Monthly Archives: December 2010

Hardwood Flooring Adds Character to Any Room

hardwood_area_rugsIn a recent gathering of designers from California companies Peninsula Floors, Inc., and JPS Surface Solutions, flooring was discussed in general, and hardwood’s praises were sung in particular.

“I have hardwood throughout my whole house,” said Dana Johnson, who’s the Design Center Sales Manager with Peninsula Floors in San Jose. “We’re using wood more in areas of the home where you haven’t previously seen it, like bedrooms and hallways.”

Johnson added that hardwood has been seen in America’s kitchens for several years. When it’s carefully chosen and well sealed, hardwood flooring is a fine choice for this most active area of the home.

Johnson’s colleague, Gaylene Higgins, is another designer partial to hardwood. Working from JPS Surface Solutions’ Corona, CA, office, Higgins is fond of adding extra impact in her interiors through layering and mixing — specifically hardwood and area rugs.

“I do a lot of hard surface in family rooms and use rugs for warmth and a cozy feeling,” she said. “You can roll up the area rug when the kids have a party, and when you get tired of that rug, you can get another one. It’s easy to replace them.”

She pointed out that when hardwood and area rugs are used together, redecorating can be as simple as replacing or switching a rug with something in a different color or pattern. So hardwood makes a wonderful, versatile base for a number of fashionable looks.

In terms of interior design trends, Dana Johnson has noted some obvious directions. “Hardwood is going more toward distressed planks, planks in wider widths, and exotic woods. It’s no longer just plain maple or oak. We’re seeing more mahogany, cherry, teak, walnut. Also, mixing woods is done a lot now.”

With hardwood being used all over the house, durable finishes and solid warranties are more crucial than ever before. Manufacturers like Shaw have stepped up to the plate, developing outstanding finishes that provide long-term abrasive wear resistance and stain and spill protection.

Of course, to some, a scratch here or there is nothing to get concerned about. Robin Phelps, Design Center Operations Manager with Peninsula Floors in San Jose, noted that with all the distressed and hand-planed looks on the market, little dents, dings, and scratches are scarcely noticeable. And even when they are, she doesn’t mind. “When we scratch or dent our hard wood, it adds character,” she said.

Character does seem to be a hallmark of hardwood. This flooring material imparts a sense of longevity, permanence, and lasting appeal. Hardwood simply never goes out of style.

In addition, as if to score one last point for what he seems to consider a nearly perfect flooring material, Dana Johnson said, “And I like the way it sounds when you walk on it!”

Take Another Look at Laminate Flooring

laminateDesigners say laminate offers an upscale look without the upscale cost.

Laminate floors were in use in Europe long before they made their way into mainstream interior design in the States. Consumers can be glad they’re here. They offer exceptional durability and stain resistance and are easy to maintain. And these days, designers say, they even look like wood flooring!

“When laminate first came out, it only came in three shades — maple, natural, or cherry — and the cherry could be really pink,” says Jamila Wilson, Specifications Designer with Courtney Ford Design of San Diego. “It had an artificial look. Now, however, you can’t easily tell the difference between laminate and hardwood.”

Manufacturers are, in fact, producing an impressive array of traditional, rustic, and exotic woodgrain designs. Some laminate floors lock together without the use of adhesive, like Shaw’s VersaLock, allowing busy families to resume their activities immediately. And some patterns resemble natural stone, complete with mottled colors and textural shadings.

No doubt about it, says designer Debbie Gunson with JPS Surface Solutions in Westlake, CA, “laminates have improved. Some are more textured and distressed looking than they were. The benefits are easy maintenance and that this flooring is virtually stain-proof. It’s for a busy family.”

It’s also for the budget-conscious, Jamila Wilson points out. She knows that laminates can be quite cost-effective, offering a wood look that’s often less expensive than the real thing. “It’s a great choice in today’s economy,” she says, “if you want the overall look of high-dollar without the high-dollar cost.”

Designer Andrea Kaja agrees. Kaja is a Project Manager with Ryan Young Interiors in Livermore, CA. “I used to think, ‘Oh, laminate,’ but now there are lots of amazing things they’ve done with it,” she says. “Today’s laminate allows homeowners to get a more expensive look. It has a lot of potential, especially for first-time buyers.”

The look is upscale without the upscale cost — an objective that, in itself, is a recent trend. “It’s absolutely fashionable to be budget-conscious,” says Kaja. “It’s a movement back into family values. Instead of putting money into ‘things,’ people are saving for the future of their family — college, for example. They’re more concerned with making a house a home …”

Certainly, making a house a home … on a budget … is something laminate does well. If consumers want a warm wood look in their flooring, durability, and the best quality for the money, laminate is an exceptionally good choice.