Emily Morrow Finkell for NWFA Magazine: What’s Your Herringbone IQ? Designs in Hardwood Flooring

Why we love herringbone? Emily of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood explains

Looking through all the endless iterations of hardwood flooring, hardwood “looks” and all the porcelain tiles can cause one to get inspiration overload, especially if you’re looking at it from “outside” our industry. Even professional designers sometimes are overwhelmed by the variety and need some guidance to what’s hot. Let’s test your knowledge on the various designs in hardwood installations that are trending today.

For instance, did you know that the herringbone was used a far back as in Roman times as road pavers? I’ve referenced in previous design articles that the Palace of Versailles fueled my love and appreciation for the herringbone floors as it speaks to the timelessness and classic beauty of not only hardwood floors but also of herringbone hardwood floors. In researching for some of this material, my husband and in-house expert of hardwood flooring Don Finkell questioned what I meant by my claim that “herringbone” was stronger than other types of installation types. He, an architect, and I, an interior designer and part of a multigenerational family commercial construction business, decided this was a fair statement and did a deep dive into the reasons “why”.

Herringbone is a very stable installation type to use for hardwood floors (or road pavers) by design, wherein each of the sides push against the others at an angle and allow for expansion and contraction under weight or traffic. For example, the length of the wood “paver” was not overly large and easier to cut and work with than large planks for laborers or skilled artisans. There’s even more reason why herringbone and other parquetry was used. Practical reasons oftentimes explain the presence of certain things found in historic construction of homes and buildings. The angular installation of the herringbone allows for uneven subfloors or earthen road beds. It can undulate over the highs and lows with little concern for trip-hazards. Today and always, herringbone floors speaks to elegance or pattern play and always makes an interior feel extraordinary. We can find it and its “cousins” chevron and double herringbone all around us, in backsplash tiles, in textiles, inside fireplaces and more.


Parquet patterns - collection of most popular flooring samples with names - isolated outline vector illustration on white background.
Parquet patterns – collection of most popular hardwood flooring samples

With that in mind, here we are with the low-down on all that and more. Hardwood flooring has never had so much “sex appeal”, and curb appeal, as it does today. Every type of material is mimicking the lovely “bois” pattern…and patterns that are similar to wood grain, such as zebra, chevron and watermarked, are very much in vogue in both interiors and fashion. We can’t help ourselves when it comes to zigs and zags in wood and fabric. Herringbone for instance goes back to ancient Egypt where woven twill fabrics were discovered (Herringbone: Dropping Knowledge | GQ ) and its impossible not to notice the herringbone wood in iconic architecture like The Palace at Versailles. Currently there are endless herringbone and chevron flooring designs in VCT, rigid core product, porcelain, laminate and of course hardwood itself. For the winning look, hardwood takes first place although the other look-alikes offer consumers a high-end look at a great price point.

Why are we seeing so many interior designers and homeowners install herringbone hardwood? It is an excellent way for designers to set their projects and portfolios apart from the other designers, and homeowners love the look. Herringbone hardwood flooring makes a large design statement of elegance and timelessness at first glance… it’s certainly not a “spec house” look found in all your neighborhood’s other homes. Furthermore, herringbone floors are just busy enough, especially in open floor plans, that they create depth, dimension and visual excitement. In small spaces like entries and foyers, the zig-zag design visually leads the eye across the threshold into the desired space. What professional designers and skilled installers know is this, herringbone flooring can add to the value of the home, and depending on the quality of the product itself and the direction of the installation, it can actually wear better longer due to the fact that the traffic is going over the strongest parts of the board.

“These classic parquet floors are always in style” by,“For a twist on standard hardwood flooring, try a classic chevron or herringbone pattern—the parquet styles have been around for more than a century. Choosing between the two comes down to personal taste: Chevron planks meet in perfect points like a long string of arrows, while herringbone planks look slightly staggered. Often found in formal living rooms, dining rooms, and entrance halls, both of these elegant zigzag designs elevate a room from the ground up.” 24 Elegant Chevron and Herringbone Flooring Ideas Photos | Architectural Digest     

In looking at all the most beautiful herringbone installations published in shelter and design magazines, it’s apparent that the installers are genuine artists in how they are using depths of color, lightness and darkness, and direction to make the installations fit the style of the interior. From a traditional English manor home, a Bel Air, California residence to a modern Scandinavian apartment, the floor’s metamorphosis is inspiring. The creative magic happens because you can intermix the planks and produce any style or pattern dependent upon your installer’s ability.

One important thing to make note of when looking at floors as a life-long career, you’ll see all levels of quality of flooring. Ask yourself why carpet got a bad wrap or why people covered the hardwood floors in the 70’s only to uncover them in the 90’s…American consumers love change and are far too quick to trash something that would be cherished and well-maintained in Europe, so we’re losing that sense of what “quality” flooring looks and feels like. We have, generally speaking, opted for cheaper imports simply for the sake of something new when we could have spent just a little more money and or time, invested in superior American-made hardwood flooring that can last a lifetime, or multiple lifetimes, if you so desire.

It’s easy to be captivated by the wide range of installation configurations in hardwood but, without doubt, the biggest story is in the herringbone and chevron. I’ve observed design influencers around the world being wooed by the opulence of well-made, well designed hardwood boards, oftentimes getting down on their knees to feel the wood grain’s texture, contoured edges and overall finish. Listening in on design professionals discussing how they could include hardwood boards in their design plan makes it all worthwhile and gives me hope that hardwood will never go out of style. The look, the feel, the sound and especially the scent of hardwood can’t be duplicated by any other type of flooring in the world.



Meet the faces behind the names at emilymorrowhome.com


Emily Morrow Home began with a love story…a life-long love for design that grew into a profession. After almost thirty years of practicing interior design, thirteen of which was directing Shaw Industries’ color, style and design development, I have recently entered a new chapter of life and launched a new enterprise, Emily Morrow Home, a collection of products inspired by my life and love.

I am most passionate about designing unique products that are not found in commodity retailers…inspired by travels to the most beautiful and amazing places on earth.  The Emily Morrow Home Collection is not only about making our lives and homes more beautiful, it’s also about making the process of designing the home a pleasure while avoiding the usual pitfalls. That is why I sell through professionals, people with proven ability and craftsmanship who stand behind their work, as do I.  Each product within the initial hardwood collection is inspired and designed to bring the world’s most beautiful visuals home to you, whether it’s Napa Valley or the Pacific Coast highway.  As with any well-executed design project, one should always begin with the floors…the most beautiful “canvas” from which a home filled with personal expressions of style can emerge.

Emily Morrow Home invites you to get inspired. Combining a love of travel and art, Emily Morrow has transformed her passions into unique and charming home interior design. You’ll find collections influenced by the most beautiful aesthetics the world has to offer. Add a pop of culture to your home or reinvent it entirely. The Emily Morrow Home Collection can help you do both.




To read more inspo, click here





The Finkells DCN photo
By my side is the manufacturer of my line of premium hardwood floors, Don Finkell…who is the love of my life … my husband. If it weren’t for him, I would not have been inspired to create this line of products, which he has touted as being “the most beautiful products of my entire career”. Don is the CEO of American OEM and his team is composed of some of the industry’s greatest talents, including Don’s daughter Allie.



Our boards really are up to 8 feet in length. Meet my daughter Mary Morrow who, even in heels, is still significantly shorter than our massively long planks.



Hunt Broyhill of Aria Designs shows just how comfortable the seating and cushions truly are during a hectic High Point Market. He and the team at Aria Designs have created timeless pieces of upholstery that are not only luxuriously comfortable, but also durable…and guess what? They are made in Lenoir, North Carolina.


Neutral Sectional ARIA Hmpmkt
This particular sectional at Aria is one of my personal favorites due to the fact that this is covered in “Performance” grade fabric that actually repels dirt, spills and so much more. For my family and our doggy Donatella the truffle dog (see below), it is essential to have seating that we don’t have to constantly worry about spilling or soiling.
Donatella the Truffle Dog, our official “tough tester” for our incredibly durable scratch resistant premium hardwood floors and the performance fabrics on the upholstery.




Brownlee Currey of Currey and Company and Emily Morrow Finkell at the Currey and Company recently expanded High Point Showroom. Launching with EmilyMorrowHome is also the gorgeous lighting and accessories from Currey and Company.

My husband Don Finkell and my two children, Mary and William Morrow helped me celebrate my landmark 50th birthday. Join me in celebrating 50 years of “life” as well as 15 years of being cancer free. A portion of our profits from emilymorrowhome.com will go to the Kiker Morrow Finkell Cancer Care Foundation in celebration of defeating breast cancer 15 years ago.


Q: How do I know how much hardwood flooring to order?

A: First have a professional installer measure your space for the square footage requirements as well as the recommended percentage of extra material for making any unusual cuts, typically that is around 8%-10% extra.

Q: How to find a certified hardwood installer?

A: http://woodfloors.org/certified-professional-search.aspx

Q: Why is Emily Morrow Home Hardwood better than all the others?

A: The wood is “premium,” and not just in name. Overall you get more wood, seven cross-plies of hardwood make it incredibly versatile and more dimensionally stable; thicker than the others at 5/8 inch thickness as compared to lesser 1/2 inch engineered products. Design is anything but ordinary; it is carefully researched to resemble looks that are timeless and yet contemporary; and did I mention it is sourced from 100 percent US responsibly forested hardwood? When you walk across these floors, they sound as if they’ve been there forever, making them authentic and luxurious…and they add lifelong value and charm to your home. Most importantly, we have the best manufacturer in the USA and arguable in the world, steeped in a long and proven history of manufacturing excellence as well as forestry and environmental stewardship, American OEM which is located just west of Nashville, Tennessee.

Q: Why American made?

A: When you buy our American-made hardwood, you can be sure that you’re buying the best flooring possible at a value unmatched in the industry. You’re also investing in an American industry, and an all-American legacy.

That’s because buying American means more than simply buying hardwood products finished in the USA. It means buying exceptional value, precision quality products that were grown, harvested, designed and constructed in America, by skilled American laborers with pride for their craft. Today, American-made hardwood flooring is making a comeback for those very reasons – people, tradition and quality you can rely on.

Q: Why Engineered Hardwood?

