Posted in CARB Compliant, floors, Recycling, Sustainable Design, Trends in Tile, Universal Design

Designing with Leather and Cork

New product watch: I saw this product at my local flooring store and had to do a double take. Torlys launch was in October 2008. New to my town at the insistance of a very bright salesperson who insisted his store bring in the line! Thank you Rich!

This is TORLYS Leather Tile. Shown is Novara Black Tile, this pattern has a distinctive and rich graining. It has a cork backing- environmental cushioning improves acoustics and precludes the need for an underlay in most circumstances.

Made from 100% recycled leather, Torlys Leather Floors ensures a cycle of material re-use, where leather would otherwise be wasted.

CARB Compliant: No Harmful VOC emissions, no added formaldyhyde.


What is so unique about Torlys Leather Floor is that this leather is incredibly durable. The first thing I had to do when I saw it was put it to the test. I tried to dent and scratch a sample. Now granted, I am standing in my local hardwood flooring store trying not to draw attention to my self as I slide my car keys across the surface. (Shhh…don’t tell). I could not scratch it. The material is very hard. For skeptics thinking leather is not durable, Torlys carries a 25 year residential wear warranty and a lifetime structural warranty. However, if there is a problem, an act of God or another type of household disaster, the manufacturer says it can be repaired without damage to the other tiles. They have a tool called a bulldog that allows any plank, even in the center of the floor to be replaced, without damaging the rest. This is why it is unique and considered a “smart floor”. Not even tile and hardwood cannot be replaced as easily.

TORLYS CORK
Also another favorite of mine is their Cork Flooring. Beautiful colors. Durable. Comfortable underfoot. A good insulator. All reasons to consider cork as an option for your floors. Torlys has done a wonderful job on the color selections available.

Eco-friendly note: Cork is an entirely renewable resource. Cork bark is carefully harvested once every nine years in a centuries-old tradition with hand tools- without destroying a single tree.

Check out their website, Torlys.com, for more information. They have a great interactive tool for you to preview floor tiles, planks, colors in different room settings. Beautiful!

Torlys Cork, shown in Florence Plank.
Posted in Concrete, floors, Green Design, Quirky Design Details, Sustainable Design

Practicality of Concrete

The floor shown on the left was my inspiration color.
In the last showroom I designed, I used the concrete slab as the finished floor. We didn’t have a big budget for wood or stone tile floors, so we thought we would work with what we had, concrete. Even then, we found out that concrete could be expensive if you go the route of an overlay, a stamped pattern or a highly polished mirrored like finish. We went for economical route by resurfacing and adding a stain to the existing surface.

We received so many complements on the floor that I laugh when I remember the trauma involved.

Everyone who stopped in wanted to know how we achieved that color. It was an acid wash base of terra cotta and verdigris and it turned out fabulous. But fabulous is never easy.

We wound up doing it ourselves, or rather our GC was brought in to fix it. It was a lot of trial and error. At first, we got 2-3 quotes from different concrete sub contractors to do the work. I was ready to hire one company who’s references checked out great. Then, the first contractor who’s original bid was higher than all the others came back, made us an offer to reduce the price as long as we let him use the showroom floor to advertise his work. That sounded fine. If he wanted to bring his clients to our showroom to look at his work, why not?

What do they say about a deal to good to be true? You know what comes next. We gave him the deposit, he sands the floors, and then we never saw him again. He gave us every excuse in the book why he couldn’t come back to finish the job. We waited as patiently as we could, but it was costing us thousands due to his delaying the work. We were on a deadline to open the store and we couldn’t wait for him to come back and finish the work himself. Our general contractor Julion, came through like a champ, learned how to stain the concrete out of necessity to get the job done quickly.

