My goodness – if you’ve ever taken on a home improvement project, you’ve no doubt had to consider the floor. And if you’re like most people, you went to Home Depot or Lowe’s and immediately felt overwhelmed with the multitude of choices.
Hardwood, engineered hardwood (and, yes, there’s a difference), laminate, vinyl, tile, tile that looks like wood, vinyl that looks like wood, carpet, carpet tiles…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Since the floor is such a major element of any design, I’ll be sharing tips about selecting the perfect flooring over a four-part series of posts here on the blog.
As in anything in life, you can spend as little or as much as you want on flooring, but most of us have to stick to a budget. It’s important to remember that no matter the flooring, there’s the cost of materials and the cost of installation – so bear that in mind when you’re shopping for options. Some materials are easier/less expensive to install while others are more labor intensive/expensive – more on that when we discuss each flooring option. For now, let’s double the cost of the materials to arrive at an estimate of the final cost.
Rule #1 in any design project – Form Follows Function. In terms of flooring, that means you should choose the appropriate material for each room. For example, this is why bathroom floors are typically tile or vinyl – they stand up to heavy use and moist climates.
You’ll also want to consider your lifestyle, as different floors require different types of maintenance (i.e. if you have small children and/or pets, perhaps white or cream carpet isn’t the best choice.) One of the biggest mistakes I encounter is when homeowners select flooring that is incongruous with the style and architecture of the home. I recently had a design client who purchased a vacation home near the beach. Visions of grey-washed wood floors and linen sofas danced in her head. The only problem was that she purchased a Mediterranean-style house that was more standard traditional than beach cottage – and no matter how you slice it, grey wood floors would look just plain wrong. Ultimately, we selected a beautiful hand-scraped birch with varied warm tones of red, gold, and brown – it’s perfect for the house, and she loves it.
Now, prior to deciding upon that hand-scraped birch, we were faced with So. Many. Choices! We knew that we wanted to have wood throughout (other than the bathrooms) – but that’s where the easy part ended. Hardwood versus engineered hardwood? Wide plank or narrow? Warm brown but not too orange (or red, or yellow)? We gathered about 15 samples from a variety of sources and looked at them in various rooms around the house in order to reach our final decision.
In the next post, I’ll share specifics on how you can make a selection that you’ll be happy with for years to come.