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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin Kelley

Celebrate Your Every Step: Elegant Flooring for Your Dream Home

Imagine walking on a wooden boardwalk, feeling the chill of the salt air, and hearing the waves crashing along the shore. Or travel down a cobblestone street, glancing at the little shops, smelling the aroma of freshly baked bread. How do you feel as you take steps on the paved concrete of a busy city, with the hustle and bustle as everyone makes their way to work?


Flooring is more than just a way to pass from room to room. It’s a foundational element that sets the tone for the entire space, influencing your home's aesthetics, functionality, and ambiance. Elegant flooring celebrates your every step.


Floor selection can vary based on how you plan to use each unique space. You may choose flooring to designate transitions between rooms, providing a more classical tone in your dining room than in your family room. Stairs are often a good transition area for changing from one flooring material to another. 


In addition to aesthetics, there are other factors, like durability, maintenance requirements, and suitability, to consider when selecting flooring for your custom home. Let's explore some flooring options to help you decide what works best for you.


The beauty of hardwood floors


Natural hardwood

Hardwood is elegant flooring with a beautiful, natural finish that offers a warm, cozy, inviting aesthetic. Oak is a familiar choice because of its longevity, but cherry, pine, and maple, along with many other beautiful hardwoods, are wonderful choices. With various colors, grain patterns, and strengths, hardwood floors provide many options that can cater to your preferences and style.



Natural wood floors require maintenance over time. Thicker planks allow you to sand and refinish the natural wood as years go on. However, excess moisture can lead to uneven expansion of real wood boards, causing a wavy appearance, raised seams, and cupping in humid climates. Plus, you'll want to quickly clean spills to protect your valuable hardwood floors and prevent water damage.


Engineered wood

Engineered wood flooring is a popular choice, with its natural wood appearance and increased durability. Scratch-resistant and more cost-effective than solid wood, you have various styles available, so you can decide what you most enjoy to align with the aesthetics of your dream home. 


I enjoy the look and quality of the acacia-engineered wood floors in my home, and I find my hardwood floors visually appealing. I've also protected the wood floors in my kitchen from water damage using strategically placed rugs.


While hardwood floors require maintenance over time, they provide an elegant, natural aesthetic that can enhance your home for generations. 


The uniqueness of natural stone floors


Hardwood might not be the right choice for your dream home. With a modern or Mediterranean style, you may want to select stone floors, especially in climates prone to moisture. Limestone, travertine, and Cantera are good choices. They not only hold the warmth of the sun from solar heat gain but will retain heat better if radiant heating is being used. This allows you to efficiently heat your home and save energy costs.


Limestone

In the 1990s and early 2000s, limestone was a trendy flooring material for the Mediterranean-style homes I designed in my practice in California. Limestone is a highly durable and natural stone that comes in various colors, shapes, and sizes and creates a timeless and elegant environment. It adds a modern yet traditional feel to any room and only requires periodic sealing for maintenance.


Terrazzo

If you want to make a stunning statement in your custom home, you can select terrazzo floors made of chips set in concrete. With limitless design options of colors, patterns, and materials like marble, granite, quartz, or glass chips embedded in an epoxy resin binder, your terrazzo floor will be truly unique. Terrazzo can be eco-friendly, relatively low maintenance, and can be used indoors and outdoors throughout your home.



Travertine

For a weathered look with a timeless and classic appeal, you may choose a natural stone travertine floor. Travertine floors come in various earth tones like beige, rust, brown, and tan and are known for their durability, aesthetic appeal, and unique appearance. Highly resistant to moisture and water, travertine flooring can be shaped and cut to fit any space, including small or uneven areas. Suitable for indoor and outdoor settings, travertine tiles are exceptionally durable and can handle extreme temperature changes.


Cantera

Another natural stone option is Cantera. From the Spanish word for quarry, this hand-carved rock mined from Mexico and Central America is a natural silica-based stone created by volcanic dust and ash washed by rainwater into silt beds that are compressed over time. Cantera’s colors depend on the minerals it contains, often with a soft brown, tan, or reddish hue. Black, dark brown, or gray Cantera Stone and various beautiful multicolored materials create a mix of multiple hues and unique patterns to produce natural masterpieces.


Though natural stone floors may be expensive, they radiate sophistication. Each stone is unique, with distinct veining and coloring, making your home flooring one-of-a-kind.


