When homeowners, designers and developers consider renovating their property they tend to think on either side of the scale, from a simple paint job makeover to a fully fitted kitchen. Whilst there is nothing wrong with either of these, it is sometimes more beneficial to improve the home from its base. That means flooring, carpets and rugs. Indeed, it is easy and quite forgivable to overlook a well-trodden carpet or scuffed and run-down boards – at least for a time.
The feel of wood beneath the feet can be something of a ‘marmite’ experience, but to those who enjoy the cold connection and solid feel it is really the only choice. Unfortunately, some wooden floor products are quite expensive, at least in comparison to carpets. However, laminate flooring provides the perfect solution as it starts from a very affordable price. Indeed, some of the cheaper laminate floor packs, which are of a very good quality, can actually prove less costly than an average carpet fit. Moreover, laminate is a low maintenance solution that can be installed relatively easily, although be warned that there will be a lot of sawing (at angles) to be done!
The key to buying the right laminate flooring is to ensure that the colour and style matches the interior décor of the house in which it is to be laid – there is little worse than mismatched wood! Also, choose planks that fit the scale of the room, ie. narrow planks for a small room. In respect to natural flooring, this is a more luxurious option generally but must be carried out by a professional – too much can go wrong in inexperienced hands.
A carpet replacement is another surprisingly simple yet effective way to improve the home. Carpets can harbour dust and grime over time that is difficult to remove, so a straightforward replacement can quite literally breathe new life into the home. Also, rugs are an excellent way of introducing new colour schemes and patterns into the home without going overboard on a redesign.
Your choice of flooring or floor covering – whether it’s part of living room, bedroom, kitchen or even bathroom design – can change how you, and visitors, perceive the size, function and atmosphere of the various spaces within your home. Replacing the flooring in your home need not necessarily be expensive and there are countless cost-effective alternatives to choose from.
Swirly, patterned carpet, for example, is making a comeback although, nowadays, in combination with neutral wall colours to avoid a dated Seventies look. The subtle continuation of a carpet motif – a floral or botanical print for example – in blinds, curtains, etc. can help to provide a unified, contemporary look. If you are on a budget, carpets with foam backing are less expensive – albeit less hard-wearing – than some of the alternatives if you intend to change your floor covering fairly regularly. Off-cuts of carpet can also be bound at the edges to produce inexpensive matching rugs.
Vinyl flooring can be used as an alternative to carpet in high-traffic areas although it can be torn easily, so you do need to be careful if moving furniture around. Its waterproof nature also means that it can be used in bathrooms to give the appearance of mosaic tiles, for example, at a fraction of the cost. If wooden flooring is more to your taste, do remember that scratches in real hardwood, or engineered wood, floors can be difficult to disguise or repair. Once again laminated engineered wood flooring – which often simply clicks together – can provide a cost-effective alternative to real wood, parquet flooring.
There is, of course, nothing to stop you combining different flooring types in a single space with your home to effectively define “zones” within than space. If you have a walkthrough living room and dining room, for example, you might like to carpet the living area but use laminated or real wood flooring to designate the dining area.
With house prices falling nearly 16% during 2008 and the housing market not expected to bottom out until the end of 2009 moving house is off the immediate agenda for many homeowners. They are looking instead to add value to their existing properties to increase their saleability when the market does recover. Whether you are looking to move, or simply to improve the allure and comfort of your existing living space, hardwood flooring can make an attractive and cost-effective addition to any home.
Hardwoods such as maple, oak and walnut are more durable than softwoods and available in natural variations of colour and grain, unfinished, factory finished, or engineered. Engineered wood is constructed from several tightly compressed layers, or veneers, of hardwood; as such it is less flexible than solid wood, and suitable for use with underfloor heating, if you place an emphasis on green energy, and reducing your carbon footprint, in designing the interior of your home. Solid hardwood can be sanded to remove scratches whereas engineered wood has a top layer of hardwood that is only a few millimetres thick limiting the possibilities for sanding. Both types of flooring require minimal maintenance, however, and unlike carpet, for example, do not harbour mould, mildew and other allergens. Hardwood floors can be maintained by regular sweeping or vacuuming and occasional treatment with a cleaning product recommended by the manufacturer.
Hardwood flooring is water resistant, rather than waterproof, so while it can become an important component of bedroom design, or kitchen design, it is less suitable for bathrooms or other “wet” areas where staining or cracking can occur. Carefully chosen, correctly installed, and properly cared for, however, hardwood flooring will age beautifully and retain its character for many years.