While it’s still 2018 on the calendar, those of us in product design and development world are already living and working well in the 2019 calendar year. “What”, you may ask, does 2019 hold in store in design trends, especially those that will impact our hardwood flooring choices? I can share some very important and exciting insights that might just surprise you. The information I’m about to impart is both valuable and reliable, a result of having been not only professionally forecasting design trends and applying them into successfully selling collections but also from practicing as a professional interior designer for thirty plus years.  Get out your notepads and sharpen your pencils.


Many dealers ask me whether I consider “gray” staying or going away…and my answer is based on the responses I’ve gotten when working with specifiers, designers and looking at what finishes are going into projects a year from now. Gray is still with us and still very viable and necessary part of a product mix, perhaps even more so in hard surface finishes like hardwood flooring. What you should know is that you might see very colorful “trend alerts” from professional organizations like Color Marketing Group, of which I am a member, where pastel pinks, bright yellow golds and blues are trending upwards. There should be footnotes on these trend reports or asterisks that spell out in “fine print” that these are “accents” and relate to broader product categories like apparel, interior accessories, cosmetics and even automotive colors. That being said, these accents are like the colorful necktie on a stylish navy blue suit. The “foundational color palette” is what matters for us in the hard surface floor covering world.

Over the years when speaking at design events and presenting trends, I have referred to the “foundational color palette” as “commitment colors” indicating the big pieces of furniture, built in cabinets or other types of large surfaces that are not easily installed, not easily replaced, not easily moved which the specifiers and end users acknowledge that this surface color will be there for an average of five to seven years before it’s replaced. This space, this very myopic color palette has been my primary focus since launching the Emily Morrow Home hardwood flooring line and brand. In my past life as Shaw’s director of color style and design for the soft and hard surfaces, my focus had to be much broader and focus on the aspects that all fit together, so that the carpet colors and the hard surface colors would not only be “trend forward” but also salable. These colors had to have broad application across the USA and that part has not changed one bit. It is that deep and wide background, plus the added thirty year interior design expertise that enables me to successfully forecast well into the coming year with significant accuracy, knowing, not guessing, what’s essential for flooring collections which the dealers will be selling. Now that we’ve explained the groundwork, let’s dive into this “commitment” palette which we will be seeing in 2019!


The catalysts driving the foundational color palette currently are not just color-related but also visuals and textures that are nature derived and can be best described as “aspirational luxury”. Make note, this overview is what many would call the high altitude view. You can expect to see marbles, granites and limestones that are above and beyond your ordinary colors or names like “Baltic Brown”. The look is slightly more unique, the names and veining are a little on the “exotic” side, In general terms, these are names that most homeowners are not acquainted with, like “Pietra Grigio” or “Nero Marquina”. Aged travertines, Bianca Dolomite whites, gray-veined Carrara and gray-gold veined Calacatta marbles, gray and black soapstones and even gray poured concrete slabs. Overall this “naturally derived” color palette is generally cool, you will also see emerging warmth from luxurious onyx, Emperador Dark marble and wood species like walnut. 

Hopefully the “Nature’s Neutrals” palette explanations clarify and define in your mind what is going to be the essences of 2019 design.






BLACK ECLIPSE: feeling more dark charcoal that a straight out ebony black, Eclipse is just as the name implies, a shadowy black which works best in premium quality hardwood where the grain is straighter, certainly no application on a rotary cut hardwood. Again like a shadow or an eclipse, there is no reflective quality to the darkness, simply matte darkness, velvety if anything in its appearance.

EMPERADOR DARK BROWN: Emperador Dark Marble is a rich brown marble which can change from slab to slab depending on how much and where the white veins run. Rich browns are on the horizon in hardwood flooring in the form of rich matte chocolate browns especially in the Walnut species. Walnut, in the right color family of brown, is and always will be timeless and salable. Walnut, although soft, is making a strong showing in both commercial and residential interiors. Overall, one of walnut’s best attributes is that it can be mixed in with a variety of design styles and with a variety of other surfaces.

BEMUDA STONE GRAY: gray is enjoying a very long and successful life span. Since its first showing in 2007, gray continues to reign strong in every consumer goods category as a “go to” neutral, back drop “blank canvas” type color which bridges easily with other colors and also serves well in a wide range of design styles from mid century modern to rustic farm house. Gray continues to become more and more refined as it evolves. Currently grays have segued into that look and feel which is silvery, patinaed and aged yet smooth in texture.

FRENCH LIMESTONE: The “chicest” hardwood color is the in the same family as reclaimed french limestone. A quarried look and feel is the target texture. Not quite scraped, not quite wire-brushed, not quite chiseled, this actual color creates its warmth through the “just right” off white with zero ‘yellow’, zero ‘pink’, just warm like the stone you’d see in an old chateaux in France.

SEA SALT WHITE: Speaking from recent experience of admiring the Bermuda sands on a recent trip, “Sea Salt” off-whites are akin to a “mist” with hints of color only from reflections of the surf and sand. Looking to find off whites, you can certainly find the similar influences from my mega trend of plaster-gesso whites from 2017 and 2018. In keeping with gesso and plaster, SEA SALT is matte and more importantly is not flat nor opaque.


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