applied them into successfully selling collections, but has also practiced interior design for 30-plus years, I absolutely love this time of year when we start seeing product design shifts.

In my past life as Shaw’s Director of Color Style and Design for soft and hard surfaces, my scope had to be much broader. I had to focus on the aspects that all fit together so that the carpet colors and the hard surface colors would not only be trend forward, but also be salable. These colors had to have broad application across the United States, and that part has not changed one bit. It is that deep and wide background that enables me to successfully forecast well into the coming year with significant accuracy, knowing what’s essential for flooring collections that will be selling. Now that I’ve explained the groundwork, let’s dive into what we will see in 2019!

Many people ask me whether I think gray is staying or going away. My answer is based on the responses I have gotten when working with specifiers and designers, and looking at what finishes are going into projects a year from now. Gray is still with us, and still a very viable and necessary part of a product mix, perhaps even more so in hard-surface finishes like hardwood flooring. You also might see very colorful trend alerts from professional organizations like the Color Marketing Group, where pastel pinks, bright yellow golds, and blues are trending upward. There should be footnotes on these trend reports that spell out in fine print that these are accents and relate to broader product categories like apparel, interior accessories, cosmetics, and even automotive colors. That being said, these accents are like the colorful necktie on a stylish navy blue suit. The foundational color palette is what matters for us in the hard surface floor covering world.

Over the years, when speaking at design events and presenting trends, I have referred to the foundational color palette as “commitment colors,” indicating the big pieces of furniture, built-in cabinets, or other types of large surfaces that are not easily installed, replaced, or moved. This means that specifiers and end-users acknowledge that this surface color will be there for an average of five to seven years before it’s replaced. This space, this very myopic color palette, has been my primary focus recently.

The catalysts driving the foundational color palette currently are not just color-related, but also visuals and textures that are nature-derived and can be best described as aspirational luxury. Make note: This overview is what many would call the high-altitude view. You can expect to see marbles, granites, and limestones that are above and beyond your ordinary colors or names like Baltic Brown. The look is slightly more unique; the names and veining are a little on the exotic side. In general terms, these are names that most homeowners are not acquainted with, like Pietra Grigio or Nero Marquina. Aged travertines, Bianca Dolomite whites, gray-veined Carrara, and gray-gold veined Calacatta marbles, gray and black soapstones, and even gray poured-concrete slabs. Overall, this naturally derived color palette is generally cool; you will also see emerging warmth from luxurious onyx, Emperador Dark Marble and wood species like walnut.

2019 Color Forecast: Nature’s Neutrals

Black Eclipse: feeling more dark charcoal than a straight-out ebony black, Eclipse is just as the name implies, a shadowy black that works best in premium-quality hardwood where the grain is straighter, certainly no application on a rotary cut hardwood. Again like a shadow or an eclipse, there is no reflective quality to the darkness, simply matte darkness, velvety, if anything, in its appearance.

Emperador Dark Brown: Emperador Dark Marble is a rich brown marble that can change from slab to slab depending on how much and where the white veins run. Rich browns are on the horizon in hardwood flooring in the form of rich matte chocolate browns, especially in the walnut species. Walnut, in the right color family of brown, is and always will be timeless and salable. Walnut, although not as hard as other hardwoods, is making a strong showing in both commercial and residential interiors. Overall, one of walnut’s best attributes is that it can be mixed in with a variety of design styles and with a variety of other surfaces.

Bermuda Stone Gray: gray is enjoying a very long and successful life span. Since its first showing in 2007, gray continues to reign strong in every consumer goods category as a go-to neutral, backdrop blank-canvas type color, which bridges easily with other colors and also serves well in a wide range of design styles from mid-century modern to rustic farmhouse. Gray continues to become more and more refined as it evolves. Currently, grays have segued into that look and feel that is silvery, patinaed, and aged, yet smooth in texture.

French Limestone: The chicest hardwood color is in the same family as reclaimed French limestone. A quarried look and feel is the target texture. Not quite scraped, not quite wire-brushed, not quite chiseled, this actual color creates its warmth through the just right off-white with zero yellow, zero pink, just warm like the stone you’d see in an old château in France.

Sea Salt White: Speaking from recent experience of admiring the Bermuda sands on a recent trip, Sea Salt off-whites are akin to a mist with hints of color only from reflections of the surf and sand. Looking to find off-whites, you can certainly find the similar influences from my mega trend of plaster-gesso whites from 2017 and 2018. In keeping with gesso and plaster, Sea Salt is matte, and more importantly is not flat, nor opaque.

