Tropical paradise – the latest trends in interiors bring wooden floors to the fore
This season’s interior design trend could be considered as a kick back against the dreadful summer weather we’ve endured this year – we’re talking tropical. Vibrant colours, exotic fruit and plant imagery or the cool sophistication of colonial elegance – the presence of palm leaves and pineapples is everywhere in interior design. Wallpapers have gone jungle, and statement pieces such as cheeseplants, yuccas, floral-covered chaise longues and a riot of colour have signaled the end of ‘boring beige’ and ‘mindnumbing magnolia’ interiors. All of this vibrancy is offset by a perfect wooden floor – after all, who ever heard of a carpet in the jungle?
For such an exotic theme, we’re talking exotic woods. Blonde pine floor boards just don’t cut it when you’re trying to create a Caribbean paradise in your living room. So this year’s big trend for wooden flooring is exotic woods. But if you’re conscious of your impact on the environment, ripping up your dull pine floorboards and replacing them with exotic hardwoods is not exactly going to assure the survival of a threatened tropical ecosystem thousands of miles away. Hardwood forests, from which this year’s tropical trend takes its inspiration, are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet. The use of exotic tropical hardwoods is unsustainable, and it seems feckless in the extreme to plunder it merely for the sake of a design trend.
So smart, environmentally aware trendsetters are using other methods to achieve the exotic wood look. First up is staining and waxing. The use of coloured staining has gone far beyond the usual ‘Ronseal’ browns of years gone by. Now, you can choose wood stains that range from deep mahogany and rich reds through to vibrant blues and greens that, okay might not be exactly ‘natural’, but they certainly have an impact! However, get staining wrong and just like a fake tan it can look blotchy, nasty and cheap. But unlike fake tan, you can’t just wash wood stain away, and any mistakes will mean having to take the top layer of wood off by sanding and starting again. So to make sure you get it right first time and your tropical paradise doesn’t turn into a nightmare, get the experts in. Floor sanding and staining is best left to the professionals so that you achieve the perfect look first time.
You can also ‘fake’ the look of exotic woods by using laminates. Laminate flooring is very easy to install, is much cheaper and environmentally friendlier than using ‘real’ exotic woods, and gives you the same effect as the most expensive exotic wood floorings on the market. Alternatively, you can ask your wood floor sanding experts about ‘engineered hardwood’. This is effectively a ‘posh’ laminate that is made using a fine veneer of exotic hardwood over a plywood base to give you all the effect of a hardwood floor at a fraction of the cost.
I’m not really a ‘cockatoo’ kind of person…
The alternative to the full-on jungle look is to go colonial – cool, clean lines, linen covers and bamboo furniture. To complement this more minimalist look, go for wooden floors that are lighter in colour and reflect the light. If you want to go environmentally friendly and get a slightly different finish, bamboo flooring is an upcoming trend that’s really taking off, and fits in perfectly with this year’s look. Bamboo flooring is making inroads as one of the most sustainable wooden flooring options on the market, but if your own floorboards are in good condition then a pale stain or wax and polish is just as effective.
While next year may bring a totally different look, a beautifully maintained and polished wooden floor never goes out of style!