The elegance of tiles


Porcelain

Large porcelain tiles can mimic stone and provide an elegant, low-maintenance flooring option. Porcelain tiles are glazed and fired, so they don't require resealing, and the trendy 2x4-foot tiles used more often today give you a continuous look with fewer grout lines. They come in various styles, patterns, and colors, which you can customize to suit your aesthetic preferences. Completely waterproof, porcelain tiles are an excellent choice for bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, and laundry rooms.


My client Lynne loved the look of polished concrete floors but was concerned about potential issues with cracks over time as the concrete slabs moved. Large porcelain tiles that resembled concrete emulated the polished aesthetic Lynne wanted. Slip sheets under the porcelain tiles help further diffuse any movement in the concrete subfloor, adding protection and stability. This gave Lynne the modern, industrial look she desired while gaining the longevity and low maintenance of a more durable flooring material.


Ceramic

Ceramic tiles have designs and colors printed on the surface and are protected with a glaze. More delicate than porcelain tiles, they are often prone to chips or damage. Generally less expensive, ceramic tiles are suitable for areas with less traffic, and in my practice, I prefer to use them for accent walls and kitchen backsplashes. 

Porcelain tiles are a beautiful, durable, low-maintenance alternative to natural stone, especially when the mimicking looks like concrete.


Sustainable and eco-friendly flooring


Cork

If you are seeking eco-friendly and renewable flooring, cork is an option. Its warmth and sound absorption qualities make it feel soft under your feet. Cork flooring is naturally resistant to mold, mildew, termites, and other insects. With germ-fighting qualities, cork floors prevent emitting gases or shedding microfibers that could affect your home’s indoor air quality, ideal for those with allergies or asthma.



Bamboo

Bamboo is a good choice if you are looking for a sustainable, cost-effective wood flooring option. It’s sturdy, long-lasting, and adapts to fluctuating temperatures, so it can be used with underfloor heating systems. Bamboo requires careful installation to prevent cupping, and whether it’s cut long or short affects its durability.

Bamboo flooring's finishes add protection and make it easy to clean and maintain, similar to hardwood floors. Available in a wide range of colors, styles, finishes, and sizes, bamboo flooring can be designed to look modern or classic for a contemporary feel or traditional for a timeless appearance.

Cork and bamboo are both biodegradable and recyclable, making them environmentally friendly flooring choices for your custom home.


Additional flooring choices


Vinyl and laminate

If you are looking for an affordable, water-resistant option for wet areas like your kitchen and mudroom, you may consider vinyl or laminate. Very durable, they are a great selection, especially if you have kids and pets. Some high-quality laminate floors can provide a gorgeous look. If you want to mimic hardwood floors or stone without the high price, laminate flooring is perfect, 


My daughter chose beautiful laminate flooring for her home because she has kids and a dog. She isn’t worried about spills and scratches and loves its durability. Laminate technology has improved significantly over the years, creating such a high quality that I changed my opinion on recommending the material.


Polished concrete

For an industrial, modern aesthetic, polished concrete floors may appeal to you. Concrete holds heat well from the sun or a radiant floor heating system, making it a good material for passive solar strategies. However, you should ensure expansion joints are cut into the concrete slab, as it can shift as your home moves and settles. 

A trendy option, polished concrete is low-maintenance, easy to clean, and durable.



Carpeting 

You might prefer carpeting some of the rooms in your home, such as your bedrooms, for a softer, cozier feel underfoot. Carpet can be a very economical flooring option and a good temporary solution should your budget not allow stone, porcelain, or wood to be installed initially. Carpet, however, is not the most ideal material for radiant floor heating systems as it doesn’t transfer the heat well. It is also more prone to trap moisture than other flooring if any spills occur, causing issues over time.


Elegant flooring for your dream home


Your flooring selections are part of the foundation of your dream home design, setting the tone for your entire living space. Each flooring option offers unique advantages, from the timeless elegance of wood floors to bamboo's eco-friendly and sustainable nature. 

Whether you prioritize durability, aesthetics, sustainability, or ease of maintenance, the flooring you choose can significantly impact your custom home's overall look and feel. By carefully selecting the right flooring material that aligns with your preferences and lifestyle, you can create a cohesive and inviting home that reflects your personal style and enhances the beauty of your living space.


If you want to build a custom home with beautiful flooring that celebrates your every step, call me, and let's begin the conversation. Tel: 858-344-2404, or email: caitlin@caitlinkelleyarchitect.com.



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