 

I look forward to the year ahead and hope that the Nature’s Neutrals palette explanations I’ve shared help clarify and define in your mind what is going to be the essence of 2019 design for wood.

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 emily@emilymorrowhome.com.

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

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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How Personalization Cuts the Noise and Equates to Sales: Emily Morrow Finkell

As we look forward to 2018 trends, the themes of personalization and storytelling still remain prevalent as consumers work to weed through all of the static and noise on social media—to find people and brands that allow them to authentically connect. When we look at the positioning and language that major brands use in their marketing materials, it’s difficult to feel like a real person is behind the scenes. I’m oftentimes left wondering, “Does this brand really care about me, my family and my needs?”
Interior Of Busy Design Office With Staff
What most people want and need are solutions to their unique challenges or problems.
Because of the barrage of information, promises and claims in the digital realm, in particular, consumers are wondering who they can really trust. Research from Mashable.comshows us that Millennials are 50% more likely to trust user-generated content, because the stories are told by actual people with real lives. Trust is built with transparency and authenticity- the reassurance that this brand has invested in the time to really get me.
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After thirteen years as the director of color, style and design for Shaw Floors carpet and hard surface, I had time to really reflect on what the consumer wanted in her home. Countless designer summits, conversations with industry colleagues and deep dives into industry data shaped my perspective. And two years ago when the time felt right to begin my own endeavor, Emily Morrow HOME, I knew that a personalized story had to be the heartbeat. Never having pursued anything half-heartedly, I knew this endeavor was especially important. This step was the beginning to a saga which involved all that I cherish…faith, family, design, travel and connecting these seemingly disparate parts into beautiful products for the home.
My life is a quilt that’s pieced from a beautiful combination of my commitment to family, a rich Dalton-based heritage, a lifetime in the design industry, a love of travel, an appreciation for culture—and the list goes on and on. The components that make up my perspective and my story are unique… every board and plank from the Emily Morrow HOME collection represents my viewpoint. The marketing materials are designed to communicate my personal experiences with vibrant visuals and rich story-based content, engaging the senses and evoking emotions that connect on a very human level. My products are made for and by the discerning luxury female consumer, and my story sets the brand apart from the brushed metal logo to the dramatic photography. When the story is your life and your love, it doesn’t get more authentic than that, and the consumer instantly connects.
As we all look forward to a fruitful and successful 2018, I beg the question, “What is your story?” When in the market for flooring, she is faced with so much noise. With so many brands and retailers fighting for her attention, ask yourself how you set your business apart to build trust by telling your own unique story in the marketplace. Decide how your unique life experiences magnify themselves into brand attributes that build affinity for your brand versus the competitor. Once you’ve written this story, brainstorm how to communicate it through your website, social media, video and in your community.
Another piece of my quilt is that I’m a breast cancer survivor. Supporting the cause through the Kiker Morrow Finkell Breast Cancer Foundation has become cornerstone to my business philosophy and goals. Not only is it an important cause, but it gives me a platform to tell my story- while connecting with others. In 2018, just be your authentic self—because today’s seasoned and savvy consumer expects it.
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Wood is Good: Emily Morrow Finkell

First published in Floor Covering Weekly, Style & Design: “Wood is Good”

A few years ago, I was invited to serve on a panel to judge final projects of senior interior design students, many of whom were directed to use sustainable materials.

While evaluating the projects, one student was reprimanded by the professor for not specifying “reclaimed” wood, bamboo or cork but rather a new North American hardwood floor. While I congratulated the student for choosing wood floors — it was responsibly procured from North American forests and made in the U.S.A. — the professor’s misinformed argument was that wood is not in plentiful supply. Here in the U.S., however, that is not true.

While there seems to be a basic understanding among consumers that hardwood can help increase a home’s value, like the professor, there remains a degree of confusion when it comes to some hardwood basics — such as the difference between engineered hardwood, solid hardwood, laminate or resilient as well as what makes one flooring type more sustainable than another. When responsibly harvested and procured, wood is indeed a sustainable choice. (For more information, visit the National Wood Flooring Association at nwfa.org and the Forestry Stewardship Council at us.fsc.org/en-us.)

While industry terms can often be too technical for consumers, the state-of-the-art technology now being used to create flooring is also causing some confusion — almost any surface can be made, for example, to look like wood, including laminate, vinyl and even tile.