A: At Emily Morrow Home, we believe in eliminating the traditional waste associated with solid wood floor production of slow growth species, while still finding a way to showcase their incredible beauty. To do this, we use a mixture of woods to create a much more advanced flooring option – the engineered floor. Unlike a solid wood floor, an engineered (multi-ply) floor consists of at least two types of different wood products adhered together. This means that the top layer (what you see when installed) can be a highly desired species of wood, like oak, while the bottom substrate layer (what you don’t see when installed) can be those fast-growing tree species. Manufacturing floors in this way allows us to more sustainably harvest trees and produce more high quality floors with the same robust and luxurious feeling of solid wood flooring within the thickness of that top layer. When installed properly, an engineered floor is virtually indistinguishable from a solid floor – the very same look and feel with the added stability in a far more environmentally-conscious way.

Q: Do the Currey & Company chandeliers come with a canopy (ceiling plate)?

A: All Currey & Company chandeliers come with a canopy and chain that is finished to match the chandelier.

Q: Can I get extra chain for a Currey & Company chandelier?

A: Extra chains are available for chandeliers and comes packaged in 3′ or 8′ lengths. These lengths match the standard length of the chain provided with the chandelier.

Q: How do I know the correct size of a chandelier for a dining table?

A: A general guideline is to choose a chandelier that has a diameter equal to one-half the width of the table. The general appearance of the chandelier must be taken into account, too; that is, if it is a light airy piece it may be slightly larger than the standard.

Q: How low should a chandelier be hung over a dining table?

A: Generally there should be 30″ between the bottom of the chandelier and the top of the table in a room with an 8′ ceiling. If the ceiling is higher, the distance between the bottom of the fixture and the table should increase slightly. Remember that the chandelier should provide light for the table, but not be so low as to block anyone’s line of vision when they are sitting at the table.

Q: What guidelines should I follow in choosing a chandelier for a foyer or other room?

A: Add the room dimensions together. If the room is 14′ by 16′, add 14 + 16. The answer is 30, which means that your chandelier should be approximately 30″ in diameter. Again, remember that other factors such as the height of the ceiling may influence the proper size.

Q: How high should I hang a wall sconce?

A: Generally, sconces should be placed on a wall 60″ from the floor.

American OEM Information

Installation Instructions

Floating Installation Disclaimer

Care & Maintenance

Side Bend Technical Bulletin

Warranty Information

Aria Designs Warranty

American OEM Warranty
For more insights on design trends and hardwood flooring…

Design Spectator: Do you believe in magic? Great ideas that come to life are “magic”

Emily Morrow Finkell, DESIGN SPECTATOR:
Do you believe in magic?
Great ideas that come to life are “magic”…


As someone who considers myself “mature”, certainly well beyond believing in mythical creatures, the Easter bunny and magic tricks, I admittedly have become a believer in a kind of “magic”…not the kind that where rabbits come out of hats but a more refined kind of magic, the “magic” that happen when the greatest talents in the design world create something we all see and recognize as something beyond the ordinary. It takes that certain something, je ne sais quoi, to come up with a “winner” and ever more of that certain something to have a successfully selling product.

Over my twenty-something years of meeting and or collaborating with the very best in the design world, there’s one common thread that I have finally deduced that they all share. I’ve met some greats: Kevin Sharkey, as in Senior Vice President and Executive Editorial Director, Decorating, and Executive Creative Director, Merchandising for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.; Alexa Hampton, owner and designer of Mark Hampton Design, LLC and designer of a variety of licensed products under her own name; and those design talents you might not have heard of but certainly know their work in the many items we use daily without even thinking. Each one carry with them an experience and wisdom that comes from working both hard and smart, those who have been born with a natural gift, an ability or an eye, with a passion and a drive to create something beautiful. These are the “magicians” of our world, the artists, interior designers, fashion designers and product designers. They bring beauty out of nothing one can see with the naked eye and make it into something indispensible to us as consumers. Walking through the various expos, furniture and design shows as often as I do, I’ve seen with my own eyes the incredibly brilliant outcomes of the magic from some very talented design minds. Some very great products and designs are licensed under very well known names, assuring the consumers that the credibility and integrity of the designs are at their best ,while others were conceived by unnamed product designers for the licensees, and yet others are the result of companies who mine for design either by outside consultants or their own internal product design teams. Regardless of the method, the outcome is always exciting to see.


During this spring’s High Point Market, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with Alexander Julian as he spoke about his life’s work and career in designing fashion for menswear, womenswear as well as home furnishings, specifically Universal Furniture. Alex, as he is known by his friends and colleagues, said he always wanted to be an artist but he said his hands could not draw the colors and patterns that were in his head, so he turned to product design to explain it… it is commercial art…”art is my teacher”. The world between fashion and furnishings is interesting from his perspective. He said that he looks at many of the same things for inspiration, nature, art, texture, color, how it feels et cetera, “but the advantages of furniture is that it’s not gender specific, one must appeal to women and men simultaneously… How you feather your nest…fashion is the common denominator, it’s in the simple details, button for example” as he gestures towards the console table with tortoise shell button inspired pulls. 

After all the questions and answers were over, I overheard one of the designers say as they were leaving the meeting room, “Wow, he actually didn’t tell us anything tangible about how he does what he does…but he certainly does it well. Do you think he knows, really what it is that he does, what it is that makes him special and sought after?” This question caused me to think about the mystery of the creative process and the genius of great design. It is something that can only be described as “magic”.

A vignette within Universal Furniture’s massive 118,000 square foot design showroom in High Point, North Carolina
What does it take to make magic? It requires years of study, observation, trials as well as failures, and most importantly, it requires successes with the right combinations of people and partners. It also reminded me of the incredibly hardworking and talented design mavens who work for the companies that pay license fees to “celebrity designers”, many of whom I know personally and respect them greatly. Currey and Company as well as Universal Furniture are two that immediately come to mind. Janine Wagers, Creative Director at Universal Furniture, was frequently lauded by Alexander Julian for her amazing design work within their endlessly stunning vignettes and rooms at High Point. Currey and Company’s Brownlee Currey and Curtis Adams, Creative Director also showcased newest looks under the Bunny Williams name. All of their creations,  collaboratively with Bunny Williams  or solely by their own internal designers, the freshness and inspiration is immediately apparent to anyone who follows design. 

Brownlee Currey of Currey and Company explains the newest trends in lighting and accessories, all very fashion and jewelry inspired.
Emily Morrow Finkell (left) and Janine Wagers (right) Creative Director for Universal Furniture.

Success comes from an idea that has been brought to life by lots of nurturing, endless support that has been reworked, tweaked, financially backed by someone who’s willing to go to bat for it, go the distance for it and most importantly that certain someone who’s willing to buy it, buy enough of it to make sense on a financial level. This seems so simple from afar. If you’ve seen the movie “Joy”, the story of the miracle mop by Joy Mangano, it’s the hollywood version of how someone took their great idea to market. In the floor covering, fashion or furniture industry, one can’t just operate in “onesie-twosie” sized successes, but regularly in bulk, rolls, pallets and truck loads in order to succeed and stay in business. We’re in exciting times with our improving economy, fewer regulations and less red tape for new businesses and entrepreneurs to be able to flourish. It’s hard to believe that the first the first generation of Apple’s iPhone was announced on January 9, 2007. Now we can’t imagine our lives without a smart phone. What new products, new categories will be see come to life in the next few years that we will soon wonder how we could ever live without?


Bunny Williams debuts her lighting, furniture and accessories at Currey and Company this spring High Point Market 2017.
Currey and Company High Point Spring Market 2017

Currey and Company light fixture new for Spring 2017.

Style in a World of Endless Choices NWFA Magazine June 1, 2017 Emily Morrow Finkell

Style in a World of Endless Choices


In a world where consumers can find literally every option ever considered, where does a flooring professional start when trying to identify a style for your customer’s floor if they haven’t already done so?

As an interior designer who is now entering my fifth decade, I’ve fine-tuned some techniques that have helped clients discern what they like over the years, as well as create their very own “look.” This is essential for most people unless they’re one of those individuals who strives for a cookie-cutter interior. But more often than not, homeowners want to have a home that reflects who they are, as well as their passions and interests. Pulling together the “likes” into something that has a cohesive and fluid effect on the eyes is what makes design a challenge.

You may ask, “How do I begin?”

The first step is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still works. Historically, I would ask clients to flip through the pages of magazines and catalogs and tear out or mark certain pages, noting the specifics of what they liked. The modern day approach to doing this same thing is utilized by millions of people, creating boards and collections online using apps such as Pinterest and HOUZZ.

These sites in particular provide your customer with the opportunity to see projects and homes from all around the world and share images with you as they look for flooring recommendations that match their style. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an idea board is worth a gazillion words, especially when trying to articulate a look or style that’s hard to define.

Today’s design styles are a hybrid mixture of various genres mixed and updated to the point of an all-new look. Take the midcentury modern look as an example. It has morphed into an updated livable version, having mass appeal to many demographic groups.

If you don’t have an eye for design yourself, once your client has curated the looks into idea boards, share them with someone you trust who has a great design eye to give you some feedback, including manufacturers and distributors you work with closely. It is beneficial to bring in someone with a fresh perspective at various points in the design process who can help you see more than just the floor, but also the whole picture of an interior. It might be that a certain color emerges in the mix, or a design motif, like palm leaves for example. Then you can begin to tie together the floor with your clients’ overall scheme.

Flooring is often the last decision people make when working on a renovation project, but my recommendation is that it be the first consideration. If you begin a project with a firm foundation, in this instance, a well-chosen floor, then all the other decisions become easier. Hardwood floors are still considered the “premium” flooring material even in a world of waterproof and wood lookalikes. Like a beautiful diamond among cubic zirconia, there’s nothing quite like the real thing – the look, the feel, and even the sound is unique as you walk across real hardwood floors.

Consider this: There are endless options of hardwood floors out there to choose from and what a customer brings into their home matters not only for the years of enjoyment and the value added to the home, but also in terms of keeping the materials “healthy” to live on. Sticking with responsibly sourced and responsibly made hardwood floors is the safest way to ensure you’re utilizing materials that not only meet, but exceed, any and all governmentally required standards.

Here are other suggestions that can be shared with your customers who look to you for advice on bringing their overall design plan to life:

Use layers
Layering with a mixture of old and new objects is essential. None of these pieces have to be expensive, but should be chosen carefully and thoughtfully. Finding a “happiness meter” for the level of color and pattern used is a lot like preparing a delicious menu for dinner. You never want too many salty, spicy, or sweet things all at once, but rather a balanced variety of tastes that complement one another, not compete for the tastebuds’ pleasure. The human eye reads an interior in much the same way as we enjoy a good meal.

