In the western world, many decisions are driven by seasonal factors. Spring is for cleaning, to take away the wintry must of chilly, indoor living. Summer is for lazing around, hanging out on the beach and enjoying the sun. In many places, businesses shut down for the summer. Kids close school and go to summer camp. The families that can afford it take a vacation, maybe in the lake house, or in their favourite summer town.
Australia has a unique position. We have the amenities and mind-set of the developed world, but it’s coupled with the weather and climatic patterns of quieter, tropical nations. This means our summer falls towards the end of the year, with Christmas and thanksgiving, so it’s easily the busiest time of the year. And it brings a whole new element to spring cleaning, because for us, it’s more than chasing winter blues. Instead, it’s prepping for summer highs.
With holiday festivities, summer is a time when you’ll host friends and relatives for yuletide. It makes it a convenient time to revamp the house, and that includes your engineered wood flooring. One of timber floor boards advantages over traditional floors is it’s faster to install, so it can be done even while the house is occupied (though you may have to book a hotel for a few days, the floor’s oil treatments can be a tad intoxicating).
Shades of summer
As you re-do your flooring, colour is an important element. For a new construction, you may have already pre-selected your palette, but if it’s just the floor that’s getting refreshed, your methods may vary a little. You could decide if you want to get a new set of furniture as well, in which case your seats and window dressings may rely on the flooring choice. So how do you make that decision in the first place?
Some home owners may be driven by the type of wood. American oak can be red or white, depending on its provenance. European oak has a wider variation of colours and tighter age rings, so the visual texture is finer. Another factor is the type of finish you select. Oil-based finishings tend to give of a rich, golden hue, while water-based ones retain the natural shade of your floor. Stains change the colour of the wood. You can finish it off with gloss or matte.
There are four main colours for wood floors, whether it’s solid wood or engineered panels: black, dark brown, light brown, and grey. Within each broad categorisation, there’s grading. So, for example, light brown could range from deep beige to a creamy off-white. You may worry about dirt showing more clearly on the lighter woods, but if you finish it off with the right coating and maintain it well, it can be quite resistant to spills.
Contrast or compliment
When you’re making that colour decision, think about the major features in your home. This includes the walls – you could decide to make your floor compliment them, though that’s easily adjusted with a splash of paint. If your walls have wooden elements, then that can advise your floor colouring. Light coloured walls could accompany a dark floor and vice versa, for contrast. Or you could mimic the hues in both, to create the illusion of a continuous line, making the room seem larger.
Another trick for small rooms is to generally use light-coloured floors. They enhance natural light and will make any space seem bigger than it is. Just remember, this type of room needs smaller, sparser furniture to avoid crowding it out. And that the furniture should be lightweight and airy, with felt pads beneath the feet to avoid damaging the floor. On the other hand, if your room has an open-plan structure, dark colours are okay, because the room is already naturally size-able. The dark colours add stately elegance to a simple room.
Aside from the walls, you can look at other features. A fireplace, counters, pavers, or natural stone accents can indicate the type of floor you would like. These are home features you’re unlikely to change – at least not with any frequency. So they form a better basis for your choice of floor décor. If your counters are the same colour as your cabinets, you can pick an opposing colour for the floor.
But if the counter tops and shelving sides already contrast, then you can reinforce the shade of the counter by mimicking it on the floor. The same applies to fireplaces. The hue of the mantle can match the floor, but only if the mantle and the fireplace walls have opposing tones. For a modern glass-and-chrome fireplace, the floors can balance out with light creams and understated greys. Then you can add metallic accents in your lampshades or decorative trinkets like vases and runners.