High-shine finishes are officially out.

By Andrea Crowley
February 19, 2020
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It's no secret that wood floor colors have evolved over the last few decades. Homeowners are no longer going for a heavy, stained look—rather, they're opting for lighter, more authentic-looking floors with softer finishes. We spoke with Madera Trade, co-founder Daniel Clason-Höök, to get his take on the latest color trends in wood flooring, what his clients are requesting from coast-to-coast, and the colorways he believes are here to stay.

Credit: Gieves Anderson

White-Washed Oak

"In Los Angeles, it's almost all light floors," says Clason-Höök. "The color that everybody wants when they walk into our showroom is unfinished oak. They want that pale, white-washed look. They don't want to see color in there, they want it to feel super natural—but of course, you need to do a finish, because otherwise your floor will stain." Two of Madera Trade's top finishes include Mane and Nethermead, both of which pair well with the ever popular Scandinavian-style aesthetic. "The oak turns kind of nutty brown and there's a little bit of white saroozing in the grain," he says of the Nethermead finish. "It creates a really nice, still natural, not a lot of caked-on-color look, which is something that's a little bit of the past. If you look at Italian floors and more European floors, a lot of it is very complex finishes, extremely complicated top coats of colors—a reactive stain. That's what people are moving away from a little bit."

According to Clason-Höök, these white-washed floors aren't going anywhere anytime soon. "I think they'll stay just because you get these really powerful influences like Japanese design and Scandinavian design and the California chic design, and they all really do well and utilize this sense of natural wood color," he says. "Rather than adding color, they just let the wood speak for itself."

Credit: George Del Barrio

Traditional Dark Tones and Bleached White

Head over to the historic dwellings of New York City, and you'll find a darker, more traditional aesthetic, particularly on the Upper West and Upper East Sides. "In New York, what we're seeing is a lot of these smaller renovations, lofts and townhouses—they're going a little more traditional, so a darker walnut is very popular," says Clason-Höök. That's not to say lighter woods aren't creeping their way into the city. Right now, Madera Trade's most popular walnut finish there is White Walnut from their Bone White collection. "It's kind of counterintuitive because walnut's not white at all, but we desaturate the walnut to a really light, almost pale, bleached color and then we add a bit of white to create a really dynamic grain structure," he explains.

There may be a slower shift to modern design for the classic-leaning city, but flooring is one way to freshen things up: "There'll be a lot of walnut furniture, a lot of darker finishes, but the floors will just sort of stand out as this beacon of light."

Credit: Studio SNNG

Pop of Gray

Not feeling a white-washed finish? Clason-Höök says many of his clients are looking for gray tones, particularly homeowners of more industrial spaces, such as lofts and commercial offices. "A lot of buildings that we do utilize very simple materials," he says. "Exposed concrete, exposed steel, exposed building material. In many ways, it's ultra-modern but also very industrial—very raw. Those spaces can do with a pop of gray." Industrial spaces can often feel cold, but Madera Trade's smoke-fumed oak collection, Sarek, focuses on bringing out the warmth of the wood. "The fumed oak is a reaction that turns the white oak darker rather than adding color," notes Clason-Höök. "It looks like stone gray but has some nice beautiful browns in it—a lot of variation."

This type of finish bodes especially well for rustic mountain retreats. With clients out in ski-towns like Aspen Snowmass and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Clason-Höök and his team often look to their Berg finish (which means "mountain" in Swedish) to help create ultra-cozy environments that are both rustic and modern. The finish is also in line with the architectural shift to bring the outdoors in, says Clason-Höök. "Designers are trying to break down walls metaphorically and physically between us and the outdoors. So, our materials need to be very natural and speak to the outdoors."

Credit: George Del Barrio

Matte Finish

High-sheen floors may have been the norm about 15 to 20 years ago, but these days, more and more homeowners are steering clear. "When people walk in, they say 'I just don't want anything high sheen.' Our company doesn't offer anything high sheen," says Clason-Höök. "It's a thing of the past." These surfaces are known for their reflective effect, which isn't always welcome in modern design. "If you have a lot of light and you're bringing a lot of light into your home, it really interacts with that high-gloss and can actually hurt your eyes, which just isn't something that's lovely to look at." Clason-Höök and his team recommend opting for a low-sheen, matte finish instead.

Credit: George Del Barrio

Playing with Color

When it comes to colorful floor trends, it ebbs and flows, says Clason-Höök. "One color that consistently comes back is one we developed about two years ago, called Indigo, and it's exactly that—a brilliant blue. People are still interested in adding pops of color and wood is a wonderful backdrop for color." But there's a time and a place for it, he says: "It's not going to be an entire house—it's going to be a small wall element or a study or something where they're sort of questioning the normalcy of their home with this really dynamic color."

Comments (1)

Anonymous
March 16, 2020
Pretty sure what you spelled “saroozing” is actually cerused.