The old floor was carpet and it had a lot of glue residue that had to be sanded off. What came next was a black base. It looked like asphalt and I was really nervous I had made a huge mistake. My heart was in my throat for two days until I saw the transformation take place. The chemical stain was applied in two colors in layers to achieve the coppery worn patina of the floor you see in these pictures. How they did it exactly, I don’t know. We rented a sanding machine and a buffing machine, a lot of mops and rags and got it done! The only maintence required is mopping the floor and an annual maintenance job to keep it buffed to a semi polished state. Concrete Network is a good place to start for more information.
Click here for information on the type of floor we installed. Stained Concrete: The Art of Acid Etching Staining concrete is one of the most popular applications for transforming concrete slabs. Often referred to as colored concrete, homeowners, designers and builders are drawn to stained concrete because of the unique outcome that can be achieved combining colors, application techniques, etc., on cement flooring and other substrates. The results are limited only by the creativity of those involved in the stained concrete process.

Posted in Concrete, floors, Green Design, Quirky Design Details, Sustainable Design

Practicality of Concrete

The floor shown on the left was my inspiration color.
In the last showroom I designed, I used the concrete slab as the finished floor. We didn’t have a big budget for wood or stone tile floors, so we thought we would work with what we had, concrete. Even then, we found out that concrete could be expensive if you go the route of an overlay, a stamped pattern or a highly polished mirrored like finish. We went for economical route by resurfacing and adding a stain to the existing surface.

We received so many complements on the floor that I laugh when I remember the trauma involved.

Everyone who stopped in wanted to know how we achieved that color. It was an acid wash base of terra cotta and verdigris and it turned out fabulous. But fabulous is never easy.

We wound up doing it ourselves, or rather our GC was brought in to fix it. It was a lot of trial and error. At first, we got 2-3 quotes from different concrete sub contractors to do the work. I was ready to hire one company who’s references checked out great. Then, the first contractor who’s original bid was higher than all the others came back, made us an offer to reduce the price as long as we let him use the showroom floor to advertise his work. That sounded fine. If he wanted to bring his clients to our showroom to look at his work, why not?

What do they say about a deal to good to be true? You know what comes next. We gave him the deposit, he sands the floors, and then we never saw him again. He gave us every excuse in the book why he couldn’t come back to finish the job. We waited as patiently as we could, but it was costing us thousands due to his delaying the work. We were on a deadline to open the store and we couldn’t wait for him to come back and finish the work himself. Our general contractor Julion, came through like a champ, learned how to stain the concrete out of necessity to get the job done quickly.

The old floor was carpet and it had a lot of glue residue that had to be sanded off. What came next was a black base. It looked like asphalt and I was really nervous I had made a huge mistake. My heart was in my throat for two days until I saw the transformation take place. The chemical stain was applied in two colors in layers to achieve the coppery worn patina of the floor you see in these pictures. How they did it exactly, I don’t know. We rented a sanding machine and a buffing machine, a lot of mops and rags and got it done! The only maintence required is mopping the floor and an annual maintenance job to keep it buffed to a semi polished state. Concrete Network is a good place to start for more information.
Click here for information on the type of floor we installed. Stained Concrete: The Art of Acid Etching Staining concrete is one of the most popular applications for transforming concrete slabs. Often referred to as colored concrete, homeowners, designers and builders are drawn to stained concrete because of the unique outcome that can be achieved combining colors, application techniques, etc., on cement flooring and other substrates. The results are limited only by the creativity of those involved in the stained concrete process.

Posted in floors

Dogs and Hardwood Floors


One of the phone calls I got this week was from a contractor who’s client is accusing his crew of scratching their new hardwood floors. But, what we know is the homeowner has a small dog and the scratch marks are most decidedly the same pattern a small dog would make on a floor.

Item of note: if you have dogs, (what do we know from dogs? We’re cat people!) So we went to the hardwood experts for advise. So before banishing the poor pooch to the pound we suggest you do modify the stain color for your floors. Avoid dark hardwood floors. Why? Their claw marks will show up more on a darker wood. Opt for lighter honey tones and choose a hand scraped plank that will lesson the appearance of scratches a dog will make.

And then there is this: SoftPaws.Net

Nail Caps as a preventive measure: Damage to Household Surfaces: Hardwood Floors – Doors – Walls – Screens – Furniture – Carpets. The nail caps effectively blunt your dog’s nails so their ability to scratch surfaces is significantly reduced.

