Flooring Design Trends: DESIGNER UPDATE MID-2016

We are halfway through the year (unbelievable!) and it is time to audit design trends as to what’s Smoking hot | floortalk.wfca.org—– right here, right now.

To keep on top of emerging design trends, I include high-end model home tours in my research, along with international updates from Color Marketing Group. After so many years of trend spotting, I can identify new directions easily and often see parallels from one set of models to another—all done by different award-winning design firms.

Here is what’s on top of the HOT list —–


Smoking Hot Design Trends | Floortalk.WFCA.orgWithout a doubt, this could be the trend of the year. Opening up living spaces to incorporate the beauty of outdoors expands livable square footage of the home, but also provides a resort-like environment. Retractable glass walls provide the ability to do that, and the outdoors is being “designed” with as much detail to attention as the home itself. Infinity pools, multi-level seating areas, gourmet outdoor kitchens, and YES, even under-the-stars outdoor beds are being featured.


The designers are investing big in kitchen areas; sometimes incorporating double islands to provide more work space as well as bar-height eating areas. Mixing woods (white cabinets, painted islands in deeper color) is being featured. Lighting has become the crown jewel of the kitchen, starring art-form lighting as well as functional recessed ceiling lighting. Appliances in these million dollar homes are over the top!! If you think what kind of car you drive establishes your status, think again. $10,000 brand name ranges and tech-smart refrigerators have now laid claim to how successful you are. Why stop there? Wine refrigerators (if not an entire chilled wine cellar) are inclusive in high-end design.


Of course you have heard this before from me, and I do get a certain amount of glee in seeing predictions come true. And boy has this one superseded my expectations. Grounded neutral colors with splashes of your favorite colors are the guideline for the new design era, but the interest in each room is derived by mixing and layering textures! Natural woods, sleek countertop materials, metallic touches, wall finishes in interesting materials—these are just a few of the iconic treatments I am seeing.


Ease of maintenance is having an impact on floor coverings. Factor in the first design hotspot in this article (outdoors becomes indoors) and I am seeing applications of honed stones for floors, as well as tons of reclaimed or new hardwoods that contribute to high-texture. Carpet is important in restful areas, and carpet manufacturers are designing textured carpets (with sculpted patterns) that can rival the beauty of any hard surface. It’s time to shop carpet if you’ve been away from the buying market for a while. You will be stunned to see the amazing styles now available, with new technologies that qualify carpet as an “easy-maintenance floor covering”.


Sleek, contemporary seems to be a favorite with high-end model home designers. Not cold—not by any means. Contemporary tempered with exciting textural finishes is warm and welcoming.

Italianate style design has refreshed the Tuscan style. Those influences are homey and timeless.

Themed designs for children’s bedrooms have captivated my interest. This is where designers go a little wild with imagination. Baseball themes, castle-style beds, London Bridge murals and accessories, Alice in Wonderland exaggerated furnishings, a budding writer’s retreat—those are just a few of the themes chosen for the high-end models.


I did mention earlier that rich neutrals seem to be the foundation colors for walls and floors. But let’s not mistake the new palette for model homes to be bland. Well chosen accent walls, area rugs, accessories, lighting, wall treatments introduce wonderful colors to these homes. Blues are rampant—everything from sea blues to deep cobalt are trending. Yellow and gray seem to have an important position in the emerging palettes. Also important are touches of coral and red. Favorite neutrals included: black and white (of course), gray, caramel brown, gray-green, taupes and tans. Don’t forget the vivid accent colors to bring your neutrals to life if you do choose a monochromatic color scheme.

Well, there you have the inside story on design making headlines. This is my favorite subject and I can go on, but word-count limits me. I promise you a Part II to this subject, but only if you leave me a comment right on this website. I need to know you are out there reading, enjoying, and that you want more…..

None Like Yours

By Steve Cooper

Dal-Tile Metal AccentsThough some homes are similar to one another, no one’s is exactly like yours. A lot of the homes in our neighborhood have open, one-room second floors, for instance, but I doubt that any of those rooms are painted in the same lavender color as ours. It’s the same with floors made from natural materials, particularly stone.

Floors made from quarried materials are distinctive, singular, always original. Spend a half hour wandering through the offerings at a stone outlet. You’ll likely see slabs from Egypt, China, Brazil, the United States and other parts of the world. And no two pieces will be exactly alike, even if quarried from the same spot on the same day. The pressures that formed the stone will invest each cut with slightly different shadings, fissures, blemishes and even fossil remnants. The exotic is the ordinary in natural stone.

To give you an idea of what’s possible, consider what one family did a decade ago when they built a house on Lake Minnatonka, near Minneapolis. They chose large-format Italian limestone tiles as flooring, and one of the tiles was a prize. This special one contained a magnificent spiral sea shell. It had apparently become trapped in sand eons ago and had long since become fossilized in the stone. The 8-inch shell became a bragging point for the home—the element that made their home unique in all the world.

So, for a one-of-a-kind look, stone is an excellent pick. With all the colors, tones, shadings, flecks, veins, pock marks, fusions and other oddities, it’s the pick for individuality. But back to those fissures for a moment: They may pose a problem. Stone can break along one of those miniature fault lines. Also, the thickness of slabs and tiles varies, sometimes making installation a challenge. These are qualities and characteristics to think through before deciding quarried stone is your choice.

Should you want the look along with the dependability that comes with uniformity, an option is an engineered stone. These products are still stone, but typically the raw material is broken up and then reconstituted in a tile, brick or stone form. Engineered pieces can be ordered in an array of colors, sizes and thicknesses. When working on a new bathroom or kitchen design, this allows a builders and contractors to chart a predictable course between the initial architectural drawing and the completed project.

Either material will get you what you want. If a unique look is your highest goal, natural stone may be what you want. If you want a more predictable installation and service, particularly for a remodeling project, engineered stone will get you there.

For more information on flooring visit the World Floor Covering Association’s Consumer Carpet & Flooring Guide.