A guide to the latest trends in flooring for your home
When designing a room, flooring material is a key element — one that can set the stage for the rest of your selections. It’s also fairly costly and something you aren’t likely to replace for a decade or more, so it pays to choose the best product to fit your lifestyle as well as your decorating style.
To help you get an idea of the top trends in flooring, here’s a rundown of the most popular options along with recommendations from leading west suburban flooring professionals.
The comfort, warmth and timelessness of hardwood floors make them an enduring flooring favorite and they are a frequent selection for the main living area of the home.
For a few years, dark hues have been top sellers but — though they continue to be in fashion — they are making room for lighter colors, including gray, gray blends and whitewash or light natural colors in more muted, cooler tones.
“Medium to lighter shades are becoming more popular,” says Lisa Carlson Nelson, owner of Carlson’s Flooring in Geneva.
Wider planks or multiple plank widths, along with hand-scraped or distressed finishes, give today’s wood floors a distinctive look. “People definitely want a wider plank,” says Ken Holthaus, manager and marketing director for DeSitter Flooring in La Grange and Glen Ellyn. “They are going for 4- to 7-inch (wide) planks with a little character.”
For those who have an existing hardwood floor, refinishing is an option, and will allow for changing the color or finish to a more updated look. Low-luster or semi-gloss finishes are more popular than glossier ones, which highlight dust and scratches.
“Everybody is looking for maintenance free, but nothing is 100 percent,” says Holthaus, noting that accumulation of dust and scratches left by children or pets will, in time, necessitate resurfacing.
For those seeking a product that will stand up to kids and pets but want the look of wood, luxury vinyl planks are a less-costly but high-quality alternative to the real thing.
“It’s the hottest category and is taking a bite out of tile or wood,” says Holthaus. “There is no reason you can’t use it throughout the house; it looks and feels like regular wood.”
“It is not your grandma’s vinyl floor,” says Dean Vitale, marketing manager for Yonan Carpet One, which has locations in Downers Grove, Rolling Meadows and Oak Park. “It is affordable and incredible — it’s deceiving how much it looks like hardwood.”
“It’s the most popular thing at the moment,” echoes Roger Wanshek of Cobalt Flooring in West Chicago, who points out that the wide range of colors, widths and even textures makes it easy to find a style that suits everyone.
Similar to hardwood, luxury vinyl’s most popular looks feature gray tones and rustic textures. Though the material is less expensive than real wood, it does carry slightly higher costs for surface preparation and installation.
In addition to being durable and scratch-resistant, luxury vinyl is waterproof and can be used in areas where hardwood typically cannot, such as basements and laundry rooms.
“It is great for use in areas where there can be potential water or moisture issues,” says Nelson.
Tile continues to be a top pick for bathrooms, however. Porcelain tile, which, like luxury vinyl, is available in fool-the-eye patterns, including marble, travertine and wood, has become a highly sought alternative to natural materials because it is more durable and very low maintenance.
The subway style of tile, with its clean, linear aesthetic, continues to sell well for various applications, including floors. “Subway tile is still going strong, but in different shapes, sizes and textures,” says Nelson.
As in other flooring categories, neutral colors are most popular for tiles, and finishes are often matte rather than glossy, notes Vitale.
Other trends in tile flooring include patterned tiles, such as encaustic or encaustic-look tiles, which are favored for adding a punch of pattern to smaller spaces, such as a bath or laundry room.
When it comes to size of tiles, larger formats, such as 12" × 24" or 18" × 36", are gaining ground over smaller tiles. Installations with minimal grout lines make the tiles appear even more expansive.
The comfort of carpet is hard to beat, and it also provides an opportunity to introduce additional color, texture and pattern into a room. For those concerned about wear and stain-resistance, industry advances in fiber technology address those issues. For buyers preferring natural fibers, wool is a traditional and durable option that cleans well.
Many homeowners select a hard-surface material for their first floor, but opt for carpet upstairs or in the bedrooms. “We are seeing people choosing higher quality goods for smaller areas, like bedrooms, which take less square footage,” says Holthaus.
Wanshek sees carpeting as making a big comeback in popularity. “There are hundreds and hundreds of different styles, patterns and price points available, and the yarn systems are so advanced that many have lifetime style and stain warranties,” he says.
These higher-quality products have a bigger price tag, however. “Some people get sticker shock,” says Wanshek. “It’s more expensive, but the quality is exceptional, and the range of colors and patterns is phenomenal.”
When it comes to carpet color, gray still carries the day. Rebecca Martin, showroom designer/manager for Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs in Naperville, says, “It’s a huge color, and it’s not going anywhere, though we are seeing movement away from those cool blue and steely grays to warmer grays and beiges. It’s the new neutral and mixes well with other colors.”
While solids are a staple, patterned carpeting is coming into play. Some homeowners gravitate to bold patterns, like diamonds, medallions, and Moroccan tile motifs, while others prefer more-subtle, tone-on-tone detailing.
These tone-on-tone looks are a bit more flexible. “It gives the idea of color and texture without being overbearing,” says Martin, who notes that, while proper installation is key to the performance and appearance of any wall-to-wall carpet, it is especially important when it comes to patterned carpeting, which needs to be matched carefully.
Even as hard surfaces become the top choice in many homes, rugs are still needed to help define areas within a room and add a decorative touch.
“Area rugs are very hot,” says Vitale. “Even if you are going to go with hardwood, you still need something to warm up the space.”
Many local flooring companies have the equipment and capability to create custom area rugs in any size and shape using the carpet selections in their showroom. This allows for a more personalized floor covering.
For example, Russell Martin can fabricate area rugs with borders featuring elements such as wide tape binding, leather or nailhead detailing. “You can really customize the look and get something totally different from what your neighbor has,” says Martin.
Whatever type of flooring you prefer, there is sure to be something out there to fit your taste and budget. As Wanshek notes, “There are so many options today — the market is exploding with new items, new styles and new colors.”Edit Module