New Directions In Wood Products

Blog submittal by Annette Callari, Allied ASID

As a designer, I frequently get asked about “matching” woods.  Do my kitchen cabinets need to match my dining room furniture?  Does my hardwood floor need to match the cabinets? 

iStock_000007791938XSmallThe answer is no, not necessarily.  Rooms are actually more interesting if you plan a complementary mix of woods.  The key to that is choosing interesting contrasts.  And don’t forget that any of the painted wood finishes offered in cabinetry are another great option to coordinate with wood floors.  Wood is the one natural material that offers generous margins of harmony.  So relax a bit about featuring different woods in the same room.

Given that introduction, this is a good time to share with you some of the 2011-2012 wood directions that are on the horizon, as identified by Color Marketing Group International: 


–      In contemporary designs, Euro-influences are having a strong impact on styling, both in flooring and cabinetry.  This includes the use of simple colors and fewer special glazes.  Cabinetry is simplified and embraces minimalist influences

–      New laminates and experimental technologies are being utilized in high-contemporary themes.  Look for high-gloss, durable finishes on minimalist style cabinetry.

–      Major color trend emerging is the graying of neutrals and the use of warm grays in cabinetry and hardwood floors!

–      Gloss levels super glossy to super matte


–      Historical influences interpret into our designs as a nostalgic return to comfort, heritage and stability

–      Favored wood choices:  maple, walnut, cherry (mid to dark cherry stains)

–      Textures for hardwood floors will feature new distressing techniques such as wire brushing, and softer hand-scraping techniques.

–      Reclaimed woods are emerging as a huge trend in traditional styling.  Harvested woods from old barns, school houses, churches, railroad cars are all in demand.  Customer wants woods with a story.

–      Specialty glazes for traditional designs and multi-layering of glazes will become important

–      Gloss levels low-to mid sheen

ECLECTIC – (Defined as a crossover mix of design styles to achieve a playful, undefined look)

–      Combining salvaged materials with new woods will be used to create drama 

–      Customers looking for personalization will seek custom options in cabinetry

–      Wood choices for eclectic designs embrace raw woods in all species, white oak, pine and alder.  Mixing oak with metals introduces a new “industrial eclectic” style cabinetry for the home

–      Eclectic embraces natural imperfections in woods:  knots, slits, rough sawn cuts, sapwoods.

–      Gloss levels:  oiled to low sheen and use of bleached woods

One more future trend of importance was identified by CMG:  Look for the application of specialty textures to furniture pieces and some cabinetry (this applies to all three design styles).  Examples would be artistic carvings, wood tattoos, printed & laser marquetry, and metallic fillers.  While this trend is more of a niche market in wood trends, a dominant trend looking forward is authenticity in materials and finishes.  White oak, lyptus, linear pine are all being researched for new cabinet introductions.  All in all, exciting stuff on the horizon for wood surfaces.

Kitchens & Baths: Clean & Easy Flooring

Submitted by Steve Cooper

Strata room sceneFor flooring to be great, there must be a host of reasons for buying it. Your new floor must be gorgeous. It has to keep your feet smiling as you walk across it. It has to promise durability. But, ultimately, there has to be one overriding, deal-making reason for forking over the cash. For most us—the folks with pets, kids, occasional spills, and problems with grimy shoes—first on the list of gotta-have qualities is cleanliness. If a floor won’t be super easy to maintain, it won’t be easy to live with. A new entry in the vinyl flooring category hits all the right notes: Armstrong StrataMax floors.

Stratamax comes in 60 stone and wood looks that feature vibrant colors, natural textures, and visually realistic looks. It also has a patented wear surface called CleanSweep that is engineered to make your life easier. It needs no waxing, polishing, or buffing, and will resist stains from mustard, shoe polish, lipstick, and even driveway sealants (should they be tracked in). Sweeping or light vacuuming and an occasional wash is all that’s needed to keep the surface spotless.

There are, of course, other strengths. StrataMax is soft and forgiving under foot, yet it won’t tear, rip, gouge, or indent during normal household use. And it has earned FloorScore Certification through the Resilient Floor Covering Institute. This means it will meet or exceed low emissions standards and will not adversely affect indoor air quality. It even qualifies for some LEED points when building an environmentally friendly house.

StrataMax is one of the flooring greats—easy to live with, particularly in kitchens and baths.