What’s driving the light hardwood floor trend?

In the past, selecting a hardwood floor often meant that homeowners were looking for a rich, dark wood to give their rooms an elegant feel. Today, that trend seems to be reversing itself as more folks are beginning to gravitate to lighter shades of flooring.

What’s driving the trend? Both practical and aesthetic reasons abound for lighter advocates. On the practical side, dark flooring colors tend to show dust and dirt more than their paler counterparts. With a lighter floor, it will be less obvious if you skip a day of sweeping or if your pets have an extra heavy shedding day. Likewise, scrapes and scratches that penetrate the floor’s finish are far more visible against a dark background. That means that homeowners who have pets, young children, or those who just tend to be rougher on their floors might want to consider lighter choices to keep their investment looking newer, longer.

Why would you choose a lighter floor from a stylistic perspective? Aesthetically, the move away from formal décor toward more relaxed interiors has continued and shows no signs of stopping. There’s a perception that dark flooring is more formal, so the new, lighter finishes work well in these more relaxed spaces. There’s also been a considerable push toward smaller, “right-sized” rooms in new home construction and in remodeling. (Just think of all the cable television shows built about tiny homes!) Lighter floors are a great fit in these types of homes because they make these more confined spaces feel larger and seem more luxurious.

As we move away from formal interior design styles and toward more minimal modern looks, lighter floors simply feel like a better fit. Think of Scandinavian design and even modern industrial chic looks. These minimalist furniture designs seem to work better when set against lighter backdrops where their bright colors and clean forms can take center stage.

So what are your options when it comes to lighter floors? The good news is that they literally run the gamut in terms of both wood species and flooring styles. Maple and ash tend to be naturally lighter woods, but even traditional favorites like oak can get a new life thanks to whitewashed finishes. As always, we recommend consulting with a professional to be certain that the floor you love is designed to last and to work well with your lifestyle and in your particular application.