More than a simple walk-on part
A beautiful floor with well-chosen materials will add to the aesthetics of your home, writes Cynthia Karena.
Floors can accentuate the best features of a home, or change the look entirely. The choice of flooring - from stone to timber to carpet - can make a room appear larger or warmer, highlight beautiful furniture, and even make a home feel grander or more sophisticated.
The trend in Australia is towards designing open spaces with timber or stone.
Timber - what's old is new
Timber flooring is a perennial favourite, but look to your grandparents' floors to see what's trending in timber - old-fashioned parquetry is making a comeback.
"When we are using timber, we are opting for more detailed patterns or edging, such as parquetry in herringbone pattern with bevelled edges on each piece of timber," says Melbourne interior designer David Hicks.
"Bevelled parquetry brings out the pattern in the floor and gives it a higher level of detail and sophistication."
Running timber boards perpendicular to the walls is another way to highlight the graphic element of timber. Sydney architect Hannah Tribe rejected the conventional method of laying of timber boards along the hallway on her House Shmukler project - a house conceived as a series of boxes.
"I ran them the other way to enhance the sense of horizontal stripes running perpendicular to the hallway."
Timber is also fabulous for rugs, she says. "Timber has warmth, and it's got a lot of variation in colour. It makes the warm colours in rugs sing."
Rugs are definitely a huge trend at the moment, says Hicks. "Layering floor finishes with rugs is a great way to inject some colour and pattern to a space."
Architect Koichi Takada is a big fan of timber, and likes to make floor and wall colours almost the same, but not in exactly the same finishes. "It's hard to do right, but when you do it's amazing. It creates a seamless neutral colour scheme as a background for artwork or beautiful [objects]."
A stunning example of this is Takada's work at the Cave restaurant at beachside Maroubra, where the matching colours of the timber floor, walls and ceiling create a seamless continuity.
As the interior designer for Sydney's One Central Park East tower, Takada designed matching colours in the kitchen for the timber screen, the joinery and the floor to provide visual harmony and sense of calm.
If floor trends change, timber can easily be sanded and re-stained, made rougher by sanding, or smoother by applying gloss, he says.
For young interior designer Aaron Wong from Alexander Pollock interior design, timber floors suit his young busy clients. "Timber is the trend at the moment. It's easier to maintain than carpet, and it also adds warmth to a bathroom.
"Tiles can look dated; I see a lot of wooden floors that are waterproof that can be used in the bathroom and kitchen."
Even though timber is popular, Hicks uses more stone than timber on living room and kitchen floors. His clients are requesting large tiles or slabs to minimise grout joins and provide a seamless effect.
"In bathrooms and wet areas we are using stone in large tile format, laid in brickbond pattern, and slabs. Honed surfaces on stone (more porous than polished stone) is very big at the moment and will continue in 2013, as too are more unusual stones and marbles, rather than opting for the traditional white."