Don’t be afraid of color
Color is an effective and also an inexpensive way to guide the eye throughout an interior from the moment you walk in the door as well as the progression through to the innermost spaces. The color you wear the most is typically the color you feel the best in. Does the customer own an article of clothing that they absolutely love for its color or pattern? That can be a clue as to what color they should introduce as a starting point. Personally, I love black, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I have an all-black home. I do however use black lamp shades and accessories that are good for bringing in a little drama and definition to a space. I also have a favorite scarf with varying shades of blue that looks similar to some blue and white porcelain vases that I once had in storage. Suffice it to say, out of storage they came, and the blue and white porcelain pieces became the common thread from which my design scheme grew.

Find a balance
If the customer has some art or a collection of special items they would like to showcase, recommend keeping the walls as “quiet” as possible so they don’t overpower the space. Light gray, creamy off-white, or light taupe walls are perfect backdrops for bringing in furniture, art, or accessories that are bold either in color or pattern.

Don’t forget adjacent spaces
If there’s a specific upholstery or drapery fabric they plan on using, advise choosing two or three colors from that fabric, which can become the key colors for the adjacent spaces. The adjacent spaces matter a great deal in maintaining a sense of harmony between the rooms. How a customer feels as they transition from the foyer to the family room to the kitchen is important. Most homes feature an open floor plan and offer a particular challenge as to where and when the homeowner should transition to a different paint color. There are coordinating paint schemes offered by many of the nationally known paint companies that allow you to select colors that are specifically chosen to work beautifully together. If colors don’t work well together, even a design rookie can sense something is off, but when it’s right, you almost don’t notice anything; it just feels right.

Know your focal point
Identify the room’s focal point, the dominant area, perhaps architecturally, by placement of bold color or a large piece of furniture. It’s important to keep that in mind all along; don’t try to fight it, but use it as an advantage. We have minimalist as well as maximalist styles, battling for our attention. If you’re one who believes less is more, but bring something home from every special vacation as a memento, then you’re going to have a challenge in balancing your two conflicting worlds. There are endless ways to bring the two into harmony.

In closing, if the customer loves something enough, it’s possible to find a way to make it work. It’s all in the mixing, not in the matching, that makes a house a home.

Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design, LLC in Dalton, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at kikermorrow@gmail.com.




Emily Morrow Finkell, Design Spectator: Colorful Times for Colorful Minds in FCW


“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”

― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice.

This is one of my favorite quotes on color…and what a great way to explain how colors impact us, regardless of our age, gender, nationality or ever the era we live in. It’s been so clearly proven that since living creatures first walked the earth, color has always played a critical role in both our existence and survival. Over the years, we have evolved in our sophistication of the endless ways we can apply color in our daily lives, and now have a long view of hindsight to draw upon. Over the centuries, we can see patterns in the shifts and subtleties of color as it pertains to fashion and interiors. With these color patterns mapped out, we can better understand what trends are just around the corner and what is going to drive them.


Back in 2009 Benjamin Moore published some intriguing color research titled “Colors of the Centuries” which compared and contrasted the even and the odd numbered decades and the color patterns that developed over those decades. bm-colors-of-the-centuries  . Their research begins in 1880 and shows how the colors of the roaring twenties were dramatically different from those of the depression and the decades that followed as well as the reasons why they were so different. For example in the 1940’s the color palette included cooler colors of blue and gray while the 50’s saw warmer colors come into vogue with high contrast black and white accents. The 60’s are so easy to imagine with the overly-vibrant tie-dyed psychedelic colors as well as the rebellious culture that drove those colors. From there, the 70’s moved into the earthy browns, golds, oranges and avocado greens. Think “Brady Bunch” colors which conjures up memories of shag carpets and wood paneled walls. While working in the floor covering industry, it has always been fascinating to find swatches of carpet from various decades. Practically everyone shares a fascination with the shifts and changes in both color and style regardless of whether or not they lived through it. Generations that followed like the millennials have only cable tv re-runs to be able to see what those eras looked like but have a genuine affinity for “mid century modern” and other “retro” design styles we are seeing thrive in today’s interiors and furniture markets.

Missoni Home at Maison et Objet 2011 is all about the retro 60’s design aesthetic with their iconic “tuning fork” or chevron design motif. 
Norwalk Furniture Upholstery Fabric “Big Top” Fall 2016 Introduction inspired by the tuning fork design made iconic by Missoni Home and Fashion Textiles in a similar color way.

Today’s marketplace is proving to be a very colorful one, although in gradual increments. While color trends generally can be found to begin in the european design shows like Maison et Objet and IMM, we can easily see the progression from there to our markets here in the USA. Look at the images from Missoni’s showroom three years ago and then find those same colors at our very own markets here in the US. Story boards featuring the gray finishes for furniture, fabric and flooring from three or four years ago are “spot on” for today’s US market. Accents of bright yellow, indigo blue or even shades of green and aqua are finding a home here as they’ve worked into the american tastes by way of various inspirational sources, be it social media, design blogs, websites and cable design shows. We don’t have to go far to tap into a rich source of color or design information simply by opening a fashion or shelter magazine. Oftentimes the very magazine cover of any given month can give immediate insights into the colors that are key colors for that particular season or year.



Now that we see we are safely out of the recession and in a healthy thriving market with the stock market surpassing a historical 20,000 mark, consumers are finding they can make their personal statements at home and in their wardrobes. Once safe “gray and navy blue” wardrobes are getting a huge host of companion colors. These accent colors comings and goings are thrilling to watch especially in observing how quickly trend upwards or spiral out of the picture. Those that have staying power you can be assured will look amazing with the still ever-present grays, taupes and mushrooms…as well as the newer desert neutrals of camel, golden sand, cinnamon, mocha and terracotta tan.


Gray, White, Taupe and Matte Black story board from Germany’s IMM show in 2011 showcases colors that can easily be found anywhere in today’s US markets.
The range of neutrals is the perfect color palette for the past 6 years and still hanging in there. The pop of warm color can be found in the golden yellow on the right.
The Hygge Danish Design trend was easy to spot in the past years markets of 2010, 2011 and 2012 Maison et Objet, Domotex and IMM in Europe.
Cinnamon, mocha and other variations of warm neutrals were shown in Germany’s IMM and France’s Maison shows long before we saw them here in the USA preferences.

DESIGN SPECTATOR: Journey to the biggest flooring and design trends in 2017

The Surfaces Issue

In order to prepare for a journey, you must first know where you’ve been, where you are currently, as well as where you want to go. I love planning trips and anticipating all the various twists and turns that I might encounter so that I’m sufficiently packed and well-prepared. In thinking about 2017, it is not unlike a journey. The next big product or design idea is probably already in the development process and without doubt will emerge this market season.

Where we’ve been:
It goes without saying, the floor covering and design world have been saturated with grays, taupes, off-whites and visuals that imply “reclaimed”, whether it’s hardwood floors, resilient vinyl, porcelain tile, carpet or rugs. We’ve witnessed a shift of market dominance from soft to hard surface, the softening of soft goods, the pendulum shift back from carpet that’s “too soft”, explosion of anything that is labeled as “waterproof”, and the clear expectations of the consumer for products that “perform” underfoot while looking beautiful.

Where we are:
It’s been eight years since we’ve had a change in the presidential leadership of our country, and no matter what your politics are, the change always leads to movement in things that impact our industry. We are already seeing an upswing in the stock market, optimism in new home construction, increases in existing home sales, and the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates for the first time since 2008. All these factors are going to result into some noticable new ideas coming to life.

Where we are going:
While there are so many trends for 2017 we can cover, the most interesting are ten mega-trends that we’ll readily see in floor covering.
1) If you’ve noticed there’s been an influx of marble, especially cararra and calacatta marbles, then you’ve seen the influence of “understated luxury”. The marbled effects are going to continue to grow in resilient vinyls and even reproduced in porcelain tiles.

Mohawk Style “Marianna Calacatta” Porcelain Tile falls directly into the “Understated Luxury” trend with its upscale calacatta marble visual in a wide variety of sizes, in both gloss and satin finishes.
2) For the ever-growing love for “uncluttered living”, look for more and more clean lines, little to no visible wood grain or character. This will mean less and less of the hand-scraped, chatter-marked or knotty wood visuals.

Mohawk Style “Vintage Vintique” – color “Winter Oak” hits the sweet spot of uncluttered living due to the clean wood grain visual in a cerused white-oak finish, with little character or knots showing.
3) While it may sound like a contradiction of #2, it’s entirely different and noteworthy. There’s a huge global or “travel inspired design” movement. This flooring influence will mean oversized geometric design motifs in rugs and carpet, more and more antique persian rugs, especially layered over jute, sisal or seagrass broadloom and hardwood flooring.

The wire-brushed hardwood floor is “Global Spirit” by Emily Morrow Home layered with Stanton Carpet Styles: “Bali” and “Belize” woven jute, Color: “Macadamia” and the iconic “Serengeti” woven polypropylene in color “Wild Root” from their “Kilimanjaro Collection”.
4) If you’ve seen HGTV, you’ve watched Chip and Joanna Gaines’ “Fixer Upper” show and their “Urban Farmhouse” look which is a blend of rustic, reclaimed, distressed paint treatments and wood everywhere.

The “Fixer Upper” Power Couple Chip and Joanna Gaines have created a major design movement with their easy-living “Magnolia Home” urban farmhouse lifestyle.
5)“Japanese and mid-century modern” influences are creating a hybrid design style where you’ll find traditional and modern details and clean lines. Light and neutral hardwood floors, long and wide wood planks with zero character or gloss, and neutrals will keep things light.

Amadeo - ADO-1015.jpeg
Surya Rug Fall 2016 Fall “Amadeo” features zen-style cross hatching in a quiet monochrome range of grays. Speaking to the need for uncluttered and simpler living, the subtle pattern and palette fit into many design styles.
6) The wood has migrated up from the floor to the walls and includes many of the wood trends from 2016 into 2017 like reclaimed gray barnwood and painted white or white washed ship lap boards, *another influence by the “Fixer Upper” designer.

Eastern Accents High Point Fall 2016 styled by Thom Felicia featuring wood wall decor
7) The “Danish movement” is working its way through hard and soft surfaces. We’ve seen glimpses of this in one of Shaw’s newest porcelain tile styles, “Glee” that has the look of concrete embossed with wood grain. Plaster, chalky or matte finishes have been working their way into the interiors world gradually. Initially we saw introductions of “plastery white” vases and vessels at the various interior design and home furnishings shows in Europe and the US, matte black automotive paints in luxury sports cars, and then black in virtually every category one can imagine…so when you pair two or more rather significant trends, what do you get? A mega trend that takes flight and has longevity in the marketplace. Check out the following examples of this mega trend…

Barbara Barry for Global Views highlights the “plaster” whites, off whites and dove grays in various vessels at this Fall 2016 High Point Show.