Also, for more info on hardwood floors go to:
HARDWOOD FLOORING GUIDE
HARDWOOD FLOOR CARE.
HARDWOOD INSTALLER.COM
Image from the Hardwood Floor Nut, a great resource for useful information for anyone interested in hardwood floors.

More to know about when working with hardwood floors:

  1. Place Ram Board down for protection over hardwood. It’s temporary floor protection, thicker than Rosen paper.
  2. Appliance Dollies and Hand Trucks. Be sure the contractor who is wheeling in your refrigerator or other heavy items is using the right one for the job. A smaller dolly with wheels not equipped to handle the weight of a refrigerator can wreak havoc with track marks on newly finished hardwood floors.
Posted in Designing with pets in mind, floors

Dogs and Hardwood Floors


One of the phone calls I got this week was from a contractor who’s client is accusing his crew of scratching their new hardwood floors. But, what we know is the homeowner has a small dog and the scratch marks are most decidedly the same pattern a small dog would make on a floor.

Item of note: if you have dogs, (what do we know from dogs? We’re cat people!) So we went to the hardwood experts for advise. So before banishing the poor pooch to the pound we suggest you do modify the stain color for your floors. Avoid dark hardwood floors. Why? Their claw marks will show up more on a darker wood. Opt for lighter honey tones and choose a hand scraped plank that will lesson the appearance of scratches a dog will make.

And then there is this: SoftPaws.Net

Nail Caps as a preventive measure: Damage to Household Surfaces: Hardwood Floors – Doors – Walls – Screens – Furniture – Carpets. The nail caps effectively blunt your dog’s nails so their ability to scratch surfaces is significantly reduced.

Also, for more info on hardwood floors go to:
HARDWOOD FLOORING GUIDE
HARDWOOD FLOOR CARE.
HARDWOOD INSTALLER.COM
Image from the Hardwood Floor Nut, a great resource for useful information for anyone interested in hardwood floors.

More to know about when working with hardwood floors:

  1. Place Ram Board down for protection over hardwood. It’s temporary floor protection, thicker than Rosen paper.
  2. Appliance Dollies and Hand Trucks. Be sure the contractor who is wheeling in your refrigerator or other heavy items is using the right one for the job. A smaller dolly with wheels not equipped to handle the weight of a refrigerator can wreak havoc with track marks on newly finished hardwood floors.
Posted in floors

What color cabinets will go with my hardwood floors?

In an email posted by a reader of this blog, the call for help with color for cabinets was asked.

Hello Laurie!
I found your blog and am very impressed with your kitchen designs.We are doing a new construction of a brand new home and am having trouble deciding on what color the kitchen cabinets should be to go with. We have decided on a flooring, it is Brazilian Cherry here is a sample of what it will look like http://www.brazilianhardwood.com/photogallery/braziliancherry/lamon.php We are going with Omega Dynasty Cabinets Anson style door. It would be great if someone could assist on a color for the cabinets. We are open to input, and suggestions, we are open to having the counter anycolor. Thanks!

Dear Myron, thanks for reading my blog. Although I can’t answer your question directly without benefit of a design retainer, I think this is a good question in general that so many will face when selecting hardwood floors and cabinets in a kitchen. I can give you some points in general to think about.

When deciding on color for cabinets consider the factors of the space.

  1. The amount of natural lighting: is the room dark? is it flooded with light?
  2. Does the room open up to a great room or is it separated from the rest of the house? Are you looking to integrate the cabinetry to blend into the open space? In other words, the appearance of the cabinetry looks like furniture, blending with the entertainment center and other furnishings.
  3. What is the style of the house? What is it that you want to accomplish with the style? Do you want traditional, modern, contemporary? With the Brazilian cherry you can really play this up with anything from a complementary off white Painted cabinet color for a traditional look. For a contemporary influence tone on tone with a monochromatic color scheme is another direction.
  4. Additionally, are you prepared for the additional maintenance that goes along with hardwood floors? Do you have dogs that could potentially scratch your hardwood with their nails? Have you considered the warranty?
  5. And finally purchase responsibly. Make sure the flooring you are purchasing carries independent certification by an organization accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. Ask about it before you buy. Do not buy woods from Endangered Forests. Check this list out.