What consumers do know is the look, feel and even the smell of hardwood is appealing and they admire the craftsmanship that has created beautiful interiors for centuries. Pictured below is a look at hardwood floors showcased in some of France’s most renowned buildings, such as Versailles.

If you have a chance to go to the link for Michael Green’s talk about building skyscrapers of wood at TED 2013, you’ll be rewarded. It’s a brief and inspiring talk that will leave you with a renewed love and appreciation for the beauty of wood as a building material.
http://on.ted.com/MichaelGreen

We’ve talked a lot about the warmth, character and quality that wood brings to interiors, but what we haven’t considered enough is the fact that its’s truly good to use wood..good, as in good for us. In his TED talk, Michael Green says “Wood gives Mother Nature fingerprints in our buildings…and makes our buildings connect with us through nature”…”that it’s the only building material that is grown by the sun…and has an amazing capacity to store carbon.”

I hope many will find gratification in knowing that our North American forests are responsibly forested, are providing jobs and building materials that are not only beautiful but are so “good” in infinite ways. It’s no wonder we see consumers and designers drawn to all things wood or wood-inspired. Wood, it does us all good!

DESIGN SPECTATOR: Wood is Good

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“Retail Research” in Paris…loved their use of wood floors in the high end retail spaces

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The Ralph Lauren store in Paris featured endless distressed wood elements for merchandising their pieces.
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Another close up at the Ralph Lauren Store Paris…
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yet another distressed wood detail in Ralph Lauren Paris.
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The Hermes Store in Paris…uses wood sculpturally and elegantly
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The Hermes Store in Paris is completely inspiring
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One of the places we stayed in Normandy was this elegant chateau “Chateau La Cheneviere” which had stunning wood floors…
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Another angle of the beautiful floors inside Chateau La Cheneviere
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yet another …leading into the dining room of Chateau La Cheneviere…

Thank you!

Emily Morrow Finkell

EMILYMORROWHOME.com

Emily Morrow Finkell

CEO EF Floors & Design, LLC

Emily Morrow Home: Hardwood & Decor Est. Fall 2015

Professional Commercial & Residential Interior Design since 1989

Allied Member ASID

855 Abutment Road Suite 3

Dalton, Georgia 30720

Office 1-866-775-3877

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The Evolution of Hardwood: Amazing Trends that Will Reinspire Your Love for Authentic Wood, Emily Morrow Finkell

First published for the NWFA Magazine, March 27, 2018: Understanding hardwood trends requires a high level of awareness of what is being shown in multiple places and sources. It’s a never-ending cycle if you are a trend spotter. Twenty-plus years ago, hardwood flooring was mainly produced in narrow strip gunstock, red oak in high gloss finishes, and was found on the floors of McMansions and spec homes all across the U.S. … that was then, and this is now. What has transpired since has been nothing less than warp-speed innovations and changes, some due in part to all of the global and economic ups and downs, political changes, and even trade agreements. What we can deduce is that the market has been flooded with endless wood look-alikes. For this article, I will remove all the various and continually expanding categories that look like wood, and just address what is identified as genuine wood.

Wood looks began morphing after the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, around 2008 and 2009. If we created a timeline of this transition, it would also include runway fashion collections in various parts of the world that began to include gray and gray-beige, and no red or reddish-orange. It gradually went from high gloss to medium gloss, to now our matte finish. I’ve said it many times: if we stay in an industry long enough, you can see the pendulum swing one way, and eventually, it will swing back, always with some modernizations made to improve the original versions.

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EMH “Refined Side” a warm gray sliced white oak offers a smoother surface with textural depth and dimension that speaks more to the luxurious quality of the materials and the steps taken to reach this level of sophistication.
Our tastes and appetites have expanded along with our digital abilities to see the world, experience world cultures, and to lurk into the living spaces of our social media friends. One cannot unsee something they like online, and thanks to the technological advances of digital media, we can “find” and “follow” the things we like more easily.

 

reading mobile phone beside window

From the days of solid, glossy, thin, gunstock planks to today’s wider, longer, matte, barn wood gray boards, homes have also changed in size. I referenced the McMansions of the 1990s and early 2000s because they were being built on spec and flipped just before our housing bubble burst. When this was happening, I was practicing interior design in custom built luxury offices and homes and eventually transitioned. in 2002 to color, style, and design development for Shaw’s carpet and hard surfaces. Large parts of the flooring products were going into the builder’s design showrooms, and as homeowners built homes to be flipped, they worked with materials like travertine and travertine nocce, which was deliberately coordinated with the carpeting and hardwood flooring.
Hardwood in those days had expanded from the gunstock strip to hand-scraped looks. The scraped looks became “the big thing” as it offered homeowners and designers something different and new that they had not seen before in flooring options. This innovation served as a catalyst for other similar changes across the other flooring categories. We saw Berber flecks and heathered tweeds introduced in carpeting and a lessening of gloss and shine of the fibers. All of these colors fell within the neutral zone of warm golden- and red-based beiges. In hardwood, it was frequently called cider. Once the hand-scraped looks were knocked off by the cheap look-alikes, eventually and slowly, consumers started looking for something new.