For more on the “matte” and “plaster” trend…

Check out my friends from HGTV Home Nancy Fire and HGTV Dream Home Designer Bryan Patrick Flynn on YouTube as they talk about Matte Black faucets in Delta’s showroom at KBIS https://youtu.be/4wW3OGoEA0U

Ties directly into the precursor trend of black stainless steel at KitchenAid as well as a little nod to LaCornue’s luxurious black ranges.

Matte, Metals and Black combined for a winning finish in 2017…combining multiple design trends into one mega trend #MatteBlack #BlackStainlessSteel #kitchenaidappliances #matteblackdeltafaucets

Stanton Carpets interpretation of the danish design trend “Hygge”
Stanton Carpets interpretation of the danish design trend “Hygge”

Take note of an unfamiliar term, “hygge”, a bulky cabled yarn found in throws. The bulky cabled yarns will be difficult to translate into broadloom carpets due to manufacturing and performance challenges but handmade rugs will be sourced from Denmark. Look for translations of the “knitted visuals” among chunkier tufted and woven loop pile carpets.

8) Vibrant jewel-tones in accessories for the home require a set of “new neutrals” beyond the gray and taupes of the past 10 years. Muted earth-toned shades of terracotta, camel and sand play nicely with the jewel-tones. These neutrals will be needed in backsplash subway tiles, large format porcelain floor tiles as well as resilient vinyls, hardwood planks and even laminates.

Surya’s Fall 2016 collection of rugs features this rug “Tessera” which is not only a montage of jewel tones but also an updated take on an ancient Persian design motif.
9) Blue, all shades of blue, is continuing to make its mark in homes. Painted kitchen cabinets in lacquered navy blue, gray-blue and robin’s egg blue are becoming more and more popular after their color panache has been brought to life at Kitchen and Bath shows as well as in Designer Showhouses.

Stanton Carpet wilton style: “Carnegie” color: “Marine”
10) Last but certainly not least, the final mega-trend is “open living spaces” in the home. The ability for families to eat, cook, work and entertain in an open floor plan gives everyone the flexibility to adapt the purpose and use of any given space of the home. With an open floor plan, flooring must cross seamlessly from one area to another harmoniously. Designers, architects as well as design-savvy homeowners need to be able to find floor covering that is long, wide and visually open. Patterned carpets that will be most successful will look “woven” or have patterns that are wide open, large in scale with little to no contrast. Designers of open living spaces allow the homeowners the opportunity to define spaces. For example, conversation areas need to have grouped seating that is clearly defined by rugs layered on gorgeous hardwood or natural stone floors. Traffic within the open layout home flows strategically according to the arrangement of furniture and flooring.

Due to the continuing demand for open living spaces in both remodeled existing homes as well as new home construction, wider and longer planks help to visually expand and open up areas, allowing the eye to flow harmoniously from one designated space to another. Mohawk’s SolidTech vinyl style “Vershire Steelgate” offers all the necessary attributes for an open floor plan.

In summary, each of these ten megatrends offer homeowners an important solution and that’s that they give variety, the ability to change or adapt the way they express their personal style in the home.

Design Spectator: Wood is Good

Floor Covering Weekly, Style & Design: “Wood is Good” http://www.floorcoveringweekly.com/main/style-design/wood-is-good-15876.aspx

A few years ago, I was invited to serve on a panel to judge final projects of senior interior design students, many of whom were directed to use sustainable materials.

While evaluating the projects, one student was reprimanded by the professor for not specifying “reclaimed” wood, bamboo or cork but rather a new North American hardwood floor. While I congratulated the student for choosing wood floors — it was responsibly procured from North American forests and made in the U.S.A. — the professor’s misinformed argument was that wood is not in plentiful supply. Here in the U.S., however, that is not true.

While there seems to be a basic understanding among consumers that hardwood can help increase a home’s value, like the professor, there remains a degree of confusion when it comes to some hardwood basics — such as the difference between engineered hardwood, solid hardwood, laminate or resilient as well as what makes one flooring type more sustainable than another. When responsibly harvested and procured, wood is indeed a sustainable choice. (For more information, visit the National Wood Flooring Association at nwfa.org and the Forestry Stewardship Council at us.fsc.org/en-us.)

While industry terms can often be too technical for consumers, the state-of-the-art technology now being used to create flooring is also causing some confusion — almost any surface can be made, for example, to look like wood, including laminate, vinyl and even tile.

What consumers do know is the look, feel and even the smell of hardwood is appealing and they admire the craftsmanship that has created beautiful interiors for centuries. Pictured below is a look at hardwood floors showcased in some of France’s most renowned buildings, such as Versailles.

If you have a chance to go to the link for Michael Green’s talk about building skyscrapers of wood at TED 2013, you’ll be rewarded. It’s a brief and inspiring talk that will leave you with a renewed love and appreciation for the beauty of wood as a building material.

We’ve talked a lot about the warmth, character and quality that wood brings to interiors, but what we haven’t considered enough is the fact that its’s truly good to use wood..good, as in good for us. In his TED talk, Michael Green says “Wood gives Mother Nature fingerprints in our buildings…and makes our buildings connect with us through nature”…”that it’s the only building material that is grown by the sun…and has an amazing capacity to store carbon.”

I hope many will find gratification in knowing that our North American forests are responsibly forested, are providing jobs and building materials that are not only beautiful but are so “good” in infinite ways. It’s no wonder we see consumers and designers drawn to all things wood or wood-inspired. Wood, it does us all good!




“Retail Research” in Paris…loved their use of wood floors in the high end retail spaces


The Ralph Lauren store in Paris featured endless distressed wood elements for merchandising their pieces.
Another close up at the Ralph Lauren Store Paris…
yet another distressed wood detail in Ralph Lauren Paris.
The Hermes Store in Paris…uses wood sculpturally and elegantly
The Hermes Store in Paris is completely inspiring
One of the places we stayed in Normandy was this elegant chateau “Chateau La Cheneviere” which had stunning wood floors…
Another angle of the beautiful floors inside Chateau La Cheneviere
yet another …leading into the dining room of Chateau La Cheneviere…

DESIGN SPECTATOR: Colorful Conversation, Emily Morrow Finkell & Mark Woodman

Design Spectator: Colorful Conversation with Mark Woodman for Floor Covering Weekly October 11, 2016 issue, page 18.

Current title: Owner/President of mark woodman design+color llc
Past President Color Marketing Group

DS: What do you see as the next big color story for 2017? Where does gray rank in overall interiors, background as the “blank canvas”?
MW: I’m anticipating green as a big story. It’s more health-based and is an exciting change for consumers as it will not be just one green, but a range, from yellow-influenced to deep spruce. The dark values will be a refreshing surprise. They are cool and luxurious, natural and sturdy, so they accomplish a lot for one deep hue. We can’t deny the important influence that grey will continue to have, though. It is still being embraced by consumers and those that have already brought it into their living spaces will add its nuanced influence to other colors. The spruce I mentioned earlier, for instance, will have a silvery cast to it, as though a frost had blanketed an evergreen forest. In other hues, they will have a slightly muted appearance. They can still be strong, but pulled back slightly to embrace their grey side. White is going to continue to offer that “blank canvas,” along with grey, but will also come in more nuances. It’s the importance of undertone, to offer a non-white, white, that blends with other colors.

DS: Is there a color of the year story you do like or don’t agree with? Ex Sherwin Williams 2017 COTY “poised taupe” or Benjamin Moore 2016 “Simply White”?
MW: I think the paint manufacturers are offering well-considered stories behind their choices and I agree with each of them. What I find most interesting is that though there are different choices, “Poised Taupe,Violet Verbena,” etc. they have created an interesting palette of colors, that unbeknownst to them beforehand, work well together. They have subtle, neutral influences that speak to the times, and are evolving the greys with which we’ve been designing.

DS: What color “trends” do you plan to include in your upcoming design projects? And what do you like about working with them?
MW: Hmmm, this is interesting. I find so much of design is an editing process. And not just of choices, but of aspirations, and balancing what the client would truly love to come home to, with their comfort level. That said, I need to balance trend forward colors with real life, and what is actually available. (custom is lovely, but not often the reality) I have been a proponent of navy blue for some time and finally its time has arrived, and big! I love working with this rich hue that is classic, modern, natural, enveloping, and all sorts of good things. Christian Dior said, “Midnight blue is the only color that can ever compete with black.” and it’s a great observation. Midnight, or navy, has depth without fear, and richness in its darkness. Dark blues like midnight and navy stand perfectly on their own and practically define confidence.

A hue that often evades us is “camel.” For many, it is hard to define. It can’t be too yellow, or too red, but when you find it. it’s brilliant. I think it’s something to watch out for in future. From a menswear influence, to military looks, to “nude” colorings, camel hits all of the marks and I enjoy working with it. Wool textiles are perfect for it and it’s one of the times that I’ll have a paint matched to a coat! It is at once a classic, but used so seldom that it feels very modern and unique.

DS: Is there a specific color that you consider your “signature” color?
MW: Personally, it’s probably pink. It’s a healthy color that can also be daring and a little subversive. It’s just fun. Blush pink, with grey and chocolate, always feels fresh. Bright pink with navy and kelly green always has a prep vibe, and hot pink with black and white creates an almost Warhol graphic look. But pink is a tough sell. For my clients, though, my signature is more the “surprise color,” something they wouldn’t have considered, and getting them out of their shell into something different. It still needs to speak to them as individuals, so it could be almost anything. I recently worked a navy blue study in 95% gloss paint, and then introduced caramel, brown and rust. The client wasn’t expecting the caramel color and wouldn’t have considered it, until the surprise was shown with the other elements. Now it’s a favorite.

MARK, Thank you so much for your valuable insights! As always, it was a pleasure!


Emily Kiker Morrow Finkell
CEO EF Floors & Design, LLC
Floor Covering Weekly Design Contributor “Design Spectator”
Emily Morrow Interior Design,
Professional Commercial & Residential Interior Design since 1989
Allied Member ASID



Design Spectator: And the 2017 Color of the Year is…

Design Spectator: The 2017 Color of the Year is…

It’s that time of year when all the color experts are huddling together making their final decisions, taking the last votes on what will be THE 2017 Color of the Year. It seems as if there are so many colors of the month, color alerts and colors of the year that it’s hard to discern which ones really are the most relevant.
Let’s start with some of the higher profile color experts…names and entities we all have heard of…Pantone, Color Marketing Group, Benjamin Moore Paint and Sherwin Williams paint…then zero in to the floor covering industry’s only color of the year to date, Shaw Floors.

