Cozy up to indoor life this fall with flooring design trends that are also warming up.
BY LINDA BARNARD
What’s trending for interior floors this fall? According to local flooring and design experts, warm-toned, natural looks dominate.
The number-one trend for plank flooring is “goodbye grey.” The pale, cool-hued, blue-grey shades that led the décor scene for the past several years has had its day, and the classics have stepped back into the spotlight. Grey still shows up, but now it’s as greige — grey-beige — with pops of brilliant colour in floor tiles and accents.
Jenny Martin of Jenny Martin Design says her clients are going with more linen and limestone shades, along with natural, sandy colours.
“I’m calling it more of this natural sort of style, with natural products as well,” she says.
It almost sounds like TikTok’s love for the Coastal Grandmother style of thick oatmeal-coloured wool sweaters, jute totes, canvas hats and linen trousers is pushing into home décor.
“I guess that’s what it is,” Martin says. “It’s timeless and it’s sticking around.”
Brenda Affleck, project manager and design consultant at Island Floor Centre, says there may be slight grey undertones to the look of today’s plank, but the primary focus is warmth. Think woods like white oak, ash and hickory.
“These tones are more classic than grey, because they can go with anything,” says Affleck, showing a sample of oak hardwood. “You could have a white kitchen with this. You could have a walnut island or a navy-blue island. You could do so many different things with this palette.”
Herringbone-pattern flooring remains popular, especially in offices and libraries. Affleck recently did a couple of projects where the entire condo was done in herringbone hardwood. One client chose a light colour, and the other various shades of darker wood.
And think big, whether it’s nine-inch-wide floor planks or 24×48-inch tiles. Large tiles make even a small room look bigger. Affleck also likes to use custom-coloured grout to match tiles to create a uniform, spacious look.
Plank, tile, natural lino
Joel Roper, contract sales representative at Hourigan’s Flooring, says there’s plenty of choice in plank flooring today, whether it’s real-deal hardwood or the new generation of durable and water-resistant vinyl and laminate.
Hardwood has classic good looks and will never go out of style, says Roper. It can be sanded and refinished if the homeowner wants to change the look. On the downside, it’s pricy and can be scratched and damaged.
Martin is a fan of the new generation of vinyl plank flooring.
“We just did an elaborate she-shed which was a Samuel Maclure original carriage house, two levels, probably part of an old south Oak Bay Estate, that we turned into this incredible health retreat in the backyard. And we put vinyl plank in that because it was slab-on-grade,” she says. “You’re coming in from the garden and it looks great.”
Other places Martin likes to use vinyl flooring is in a kids’ bathroom where the waterproof properties really pay off.
“You can drag stuff across it. You can bang it on and wipe stuff right off,” Martin says.
Vinyl has come a long way from the original 70s products. Today, it’s durable, waterproof and realistic looking. A printed wood pattern tops either pliable planks glued to the subfloor or put together using rigid interlocking systems that float above the floor. Some brands offer registered embossing that creates the raised whorls and ridges of real wood.
Roper likes hybrid vinyl plank from Toronto-based Torlys Floors, which uses cork underlay rather than the usual vinyl.
Laminate flooring was always great for durability, but pooling water could cause buckling. Manufacturers have caught on to the need to be water resistant, says Roper. One company has a warranty to replace your floor if it gets damaged by standing water.
For stone and tile, Martin is using more custom waterjet-cutting for clients, where materials can be cut into curving and flowing patterns. It’s especially popular in foyers.
Affleck says marble, composite terrazzo tiles with colourful chips of quartz, glass and other materials and travertine and limestone in warm shades are all popular.
Roper adds slate to the list but says the bumpy and multicoloured style is out in favour of a smooth surface and uniform look. He says four-panel tiles that feature black and white versions of classic Moroccan or Portuguese tiles or mid-century designs are becoming popular.
For Affleck, it’s all about colour. She’s seeing a lot of clients opt for Marmoleum, natural linoleum sold in sheets. Once used primarily in schools and health care settings, homeowners love the huge range of striking colours. She’s also seeing a lot of clients choose Zellige as an accent, a traditional rustic Moroccan clay tile with a colourful, glossy finish.
And customers want to buy local.
“People have always wanted Canadian products, but now more than ever,” says Affleck.
New and improved carpet
Cost-conscious buyers should go with carpet, says Roper, which has also improved dramatically.
“I wish people knew that carpet is much better than it used to be,” he says. “The technology’s improved a lot with the stain resistance and fibres.”
Roper likes SmartStrand carpets from Mohawk Flooring, which come with a lifetime warranty against stains, including pet mishaps.
Affleck says wool carpet is making a comeback and they’re doing a lot of it for clients.
“It brings that element of warmth,” she says. “People put hardwood down and then they put a big area rug on top of it. Let’s just do our bedrooms in carpet.”
No matter what flooring you choose, with the combination of a skilled labour shortage and supply chain issues, anyone contemplating updating their floors has to be patient. Roper believes the situation could last a couple more years.
“I try and get people to select stuff as far in advance as possible so we can secure it,” he says.
In other words, if you are thinking of new flooring, there is no time like the present to
start making plans and place your orders.