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Lighten up, "WOOD" you!

Fall is here and the leaves are changing their colors for the season, but Mother Nature isn’t the only one changing things up! That’s right, its time for another season of fresh fall home décor, and all of the trends that go with it. One trend that is really on the rise, is lighter wood tones in wood flooring and this is a trend that I can actually see sticking around for a while. We have spent years pining for beautiful pecan, walnut and chestnut toned wood floors, and while those who have those classic choices will most likely love them forever, those who have the opportunity to replace an old outdated floor or work with a new blank canvas, have the perfect opportunity to try a lighter and fresher look. Here are some reasons why light-colored wood flooring is a great choice.

1) It doesn’t weigh down the room. Sometimes with a dark contrasting wood, the floor commands all of the attention. In color theory they taught us that darker/bolder colors advance and lighter colors recede (visually) so if you want to make small rooms feel bigger, keep all of your finishes light, including the flooring. A lot of designer looks you see in this day and age are light, soft and low on contrast. It gives a stronger sense of comfort to the space when tones are softly layered instead of deeply contrasted.

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2) It requires less maintenance, and that really is a key point unless you are fortunate enough to have someone who cleans for you! Darker wood floors will show more dust, dirt and foot traffic and they are guaranteed to show more wear and tear if you get a scratch, scuff or gouge. Granted, you can get the distressed types of wood flooring and use a touch up marker or putty stick to repair any blemishes but keep in mind that with darker wood finishes, you will have to baby it when it comes to everyday use. That could result in more yelling at your kids, to take their shoes off before they run across your wood floors, or awkwardly asking any woman that enters your home in heels to kindly remove her shoes so you don’t take the risk of getting those little half moon shaped pock marks all over your floor when someone is missing a tip of a heel, you could even take all of the fun out of having a pet by forcing them to wear those special little footie socks or even worse, endlessly following your shedding pets around sweeping up the tumbleweeds of fur that float out from under the couch. Dark floors require so much more attention. With lighter wood looks, you can let the broom sit for a couple extra days before you need to sweep. Wear patterns will take much longer to actually show up (especially in the lower gloss finishes) Tiny crumbs and fine dust will blend in versus standing out like a sore thumb, and if you do have an indoor pet and damage from claws is a concern, you can still get the distressed look floors and use a touch up kit just like before. Just know that it will be much easier upkeep and you won’t have to dedicate as much time to lighter woods.

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3) It goes well with a lot of the current furniture styles. Right now, we are still embracing the look of mid-century modern furniture, which is mostly built out of light toned woods such as birch, maple, poplar and pine. The finishes generally range from blonde, to honey to caramel or light cinnamon shades. Another very popular furniture style is Scandinavian (or as I call it “IKEA”) many new homeowners especially the younger crowd, gravitate to this style. Perhaps because they are transitioning from their first dorm room furniture to their first new home, or perhaps they just fall for the sleek minimalist style, but its very apparent a lot of the wood finishes you see involved with this type of furniture is light, natural or very lightly tinted. Again, it goes back to that theory I mentioned before, lighter colors make the room feel less heavy and small.

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4) It keeps its color a lot longer. One thing you should always consider when you purchase dark wood flooring is color fade and natural light exposure. Many darker woods will experience some form of sun fading at some point. If you have ever walked through an empty home that is up for sale, you may have noticed the patch of flooring usually in the dining room or family room that is noticeably off color, that is typically where an area rug once was, and the floor around it experienced fading from sun and cleaners over the years. That is why it’s always recommended to rotate your rugs and use a good rug pad. Also, invest in proper window film or window treatments to cut down on discoloration. I must point out though that the opposite effect can happen with certain light woods as well. Woods such as natural cherry, hickory and walnut are very well known for their ability to get a sun tan, meaning that they actually darken when exposed to sunlight for a long period of time, so in this case you could get the reverse effect of what I just described. Again, it is good to have a professional grade window tint installed on your full sun windows or have proper UV blocking window treatments on your windows where you need privacy and light control. However, floors like maple, birch and pine are very common choices for light flooring and do not change color as dramatically or as quickly.

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5) There is a style for everyone! Say you have dark cabinets and dark espresso furniture, you want to change your wood flooring to something lighter to brighten up the space, you could choose a light floor with some dark mineral streaks to pull the two tones together. Maybe you prefer a rustic soft & cozy look with pale white walls and linen/light khaki furniture, try a hand-scraped wide plank with a low gloss finish in a blonde or toffee tone. If you like something a little more glamorous and you accent with fur throws and brass metallics, go for a very pale blonde wood with a uniform grain pattern and a satin to high gloss, try to incorporate an interesting pattern like herringbone for a chic designer look.

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I hope you enjoyed this article, please stay tuned for future helpful design advice and information! Thanks for reading!

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