That is until the recession hit and all bets were off. We hit the pause button on our taste evolution except to say we all migrated to the safe zones. Consumers’ big investments moved from home improvements to wardrobe improvements to maintain much-needed jobs in a tough market or to interview for new jobs. Wardrobes became a sensible mix of black, navy blue for reliability, and gray for safe and non-threatening career colors. The grays and navy blues in fashion were so new that the surrounding segments of shoes and accessories had to run to catch up with the clothing. The same changes occurred in the interiors market. Many designers had been let go or had evolved from residential to commercial interiors, taking with them their tastes and strengths.

 

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“Meet your new best friend, neutral gray”

This is when and where we our new best friend, neutral gray… Get to know it because it’s not going away and will be staying for a while. With this influx of gray, we saw a tidal wave of looks and visuals in furnishings and flooring to match.

Without a doubt, we all fell in love with the looks of Restoration Hardware. Practically everyone received the stacks of massive catalogs beautifully designed to showcase the practicality and beauty of greige, reclaimed wood, and rustic metallics. We saw flooring in these shelter catalogs that looked different from those in our homes of that time, all of a sudden creating an urge to update our looks, finally moving homeowners to make an investment in their homes that they’d fought hard to keep from losing during the housing bubble, and held tightly to their budgets for as long as possible.

 

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Emily Morrow Home’s “Suddenly Sonoma” luxury engineered flooring.
The channels to pay attention to had gone from the builders market to retail replacement. Not suddenly, but eventually, we had homeowners looking for higher- end materials for their homes that they’d decided they not only were happy to own, but also wanted to make very personal choices of ways to upgrade its interior.
We saw the launch of upscale programs and collections at price points not seen before, sophisticated de-lustered matte hardwood styles that were clear of most character, in reclaimed grays and gray-browns.

These looks were not hand-scraped, but clean and smooth-ish, not narrow, but mixed widths of three, five, and seven inches to recreate the look of reclaimed at affordable price points with all the bells and whistles of engineered hardwood flooring. Consumers were able to buy hardwood looks in new engineered hardwood introductions that historically were unattainable in solid wood plank because of engineered hardwood’s versatility, multi-ply construction, and superior dimensional stability.

Thanks to advancements in engineered hardwood flooring, consumers were
able to use hardwood flooring on slab construction, in basements, and over radiant heated floors, and to find faces in veneers that efficiently used species that would not ordinarily have been available to the average consumer.

Homeowners were delighted to finally replace aged carpet that looked tired, finally releasing pent-up appetites to the plethora of hardwood flooring styles. Here’s when we see carpet lose significant market share to hardwood flooring, and solid hardwood flooring losing position to engineered hardwood flooring, significantly causing all the big companies to shift focus and attention from mostly carpet to more hardwood, specifically engineered hardwood. We saw companies make capital investments in hardwood manufacturing across the country and the world.
What’s next?

There has recently been a refinement of design styles. In the U.S., we have evolved from the travertine nocce of the pre-recession era to the timeless and classic Carrara marble’s white-and-gray veining and other similar Carrara-looking composite and natural stones. these interior design refinements are impacting a majority of our hardwood flooring

and furniture finishes. That does include special effects, some perhaps so subtle the human eye can barely perceive what it is other than it is beautiful and new. Look to the leaders of special effects, lighting, and accessories companies for these effects, coming soon to a floor near you.

Expect to see more magazine and online editorials about American-made and American-sourced products. In speaking and meeting with members of the media, I hear over and over that readers and viewers want to know where they can nd American-made home products.

Made In USA Flag Barcode On White

 

All of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood is sourced and made in the USA by American OEM in the heart of Tennessee where there’s an abundance of hardwood forests that are responsibly forested for future generations to enjoy.
We can also expect to see darker matte black accents as the opposing trend to the white- filled, cerused, sliced, white oak hardwood grain. There will be an expansion of existing trends; grays will continue to expand into silvery-effects, warm-gold accented grays, and even some more flaxen-gold clean white oak hardwoods for more of the blank canvas options. We will continue to see our skilled and talented installers and designers create more parquetry projects as herringbones and chevrons grow across the U.S..
Homeowners who want to invest in their homes will be specific about purchasing 100 percent genuine hardwood because nothing else looks, sounds, feels, and even smells, quite like hardwood.

