Hardwood Floors, through the lens of 2018 is looking very good. Turn on and watch any cable channel, advertisements and editorials in magazines, images in social media posts, walk through any furniture or interiors show, and you’ll see spaces infiltrated with wood, wood looks, finishes, as well as nods and winks to wood. What everyone loves about the look of hardwood is its ability to morph and change depending on the style of its surroundings…as well as for its ability to immediately update and transform a space simply when installed.
What’s new in hardwood flooring is going to come as no surprise when I say it but you still need to hear it…can you say ”GRAY”?…while it’s not the only important color going into homes in 2018, it is still the most important color influencing what goes into homes, that is muted taupes, mushrooms, and of course warm taupe are the major players in the interiors world in the backdrop as the quiet blank canvas. This gray movement has been growing over the past ten years, making a steady climb into mainstream product development for runway, hospitality, contract and home fashions.
Barnwood grays, gray-beiges and taupes stretch from rustic to refined in appearance, making the color an ideal solution for bridging old to new and updating spaces.
Whites, off whites and blank canvas tans are all the rage today both in European design as well as USA. In recent trips to various design firms, many of their showroom spaces feature hardwood flooring that can be best described as “Belgian linen” in color, what I’ve stated in years past as the perfect blank canvas on which a great design plan can happen. These light pale neutrals are inspired from not only coastal design aesthetics but also from the Danish design trend known as “Hygge” which means “coziness and comfort”. In early 2016, I listed “Hygge” as a mega-trend for the year. Not only has “Hygge” been a mega trend, it’s also a concept everyone around the world can live with. Associated with “hygge” is another important but lesser-known concept, “lagom”, which means “not to much, not too little, but sufficient”. Both concepts are rooted in the Scandinavian design world and fall into the wants and desires we all have as consumers to be comforted but also not
Besides gray, there are some seriously exciting ingredients to consider for 2018 hardwood flooring. For example, technology and history are colliding in the field of hardwood floors in a way that is allowing and introduction and influx of floors that are continuing to be wider and longer than in the narrow strip orange-red prefinished engineered floors of twenty years ago. For 2018, look to see more options of these larger formats to accentuate the wide open spaces of homes. As we’ve witnessed the right-sizing of homes square footage over the past decade, homes with open layouts have also become one of the must haves, along with hardwood floors. Open layouts are nice until the homeowner tries to transition their flooring type from space to space, unless of course it’s hardwood floors, which flows seamlessly from front door to the back. What makes wide and long hardwood floors the most desired format is the fact that they essentially expand the spaces visually by reducing the number of joints, end to end and side to side. With larger boards, the human eye can see more of the beautiful part of the hardwood which is the wood grain and its natural appeal as a living thing. Whether the flooring is dark or light, heavily scraped, cracked or smooth and refined, the wood’s beauty lies also in its ever growing value over centuries.
Another important hardwood trend to expect to see in 2018 is more intricate installations such as herringbone. In recent trips to France, there was an abundance of vintage interiors with herringbone hardwood floors which have a mass appeal to American consumers due to the fact that they add “flair” and panache to an otherwise simple installation. As the economy continues to grow and housing market expands, we also know that homeowners are turning to the professionals for their expertise. Many times professionals, whether it’s installers or designers who work with installers, will put their “signature touch” on their projects, setting them apart so to speak, by doing what is difficult and outside the norm. Herringbone hardwood floors are not easy to make nor are they easy to install but the effect is grand.
The year of 2018 is coming at us like a storm and all we can do is hold on tight and hope we have all the right tools to be prepared. In the wake of tropical storm Harvey and Irma, we can all use some brighter news to lift our spirits and “color” is one of the best ways to do that. As a color and design trend forecaster, one of the coolest things to see is the changing landscape and skyline of where we look and watch out for the signs of change. In the world of color, there are so many changes, some big and some subtle, it can only be summarized as a “colorful explosion” where none of the once accepted rules apply, where special effects, power clashing and color discordance are to be expected.