AND THEN THERE IS THIS WISE COMMENT ON HARDWOOD FLOORS I EXCERPTED FROM BONITAFLOORS.COM
True Story. American Cherry Vs. Brazilian Cherry

I always offer this true story example. I have a friend that owns a condo on Lely Barefoot Beach. Ten years ago they installed a beautiful American (considered very soft) cherry floor and in that time took extreme care of it by paying attention to care & maintenance. It looks as new as the day it was installed.

On the other hand I installed a Brazilian Cherry (considered quite hard) floor on Fort Myers Beach about six years ago. In both cases they were less than 50 yards from the beach itself, where sand “created a problem.”

The owner of the Brazilian Cherry floor had a very active adult household who didn’t clean up after themselves as much as the other family of four kids and a few pets. Today their floors need refinishing near high traffic areas and moisture sources such as the kitchen sink, refrigerator with icemaker.

Conclusion

There are many colors and styles available today and we realize the choices can be overwhelming. If you’re sold on buying for hardness, do not be disappointed unless you live in a careful household.

Ken Fisher
BonitaFloors.com
Posted in floors, Natural Lighting, Paint

What color cabinets will go with my hardwood floors?

In an email posted by a reader of this blog, the call for help with color for cabinets was asked.

Hello Laurie!
I found your blog and am very impressed with your kitchen designs.We are doing a new construction of a brand new home and am having trouble deciding on what color the kitchen cabinets should be to go with. We have decided on a flooring, it is Brazilian Cherry here is a sample of what it will look like http://www.brazilianhardwood.com/photogallery/braziliancherry/lamon.php We are going with Omega Dynasty Cabinets Anson style door. It would be great if someone could assist on a color for the cabinets. We are open to input, and suggestions, we are open to having the counter anycolor. Thanks!

Dear Myron, thanks for reading my blog. Although I can’t answer your question directly without benefit of a design retainer, I think this is a good question in general that so many will face when selecting hardwood floors and cabinets in a kitchen. I can give you some points in general to think about.

When deciding on color for cabinets consider the factors of the space.

  1. The amount of natural lighting: is the room dark? is it flooded with light?
  2. Does the room open up to a great room or is it separated from the rest of the house? Are you looking to integrate the cabinetry to blend into the open space? In other words, the appearance of the cabinetry looks like furniture, blending with the entertainment center and other furnishings.
  3. What is the style of the house? What is it that you want to accomplish with the style? Do you want traditional, modern, contemporary? With the Brazilian cherry you can really play this up with anything from a complementary off white Painted cabinet color for a traditional look. For a contemporary influence tone on tone with a monochromatic color scheme is another direction.
  4. Additionally, are you prepared for the additional maintenance that goes along with hardwood floors? Do you have dogs that could potentially scratch your hardwood with their nails? Have you considered the warranty?
  5. And finally purchase responsibly. Make sure the flooring you are purchasing carries independent certification by an organization accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. Ask about it before you buy. Do not buy woods from Endangered Forests. Check this list out.


AND THEN THERE IS THIS WISE COMMENT ON HARDWOOD FLOORS I EXCERPTED FROM BONITAFLOORS.COM
True Story. American Cherry Vs. Brazilian Cherry

I always offer this true story example. I have a friend that owns a condo on Lely Barefoot Beach. Ten years ago they installed a beautiful American (considered very soft) cherry floor and in that time took extreme care of it by paying attention to care & maintenance. It looks as new as the day it was installed.

On the other hand I installed a Brazilian Cherry (considered quite hard) floor on Fort Myers Beach about six years ago. In both cases they were less than 50 yards from the beach itself, where sand “created a problem.”

The owner of the Brazilian Cherry floor had a very active adult household who didn’t clean up after themselves as much as the other family of four kids and a few pets. Today their floors need refinishing near high traffic areas and moisture sources such as the kitchen sink, refrigerator with icemaker.

Conclusion

There are many colors and styles available today and we realize the choices can be overwhelming. If you’re sold on buying for hardness, do not be disappointed unless you live in a careful household.

Ken Fisher
BonitaFloors.com