My admiration for wood floors has been expressed many times on this blog. Some of my all time favorite blog posts were on floors - light colored floors (here), and another one on French style floors (here).
We are doing wood floors throughout the new house, both on the main level and the upstairs. My designer, Suzanne, prefers 7 inch planks on the main level for my house; she says that anything larger than that takes on more of a casual look and feel,which is not the look for my house. We might do 5 inch planks if the budget doesn’t allow for 7 inch; my architect suggested that the finish is most important, and if we need to spend a bit more on the finish, then we will balance the budget by doing smaller planks. Although most of the main level will be planks, we are also planning on doing a herringbone pattern in the living room and one of the halls.
One of the most beautiful floors I have ever seen, in a house with interior design by Melanie Turner, home construction by Benecki Fine Homes. Floors were by Olde Savannah. Image via Veranda.
Last year I had the opportunity to tour the production facility of one of the finest custom flooring companies in the United States, Olde Savannah Flooring. They are based in Atlanta, but they produce custom floors for designers and customers all over the United States and beyond. Their beautiful floors are frequently seen in projects that are featured in Veranda, Traditional Home, House Beautiful – to name a few. When I visited their headquarters, I was thrilled to see a floorplan of a very large house with interiors by a top New York City based designer – and all of the flooring was being done by Olde Savannah.
A beautiful home in a recent Traditional Home, with interiors by Suzanne Kasler and floors by Olde Savannah. Image via Traditional Home.
I asked Bill Riley, president and founder of Olde Savannah Flooring, and Steve Brightman, one of their top salespeople, for their thoughts on wood floors from both a architectural and design perspective. Here is what they said.
A beautiful dining room, with interior design by Jim Howard. No rug in this room allows for the beautiful custom floors by Olde Savannah to be a subtle but beautiful foundation for the room. Image via Veranda.
“The wood flooring in a home is a critical part of the perfect design. It should be a canvas or a place to start for the overall picture that a quality designer will create. It should not be the focal point but a back drop.”
Image via Traditional Home. Flooring by Olde Savannah.
“It would be very difficult to create a design for a beautiful French Normandy home if the house started with red oak strip flooring or an out of the box 4” short length polyurethane floor. Where a 7” wide by 5’ to 16’ lengths, lightly scraped, mix of rift and quartered and plain sawn white oak, in a warm brown color would create a place for a designer to start and be very successful.”
“When choosing a floor we recommend thinking and doing a little research of what has been used in the type of home being built or remodeled over time. Taking that information and inserting the design plan and that should be a great place to start. A good designer will almost always know. “
A beautiful wood floor in an unusual chevron pattern, by Olde Savannah.
“We like to look at the grain of the wood first. Do you like an open grain such as plain sawn oak? A tight grain such as quarter sawn maple? Walnut is a highly prized grain as well as rift and quarter sawn white oak. The main idea is get a grain pattern that you like. Color should never be an issue at this point."
Craftsmen hand waxing floors from Olde Savannah.
“Color and finish are very important. Most colors can be achieved on most species. Our favorite finish is hand applied wax. Of course most clients cannot or do not want to deal with the maintenance required for a wax floor. The alternative is a hand rubbed oil. This gives you the look of a waxed floor with the low maintenance of a polyurethane finish. We avoid poly because of the cheaper look. There is just something about pouring or spraying plastic on wood that real woodworkers avoid. We believe the floor should be treated like furniture and not a bar top.”
Image via Olde Savannah.
“We sell mostly random width floors. However single widths tend to look a little more formal.”
Image via Olde Savannah.
“We are seeing a lot of border work being done. Just low profile things like same color and species as the center of the room. Not different species and colors.”
We [Olde Savannah Flooring] are seeing the following in the market:
- Never red oak (this is not really a trend)
- Brazilian cherry is often cited as an upgrade, but it is not. It’s also red and not a trend.
- Environmentally responsible choices. Staying away from rain forest woods.
- Planks are getting wider. We now see flooring in a 5” to 8: as normal with widths regularly going to 11” or even 12”.
- Long lengths. Setting minimums such as 3 feet or in some cases 8 feet and flooring boards going to 16 feet long.
- We are selling more hickory than ever. However wide walnut is still far out in front.
- We are seeing less ebony floor colors, but do a bit of dark floors with brown bleeding through to black color.
- Medium browns to dark browns tend to be our best sellers.
- Sheens are picking up a bit from the past.
- Versaille, herringbone, and chevron patterns tend to dominate the parquet choices.
- Elegant light hand scraping is very popular. Most hand scraping on the market is too heavy and looks contrived.
- Light wire brushing on oak does very well.
- Acid washed and hand colored very light walnut is one of our most popular colors.
- Bevels are getting very small.
- Colors. Black, white and natural are emerging. Of course the usual cast of browns.
- Finish. Oil. No polyurethane.
- Types of wood. Hickory, walnut, rift & quartered white oak. Also, tight grains.
- Widths. Wide.
- Decision process.
- Generally starts with an interior designer. What is the type or style of architecture and the interior. Traditional, contemporary, classical, eclectic?
- Sometimes start with a species (walnut, oak, etc.) or grain pattern (open, tight, minimal, etc.)
- Sometimes start with a color.
Image via Olde Savannah.
A combination wood and stone floor, by Olde Savannah.
Personally, I am partial to a wood floor with an interesting pattern, and Olde Savannah truly excels in this area. They have worked with many designers and architects to recreate beautiful patterns originally seen in old homes all over Europe.
For more information on Olde Savannah Flooring, please visit their website:
Contact Steve Bright with questions:
Readers, anything you want to share on wood floors, any type of wood floor you particularly like, or any questions you might have for Olde Savannah? If so, please post your question or observation in the comment section (email subscribers, click here for the comment form).
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