Flooring shouldn't be boring

Flooring is the foundation of home interiors and is one of the easiest ways to inject new life into a room. Yet with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start.

“When you are choosing floor coverings you have to consider noise, warmth, suitability for the space, comfort and price,” says Scottish interior designer, Mary Leslie.

It’s vital to think about the demands that will be made on your new flooring. Floors in the kitchen and hallway have to work harder than those in other parts of the home as they need to withstand the heavy traffic of daily life as well as spills and stains.

The style you choose will also depend on the decor, for instance, a rustic slate floor works beautifully in homely country-style kitchens. “Ask yourself how will the room be used and what type of look do you want to achieve,” says Harvey Booth, UK Sales Manager for Kährs. “Changing your floor can make a huge difference to the overall look of a room. It’s where your eyes naturally fall and choosing a warm, tactile material, like wood, can make a real difference both visually, and underfoot.”

Trends may come and go but wood has timeless appeal. It is supremely versatile and simply gets better with age. “Wood floors are now available in an enormous range of styles, species and finishes, from pale ash with a strong grain and distinct figuring, to dramatic, ebony-stained oak,” says Harvey. “Meanwhile, designs range from traditional one-strip ‘planks’ to retro Dutch patterns. There is a host of new finishing treatments offered too, from distressed, hand-scraped with natural oil finishes to bevelled boards with velvety lacquer finishes.”

While dark wood stains are still fashionable, this year sees a move towards paler tones. “Year-on-year, oak wood flooring is a constant, as are ‘historic’ dark stains, which bring rich, ruddy brown tones or emanate an almost dark, tropical look,” says Harvey. “But the real change this spring and summer is a growing interest in paler stained oaks. Contemporary grey hues and white washes are being keenly sought by both designers and consumers.”

He adds, “To reinforce the crisp, fresh new look, a variety of different surface treatments, including white washing and brushing, are used in combination with the new on-trend stains. These add lots of texture and give a slightly rustic edge, so the surface blends beautifully in both contemporary and traditional spaces, or in areas where elements of each style are used.”

Knotty wood

Knotty wood evokes a more natural vibe, while a more even grain creates a minimalist feel. “Your choice of floor doesn’t necessarily need to reflect your overall interior style; a lively oak floor can provide a welcome, warm backdrop in a stark, contemporary space, while an even grain can create a calm back-drop as part of a busy, rustic design.”

If the purse strings don’t stretch to solid wood, use laminates. These have become more sophisticated of late, looking almost identical to the real thing. You can choose either wood or stone effects from leading brands like Pergo and Quick-Step.


Vinyl too, has shaken off its dated image to become a contemporary and cost efficient option for flooring, and is available in a huge variety of designs and textures. It’s hard-wearing, easy to clean, waterproof and slip resistant, which makes it suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. Karndean offers a range of flooring made from a durable and versatile form of vinyl which replicates the look and texture of wood, slate, stone, ceramic, marble, metal and terracotta.

Look out for their new Art Select Woods range which includes elegant Parquet options. Amtico also has a range of wood, stone and abstract designs, including their glamorous Metals collection with six subtle shades and a rippled beaten texture. There are the soft pale tones of Gold Leaf which is enhanced with a dusting of glitter shadow to add sparkle, and Metal Tin, a saturated pewter tone with a silver shimmer.


For urban abodes, you might want to consider rubber or leather flooring. Rubber is one of the hardest wearing finishes available and great for kitchens as it’s non-slip and child friendly. There’s also a fantastic range of colour options too. Slate effect, stud details and smooth solid sheets are available from The Rubber Flooring Company, as well as their new Grid design by Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway, founders of fashion brand Red or Dead.

Ceramic tiles

Tiles are ideal for areas of high traffic as they’re durable and easy to look after. “Floor tiles are a growing trend within UK homes, especially for new builds,” says Sheila Elliott, creative director of British Ceramic Tile. “The advantages are obvious; they are easy to clean, allergy free and hard wearing, so now that our climate is milder and our heating systems more efficient, it’s a good choice.”

Eco-friendly flooring

For eco-friendly floors, cork is soft underfoot, easy to look after and fully bio-degradable, while bamboo, a fast growing grass, can reach maturity in four to six years and renews itself after harvesting. It’s naturally resistant to moisture which makes it perfect for kitchens and bathrooms. Marmoleum is another eco-friendly alternative, made from renewable materials like linseed oil, pine rosins, and wood flour, which also makes it completely biodegradable.