- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

When it comes to flooring, glitzy, polished looks are so last century today's Washington area homeowners want flooring with a unique character or history to add to the ambience and allure of their homes.
Flooring experts say that while most local residents are leaning toward a traditional, rustic feel, others are getting creative, exploring options that can add a new charm to old ideas.
Mount Vernon homeowner Vincent G. Cunning says he was "amazed and astounded" at the innovative choices available to him and his wife, Suki, when they decided to replace their 20-year-old linoleum flooring. At first, the couple couldn't agree on the best color and design to complement their rooms.
"My wife likes things to blend, but I like things that stand in stark contrast," he says. After many debates, they agreed to go with ceramic tile, with one border featuring two distinctly different patterns that intersect in their kitchen. The once cream-and-rust-colored linoleum floor is now a vibrant green and, in addition to the two borders, every fourth tile features a white deco piece in the center.
Ceramic tile is an affordable option, ranging from about $2.69 to $11.69 a square foot at the Expo Design Center, a special-order store in Fairfax.
Tile designer Denise Ayo points out that ceramic tile is no longer considered cold and lifeless, and that homeowners "can now do wonders" with the many designs and colors available. In bathrooms, the latest trend is recycled glass tile, which provides "a fabulous alternative."
In addition to tile, tumbled marble is a popular choice. "Its softened edges give it a unique look. It's more on the rustic side," she says. Other natural stones, such as slate, gray quartzite and copper quartzite are also popular choices.
Homeowners whose primary goal is to preserve the integrity and traditional feel of their homes are choosing hardwood floors. Tania Shand of the District says she chose mainly hardwood floors throughout her home to remain true to its 1878 history.
Others seeking flooring with a special heritage are choosing reclaimed antique wood. Patricia Boden of Mountain Lumber, located in Ruckersville, Va., says reclaimed antique wood is a growing trend in Northern Virginia because people want environmentally friendly or "green" options, and they want to capture the flavor of Virginia's Colonial times.
Mountain Lumber scouts the Atlantic states for mid-18th century mills, rural buildings and maritime structures containing longleaf heart pine, red and white oak, American chestnut or other specialty woods. Once the wood is kiln-dried, milled and graded, it has an aesthetic and historic appeal.
"It's fun walking on these floors and wondering who walked on them previously," Ms. Boden says.
The older, antique style is also emerging as a new direction in carpeting, according to Jay Bremen, president and CEO of Design Center Carpets in the District. People are buying hand-knotted area rugs made in Nepal, Egypt, Turkey and Iran that are being tea-washed to produce a golden color and an old patina.
Another major emerging trend is the updating of Old World designs of traditional Oriental rugs to simplify them and give them a chenillelike finish.
Mr. Bremen's expertise is Tibetan rugs, and he offers "magnificent creations," designed by James Tufenkian of Tufenkian Tibetan Ventures. Today's modern colors are olive, burgundy, gold and corn silk, as opposed to the conventional red, black and green.
Mr. Bremen says broadloom carpet still represents the bulk of all carpet sold, and the industry is changing to "be more sensitive to today's sophisticated trends and needs."
Robert Strezlecki, vice president of sales for L&L; Carpet, says carpet is still a favorite option. Today, home builders are going for a more "toned-down" look and are choosing Berber carpets in warmer, more natural tones that blend better with other surfaces, such as ceramic and wood, says Mr. Strezlecki. They are also selecting vinyl that resembles hardwood.
"New homeowners will have vinyl someplace," he points out. The gloss level of vinyl has also been reduced, and new embossing techniques add personality to its surface.
Whatever type of floor you select, Mr. Strezlecki points out that it is imperative that homeowners maintain and protect their floors, as they are used more than any other material in the home.
"Upgrade if you can, and invest in your flooring," he says. "You don't replace floors like socks."

More info:

Books

• "Floor Magic," by Alan Berman, Pantheon Books, 1997. Up-to-date, practical reference with inspiring photos; helps you choose flooring that suits your unique style and needs. Chapters focus on range of flooring options, from stone to cork.

• "The Complete Book of Floorcloths: Designs and Techniques for Painting Great Looking Canvas Rugs," by Kathy Cooper and Jan Hersey, Lark Books, 1997. A creative way to splash color and design across your floors is to create your own rug. Covers a wide range of innovative techniques from sponging to collage.

• "Floors: A Design Sourcebook," by Elizabeth Wilhide, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1997. Focuses on how to choose the most appropriate flooring as the foundation for your home, no matter what your budgeting needs..

• "Tiles: Choosing, Designing and Living With Ceramic Tile," by Olivia Bell Buehl, Clarkson Potter, 1996. Comprehensive overview of the world of tile. Includes a survey of the variety of tile products available, as well as a unique design workbook that helps you to mix tile shapes and colors.

• "The Ultimate Home Style Guide," by Katherine Sorrell, Ward Lock, Wellington House, 1998. Descriptions and photos of a range of interior styles, from Edwardian to Moroccan, and how specific types of flooring can help re-create these looks in your home.

On line

• www.ceratile.com This tile site offers one-stop shopping for all tile and marble remodeling needs. Browse the on-line catalog, ask the experts questions and get price quotes.

• www.carpet-n-things.com Click on the link to Abbey Flooring Center, serving metropolitan Washington. Offers special deals, carpeting and flooring tips. Type in your city, state and ZIP code and find the location closest to you.

• www.hatchersfloors.baweb.com/hatchersfloors3.html Answers basic questions on common types of hardwood flooring, different grades of wood, and how to select and maintain your hardwood floors.


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