There are several notable interior designers who believe that the American kitchen is on its way to having traveled ‘full-circle’. One of the primary components of this argument is the trend toward hardwood flooring in the kitchen space. While other trends, including flooring, have been driven by technological advances and improvements toward convenience, the hardwood flooring application in kitchen areas is really trending for other interesting reasons, separate of technological improvements of the product.
Historically, the use of hardwood flooring in the kitchen area was a natural transition from, well, ‘earthen’ flooring; and the same wood flooring encompassed the entire domicile. Back then, it wasn’t a matter of style, necessarily, but a matter of cost, convenience and hygiene that produced the predominance of wood flooring usage in such spaces. This, in a primitive sense, is why the suggestion of having come full-circle within the design community is growing in acceptance. It’s important to know that the popularity of hardwood kitchen floors, for the Virginia homeowner, is a more personal choice that is drawn from multiple criteria, and that none of these criteria match that of the decisions of our domestic ancestors.
The Influence of ‘Green’ and International Trade
Socially and economically, the ‘Green’ movement is certainly making its move into decisions of the Virginia home. Simply stated, there’s a domestic push toward utilizing products in the home that are organic in origin and that may be ‘environmentally sustainable’ or, returned to the earth without adverse affects upon the environment. Wood, as everyone acknowledges, is a classic example of a material that is the cornerstone of the ‘Green’ movement. There seems to be an equally strong ‘rejection’ of flooring products which are synthetic in composition as there is an appeal to those products which comply with the ‘Green’ initiative. The subtle desire, for the homeowner, is to create a more nature-friendly space and somewhat understanding that such decisions may come with certain innate compromises of cost and prospective maintenance flags. Virginia kitchen designers and decorators have been quite instrumental in allaying such concerns as this, and are steadfast in promoting the benefits of the products, selling the maintenance regimen as merely a change of habits and certainly a fair exchange for the anticipated results.
While it may be hard to conceive how the international marketplace comes into play with regards to a suitable kitchen flooring, the influence is quite inarguable. One of the hardships that a Virginia kitchen designer might face, for example, is to integrate a wood floor into a kitchen when the cabinets are natural wood as well. Domestic woods such as oak, maple, hickory and cherry are very standardized woods that are used in the production of kitchen cabinetry. The difficulty seems to be that the wood flooring must have a relatively dramatic contrast to that of the cabinets but still offer similar characteristics such as, representation of grain or dominant hue. What the international marketplace presents to the kitchen flooring option is an incredibly diverse spectrum of species which have a broad range of dramatic colorations and graining presentations. This permits the designer, decorator or homeowner a tremendously broad list of options in natural wood tones, thus enabling the melding of cabinet woods with wood flooring without compromising a splinter of design!
Wood Flooring Trends with Kitchens in Mind
The wood flooring industry has been alert and sensitive to the increasing demand for wood flooring in America’s kitchens. Sure, it’s perfectly fine to choose a nondescript hardwood flooring to begin in the kitchen and then cascade into other adjoining rooms as well. However, this seems to be the exception of interior design rather than the rule. The kitchen appears to be gaining the notoriety of being finished and furnished relatively independent of other rooms. In other words, on a decorating scale, it’s becoming more self-contained.
One of the trends that have been slow to progress, yet finally taking a good hold on the design scene lately, is that of ‘distressed’ wood visuals. These are floors that have surface blemishes–indents, chips, or ‘chatter marks’–deliberately struck into the wood flooring, prior to finishing. These embellishments offer an aesthetic of timeless wood flooring and high degree of character; and, oddly enough, are often found in rustic, traditional and contemporary kitchens alike.
Another notable trend in kitchen wood flooring which is relatively novel to the marketplace, capitalizes upon an ‘old-world’ finish technique known as ‘pickling’. In its day, this technique was characterized by chemically treating the raw wood with vinegar (hence the term, ‘pickling’) which opened up the pores of the wood significantly. A runny, white pigmented product (milk paint) was wiped into the pores, rendering the slightest hint of color, back-dropping the natural hues of the wood. The more modern version of this process introduces a fairly wide range of colors as well as ‘shades’ of white. Such colorations add to the diversity of the palette in which the designer and homeowner may choose the perfect wood flooring for the new kitchen.