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Dear Marc: We are removing the carpets from the three bedrooms in our home and would like to install a floor covering that will complement the wood floor we have coming off of the hallway.

The wood floor is beech and the colour is chestnut. I don't want to put the same wood floors in the bedrooms because the beech is a soft wood. I'm looking for something that is low-maintenance, durable and somewhat scratch-resistant, since there is an office chair with wheels that will be used on the floor in two of the bedrooms. Should I be trying to match the hardwood or look for something that is a contrasting colour? I've gone from cork, to tile to dark laminate to trying to match the hardwood. Are there any rules out there that will help me make the right decision? Value your advice. — Jelena

 

Dear Jelena,

Have you ever heard the expression, "Your ceiling is your fifth wall?" I take that analogy to the next level and say your floor is your sixth wall. Many homeowners change around their colour schemes, furniture and accessories but forget that what "grounds" the entire design is the floor covering used in the space. The chosen floor covering can make or break the space, depending on the material used, the colour or shade of the material and how the material is applied. Before we start considering the colour of the material, let's look at the quality of the material we will choose.

In high-traffic areas, you will want to look at integrating a durable floor covering. Flooring is much like furniture: It's a long-term investment, so you should use materials that will withstand many years of wear and tear. When shopping for floor covering, be sure to ask for the average lifespan of the product. You should also consider products you won't tire of after the first couple of years. Yes, you will get tired of the red carpet after awhile.

When selecting your "sixth" wall, you must go through the same process as any other wall. Take inventory of the colours found on the other walls, accessories and furniture in the space. All colours present in the space must blend together in harmony. The wonderful thing about wooden floors is that their colour is usually fairly neutral, which makes them adaptable to many different colour schemes. With wooden floors, many homeowners seem to have the impression that all woods are hardwoods which is not the case. Some woods, such as the one you have in the hallway, is a softwood, which means you will have to watch your step when wearing stiletto heels. Softwood is easy to scratch, dent, and tends to require a little more TLC. For homeowners working with tighter budgets, softwood floors are a great alternative to hardwood floors, as they cost less.

When working with tight budgets, we have to be a little creative at times. We don't always have the luxury of having the same floor covering throughout the entire house. But it's better that the floor covering changes from room to room, since different rooms are used differently. Kitchens and bathrooms are high-moisture areas, therefore, you would look at a moisture-resistant product for such rooms. For bedrooms, on the other hand, most homeowners look for products that are warm to the touch, as that's usually the first surface your feet touch in the morning. A wonderful product that's often used in bedrooms is cork. Cork is a wonderful product, since it's easy to install with its snap-together system. It's also scratch- and stain-resistant, which is great for home offices. Since you already have a wooden floor that can't be extended into the bedrooms, it would be best to go with a completely different product, such as cork, as opposed to going with a hardwood. You wouldn't want it to look like you ran out of flooring and couldn't match it! There is nothing worse than having a homeowner try to "match" a floor in a different type of wood. It's impossible and people will notice!

As for colour selection, again, we want the rooms to stand on their own. The best route would be to purchase flooring in a contrasting colour. If you can't match it, make sure it's obvious that you weren't trying to match it. Any colour that's similar to the "chestnut" colour of the beechwood will look as if someone either ran out of money or material, and we don't want that.

Upgrading flooring is a wonderful way to bring life to an existing space.

Marc Atiyolil is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Home Trends — Canada's Home Decor & Lifestyle Magazine, and the host of the Marc Atiyolil Show, www.youtube.com/MarcAtiyolil.

To submit a question for Marc, visit www.MarcAtiyolil.com.

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