MARITIME_greenwellies

 

Maritime by Emily Morrow Home
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of Emily Morrow Home, a subsidiary of EF Floors & Design, LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and furnishings and an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached by email at emily@emilymorrowhome.com or 1.866.775.3877. Text “EmilyMorrow” to 96000 for a brief glimpse into the luxurious collection of EMH hardwood flooring.
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Made in USA  |  Longer, Wider Planks  |  Handcrafted

Spring 2018

Posted on

The Finkells: Factories Behind Fences

(This article appeared in the Dalton Daily Citizen.)

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit with Don and Emily Finkell, two local entrepreneurs.

Win-Win-Win. That’s how CEO Don Finkell describes his company. The state wins. The company wins. The prisoner wins.

Inmates in the Turney Correctional facility outside of Nashville, Tenn., have the opportunity to work at a fully-functioning flooring plant inside the gates of the prison. America OEM Wood Floors, Don Finkell’s brainchild, has a huge focus on social entrepreneurship. He started the company four years ago and fired up manufacturing two years later.

Inmates at Turney are good candidates for employment at American OEM because they have a medium security risk. This means that their crimes are not as serious as inmates at other institutions, but their sentences have the longevity needed for job training and craft honing at the work program.

These inmates typically have a seven-year sentence and must have three remaining to be eligible for the program. Additional requirements include perfect behavior and a high school diploma or GED. The employees are paid the same as comparable jobs in the area, which is a good bit higher than minimum wage.

Wages earned are sent back to the state for restitution, used to pay for room and board, and invested in the lives of their children back home through child support payments. Furthermore, 10 percent of earnings is put into savings for the eventual transition of the worker back to society.

Inmates also benefit from vocational rehabilitation and a sense of pride and purpose.

Finkell noted that because inmates can elect to send additional funds back home to their families and children, bonds are built that assist in individuals’ success once released.

Finkell indicated, “In Tennessee the recidivism rate is 50 percent after three years. In most states, the rate is closer to 70 percent. For people in this program, it’s less than 10 percent.”

Jobs at OEM in the Turney facility include general labor, loader, packer, quality control, machine operator, electrician, machinist, color matcher, clerk, bookkeeper and R&D. These jobs translate on the outside to nearly any manufacturer.

“Factories behind fences”-type of programs are not new. Created by Congress in 1979, the Prison Industry Enhancement Program encourages state and local correctional agencies to partner with private companies and give inmates real work opportunities at prevailing wages.

Finkell is not new to prison work programs either. Twenty years ago, when Finkell was at Anderson Flooring in South Carolina, he launched a prison work program that grew from 14 inmates employed to 1,000 — all focused on hand-scraped flooring. After having retired from Anderson Floors, which was sold to Shaw Industries in 2007, he took over running Shaw Hardwood.

Emily shared that the “hand-touched details of the product make it beautiful.” The products are competitively priced, which is in part due to the decreased transportation costs due to the factory’s location. OEM’s hardwood flooring is “American-made and is 7-ply, 5/8 of an inch; thicker than other products in the industry.”

Currently, OEM has around 200 inmate employees and 20 civilians at a design center, warehouse and office about 30 miles from the prison.

I would a fourth and fifth win: society at large and for the inmates’ families. What better gift can be given than the rehabilitation of a loved one to be a self-sustaining and a productive citizen? I asked Don about the impact of the program. He said that OEM has “done way more good than I ever thought. What they are spending their time on is important and it counts.”

He was visiting the plant one day and had the opportunity to speak to one of his employees who had just been released. The employee thanked him for the opportunity to work. I could tell from Don’s eyes just how special this personal thank you was to him.

Emily’s business dovetails OEM. She recently launched Emily Morrow Home which offers a curated home products line including flooring, lighting and upholstery.

Don and Emily Finkell live in Rocky Face and are active in many local community activities and charities.

Andrea Dobbins, Executive Director, Floor Covering Industry Foundation

To Donate: Go to FCIF.ORG for more information.


Many thanks to Andrea Dobbins at Floor Covering Industry Foundation for sharing our story as well as all the wonderful efforts of your organization @FCIF.ORG.