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Hardwood flooring hype

In the market for new floors?

Nothing helps to infuse a home with warmth and texture more than hardwood floors can. The richness and depth of a solid, hardwood product not only increases the value of your home, but amps up the drama when designing your spaces.

From classic and timeless, to modern and eclectic, the following trends and innovations in hardwood are travelling fast and furious throughout the industry.


Gone are the days of red oak or plain maple; exotic hardwoods are becoming more the norm. Their gorgeous colours and sultry grain patterns make them highly desirable for those looking for instant wow factor.

Acacia, tigerwood, teak, Ipe, Jatoba, and Wenge are only a few eye-catching species designers look to when needing to add a touch of affluence and globalism to their palettes.

Of course, they come with a price: you can expect to pay more for a solid, three-quarter-inch, imported product, but the gorgeous array of mixed colours and implied grain textures make them hands-down a visual stunner.

Hand distressed

Hand scraped and distressed woods are popular with those who like a textured, rustic or antiqued finish. The neat cloud-like effect of a hand scraped product gives more of a 3-dimensional movement to an otherwise flat appearing surface — a bonus for families with pets, young children, or high traffic wear.

Wire-brushed hardwood has a distinct appearance and feel to it, and lends itself perfectly in rustic and modern interiors alike. Wire brushing wide floor planks removes the softer wood fibers and opens up the grain, bringing enhanced definition to each piece resulting in a uniquely handcrafted finish.


Bamboo is an extremely strong and fast growing type of cane which renews itself every five years. Offering an Asian-inspired look that caters more to the aesthetics of loft or condo living, bamboo is antimicrobial, somewhat water resistant, and a favorite among those with an eco-friendly approach to design.

One of my favourites, strand-woven bamboo has been cut into strips before drying, steaming, and high pressure laminating has taken place. The result is a product twice as hard as oak, full of interesting layered, sinewy strands.

50 Shades of Grey

Hardwoods of the past were prone to reddish-orange undertones, making it difficult to introduce wood finishes of different shades within the same spaces. The result was a lot of matchy-matchy design and decor, and an overuse of oaks, pines, and cedars.

Stains today are going grey, but not as gloomy or dreary as you might think. Woods in rich browns, soft blacks, and even white-washed driftwood tones all have hints of warm grey running through them, making them an easy neutral of sorts to work with.

Complementing almost any additional accent, implementing a floor with shades of soft gray makes infusing other wood finishes in warmer browns and silvery ashes easier and less complicated to pull off.


Falling for autumn decor

The bright and vibrant shades of summer have faded into deep, moody undertones of saffron, jade, marigold, and charcoal. It’s fall, time to wrap yourself up in cozy blankets and nestle in for the longer, cooler months that lie ahead.

Here are a few of this season’s most welcoming decor ideas to help you nestle in:

White Pumpkins

Synonymous with harvest time and a staple of fall design, pumpkins are the standard this time of year, however, opt for a more contemporary and simplistic feel by forgoing the orange standard, and instead mixing things up with white.

Table centre pieces, groupings at the front door; a variety of shapes and sizes in a monochromatic white scheme will make quite the festive statement.

Natural Elements

Embrace the outdoors by incorporating some natural elements in your spaces; wood accessories, willow and berry branches, birch logs, dogwood wreaths, wooly blankets… simple, unadorned arrangements and fittings are the perfect reflection of fall.


Decorating with candles is a surefire way to add instant warmth and ambiance to your home. Dispersed in odd-number groupings on mantles, mirrored trays, and even in unused fireplace boxes, take advantage of the mood and coziness the addition of extra candles will help create.

Wood and Wicker Baskets

The palette may be pale, but the texture that wooden and wicker storage baskets adds is vibrant! Tucked under a side table, nestled beside a chair to curl up in, and mixed in with regular decor on sparse shelves – the layering of naturally woven materials into your spaces adds richness and charm.

Throw Blankets

Cooler nights call for having warm wraps within easy reach; stack your favorite blankets in varying patterns as a clever and useful decor accent. If you feel your spaces are lacking visual interest, invest in a plaid or buffalo check patterned throw for a nod to a more nostalgic and genuine style.