The underlying purpose for designating any color of the year is to give a platform on which one can speak about the virtues, importance, and marketability of that particular color for a brand or product. With that in mind, I personally believe a COTY should be one that is currently running line and not something too far out in forecasting timeline that it looks or feels “lost” among the other colors in the marketplace at time of launch. It is difficult to explain why “Brand X” might choose a color to an “interiors” audience when it was most likely selected solely with “cosmetics” or “runway fashion” in mind. It’s another thing altogether when a company chooses gray, taupe or white because there’s been an abundance of those neutrals for years. There are still more Colors of the Year in taupe or gray because there are still so many new lines of furniture and accessories being launched at European and US furnishing markets which means they are still not only viable but quite salable as well.

For 2016, Pantone released two colors rather than just one, “Rose Quartz” and “Serenity” after years of their singular sensations, “Marsala” 2015, “Radiant Orchid” in 2014, “Emerald” in 2013, “Tangerine Tango” in 2012…and so on. The big names in paint like Benjamin Moore featured “Simply White” for their 2016 color and their pick in 2015 was “Guilford Green”, a silvery shade of sage. Sherwin Williams moved from their 2016 pick of “Alabaster,” and it’s “an understated and alluring hue of white,” according to Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing, to 2017 “Poised Taupe”…all basically neutral-neutrals.http://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/news/a6941/sherwin-williams-color-of-the-year-2017/.

Last year Sherwin-Williams chose “Alabaster” white as the Color of the Year and the 2017 winner is “Poised Taupe”. According to Sue Wadden, the director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams,”It’s like gray and brown had a baby”. http://www.today.com/home/pantone-spring-2017-colors-t103095


Sherwin Williams 2017 Color of the Year “Poised Taupe”

Shaw Floors began pronouncing their Color of the Year in fall of 2013 just in time for the 2014 January markets. The first was a very big color story then and now, “English Royal Navy”, and was featured on multiple shelter catalogs and publications as well as in the Shaw Floors Smart Home designs by Linda Woodrum interior designer for HGTV Smart Homes and Dream Homes. Shaw Floor’s choice in 2014 of “Navy Blue” was to signify the company’s long-standing “reliability, stability and commitment to remain a leader in fashion for the floors” which was critical then and now, then it was a world that was just healing from the recession. Since then, “Lady In Grey” was their choice for 2015 and White Hot for 2016…and our sources have stated that the 2017 choice will “definitely be colorful, not neutral”. I’m making some predictions as to what their new COTY will be: Either a mint green, leafy green or sea glass blue-green, all shown very prominently at High Point Spring 2016 in trend setting showrooms like Global Views showroom and Bungalow 5.


What if the Design Spectator selected a Color of the Year for 2017? What would it be and why? Based on my travels and research at all of the international home furnishing shows and interior design expos, it is without a doubt a more colorful world than it was a year ago…a world where one cannot live without turning the corner of any given storefront window or shelter catalog and seeing this hue…that hue is blue…and even more specifically, “Nouveau Bleu”. Inspired both by great works of art as well as the recent discovery of a new color, the first new blue in over 200 years, known by scientists as “YInMn Blue”, “Nouveau Bleu” is vibrant and can work with dozens of other color families beautifully. After touring a few of my favorite art museums, the Metropolitan, the Louvre and most recently The National Gallery Museum in DC, I found myself immediately drawn to the great works of art by Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne and Gaughin who worked with incredibly vivid colors, especially blue. The interiors and the fashion worlds certainly are finding inspiration within the same color palettes as the artists. When polled on “favorite colors” blue often tops the list and it’s no surprise why. It feels good the very split second you see it.

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Bungalow 5
Barclay Butera for Eastern Accents
Barclay Butera for Eastern Accents
KBIS 2016 vanity in the Kohler Showroom

High Point Spring 2016 Bungalow 5 Showroom


Without any reservations, the Design Spectator’s Color of the Year for 2017 is “Nouveau Bleu”…. Based on my travels and research at all of the international home furnishing shows and interior design expos, today is without a doubt a more colorful time in our world…a world where one cannot live without this hue…and that hue, “Nouveau Bleu” was inspired both by great works of art as well as the recent discovery of a new color, the first new blue in over 200 years, known by scientists as “YInMn Blue”. After several tours of my favorite art museums, the Metropolitan, the Louvre, The National Gallery Museum and Musee d’Orsay, I found myself immediately drawn to the great works of art by Van Gogh and many others who worked with incredibly vibrant shades of blue. The interiors world is certainly finding inspiration within the same color palettes as the artists Van Gogh, Gaughin, Renior among others

Nouveau Bleu



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Shaw Floors Color of the Year 2016 “White Hot”
Shaw Floors Color of the Year 2015 “Lady in Grey”


Tory Burch’s The Blue Room

Pantone Color of the Year 2016 – Rose Quartz and Serenity



For the first time Pantone introduces two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity as the PANTONE Color of the Year 2016. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.


Top 10 Colors: Spring 2016 Pantone Fashion Color Report – from …



Top 10 Colors: Spring 2016 Pantone Fashion Color Report – from Pantone.com …… This continual cycle of redefining the pallet of the season or the year arises …

Pantone Color of the Year 2016 – Color Formulas, Guides & Standards



PANTONE Color of the Year 2016 can be found in the following color systems: ROSE QUARTZ.

Pantone Color of the Year 2016 – Shop Merchandise



Get your Pantone 2016 Color of the Year Merchandise in Rose Quartz and Serenity. Mugs, Notebooks, Color Swatches and more from Pantone.com.

The 2017 Sherwin-Williams color of the year is Poised Taupe. This …


EMILY MORROW – Shared privately

Aug 30, 2016 – The 2017 Sherwin-Williams color of the year is Poised Taupe. This timeless neutral is modern, classic and a beautiful balance of warm and cool. Source: Poised …

Pantone Color of the Year 2016 – images and social



Share Images and video of Rose Quartz & Serenity, Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year. Read social media and follow the colorful trend conversation on …

Fall 2016 Pantone Fashion Color Report



Fall 2016 Pantone Fashion Color forecast report from Pantone Color. New York Fashion Week Designers and fashion industry color trends.

Color of the Year 2016: Simply White | Benjamin Moore


Search. Search. Search0. Search, Colors · Media · Products · Stores. Benjamin Moore Color of the Year Simply White OC-117 …

Sherwin-Williams Just Announced the Color of the Year http://hsbu.us …


Aug 31, 2016 – Sherwin-Williams Just Announced the Color of the Yearhttp://hsbu.us/1RZcXSj. Sherwin-Williams Just Announced the Color of the Year

Color of the Year 2016 | Color Trends of 2016 | Benjamin Moore


Benjamin Moore & Co.

Meet the Color of the Year for 2016: Simply White. Add ambience, definition, texture, or focus with this color to get some of the newest 2016 Color Trends.

Design Spectator: A fun look back at carpet trends with RetroRenovation

Emily Kiker (Morrow) Finkell says
September 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm

This was by far one of the most talked about and interesting discussions during my thirteen years’ tenure as Shaw’s Director of Color, Style & Design…in fact, we had more people stop in their tracks when they saw the swatches of these “vintage” pieces of carpet.

Pam Kueber, aka RetroRenovation, Thank you for your research into what continues to be a fascinating aspect of design…”RETRO”! I’ll be sharing your blog post on my own under “Design Spectator” as it is a timeless topic.

All the best,
Emily Morrow Finkell

http://retrorenovation.com/2012/01/16/wall-to-wall-carpeting-history-from-the-1950s-to-today-an-exclusive-interview-with-emily-morrow-shaw-floors/comment-page-2/#comment-978225Design Spectator: A fun look back at carpet trends with RetroRenovation

CARPETING HISTORY FROM THE 1950’s TO TODAY — Posted by: pam kueber • January 16, 2012

Above: Emily Morrow and retro carpet swatches


Wall-to-wall carpeting history from the 1950s to today — an exclusive interview with Emily Morrow

Is wall-to-wall carpet “authentic” and appropriate for midcentury homes? You bet! Consider this data, provided by Emily Morrow, Shaw Floors’ director of Color, Style and Design for Residential Carpet and Hard Surfaces:

In 1951 — as the post-World War II housing boom in America was still ramping up — the carpeting industry sold about six million square yards of tufted wall-to-wall carpeting nationwide. Fast forward to 1968 – and the industry sold almost 400 million yards.

Carpet manufacturing tufting machine – Shaw Floors historic photo

To the American family of the 1950s on, carpeting was a luxury previously out-of-reach. In fact, I’m going to compare wall-to-wall carpeting to electric stoves in the way they both epitomized a whole new level of comfort and convenience that had become accessible, affordable – and desirable — to the masses for the first time. Wall-to-wall in the new living room said, “We’ve arrived and are staking our claim to our little piece of the American Dream. Take your shoes off, and stay a while.”

I had the chance to speak with Emily by phone recently about the history of carpet from the 1950s through today. We also talked about how the industry determines its color trends – including today’s gray-love — and what’s up next. 1980s teal, anyone? Buckle up. Read on for this exclusive interview chock-full of delightful carpet history and tips –>

Inside Shaw’s Color, Style & Design Studio – Eyes on the future with a view to the past

Retro Carpet Swatches

While she was talking to me, Emily had a bird’s eye view to the big “history of carpet” table in her design studio. It was covered with a growing collection of carpet samples reaching back several decades. For the past few years, she explained, her design team has been on the lookout for vintage carpet remnants that visually capture the key colors, style and design trends. “The past is always relevant to the future,” she said.
This look back in time is particularly pertinent to midcentury homes, because the big boom in residential carpet did not occur until after WWII. So “history” starts in 1946, at least as it pertains to the mass market.

Of course, Shaw’s blast-from-the-past mood board is a cacophony of: Color! For example, Emily knew I would like to hear about the team’s latest prize: A piece of multicolored burnt orange sculptured carpet from the 70s – found by accident under the filing cabinet in an employee’s office when they went to re-carpet. Yeah, baby!