Homework in color trends is an ongoing process and the best way to describe it is as a “distillation” of many seemingly disparate parts which when watched over time, begin to look like “data points” on a chart and a pattern of the most significant colors begins to emerge. Eventually an overall impression of these indicators becomes a forecast. The key is to have the longer view in mind, a rich history of studying the movement of colors and to remember that the most important thing is that colors in the form of SKUs evolve, are tweaked and are never completely abandoned, as that would be “unwise for business”. Colors are an investment and color updates to any line of products, be it fashion or interiors, is one of the best ways to engage and excite consumers in what would ordinarily be “same old” looking products.
2018 “hottest” colors are listed below…
Black – found in fashion, appliances, flooring, furnishings and accessories for the home, look for the depth and drama of black to add impact and gravity to spaces. Black houndstooth is one of Ralph Lauren’s fall 2017 signature patterns and expect to see more of it for the home in 2018.
Metallic Shimmer – gold, pearl, iridescent and silvery effects are all making special effects feel almost “neutral” in the various applications. Sparkle is never out, but for 2018 anything that shimmers, glimmers, sparkles or reflects light is just right.
Pastels – mint greens, pale buttery yellows, or pale pinks, the key trend is moving towards light and airy pastels.
Pink – while we have heard a lot about the new color trend “millennial pink” it is not new and it is not reserved only for millennials. Pale, sandy pink, while it has been around for centuries, it can be called upon to mix in nicely as a “warmer near neutral” in 2018.
Green – we don’t have to go to the rainforest of jungle to find lush green. Green, although CMG and Pantone showcase numerous vibrant greens, the ones to watch for in 2018 are “Thrive”, a vegetal rich green,”Kale”, an olive/khaki green and “Golden Lime” a richer deeper version of chartreuse. Look for green hues in your accessories and accents, not in the biggest “commitment” pieces in a space such as sofas… pillows, throws, occasional chairs, and art.
Subdued Blues – seeking serenity in an ever-changing world, the subdued shades of light blue bring a sense of calm to an interior or wardrobe. Pantone’s “Little Boy Blue” was best exemplified by the First Lady Melania Trump’s stunning clear blue Ralph Lauren suit worn for her husband’s presidential inaugural ceremony.
Grays – Grays are not ready to be dismissed, it has staked its place firmly yet again in the coming new year’s marketplace as it continually reinvents itself. “Neutral Gray” is a chameleon color which still makes a breathtaking impression in every application, interiors or fashion. Gray works in modern, in rustic, in runway fashion and looks incredibly new especially when new trends are partnered with it, such as warm gold finishes.
Of the many places I go to for color research, a few stand out in my mind as “the authority”, one is Leatrice Eiseman of the Pantone Institute, the second one is Pantone itself and last but not certainly not least is Color Marketing Group. Leatrice Eiseman is slated to be one of the guest speakers at this November’s CMG conference in Portland, Oregon where she will be discussing Pantone’s newest update to the book “The Complete Color Harmony Pantone Edition” which is what I’d describe as a color-rich trifecta.
Earlier this year, Lea recently spoke at the IHA International Housewares Association where she explained a few concepts that apply to all demographic groups, that “there are no hard and fast rules for the groups today…each group has the freedom to do something daring or unique with color.” According to Eiseman, “discordant color can be used to intentionally manipulate emotion…and if used thoughtfully can be a powerful tool in the marketplace.”
From millennials to Gen X’ers to Boomers and Seniors, the one thing we can count on is this, they’re loving their freedom of expression through color, be it subtle or shocking. Eiseman stated “Consumers today, depending on age, mindset and lifestyle, now have a different perspective on colors and color combinations that they consider acceptable in the home.” When you consider that the millennials’ age range spans from 18 to 34, and the various chapters or stages in life that maybe an 20 year old might share with a 32 year old, then you’ll begin to grasp a better understanding of why no one seems to be able to predict or pinpoint specific colors or styles that can be universally applied to millennials. “You cannot stipulate one rule for one group anymore.” Bottom line, in 2018 there are no rules on color, just an ever-changing, ever-moving kaleidoscope of colorful new products to stimulate consumers into taking them home.