Just like home design, hardwood can be characterized as classic, contemporary, or modern. It is amazing how a wood species can have a completely different look depending on its plank width, stain color, gloss level, and surface treatment. The artistry and craftsmanship that goes into a hardwood floor design is extraordinary, but none has quite as much flair as today's modern hardwood styles.
The common threads in modern hardwood collections are wide plank boards (generally a 6" width or more is considered wide) and a low gloss matte finish. Beyond those two characteristics, the door is open for creative differences that can dramatically change the look of your room. Let's start with color.
Mixing Light and Dark Colors
Over the last few years, the trend in hardwood color has leaned toward the dark side: warm browns, charcoal grays, and ebony. However, there also has been a strong place in both the city and on the coast for natural, taupe, and ivory floors. Modern style dares to combine both light and dark to make a striking, bold statement. The mixture creates depth and dimension to the hardwood. These floors are interesting and even fascinating. They are a centerpiece of a room.
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The light and dark contrast is achieved through layering stains or by using a chemical modification. A "smoked" or "fumed" floor is obtained through drawing the tannins in the wood to the surface. The closer it gets to the surface, the darker the wood will become.
Beyond a Natural Color Palette
Palmetto Road's Chalmers Collection is a great example of taking color to a new level by applying a dual staining process. A beautiful and truly unique line, Chalmers mixes blues, grays, golds, copper, and gunmetal for a new play on color. One color of stain is applied to the plank, then another completely different color is applied on top of the first stain. You can catch these subtle undertones when natural light hits the floors. Another thing that we really love about Chalmers is that the stain colors are shown on the back of each sample board which makes it easy to incorporate the color scheme into the entire room.
Palmetto Road Chalmers Collection shown in "Dolphin" above is designed with shades of golden browns with a light gray wash. A mid-tone blue resides between the shades.
On The Surface
A floor's surface treatment also adds to its overall style. A popular technique in modern hardwood design is wire brushing. Just like the name implies, a wire brush is used to give a subtle, weathered authenticity to the floor and enhance the wood grain. It is a more natural way of adding character to a floor and gives it a gentle rustic feel.
Another modern surface treatment is the sawmark which gives a bold and rustic visual. This technique is a nod to the old sawmilling operations where it was common to find saw blade "scars" or marks on the floor. The result is a weathered patina with a heirloom feel. (It is also a great surface treatment to hide inevitable signs of daily wear on a hardwood floor.) You can really see this treatment on lighter color floors.
When choosing a modern hardwood floor that has high or extreme character, multi-colors, and bold surface treatments, we recommend that you view the floor at a quality flooring retail store. This is the only way to really see and feel the surface treatment. A retail store will commonly have a large format sample board. This is typically a fine way to preview a hardwood, but not necessarily with high character floors. It is difficult to show all the variances of a floor in a sample, regardless of how large it is. Make sure to check out room scene photos of the floor so you can see a full view of the floor when it is installed.
Speaking of installation, a high character floor can be a tricky installation because of all the varying colors. The layout has to be just right so, we recommend hiring a professional hardwood flooring installer.
To get an up-close look of any of the floors we pictured above, visit a Twenty & Oak dealer near you.