Flooring seems like such a simple thing, but once you start shopping around for it, you will soon realize how complex the decision really is. You need to consider material, colors, texture, pricing, use of rugs, and how it will all fit with your overall design plan. We have some tips and information to get you started, but if it’s all a little overwhelming, rely on the interior design skills of a professional to put your room together for you, from the floor up.
Interior Design Skills Include Choosing Flooring
Flooring is not something most of us give much thought to at any given moment in the day. We step on it, clean it, and just walk by it most of the time. But if you consider how everything in a room works together, you can’t ignore the floors. They can pull all the other elements together or make everything clash and look off.
Selecting the right flooring requires some real interior design skills based on knowledge of materials, color theory, pattern, texture, design type, and practicalities. You may not be an interior designer yet, but some tips about choosing flooring can help you learn a little bit more about what goes into this kind of work and will help you sort through the many, many options for what goes under your feet.
To Carpet or Not To Carpet?
A first, very important choice in choosing flooring is hard versus soft, or in other words, carpet or no carpet. Hard floorings tend to provide a cleaner, more streamlined look, while carpet is cozier and softer with more texture. Carpet is a fine choice for most rooms, but for practical reasons, avoid using it in bathrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms.
Carpet Pros – Comfort and Interior Design Versatility
For many people, carpet is a personal choice. Some love it, others just don’t. There are some practical considerations too, and there are definitely pros and cons to using carpeting for your flooring. Some of the pros include softness, coziness, comfort, and cushioning. It’s just more comfortable to stand and sit on carpet than a hard floor. On stairs, carpet can provide grip for safety. Carpet also helps insulate, it can help you save on heating bills in the winter.
In terms of design, carpet is a good choice if you want a room to feel warm and cozy. Depending on the color, material, and pile, carpet can make a room look formal or more casual. You have a lot of options to go with any design plan too, from nearly any color you can imagine to patterns and different textures.
Carpet Cons – When Hard Floors Are Better
Cleaning can be a downside to choosing carpet, but most materials today come with stain protection. It’s no longer the end of the world to spill wine or grape juice. You still need to have your carpet cleaned regularly by professionals to deep clean and to make sure it stays in good condition for years. For people with allergies, carpet may trap allergens and worsen symptoms.
A hard floor, such as hardwood, laminate, or bamboo, is a good choice for anyone who simply doesn’t like the look of carpet. Hard floors are easy to clean and, while they can collect dust, they don’t require professional cleaning. Some materials, hardwood particularly, are expensive, but last longer and can be refinished and stained again to look new and fresh. In interior design, there is definitely a trend away from carpet and toward hard floors, but it is still mostly a matter of personal taste. Another design benefit of hard floors is that you can change the look with rugs.
Dark vs. Light vs. Patterned Flooring
With both hard and carpeted flooring you have a lot of color and pattern options. Most of these are neutral, so the major decision to be made is between light and dark flooring. Using lighter colors in flooring is a current trend. Light grays, browns, blondes, and even white brighten a room and make it look modern.
On the other hand, dark floors are not totally out. Dark brown, rich mahogany and deep gray are all colors that add elegance to a space. If you do choose a dark flooring material, just be sure to use lighter elements in other areas of the room, like window treatments and wall colors. Too much dark material can make a room look gloomy.
The same goes with patterns. Chevron patterns, and others, are popular right now, but too much pattern can be overwhelming, so use solids for major pieces of furniture and on the walls. Bathrooms and kitchens take especially well to patterns. In a bathroom, you can have fun with tile patterns, for instance. In the smaller space, the pattern won’t overwhelm the room.
Flooring is so advanced these days that choosing the material is mostly a practical decision. Once you have the material you want, you can get it in nearly any color or style. Hardwood is still the gold standard for non-carpet flooring, but it isn’t cheap. A trendy alternative that a lot of interior designers are using right now is porcelain tile with a wood grain pattern. When laid out on a floor, these tiles look like hardwood, are durable, and are much cheaper per square foot than real hardwood.
Laminate doesn’t have quite the same feel as wood or porcelain, but it is a durable and less expensive alternative that comes in all colors and patterns. It looks nicer than other non-wood options like vinyl or linoleum, and you can find it in faux wood or stone patterns. Bamboo and cork are other natural flooring options, both of which are usually sustainable. Cork has the added benefit of being a little cushier than other hard flooring types.
Less popular choices, but flooring types that will give you a unique look include tile, stone, and concrete. Tile isn’t just for bathrooms and is a great option for hot climates. Large tiles create a smooth, clean and modern look. Stone is an interesting option, but it isn’t easy to clean and can make a room look more rustic. Concrete flooring is trendy right now, and can be stained or painted a variety of colors. Concrete is a little hard on the feet, but it complements an industrial style.
Using Interior Design Skills with Rugs
A great way to get the best of all worlds, and to be able to change the look of a room quickly and easily, is to get hard flooring and use rugs. Rugs can be placed strategically to both enhance the design of a space and to provide comfort and practical warmth or insulation. A great thing about rugs is that you can go bold and choose a wild pattern or color and then change it out if it just doesn’t suit you.
The centerpiece of a room with a hard floor is the area rug. This should be centered, not necessarily in the room, but in the usable space of the room. For instance, in a living room, center the area rug under the couches, armchairs, and coffee table. In an open plan space, use a large area rug to create a living zone that is separate from the kitchen and dining areas.
When designing a room, a rug can be the foundation. Start with a rug that includes the colors, style, and general feel you want for a room, and build the rest of the elements around it. There is no reason not to choose a bold color or pattern, or both, for your area rug as long as other elements in the room are more neutral. Alternatively, choose a neutral rug and accent the room in other ways, through patterned curtains or wallpaper.
Have a Knack for Design? Consider a Career in Interior Design
If you’ve been reading this more because you find it interesting rather than because you actually need help picking out new flooring, you may be an interior designer at heart. Art and design careers are growing at a rate of four percent, and that means you have a great opportunity to get in on a field that demands more skilled and talented workers.
Interior design schools in Florida can offer you programs with coursework in the basics of interior design, AutoCAD and other design software, ergonomics, color theory, lighting, materials, and more. These programs typically take less than two years to complete and can prepare you for a career in not just interior design, but also related fields, like exhibition design, closet design, wall and floor treatment design, and set design.
With interior design skills and a creative passion, you can find a great career in this field. The average salary for interior designers today is $49,810, but the top ten percent of earners make more than $90,000 per year. There are plenty of big design firms in South Florida that are looking for entry level designers and that can give you the chance to gain experience. Designing spaces is about more than flooring, but if you like the idea of putting all these elements together in the best, most functional way possible, it may be time to check out South Florida’s interior design programs.