I love the look of hardwood floors, but my design tastes are very modern, and I can’t help but wonder if hardwood is too traditional to work with everything else in my home. What do you think? Are there hardwood flooring choices that tend to work best in a modern home?
-Kim in Ohio
Different hardwoods can help define different design styles. Most people think that all hardwood is for traditional lifestyles. This is no longer the case! Design styles include Traditional, Contemporary, Modern, Rustic and Transitional. Other styles include Arts and Crafts, Asian, Cottage, Country, Eclectic, English Country, Mediterranean, Old World, Romantic, Southwestern, Tropical and Tuscan.
When thinking about a contemporary species of hardwood, the most popular is a natural maple with a clear finish coat. The more narrow the board, the more modern the look. Other contemporary hardwood species include teak, yellow birch and beech. This type of wood contributes to the clean lines and crisp look that contemporary design styles offer.
The most traditional hardwood species is oak. Red oak or white oak, it makes no difference. 2 ¼” wide hardwood is the most traditional, but other widths are also considered traditional. Other traditional hardwood species include: walnut, hickory, pecan, pine, Santos mahogany and Brazilian cherry. These woods are popular because they blend so well with woods used to make traditional furniture.
Handscraped hardwoods, no matter what the species can be labeled as traditional, rustic, cottage, country, English Country, Old World or Tuscan. Some could argue that a handscraped look would fit in with a contemporary look if found in an old loft. Heart Pine flooring falls into many of the same categories: traditional, rustic, cottage and country.
Exotic hardwood species like African Wenge, Merbau, Padauk and Jarrah do not fall into the same category just because they are all exotic woods. Typically, woods with less grain are considered more modern or contemporary. Woods with mild to medium grain are more traditional. On the same note, woods that are lighter in color are usually more contemporary and woods that are warmer, darker and richer are usually more traditional.
For those people that have eclectic homes, there are definitely no rules. Some rooms may even have different hardwood species under the same roof! That’s the beauty of it being eclectic. (The new term for this is often referred to as “evolved”).
If you have a traditional home, there is no reason why you can’t use a natural finished maple in your home. If you have a modern home, there is no rule that says that you can’t use a hickory floor. These suggestions are just what are typically selected.
Ultimately, the hardwood that appeals to you is the one that is right for your design style. You get to enjoy your selection every day so the choice should be what makes you happy.