The standard home flooring (in the last few decades, at least…) has been: carpet in the main living areas and vinyl or tile in the kitchen and bathrooms. In this model, you chose one carpet color and that was the mainstay throughout the home. Now, however, homes can have as many as three or four different flooring options, depending on the homeowner’s lifestyle, use and style preferences.
Flooring takes a beating for the very fact that it is trod upon daily by both feet and paws. Some traffic areas experience more action than others, some rooms require easy clean-up more easier than others, and some household occupants may be much more sensitive to allergens than others.
All of these factors and more require consideration when it comes to choosing the flooring for each room in your home. So, let’s do a blanket list of “flooring considerations” to help you narrow your options. Once you have this part covered, choosing colors and patterns will be much more straight forward, especially if you work with a professional interior designer.
Who lives here? If you are a retired couple who has very few guests and older grandchildren – you have entirely more freedom when it comes to flooring materials than a busy family or a couple who entertains on a regular basis. You could carpet your entire household and hardly have a care in the world.
Busy households need to focus on durable materials that are easy to maintain: hardwood, tile, stain-protected, low-profile carpet, linoleum or cork, etc. These surfaces are much more children, pet and high-traffic friendly.
Warm or cold? Here in the bay area, the mornings can be quite chilly – even in the summer months. This may inspire you to use carpet in bedrooms and/or heated flooring in the bathrooms – making sure bare feet are comfortable year-round.
Wood tends to be warmer than tile, so that is another consideration. And, of course, area rugs are always available to add both warmth and softness as well as texture and color.
Low- or High-maintenance? Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be higher-maintenance spaces and that will drive your flooring selections. Firstly, water is an issue. Water and carpet don’t mix well; an occasional water spill in the living room can be dried up, the perpetually moist environment in the bathroom is a breeding ground for mold. Similarly, kitchens are prone to water splashing, spills and high-traffic around the same pathways, so you want a flooring that can be cleaned and dried easily.
In liquid-happy spaces, no-slip hard-surface flooring is the priority. This can range from sand-and-finished hardwood and engineered hardwood that is pre-finished and ready to install, to vinyl, linoleum, cork and the like. Tiles are a favorite option as well, but they can be pretty slippery. If you choose tile flooring for kitchens or baths, make sure you’re viewing samples that are designated “no-slip.” There are plenty of stylish options out there.
Design tip: If you like the look of hardwood but are worried about maintenance or sun-fading, consider high-end tiles with wood-specific patterns. You’ll be amazed at how like real wood they appear.
What’s your overall style? Your interior design style is most likely conducive to certain flooring choices. For example, traditionalists tend to like all hardwood flooring or a combination of hardwood and carpet – with carpet being used predominantly in bedrooms or perhaps a living room.
On the flip side, modernists tend to forgo wall-to-wall carpet altogether, choosing hard-surface options for every room in the house. In that case, you can turn to area rugs to add warmth, comfort or color.
Allergies, anyone? If anyone in your home is prone to allergies, I recommend minimizing carpet altogether. It is a harborer of dust, pollen, dander, dust mites and other common allergens. Even the best vacuum cleaners in the world can’t suck it all out of there.
Hard-surface flooring is the best option for those with allergies; a low-pile carpet -such as a Berber – is the ideal way to go if you’re committed to carpet.
The good news is that there has never been a better time to shop for flooring. Today’s choices, colors and pattern availability are unrivaled.