Pick the perfect paint palette

It's time to paint: you're staring at a table cluttered with multiple paint chips and fan decks.

How on earth do you narrow it down?

Luckily, there are numerous tools and tricks that can help make the decision-making process easier, and perhaps even put the fun back in picking paint colours.


Created by Jessica Colaluca as a unique approach to exploring her passion for colour through design blogging, Design-Seeds.com is a terrific website for those looking for colour inspiration and design-savvy ideas.

Jessica creates paint palettes that include an original concept image (usually from objects and scenes found in nature or still-life landscapes), and four or five directly correlated paint colours derived from the original.

If I need a boost of colour inspiration, her blog and Pinterest site are where I know I will find it.


A super website with a focus on colour trends pertaining to atmosphere and mood, voiceofcolor.com (affiliated with Pittsburg Paints) shows users how to pull and combine paint hues in real-life environments.

Browse the trends section for rooms with multi-views, or click on their digital colour section to upload photos of your own then envision new and exciting hues with the help of their Color Visualizer. Super easy!


Never pick your final paint colours in a paint store, but definitely seek out amazing ideas and colour combinations there.

The perfect place to find success is at your local paint store: all paint brands spend copious amounts of money on colour research, branding, and marketing to better serve you — their paint-happy consumers.

Pick up a variety of brochures and samples showcasing their star colour palettes and trends for the upcoming year. Once you're home you may find the perfect palette that works for you.


It's a bit of a no-brainer — the colour combinations and palettes you see in nature are fool-proof…. 

if Mother Nature has created it, you know it's absolutely going to work. Think of the shades waltzing through a wheat field in the middle of August; the myriad of silvers, grays, creams, and burnt ochres you find in river rocks lining the edges of any shoreline. The possibilities are endless, and plentiful.

Take a hike, look back through favourite destination holiday photos. We don't always realize it in the moment, but finding beauty in the palette nature provides will always produce a stunning combination.

Hang art like a pro

This week's column is short and sweet; it won't take long to find your perfect picture hanging combination after you read this.


I often suggest to clients that they follow the line of the stairs when putting up pictures along a stairwell wall. If you keep with the diagonal flow of the stairs, you'll have a fluid grouping that looks great in no time.


This trick works great for over fireplace mantels as well: layer your pieces. Include tall and large, and small and wide frames or canvases, and work from back to front... keep the big guys in the back and slightly off centre, then layer in your other frames.

Leave a little space in between each piece; every composition needs a little white space as I like to call it. It's exactly like writing a resume; the reader (or viewer in this case) needs a few visual pauses, otherwise everything looks cluttered and messy.


Creating grids of pictures is extremely impactful and very contemporary.

If you're needing a modern kick, line your pieces up in a row of three, and add two or three additional rows beneath for your very own graphic-looking grid. If you're tight on wall space, line them up in a row of three or five, spaced a few inches apart from one another.


Take one central image or frame (it should be the largest one you have), and hang it in the middle of your wall, or over the middle of your sofa. Next, take four identical-sized frames and split them on either side of your middle picture.


I really like the look this combination makes: take two large images of the same size and space them out approximately 36-42 inches apart.

In the middle, add either four smaller frames in a grid, or hang one panoramic frame along the inside at the bottom, then hang two square frames above.

Ikea is a great place to find all kinds of fairly inexpensive wood, metal, and glass clip frames.


There's no rule that says pictures have to line up in a straight row, or need to be along the same plane. So consider creating a few separate groupings on a large wall with high ceilings... stagger the planes that each group runs along.

Be sure to keep the top and bottom group light (use smaller looking frames), and the middle group grounded (add your heaviest and weightiest looking pieces here).

Think outside the box. That's such cliché sounding advice, but it’s always true when it comes to art: a single print over a sofa won't cut it any longer now that you have so many other options to choose from.

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About the Author

A graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, Crispin Butterfield launched Urban Theory Interior Design in 2003 and has since been featured in Canada’s Style At Home magazine, Covet, Canadian Retailer, and the National Post.

She’s a master in designing residential and commercial soul-hugging spaces clients relish showing up to, socializing in, and especially love coming home to.

She and her team work with clients from conceptualization to completion, providing full scale service with authenticity, innovation, and lots of personality.


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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