Photos of 1970s Carpets shown on Shaw History Wall

Emily is an interior designer by training, and has been with Shaw for 15 years. She leads a team of nine composed of colorists, designers and stylists whose focus ranges from color development to pattern design and encompasses residential carpet, commercial carpet and hard surface (i.e. wood, tile, laminate and vinyl) styling. “Our whole staff works within the research and development facility,” she explained….more on the website at retrorenavtions.com

Carpet Sales Trends by Region
“A large portion of the 2ndfloor in R&D is our area — the color library. It’s entirely devoted to color, style and design inspiration and trends. One wall demonstrates the ever-changing sales by color in flooring, both nationally and regionally. To do this, we take 2” x 2” samples of each color and arrange them into bar charts sliced into both colors and regions.”

Color Wall in Shaw R&D Color Library

The other half of the team’s working space, she says, is focused on developing future design strategies, specifically, their “research color forecast.” That’s where the historical samples are used as a point of reference. More importantly, I imagine “top secret” story boards and inspiration pieces strategically placed all over their R&D space – muses for the next-big-thing colors coming our way soon.

Color Wall in Shaw R&D Color Library 2
Color Wall in Shaw R&D Color Library
“The ‘new’ story over the past five years or so has been grey,” Emily confirms. “Looking ahead, we see the color story is moving towards blocks of “hothouse colors” like magenta and purple as well as the more traditional jewel tones. Color is very cyclical in nature.”

Yup: Cyclical – what’s old becomes new again. So let’s start at the beginning ish.

Key trends in residential carpeting, beginning in 1950

Emily explained that prior to World War II, most “carpet goods” were woven. Woven goods were often area rugs, but they also could have been installed wall-to-wall. After WWII, though, sales shifted dramatically to tufted carpet and to wall-to-wall installations.

Woven: The carpet is produced on a loom quite similar to woven cloth. The pile can be plush or berber. Plush carpet is a cut pile and berber carpet is a loop pile
Tufted: These are carpets that have their pile injected into a backing material, which is itself then bonded to a secondary backing comprising a woven hessian weave or a man-made alternative to provide stability. This is the most common method of manufacturing of domestic carpets for floor covering purposes in the world.
– Wikipedia

“The post-World War II era saw a surge in carpet sales that was primarily due to increased interest in home décor and new carpet fiber technologies,” said Morrow. “Carpet had been a luxury during the war – as many home goods had been – and once the war was over, there were plenty of stay-at-home moms that were ready to decorate their homes with products they couldn’t get during the war years. At the same time, there were technological advances taking place in the carpet industry – tufted nylon provided a similar look as the woven wool carpets and rugs from the pre-war years; however, nylon was more durable and much more attainable to the growing middle class. This combination of factors was really the perfect storm that led carpet to grow exponentially in the 1950s.”

carpet manufacturing tufting machine shaw floors

Carpeting trends in the 1950s

In the ‘50s, she said, carpeting was “Saxony” – smooth — style. Definition:

Saxonies are tightly twisted cut piles that are heatset straight. Saxonies consist of two or more fibers twisted together in a yarn. They provide a soft texture for formal and informal areas. Saxonies show every footprint and vacuum-cleaner mark. Source: http://www.carpet.org/types_of_carpet.htm

In the ‘50s and through to the 60s, colors tended toward the bold –reflecting consumers’ enthusiasm for the wide world of decorating now open to them.

Photo of Printed Kitchen Carpet

Carpeting trends in the 1960s and 1970s

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a “revolution” in terms of the industry’s ability to create new piles and textures. “There were highly creative shags… textured sculpted multicolors creating all these different visuals… and imprinted carpet for kitchens,” Emily explains. These played into “people’s excitement about change in general,” she said. “Consumers liked anything hip and new.” Tastes were changing as consumers’ view of the world expanded through the evolution of media. By going from black and white to color television, they were able to see into TV homes such as “The Brady Bunch,” where colorful shag or sculpted carpet was used.

Technology played a key role in developing the shag carpets to be synonymous with the 1970s. Emily said that the industry was experimenting with endless combinations both in yarn types as well as dyeing multiple layers of color. She explains that tthe 1970’s were a time when consumers were trying new things “just because”. Shag carpets once made from 100% polyester evolved into 100% nylon, resulting in a much more appealing aesthetic and improved performance.

1960s-1970s Carpets

It’s important to note that polyester carpet fiber has come along way since the 1970s – today’s polyester carpets possess improved performance and softness, and they are very popular with a new generation of consumers who find polyester carpet to be generally quite affordable as well as durably attractive.

Color favorites were avocado green, brown, oranges, and multicolor. Emily adds that “layering” of single colors, like greens, was also popular, because the effect was very forgiving in terms of hiding dirt.

Carpeting trends at the end of the 20th century

Beginning in the 1980s and continuing into the 1990s and 2000s, she said, consumers were becoming lots more savvy about owning homes. We also began moving even more frequently for jobs. “Real estate became such a big topic for consumer-homeowners,” she said. “We also were a more transient nation, and the idea that we could turn a quick profit by buying and selling was born.” As a result, Emily said, consumers gravitated toward: Hardwood. Homeowners believed hardwood was neutral, luxurious and would add to their home’s value at resale.

Then, there’s always the pendulum-swinging factor.

“Oftentimes the next generation has a little contempt for what was in their parents’ house. They want something better and also different,” Emily says, explaining another of the reasons why kids who grew up in homes with wall-to-wall carpet went for hardwood with area rugs, instead. As our lives got ever more complicated, homeowners also wanted to do less maintenance. “For homeowners who chose carpeting, berbers were the thing. We call this ‘trackless’ carpeting. You never see the vacuum cleaner marks.”

Yikes. I bought my first house in the mid-80s. It’s all coming back to me now — everything that Emily is saying is true!

Carpet trends today

Fast forward to today and like hardwood floors, the mass market color preferences in carpeting remain in favor of neutral underfoot. Emily says that buyers are comfortable with beiges, chocolate, and two forms of what I always call greige – “taupe” (brownish grey) and what Emily calls “true taupe” (which I guess would be a grayish brownish gray.) “No pink in it very little yellow,” she says. Bedroom areas, meanwhile, get lighter off-white. “This is a sanctuary space, with not a lot of high traffic.”

Consumers also are buying pattern – medium-to-smaller scale designs such as blocks and diamonds. Also, they get a “little bit of a fleck, like a tweed,” Emily said. The whole effect is smooth and tailored, but not solid. She says that this style looks good with all the midcentury modern furniture going into homes today, but that it is neutral and flexible enough for buyers still skittish about the economy and the need to make improvements with future resale in mind. “Homeowners still are thinking they may ultimately sell. Choices are conservative, but they still want an element of style that’s attractive and which they can appreciate.

She also mentions that midcentury modern is a “standout trend” influencing interior design today. “Mad Men is in its fourth year, and now we have [other tv shows] like Pan Am.”

teal carpet from shaw.

Carpeting trends for the 2010s

Between now and the next five years, what colors might be coming our way? Emily says to expect: Color! “When the pendulum swings it always swings the other way.” She also says to expect more carpet per square footage, with hard surfaces used in strategic areas. A backlash against all that granite and stone? Methinks, yes. “Consumers that have been living with hard surfaces realize they miss the comfort of carpet, especially in family and playrooms,” Emily said. Regarding pattern, she says to expect an evolution toward both tighter, and looser looks – pointing to natural seagrass and sisal as inspiration in both color and pattern. Chevron, herringbone or very simple loops in a limited array of flaxen neutrals are simple yet sophisticated looks for floors. For those who crave softness in broader color options, then casual textures and modified shags fill the need. “I call it ‘toe appeal,’ — it’s that wonderful feeling you get when you step into that soft and luxurious pile of carpet… barefoot,” said Emily.

Teal? Yes, Emily says this color is ascendant. “It’s one of those great colors that bridges well with other colors… grays, taupe, plums, magentas and other vibrant colors.” She even mentions mauve…well, a new version of the color formerly known as mauve. “That’s the fun part of how colors come back around, there’s always something new and exciting about them,” said Emily. ”Maybe it’s the other colors that they are paired with, or maybe they look wonderful simply because they are from a very happy time in our past.”

I was very alive and kicking (and kickin’ back quite often in fern bars) all throughout the 1980s. Are there others like me who remember all the – teal? I can get my head around it!

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Tikimama says
January 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Just for kicks, photos of the carpeted bathrooms (oh, the smell!) and kitchen of one of my previous houses:


Main Bathroom

Kate says
January 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I have a teal area rug that is almost identical to that last picture! Mine is carpet tiles from FLOR (www.flor.com)

I love my teal rug!


Jamie D says
January 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I love your teal rug too! Great color scheme. We’ll likely get Flor for rugs in our house. We figure it’s nice to be able to pull up a tile and wash it in the sink when the dog horks something up on it.

Jordanna says
January 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm

As a kid I thought a house HAD to have wall-to-wall carpet or it wasn’t a house people lived in. I had only seen historic homes with hard floors (aside from in the kitchen and bathroom – those could be lino/tiled)

My oldest generation of living relatives were very fond of two colours in every apartment or house I stepped into: red or green.

Not a mossy grayed out green – a really strong, but NOT teal green. I’m not sure when this bright, strong, grassy colour was a thing but they loved it, in either dark but not diluted w/ gray or blue, or straight up kelly. This was the smooth, Saxony cut. I liked it. It “popped” their dark wood furniture.

The red looked okay to my child’s eye too, especially with white walls, but my mom said it looked like a church.

I had much less fondness for the shags and ’70s-’80s stuff, I thought the green and red which was earlier was much more classic. And it didn’t eat my Legos and Tinker Toys like the shag did.

“White carpet” is my mom’s definition of delicate, impractical luxury.

Laura says
January 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm

After having removed five room’s worth of wall to wall carpet in my 1939 Cape Cod I can’t imagine replacing it with new. There was perfectly gorgeous oak floor under most of it, VCT under the rest. There was even carpet in the bathrooms. Removing that carpet was some of the dirtiest, smelliest, grossest work I’ve ever done (shudder). Granted the property was neglected, but the experience doesn’t make me all that enthusiastic about wall to wall from the standpoint of cleanliness.

And here’s a memory: My best friend in high school had ultra-long green shag carpet in her bedroom, even though by then it was the 80s. We used to rake it with the shag rake to look for spare change. With gas as low as 69 cents a gallon back then, a productive ten minutes of labor with the shag rake could produce the wherewithal for a night out on the town!

Mike says
January 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Does anyone still make shag carpet? I would love to install some super shaggy carpet (the kind that comes with a rake) in my basement.

