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Flooring for Living Room and Living Areas

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 29 Mar 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Living Room Flooring Flooring Carpet

While the kitchen is often considered the heart of the home, the living room is usually the social focal point, where people meet, converse and enjoy entertainment together. In some homes, the living room is simply the family room whereas in others, it functions as a formal reception room. Whichever, it is also often the first and only aspect of your home that visitors experience and thus plays a vital part in presenting your image to the outside world. Just as your bedroom is your private sanctuary, your living room is your public face and should reflect your taste, personality and character. When choosing living room flooring, comfort and desired ambience are the key considerations.

The Importance of Flooring in Interior Design

It has long been a tradition to receive visitors in the biggest room of the house and to hold important gatherings there. Thus, much attention was usually given to the design and ambience of this room and this is no different with living rooms today. Remember, after the walls and ceilings, the floor is the largest surface area in any room and thus it is a key element of the interior design; the foundation for the decor theme in each room. Therefore, it represents a significant investment in terms of finances, time and effort, and it is important to make the selection of floor materials carefully as it will have such a big impact on the overall feel of the room. In addition, unlike the walls and ceilings, people will actually be in physical contact with the floor so not only must it look good but it must feel good and work on a practical level, coping with traffic, wear and staining.

The Importance of Cosiness

Although the current trend is for open plan living and large spaces with high ceilings, the comfort and warmth of a small 'nook' is still what most people crave and thus it is important to retain the element of coziness in your living room, particularly if you are a family-orientated household.

Even if your living room is a large space with no walls or dividers, put in some 'boundaries' using flooring materials to divide space. Different colours, patterns or even materials can help to define certain areas, from informal eating to formal seating, play area to quiet reading space. If you decide on hard flooring, rugs are commonly used and very helpful in carving out separate areas, as well as creating warmth and softness underfoot, encouraging people to get comfortable at floor level.

Even if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, the use of rugs in different fabrics and textiles can introduce some texture and interest to the room. Scatter rugs also help to break up a large, empty space or provide definition at entrance ways and in hallways.

Childless Homes

If you don't have to consider the patter of little feet and the wear and tear, and soiling associated with children, then you have endless options when choosing your living room flooring. Maybe you'd like to splash out on glamorous marble or timeless natural stone; or how about elegant hardwood or plush carpet? For more formal settings, carpets in Saxony plush or textured plush are a good choice.

If budget is a consideration, laminate or vinyl are wonderful choices, offering a variety of looks and styles (and often, fantastic mimicry of more expensive materials) at a fraction of the cost and with the added advantages of easy cleaning and maintenance. Or you might like to 'go green' and choose environmentally-friendly options such as cork and bamboo. While durability isn't such a consideration here, you would still like your investment to last as long as possible. But you can probably sacrifice some practicality for looks and style if you have your heart set on something.

Active Families

Unfortunately, homes with children and pets will have to put practical considerations first. This usually means durability, stain-resistance and easy maintenance, as well as comfort and safety, especially if young children are in the house. While some of the more glamorous options, such as marble, may be out, this does not mean that you can't have any luxurious flooring choices. Carpet, for example, is still possible but may just need to be of a different pile and fibre to cope with the heavier traffic and higher soiling. Berber loop is one popular choice.

Similarly, hardwood floors can still be installed as they will last the lifetime of the structure and toddlers grow up quickly! The use of area rugs can soften the floors in the meantime and also act as a buffer for staining and wear and tear. This also applies if you're thinking of installing ceramic tiles, although be aware that this sort of flooring will very cold and hard on anything that falls to the ground (china and children!).

Laminate and vinyl are usually the most popular choices for busy families due to their high durability, stain-resistance and ease of maintenance, as well as affordability. For eco-friendly flooring, cork is a fantastic choice for families as it is insulating, quiet, cushioning and naturally anti-microbial as well as being incredibly resistant to wear and tear.

Don't forget also to consider any health aspects, such as whether anybody in the family has allergies or asthma and choose flooring accordingly so as not to exacerbate their conditions. Carpet, for example, is often avoided for those with allergies as it is believed to harbour more dust mites, dust particles and other allergens. Hard flooring, such as timber and ceramic tile or natural flooring like cork may be preferable in such cases.

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