In the past, basic flooring materials such as carpet, tile and hardwoods were limited in selection, offering little choice when establishing a foundation layer within an interior space. Today, manufacturers are expanding on these basics by developing entirely new flooring materials that provide homeowners with a wealth of new design alternatives. And not only are materials undergoing change, but how they are used is also moving into new territory, allowing homeowners more options for customization.
The wide variety of flooring choices today gives infinite possibilities to personalize a room with a signature style. For instance, Theresa Minkoff, interior designer and project consultant with Moda Floors & Interiors in Atlanta, describes fresh, fun, bold shapes and pattern layouts as some of the hottest trends in flooring.
“The rectilinear format is dominating the flooring industry today,” Minkoff says. “This rectangular shape [with distinctive lines] can be found in porcelain tile and stone, luxury vinyl tile, rubber flooring and commercial carpet, and is usually in size formats of 12 inches by 24 inches or larger. The use of rectangles breathes new life into flooring layouts, offering vertical and horizontal grid patterns, and herringbone or chevron patterns.”
Minkoff says hexagonal-shaped tile, stone, multi-medium mosaics and commercial carpet also are very popular. “In a wide range of sizes, the hexagonal shape offers interest, relief and texture to any floor or wall application,” she explains. Other shapes showing up include circular, bubble-shaped and penny-round mosaics, as well as ovals, elliptical-shaped and irregular or pebble-shaped products in stone, porcelain, glass and metal.
Another trend involves “crossover” flooring, says Laura Anzures of Daniels Floors in Roswell. “Tile that looks like hardwoods, laminates that look like tile and the relatively new flooring option of luxury vinyl tiles, or LVT, which are made to look like wood or tile,” she says. “LVT is a fantastic option for basements and sunrooms. It is waterproof, durable and available in a variety of styles.”
A Feel for Texture
Previously, choosing flooring meant picking a material—tile, hardwood, carpet, etc.—and selecting a color. However, today’s unique flooring options are taking those materials to a new dimension. “Now, texture is a design element that is as important to clients as color,” Anzures says. “This applies to tile, hardwood flooring and carpet. A client may want hardwood flooring in a chestnut color; that color may be available in a gloss finish, wire brushed, hand-scraped or a matte finish. Or they may opt for flooring with ‘character’ like worm holes, knots and splits with filler.”
The flooring industry also continues to feel tremendous influence from the Great Outdoors. “Replications of patterns occurring in nature are the most popular textures in today’s flooring,” Minkoff says. “Wood-inspired patterns and graining effects have a strong influence in many types of flooring including tile, laminate and luxury vinyl tiles. Second to wood are visuals representing stone or stone looks.”
Even carpet is getting into the act through the use of “cut and loop” carpeting. “A ‘cut and loop,’ also called an LCL, is a carpet with both looped fibers and cut fibers constructed in a pattern or design,” says Elisabeth Stubbs, owner of Enhance Floors & More in Marietta. In addition, as homeowners become more aware about the chemicals in certain flooring materials, many are opting for wool carpeting. “This is a product that never really went away,” Stubbs explains, “but there is more interest now because it’s a more natural product.”
Laying Some Groundwork
Hardwoods continue to reign supreme with area homeowners. “Hardwoods are going everywhere these days,” Anzures contends. “Here in Atlanta, most homes are surrounded by trees. Homeowners incorporate natural elements into their interior design by installing hardwood flooring on the ceiling and walls.
I love the look of wide plank rustic wood flooring as an accent wall.” Anzures goes on to note, “Hardwoods have transformed from utilitarian strips of wood to works of art. Planks have gotten much wider over the years. Clients are [now] asking for 8- to 12-inch (width) planks of hardwood flooring.”
Many homeowners also are finding renewed interest and value in their existing flooring materials, such as the older homes with parquet flooring. According to Anzures, “In recent years, people were eager to tear it out and replace it with something more modern. Lately, more clients are having the parquet refinished with updated colors. They are preserving some of that classic flooring rather than discarding it.”
Of course, in addition to design, homeowners continue to seek out flooring that matches their active lifestyles. “A floor that is high in durability and fashion but low on maintenance and ease of care seems to be the clear choice for most purchases,” Minkoff says. “It is just as important to make sure the flooring product is the right choice for the application in the way of wear, traffic, lighting style and kid-and pet-friendliness.”
Putting a new twist on traditional flooring materials provides a wider range of options for creating a custom space. “Some of the coolest new pattern layouts are done with some old favorite flooring products,” Minkoff says. “Laying wood or tile in a chevron or herringbone pattern, turning subway tile vertical rather than horizontal, panels of mosaic tile on one wall of a shower rather than an accent row all the way around the shower—clever ways of changing an old favorite.”
Flooring materials no longer are just a backdrop for designing a space; instead, flooring is now treated as a key component in that overall design. And as flooring materials continue to evolve into more beautiful and durable products, their selection gains more prominent focus as an important interior design choice for homeowners to consider.
Daniels Floors | DanielsFloors.com
Enhance Floors & More | EnhanceFloors.com
Florida Tile | FloridaTile.com
MODA Floors & Interiors | MODAFloorsAndInteriors.com