Katie says
January 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hi Mike. I handle the public relations for Shaw Floors, and I wanted to let you know that Shaw makes a variety of textured, shag-like carpet styles today — and with the new advances in carpet technology, you don’t need a rake to keep it looking new! Check out Wild Thing from Shaw’s Tuftex brand: http://shawfloors.com/carpetDetails/search/Wild_Thing_Z6275-Almond_Silk

JKM says
January 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I saw my grandparents’ former home online a couple years ago on a realtor’s website when it was for-sale. The house, which they built in 1949 and sold in 1980, was immaculate and fresh and, thankfully, hadn’t been ruined by careless “updating” since they moved out 30 years ago – even the tile bathrooms and kitchen with its tile countertops were still there looking brand-new! What struck me most, however, when viewing the interior photos were the gorgeous hardwood floors in the living room, dining room and bedrooms. I’d never seen them before since all were covered with wall-to-wall carpeting at some point, probably around the time I was born in 1960. Wow!

Jamie D says
January 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I think the shag carpet we just ripped out of our “new” 1950 brick split is far more eye searing than any of the samples shown in this story. It was at least 3″ deep and was a white background (well, I’m assuming it was white sometime in the 60s) with red, fuchsia, pink, lavender, purple, and orange splotches. There was even a hint of baby blue if you looked really close, but overall from a distance, it read as bright red and pink.

It was so insane that I would have kept it if it wasn’t so grungy around the edges. And I’m sure it was stained…you just couldn’t tell with all the craziness.

Probably not the best floor covering for homeowners with bad allergies and a dog.

Now we need to get rid of all the 30+ year old high pile carpeting in the bathrooms. Ick.

JKM says
January 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

When my parents built a new house in Dallas in the early 1970’s, every room was carpeted. Thinking about it now I think “ugh” but it was the very latest in design back then. The formal living and dining rooms had gold plush carpeting (showed every footstep and vacuum track) and the balance of the house had rust colored shag except for the kitchen and laundry room, which each had flat “kitchen” carpet in a multi-colored pattern of gold, rust and brown. The only mopable (is that a word?) floor was the marble one in the entry foyer. Our previous home, constructed in 1964, had a carpeted living room, staircase and master bedroom with the rest of the rooms having cork tile floors. When designing the new house, our mother said she never wanted to mop or wax another floor so wall-to-wall carpet was what she got. She eventually came full circle, I guess, for the last house they had had all wood floors.

miblue1 says
February 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I remember in the 80s we put in kitchen carpet–OH WHAT A MISTAKE.My husband spilled a gallon of red Kool-aid on it and never stopped coming up through the padding.We then went with vinyl in the kitchen and baths and dark green carpet in the living room and hall.The prettiest green ever except it showed every little thing.Now in our new house we went with a total laminate in our upstairs living and sleeping area due to my allergies.They have so improved since we did that.We took the carpet from the upstairs and moved it into our finished basement.If I had it to do all over I would go with real wood and be done with it.
I loved the history lesson it was really a blast from the past.

Jay Cruz says
February 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm

What a great article. I’m so glad to see someone preserving the past.

I didn’t see anywhere that any vintage shag carpet is actually for sale. Is it for sale, and how do I go about speaking with someone about purchasing some? If it is not for sale, does anyone know of any resources for this stuff. Preferably the multi-color shag from the seventies.

Leigh says
March 2, 2012 at 1:47 am

My grandma used to work 2 jobs so she could have the home decor of her dreams, which included wall to wall carpeting…yellow background with formal red, purple, and green flower design…the reason she needed 2 jobs? $56/sq yd, in 1958! Her home was always very beautiful. As for me and my mid century carpet story, in our 1954 Alexander designed Palm Springs home, we removed the carpet to find 3000 sq ft of original white marble! We no longer live there unfortunately, but Im looking forward to renovating my “new” 1953 ranch : )

Maureen Bajeyt says
April 24, 2014 at 6:59 pm

I know this is an older post, but I admire how your grandmother worked two jobs to have the decor of her dreams. My folks went heavily into debt after borrowing $$$ for the decor of their dreams – we can learn a lot from our elders.

andrew says
June 25, 2012 at 2:37 am

This article provided me some great info… I’m buying a 1950 ranch and want to change the flooring… Part is a travertine tile I won’t touch, but the other part is a carpet that just doesn’t do it for me. Had been thinking about a bamboo floor, but now am thinking about some cool carpet that can create that cool vintage look… This piece has me thinking..

Any suggestions would be appreciated.. Here’s a link to the house.


karen says
July 1, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Finally, a fairly positive site about carpet.

After refinishing several hardwood floors in various houses throughout the years, I am now at least six months into a new carpet that we installed in our 1925 bungalow. I know, I know …”Gasp!” and “Why?!” There are beautiful hardwoods under there! Yes, the wood floors were in moderate condition and we could have spent at least 1500 bucks to get them up to snuff. However, for me, my carpet choice boils down to two words: luxuriously soft. I have been teaching senior high school students in a classroom with a hard floor for over 25 years and every day I wear my dogs out because I am a very physical instructor as a result of the way I move around the classroom.

I have found that now with carpet gleefully look forward to this nurturing bungalow at the end of the day. Suffice it to say I would not enjoy moving into a home with “mystery” carpet. The newness is a must for me. Moreover, I came from a childhood home with carpet that was very clean. My mother vacuumed and still vacuums nearly every day. I know, I know… carpet can never be as clean as hardwood. Well, my mother’s is darn close and I have been in too many homes where the hardwood floors have looked less than stellar and sometimes downright gross.

But the real turning point for me was when the family including teenagers and toddlers gathered for Christmas at my mother’s last year. Her house is smaller than mine but it lives bigger. Why? The carpet. Cousins were on the floor playing board games while I was leaning up against a couch with my niece looking at college photos and it hit me as I looked around the room that there were 12 us in various parts of the room and five us were on the floor.

When I came back to my bungalow I realized that we didn’t really use the floor except with our feet. It was simply a surface to get from here to there. That’s what tipped it and I have thoroughly enjoyed my carpet ever since. The floor has become a living and doing space, a soft refuge and retreat.

I try to vacuum every day ; )

pam kueber says
July 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Very very interesting points. Our basement family room is carpeted. Yes, I end up on the floor half the time. Very very interesting points!

karen says
July 4, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Thanks Pam.

Another thought…

I was hesitant for so long because I had always heard (and still do) that hardwood floors make a house look bigger. This was not the case with this house which was chopped up with various and sundry area rugs. Perhaps it’s relative to the actual size of any given house. Ours is quite small to begin with and carpeting actually “expanded” our space–possibly because the carpet is light and possibly because I am constantly working at “sparing” down the furniture and accessories so that I have plenty of negative space–a sward of carpet much like a well manicured lawn.

In addition, I am working at keeping a very limited and neutral color palette.

Catherine says
October 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Great article! We’re in the process of picking out carpeting for our 50’s basement remodel, and this was just the article I needed today. I’m going to look for Saxony carpeting… now just to choose a “bold” color! Not sure my husband is going to go for teal (although I do like that photo example above).

Chris says
October 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm

mother was the only career mom in the neighborhood. In a sea of maple country and poodle lamps, she dared to paint cocoa brown walls, with matching wall to wall, over hardwood, early pieces of simple line blond wood, with nubby orange loveseat. Leap to selling new homes, which she decorated, she fervently urged young couples in an era of quick work transfers to keep expensive basics, “light bright and airy” for quick resale. Color to be added in removable easy carry decor. She was always ahead of her time. Next personal change was move to danish style medium walnut, Steward McDougall, which after 49 years I am proud to own. Another hallmark of her style, was that in era of cookie cutter homes, hers had all different elevations, bricks, space between houses, no sheds, no fences, only decorative safe fences for in ground only pools. Those neighborhoods stand out today as unique, entirely eschewing a period of ghastly sameness, and remain beautified by the parklike back yards. Pleasant to pass through these communities, and still see her forward sense of design still at work.

sarah says
October 25, 2013 at 9:09 am

i have been looking for a star trek aera rug with the fedaration of planets logo on it to go in my lil office cubakle 10 x 7 ft wide ..can any one sugguest were to look thank you ……

Joe Felice says
January 27, 2014 at 12:39 am

The only carpet I remember from the ’50s & ’60s was sculptured nylon. And usually in bright colors–burned orange, avocado, gold, etc. And to think, everyone covered their gorgeous hardwood floors with the stuff!

tina b says
May 26, 2014 at 10:08 am

hmm? that reminds me, I think that I have a bolt of burnt orange shag carpeting in the basement (affectionately called the dungeon) given to me years ago,that I can shampoo and clean and lay down in the appointed breakfast nook area. It is a sunken room with almost a full wall of French type windows!!! Might be enough to cover that area 🙂

Emily Kiker (Morrow) Finkell says
September 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Pam, this was by far one of the most talked about and interesting discussions I had as Shaw’s director of Color, Style & Design…in fact, we had more people stop in their tracks when they saw the swatches of my “vintage” pieces. Thank you for your research into what continues to be a fascinating aspect of design…”RETRO”!
I’ll be sharing your blog post on my own under “Design Spectator” as it is a timeless topic.
All the best,
Emily Morrow Finkell

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Design Spectator: Eye on Design in Dalton

It’s no secret that today’s marketplace is not what it used to be. You don’t have to go very far to see reminders that Dalton, Georgia was known as the “Bedspread Capital of the Universe” as cited in local newspapers from 1940. Look at how far we’ve come. We’ve evolved through wartime rations of nylon and fuel, the economic uncertainty of a few recessions, and thanks to so many entrepreneurs who believe in Dalton as something “special”, it has not only survived, it has emerged as the floor covering capital of the world that it is today and is filled with some of the most innovative companies in the world and has attracted some of the greatest design talents from around the world as a result. As both a native Daltonian and former director of styling, I can’t help but feel the excitement in the air as new skus are being finalized. You can almost feel the ground vibrating with the hum of the hundreds of tufting machines as they run new greige for upcoming introductions. With most of the big named manufacturers being located within a 20 mile radius of Dalton, I am taking advantage of my insider’s knowledge and enjoying some “behind the scenes” tours to get a sense of what’s just around the bend in floor covering.

