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Author: Emma Callery
Whether your style is dramatic parquet in the dining room or colourful lino for the children's rooms, find inspiration in hundreds of stunning photographs taken in a wide range of settings.
With expert advice on design, materials, budgets, maintenance and installation, 1001 Ideas for Floors will help you make informed, professional choices and pick out the best flooring solutions for your home and budget.
An exciting range of materials is detailed, from classical marble to sleek metal tiles. You can also see illustrations of popular patterns and learn about finish options.
Whatever your style, from Victorian to contemporary, and whatever your practical considerations, you will find your perfect floor in this source book.
Emma Callery is a writer and editor specialising in books about the home, covering all aspects of home decoration, including lighting, decorating, painting techniques and other craft-related subjects.
Floors are the hardest-working surfaces in your home. They are expected to cope with the pounding of innumerable footsteps, plus take the drops and spills of everyday life. Not only do they work hard, but we want them to look good, too.
After all, floors can make the difference between a dull and a sparkling room. It's a lot to ask, really, isn't it? The good news is that today's flooring materials are up to the task, and they are available in an incredible range for us to choose from. Who'd have thought that wood would make such a comeback, or that it would become fashionable and practical to use materials such as cork and concrete for flooring?
While traditional fitted carpets still have an important role to play, the current focus is on hardwood, ceramic and stone, all of which offer both elegance and a broad variety of colours and textures. Another advantage is that, thanks to technological improvements, these flooring materials are easier than ever to buy and install.
The choice is so wide that you can go beyond simple practicality in your choices and find flooring to suit the house, the individual room and your lifestyle. Your first step should be to identify the materials that are compatible with your house. A house is part of an environment, and if it doesn't incorporate local materials it can seem out of place.
Also consider the style of the building. What are the design guidelines? For example, an American colonial-style home might boast stained or painted softwood flooring with stencilled borders, topped by rugs. An English country-style home would include stone or wood, while the Victorian era favoured fitted floral carpets and quarry tile or parquet flooring.
An arts-and-crafts home would feature hardwood floors with intricate inlays, scattered with patterned rugs. The contemporary stylist might consider exotic woods, natural looks in stone, or ultra-modern materials such as rubber or terrazzo.
Such guidelines do not have to be strictly followed. You can choose which elements to include and evolve your own eclectic style that suits your character and lifestyle, as well as your environment and the existing or planned decor. However, adjacent rooms should be in harmony, so that the transition between different parts of the house is not jarring.
The next step is to consider the needs of each room, in terms of practicality and style: no one has a shag carpet in their kitchen! Do you want the room to have radiant heating? What colours, patterns and textures would suit the space? Are there changes of level to highlight or mask, or other areas to define? Who uses the room, and is it shared with any pets? Think it through carefully.
Durability is one consideration. High-traffic rooms, such as entrance halls and kitchens, take a daily pounding, and some materials (lesser quality carpeting, for example) can't cope. Floors are tricky and expensive to install, and you don't want to have to repeat the laborious process every couple of years.
There are other factors that could particularly concern you. For safety, you might install nonslip bathrooms and kitchens and ensure a suitable environment for young children or people with limited mobility. For comfort (those who favour bare feet or lying down in front of the television), incorporate a carpet or rugs. Think about sound, too, particularly televisions, sound systems and the floor itself. Footsteps on a wooden floor in a large room can echo like they would in a crowded dance hall.
Budget is also a key element. There is an enormous variation between, say, a marble or leather floor and the least expensive vinyl or synthetic carpets. If your heart is set on stone or wood but your pockets are not deep enough, there are some great imitations around. Remember to allow for installation costs as well as materials.
Maybe you want to install the floor yourself. Resilient floors are relatively easy to put in, but they are the thinnest type of flooring. This means that the subfloor must be absolutely level, because any flaws quickly show through. Tiles are another flooring type that DIYers can manage, but the process - planning, cutting and installing - can be time-consuming. Floating wood floors don't necessarily require professional installation, but glued and nailed floors are another matter.
Other flooring types - hard varieties such as granite, marble and terrazzo and soft flooring, such as carpet - require special installation techniques most familiar to those in the flooring trade. They are probably best left to the experts! Currently, many interior designers are favouring environmentally friendly flooring. This rules out plastics, such as vinyl and laminates, but allows natural products to shine, such as stone, sustainably harvested woods (including cork and bamboo), natural soft flooring (such as sisal) and, perhaps surprisingly, linoleum, which is manufactured from a mixture of natural products.
Choosing flooring is a demanding process that shouldn't be rushed. Study your friend s' floors, visit showrooms, bring back samples to view in natural light and use this book to help you discover your dream floors.