INTERIORS Choosing the right flooring

Kitchen worktop and floor

Don’t under-think what’s underfoot

Interior Design
Naoimh Tuohy

When you build a house, you start with the foundations. They’re the stage upon which the home of your dreams will stand. Without them, the building itself hasn’t a hope of lasting, especially in this current climate. And when I say ‘climate’, I don’t just mean the weather.
We should invest time and money into choosing the right foundation. The interiors of our homes are no different. The flooring is essentially the building blocks upon which you add lighting, furniture, paint etc in order to build a nest for you and your family.
Before you make that choice though, there are things to think about that will undoubtedly help you to make the right decision. Remember, the variety of floor coverings out there is vast, so try to eliminate definite no-nos as early in the process as possible. Before you grab that roll of carpet and run with it, take some time to think about some of the following issues.

Every family is different and therefore each one will have different needs. A young couple with kids will obviously have a very different lifestyle to an elderly couple. Wear and tear of the flooring would be a huge factor, especially, for example, in a sporting household or one with pets. An older couple might have less traffic coming through the door. Think about health issues too. If any of the occupants have asthma or a particular allergy, you may want to address what the best options might be, especially with regard to bedrooms.

Knowledge is power, so make sure you are fully aware of the variety and choice available to you. It’s quite mind boggling altogether and sometimes, the more choice you have, the harder the decision. But you may already be able to tick some finishes off the list after considering your lifestyle.

This can be tricky as you need to consider other materials and finishes that will be going into your home in order to get the flooring right. While you’re heart might be set on wood, there may in fact already be too much wood already in situ in your finishes. Are there wood finishes on your stairs, doors, tables and/or wardrobes? Do you have an oak or pine kitchen or bed? You need to be careful your house doesn’t turn into a log cabin. On the flip side, if your sofa is fabric rather than leather, then putting in carpet might give an over-all ‘circa 1987’ look.

Nothing can bring a project to a grinding halt quite like a flimsy budget can. While it’s important to keep an eye on the finances, you need to be realistic about value for money. Consider the time span you’d like to get out of the flooring before you’re going to have to replace. A cheap finish may be kind on your pocket now, but is likely to cost you more in the long run when you have to replace it after only one or two years.

Thankfully, everyone has their own style. If you’re looking for that rustic feel to your home, then you may want to rethink porcelain tiles throughout the downstairs area. Equally, if minimalist and contemporary is the road you want to go down, then terracotta is clearly not going to be the choice of the day.

While you may well choose to have the same kind of flooring throughout your house, the kitchen and other ‘utility’ rooms may need more thought. Wooden floors, for example, may not be the best choice around dishwasher and/or sink areas, where water damage is inevitable.

All in all, you need to take time when it comes to deciding on your flooring. Whatever you choose, you’ll most likely be living with it for a long time. Mistakes can be costly, so a little thought before you invest will pay off in the end.

Naoimh Tuohy is an interior designer based in Westport and working countrywide. Originally coming from a property background, she made the jump from valuing buildings to redesigning their interiors. She has worked freelance for the last six years and specialises in show houses, home-owner renovations and investment-property fit-outs. She can be contacted at 087 7625539.