In this home, brick was not only a practical choice, but one that speaks to the homeowners' love of classic Louisiana design. Design by Meghann Landry, McMillin Interiors. Photo by Melissa Oivanki.

Stomping grounds: Local designers talk choosing the right flooring

Ah, if only designing a home was as seamless and uncomplicated as they made it appear on HGTV. But alas, it is a process usually filled with stress, long hours and big decisions—and that includes choosing the right flooring. This major decision is a stumbling block for many homeowners, as whatever you choose could potentially be underfoot for at least a few decades.

We reached out to a few local design experts to help ease the stress about choosing the best flooring materials for your home. Read on for their ideas on how to make your next floor a step up.

Click on the designers’ names for more information about their work:

Allyson Hicks, Allyson Hicks Design Consulting

Photo courtesy Allyson Hicks.

“I tend to suggest more timeless looks in the majority of the flooring. I definitely have more fun in the tile work, but for staple pieces like wood floors, it’s such a long-term purchase that I try to not go too trendy but still stay current,” says Hicks. “It’s easier to replace a paint color than to rip up floors.” 

When it comes to wood color, only a few years ago gray floors were all the rage, but Hicks notes that warmer tones are coming back. “It’s a good thing for the area because it enhances what’s popular around here as far as antique beams and textures more commonly found in Louisiana,”she says.

A timeless design like wood is a great approach to flooring, but where Hicks recommends mixing it up is with tile work in smaller areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms. “Sometimes, if you have a client afraid of a bold color, you can use patterns in a black and white,” says Hicks.

Meghann Landry, McMillin Interiors 

When it comes to flooring, interior designer Meghann Landry recommends considering a few factors to make the process easier.

You have to pick something that has longevity in your design,” Landry says. “It has to be something that’s functional for the way you’re going to use that space.”

Another factor to consider when deciding on flooring is balance, or how the floors will complement a space.

“Floors are great for contrast or texture, like when you think of fabrics,” says Landry. “It’s all about layering, so the floors can definitely play a part in that.” 

In a home, the bathroom is a great space to create texture and contrast. “I typically gravitate toward white marble so you can make other accents pop,” says Landry. “I think the boldness and color stands out more, so you’re seeing changes in terms of paint color of cabinets by using it with white stone elements.”

Karen Giffel, Karen Giffel Interior Design

What may work for one home may not always work for another—especially if you have to consider any tiny feet that might be running rampant around the house. Interior designer Karen Giffel says she takes into account a client’s wants and needs when picking out a floor that will best perform for them.

One of Giffel’s brass inlay designs at a recent project. Photo courtesy Karen Giffel.

“When I interview a client, I’m trying to figure out the direction that they’re trying to head in. Then I’m able to steer them in that right direction,” says Giffel. “What I also take into consideration is the family’s style of living: are they more casual or formal?” 

Giffel reflects on a recent project that involved a client with three young children. “We landed on a floor that can take a beating,” she says with a laugh.

When choosing a material for a young family, Giffel often relies on vinyl as a way to make flooring more child-friendly and cost-effective. “The vinyl wood tile floors have come a long way as far as looks go,” she says. “I’ve been installing a lot of that with young families because you can ride tricycles and scooters on it and it’s going to withstand the elements kids bring along.”

But it’s not all about utility. According to Giffel, there are many small details, like incorporating a brass inlay into floor design, that help to elevate a look and add a little something unexpected. A touch of gold helps to create a contemporary and traditional mix, which many homeowners are seeking these days, she adds.

“My style is to meld old world and contemporary together,” says Giffel.

Ashlyn Elofson, Trends by Design 

If you’re looking to break away from traditional flooring like wood in favor of making a statement, Ashlyn Elofson recommends using a unique pattern to create a floor design unlike any other.

“For a unique flooring option, I love the idea of using a shaped flooring material and creating an overall pattern with different color tones of the same material in the space,” says Elofson. “We just had a presentation done by Jamie Beckwith Collection, and would love to incorporate these materials into an upcoming project.”

Some of Elofson’s recent designs include bleached wood flooring featuring white oak. “This is a great flooring material to add warmth to the room but still maintain a clean and updated overall look,” she says.

If a homeowner chooses to dedicate a majority of their budget to the living room and is looking for a more cost-effective floor design in other areas such as the bathroom, Elofson suggests using materials that mimic the more expensive look.

“Porcelain tiles that have a marble look have come a long way and can be a great budget-friendly option for bathroom flooring,” says Elofson. “They can be combined with real marble countertops and backsplash. By doing this, the client is saving money on the item with the most overall square footage.”