While durability remains a top priority when it comes to flooring for commercial spaces, many businesses today do see their floors as an active part of their décor and the overall customer experience. In hotels, restaurants, offices and retail spaces, the floor is an opportunity to express something about the company and brand. And at the heart of the message, for many companies, is the notion of authenticity.
Back to basics
This is reflected in one of the biggest trends in flooring – transcending both commercial and domestic spaces – which is the hunger for stripped floorboards. Going back to basics with unique wood grain textures, the aging patina and traditional finishing of wooden flooring immediately generates a grounded and down-to-earth feeling, and a sense of individuality. Whether the business is a bar, restaurant, hotel or boutique, this can be an important quality for anyone who wants customers to feel like they’re receiving individual treatment.
In office spaces, stripped floorboards are often complemented by exposed masonry for a raw and basic effect that may help encourage those in the workspace to express themselves by adding their own features – posters, plants, sculpture, tech and more. This look is found in spaces from design studios to estate agents, and it can help suggest that the business is authentic. Real wood, real people, a real business with real customers – that’s the underlying message a wooden floor can send.
Bringing the outside in
The raw and original vibe given off by a stripped wooden floor weaves nicely into another popular trend in décor – biophilic design. This philosophy is based on the notion that natural light, colours and textures help to create a softer, calmer and more positive environment for human beings, particularly in cities that are full of greys, browns and hard-edged structures. It’s not just the wood grain or bark textures that interior designers are looking for. It’s stone, grass, moss, leaves, organic forms and even wave patterns.
Floors, walls and architectural features conveying natural materials are complemented with living walls, full of plants to purify the air and provide a calming palette of greens. At the higher end, water features, fountains, aquariums and rock gardens are being installed. The bottom line is that people feel calmer in natural surroundings. It can help boost wellbeing and productivity for employees, and might also mean customers like being in the space.
Use of space
Businesses with open areas such as hotel receptions, restaurants, bars and bigger retail outlets can benefit from a combination of flooring types. Wood, complemented by a stone or ceramic scheme, can help to create zones for different activities such as standing, sitting, eating, drinking, lounging or more formal relaxation. Similarly, patterns can be used to designate parts of a commercial space. A nice, richly aged wood makes a good floor for casual dining, while the route from the entrance to the bar and to the restrooms could be covered in striking black and white ceramic tiles. For a bit more colour, a subtle scheme using Mediterranean or Indian patterned tiles also works.
The herringbone parquet effect is a very popular flooring pattern at the moment, and with different types of wood you can dial tones up towards a warm and traditional feel, or down for a cooler and contemporary look. Herringbone fits well against a stone or carpeted finish when used for zoning.
Features that pop
Pale and neutral flooring is another popular option in commercial spaces, particularly in offices and retail outlets where businesses might want to highlight certain brighter features. This could be furnishing in bold colours, branding or murals set out to impress customers, or the product range that is on display. For the daring, there’s always the option of a black floor for a highly modern look. It can really make an impression with stark white walls, primary highlight colours and perhaps a wood grain texture in the floor itself that catches the light.
It doesn’t have to be original
Natural and original flooring isn’t always possible or economical. Wooden floorboards simply aren’t present in more recent structures so there is nothing to strip back to – and exposing the screed base is rarely desirable. In these circumstances, look to alternatives such as vinyl blocks featuring wood or stone patterns, or, better still, hardwood panels, engineered wood flooring or laminate. These options offer real wood textures in a range of tones and finishes.
For even more authenticity, flooring is available in a reclaimed wood style, with various finishes such as rustic and sawn, for a crafted feel that conveys a sense of tradition and authenticity alongside the richer tones of the aged wood. Just as with stripped floorboards, businesses can enjoy the unique natural grain patterns of wood, but in a form that’s easier to maintain and also very durable.
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