This past week I spent some time looking behind closed doors of Shaw Floors and Mohawk at what’s new and exciting in their world of design, both in carpet and hard surfaces. Naturally, I can’t talk about the exact nature of the prototypes but what I can talk about are very successful 2016 styles which are catalysts for the next round of styles. According to Nicki Rayburn, Shaw’s Director of Public Relations & Communications and Deborah Houston, Creative Director, at Shaw and industry wide, there’s been a deliberate shift towards any flooring that fits into a casual lifestyle. Nubby, chunky loops and barber-poled tweeds create visual dimensions in carpet styles like “Nautique” and “Dunes” that are also very forgiving for busy homeowners. Large scale patterns continue to move onto the scene as many consumers are opting for room size rugs that can be sourced easily in programs like Shaw’s Cut-A-Rug Collection. Based on the continuing success of Shaw’s Caress Patterns, there are even more of the well-styled ornamental geometrics. Don’t be surprised to see big dense florals that harken back to the 80’s and time-worn distressed patterns as well.

Brittney Stanley, one of Mohawk’s residential designers, stated that “although almost everyone is still all about gray, they are seeing the changes in colors happening almost instantly. Grays have become warmer and their 2016 palettes are chock full of their newest neutral called greige.” *Greige is the term used for tufted and unbacked carpet fabric.
“Greige is what we consider the perfect neutral. It is the most versatile neutral which works with gray, tan or taupe.”

EverStrand_Scupltured Touch Collage

2017 Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year – Poised Taupe
Taken from our 2017 colormix™ forecast – our commercial neutrals showcase the best of 2017, anchored by our . . .
http://www.sherwin-williams.com/painting-contractors/color/ . . .

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.22.03 AM (1)

As far as pattern trends go, Mohawk is enjoying a great deal of success with its record-breaking 2015 style “Sculptured Touch” from Aladdin and another top selling pattern “Artistic Charm” from Karastan. Each style is a tufted “linen strie” tonal pattern and the most recent launch “Artistic Charm” has owned the #1 position in sales ranking since samples went out in March or April. Beyond patterns the industry has certainly been enjoying widespread success in flecks and tweeds at all price points. The dated “spotty” flecks of the nea-shag friezes are gone and have been made to feel new and balanced with the smoother textures with near-100% space dye coverage in grays, taupes and browns. Brittney Stanley of Mohawk cited Karastan’s “Rustic Revival” and “Softly Elegant I & II” from Aladdin as perfect examples of what is selling well in this visual.

Karastan Artistic Charm
Both the Shaw and Mohawk design teams share similar approaches to market research for overarching themes and inspiration. They participate in trend forecasting organizations, in Color Marketing Group as well as attend markets and shows for inspiration. Mohawk’s Brittney Stanley said “Being able to attend Surfaces and see how well the dealers liked the new products and colors definitely made a big difference in her approach to new colors”. Typically at the end of each year, past years’ better color palettes are scrutinized, sales by color data is generated, the designers then create new trend boards according to their color families, and they pull from those color palettes throughout the coming year of development.


Shaw’s Deborah Houston said that the influence of “Urban Farmhouse design” sparked by personalities like HGTV’s Fixer Upper designer Joanna Gaines has been a very strong one. https://magnoliamarket.com/blog/. Beyond the urban farm house design influence, consumers’ are looking for ways to save their already limited time so that they can enjoy life. Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” has been on the New York Times best seller list and has been so successful that the author’s name has become a verb. People all over the country are now “Kondoe-ing” their closets due to this need to simplify and optimize how we live. http://tidyingup.com

Consumers are today much more interested in and willing than in years past to take a chance on color and pattern according to Nicki Rayburn. Rayburn said they’ve witnessed online an uptick in interest in products which are both colorful and patterned. Speaking of color, it’s noteworthy that Shaw’s most recent “Colors of the Year” have been neutrals, this year being “White Hot” White hot board.rtfd . The only hint that was given about the soon to be released 2017 COTY is that it will definitely be a colorful color.

The migration in discussion from carpet to hard surface was seamless in that they all share similarly-hued color palettes which allow consumers the ability to make flooring selections that fit harmoniously into one interior effortlessly. Katie Ford, Shaw’s Hard Surface Marketing Manager walked me through 2016’s offerings in wood, vinyl, tile and laminate. The variety of visuals that I saw are a continuation of trends that, while they are not new, they are still selling well. Adjectives like “washed, distressed, rustic, industrial, and highlighted are among the words that describe each of the hard surface categories, and in vinyl, porcelain, ceramic, and laminate, the look of wood is still quite prevalent. Case in point is a porcelain tile style by Shaw named “Glee” which features an industrial “poured concrete in barn wood” aesthetic and represents a niche-look in today’s interiors. “Glee” can be installed in a herringbone pattern and includes a rhomboid shape as well as a listello trim. While it is definitely a wood look, it’s been taken one or two steps further in something new that offers homeowners something fresh while still not being too far outside their budgetary comfort zones.


There were endless iterations of barnwood, hand-scraped, reclaimed, cerused, chiseled, wire-brushed and sawn face planks in the offerings. Epic Plus includes new introductions with an innovation that alleviates the moisture issues within the builder channel with its “stabilitech core”. New styles are “Freemont Hickory”, “Ocala”, “Coral Springs and “Riverstone”. I can squint my eyes and still see a taupe influence over many of the new colors but the move towards more “natural” looks, low to zero gloss UV finishes give the look of a high-maintenance “oil-rubbed” finish, without the hardwork.

There was a great deal of excitement around one of Shaw’s newest “Floorte” vinyl introductions that is about to make a mid year appearance. “Alto Mix Plank” is an 8” x 72” format and according to Katie Ford, “Floorte’s Alto Mix Plank is all about the bevel” so much so that the marketing team is using “bevelish puns” on their samples going out this fall.

If Dalton was once a bedspread industry that turned into a carpet industry, it’s now quickly turned into a hard surfaces industry which is layered and sprinkled with carpet strategically. I believe we will always have a need for carpet and for so many wonderful reasons…it’s soft, it’s quiet, it’s a great value and it’s far more comfortable to sit on than practically anything else. I can’t wait to see the Dalton of our future generations and have hope that this very special industry is still growing, offering great careers and incomes for the families of the future.



DESIGN SPECTATOR for Floor Covering Weekly “Living With Color” by Emily Morrow Finkell



What is it about color that’s so important? Everything! In a world of color, we are all impacted in ways we sometimes can’t possibly imagine. It’s no secret that gray has been a major player in the fashion and interiors world, and that is not changing anytime soon. I have seen however a shift towards more and more vivid colors, practicallly technicolor colors at international furniture and design shows, New York Fashion Week, and even at the retail points of purchase. Architectural Digest’s annual “Living With Color” August issue quotes “The pureset and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most” by John Ruskin in The Stones of Venice. From the fashion-forward color discussions to the more practical online consumer surveys, color matters and can impact the overall resale value of our homes.

“According to the analysis of over 50,000 sold homes from around the country, the online real estate company found that homes with kitchens painted in warm yellow hues yielded the highest sale premium. They went for $1,360 above expected values.The belief is that potential buyers look at the blank white walls and are concerned about being able to keep it clean.”

white kitchenfeaturePics


“Not a fan of yellow? No worries. Top-performing listings also had wall colors painted in other earthy tones, like sage green or dove gray.To get the biggest bang for your buck, stick with colors that have mass appeal so you attract as many potential buyers to your listing as possible,” explained Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, in a statement. “Warm neutrals like yellow or light gray are stylish and clean, signaling that the home is well cared for, or that previous owners had an eye for design that may translate to other areas within the house.”

In terms of colors you may want to avoid, the report found that homes with white kitchens actually sold for $1,400 less than expected. While the stark hue gives off a crisp look, it apparently also deters buyers, many of whom think they won’t be able to keep the space clean.

While this sounds overly simple, it’s incredibly important to all of us, especially those of us in the floor covering and design industry. Consider this, we’ve seen a huge portion of homes shift from carpet to hard surface, and the carpet that is selling best oftentimes is a neutral tufted pattern, tonal or flecked product which definitely offers soil and dirt-hiding characteristics to the consumer.

Overall the neutral color palette is shifting annually in very subtle shades. The most essential neutrals are gray, taupe, sand, white, off white and camel. One great way to identify the catalyst behind the neutral color foundation is to examine the “commitment decisions” in homes, for example hard surface flooring, natural stone or solid surface countertops as well as case good furnishings, all of which have a life span of ten to twelve years before replacement. Neutral colors have always been cyclical and the pace of their cycle was slightly thrown off by the recession and rebounding market. The best selling neutrals of the pre-recession were golden neutrals, matching and coordinating with the vast hard surface materials like travertines and granites. Today we see a lighter cleaner palette strongly influenced more by calacatta marble and cerused or flaxen white oak hardwoods.


Thanks to color-loving fashion icons like Tory Burch who stated “I am drawn to the way colors interact with and complement one another” in her book Tory Burch In Color. She has famously featured “TORY ORANGE” in her packaging and stylishly demonstrates how beautifully colorful interiors can be tasteful (see The Blue Room below).


We will continue to see more and more vivid colors as well as fleshy-pink neutrals as a warm counterpart to the cool neutrals that have blanketed the market place. Color Marketing Group releases a monthly color alert, many of which are already applied in accessories for the home like rugs, pillows and draperies. What’s important to note about the neutral and color-colors of the current near future is how it makes a consumer feel. CMG’s ZEN is, “tranquil, relaxing, mindful and calm…relaxed and unworried, that is the state of the color of “Zen. This calming hue is a comforting neutral, with little chroma, and just a bit of black. Its simple nature allows effortless coordination with everything from soft pink to fresh green, and practically anything else.” Who doesn’t want a little more “comfort” in their lives?



The luxury ranges at La Cornue flaunt their color flair. For colorful options that are major investment items, check out these over the top La Cornue ranges at KBIS2016 in colors from light aqua to a saturated bubblegum pink.



2016 April CMG ZEN
“Watch for it to appear modern in high gloss finishes, elegant and refined in matte, and ethereal when enhanced with metallic and special effects. Whether a fashion accessory color or the color of the garment itself, a car color or enhancing a set of luggage, “Zen” moves quietly, with purpose, and in kindness with other colors.”


Read more about CMG CONNECTING IN COLOR @ http://www.blog.colormarketing.org

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CMG 2015 November EQUESTRIAN

Classically inspired, “Equestrian” embodies attributes desired by sporting enthusiasts and those that simply enjoy watching the game.
A golden brown, reminiscent of tooled leather, it is at once rugged and luxurious, familiar and aspirational. Beyond the world of equine sports, the color will grace everything from fashion to accessories. It adds a touch of “Country Life,” even in the city, suggesting a moment of peace and quiet that is always in touch with nature. Regal, elegant, earthy and reliable, “Equestrian” is a color that crosses borders, genders and bank accounts. It is a color of steadiness in 2015.
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