Elana Safronsky, Managing Editor
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 12:15 PM EDT
Here we go HGTV.ca fans – we’ve looked over your Design Dilemmas and are ready to roll them out with some advice! We begin with one of Style Sheet’s most faithful readers, Brenda N., from Ontario.
Brenda’s home is about to undergo a top-to-bottom facelift, so needless to say, Brenda had quite an extensive list of Design Dilemmas. Unfortunately, it is not possible to fit all that info into one post, so I chose to tackle her flooring question, which I think many can relate to.
A glimpse of Brenda's 1st floor.
Question from Brenda N., of Ontario: I would like replace the flooring throughout my main floor, with the exception of the front vestibule, kitchen area, bathrooms and possibly bedrooms. I’m looking at prefinished hardwood and have the following questions:
- Colour choice: in other words what sells?
- Product: as I am not really fond of Oak flooring (the grain) do you have an alternative suggestion that is just as durable?
- Boundaries: where do I stop and begin? Rather than replace the entire staircases I would just like to do the risers and paint out the rest and complete them with a runner.
- My daughter who has a toddler, has HW in her Family Room and regrets putting it in. Is it possible to do a perimeter of HW and have a carpet insert?
ANY input on this subject would be helpful as it will be a massive expense.
Answer: Well, first and foremost, Brenda, I have to ask if you’re thinking of also changing your furniture. Picking a hardwood is tricky when your furniture has prominent wood features, which seems to be the case with yours. If your furniture is to remain the same, your best bet is to narrow it down by price point and style, and then take several of the available colour options home with you (they should allow you to do that, as prefinished hardwoods are usually available in approx. 2ft x 3ft sample boards) to see which looks best.
Funny enough, my in-laws just redid their first floor with a prefinished hardwood, and their furniture is very similar to yours. They chose a neutral, medium dark, “cappuccino” colour, and it looks great, despite the several woods of their furniture.
What sells? The more neutral the better. However, the darker chestnut tones seem to be the most popular among contemporary homebuyers.
A note on considering your market: Ask a real estate agent what the average age of homeowner/homebuyer is in your area, because tastes vary from age group to age group. For example, younger homebuyers prefer the darker flooring, but older homebuyers find that it’s a lot of upkeep as dark floors show every speck of dirt, and so many prefer the lighter shades to combat that problem
But as long as you stay away from unnatural colour stains such as green (yes, there are those who’ve done it), black, and red (even cherry – not a wide audience for that), you should be fine with respect to resale.
A popular new stain option that isn’t exactly ‘natural’ but certainly is neutral that you could consider is an ash grey. This finish is available in many wood options, but more often in engineered floors and laminates.
Photo: Lv Wood Floors
Hardwood Flooring Guide
Probably the most durable option for you would be an engineered wood floor rather than prefinished, although most prefinished floors are varathaned up to 9 times and are scratch resistant. Engineered planks are made of fused together wood layers, with the top layer being of your chosen wood variety. This makes for a much stronger plank that is more resistant to moisture and warping, and is much more uniformed with respect to thickness. The engineered option is available in virtually every wood and finish.
Alternatives to Oak?
From the left: engineered Hard Maple, engineered Hickory in "Caramel", "Amber" Woven Bamboo, all from Eco Timber.
- Ash – just as strong, but has a more open grain (less knots)
- Maple – but not any maple – Hard White Maple, which has a very fine grain and a fairly uniformed, white colour. The best choice should should you decide to go lighter
- Hickory – also a finer grain than Oak – as well as Ash for that matter – and is a great choice for darker stains, like “cappuccino”
- Bamboo – very durable, renewable (a plus!), and offers a unique grain with infinite options in colour and style (my favourite is the “woven”)
Where to begin and end?
It’s quite common to leave your foyer, kitchen and bathrooms out of a new floor treatment. But with regards to your stairs, I would not recommend you painting any part of them. Painted stairs do best in an older home – anything before 1940. Your home looks to be at least a decade newer than that, and by the looks of your stairs, they’re wider than say an Edwardian or a Victorian staircase - painting them would only draw more attention to them, for no good reason. I would bite the bullet and do the stairs – runner or no runner. You can easily carpet the second floor/ground floor bedroom with some neutral Berber and make a runner of the same for your stairs, to keep it uniform.
With regards to your family room carpet insert idea; I’m not sure that would be a wise choice if you’re concerned with resale. Most people love hardwood throughout, and if you’re worried about childrens’ comfort, I would just put a nice, large rug in the room.
Hope this helps!