As we reach mid-year, our research indicates that there will be three key themes in the residential decoration / design arena: exploring the possibilities of innovative technologies, celebrating alternative and organic materials and searching for and sourcing more personalised and unique designs.

Wood visuals are no longer new, but remain still very much at the top of the list. Wood-look flooring in laminate, ceramic tile and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) have been up there for a significant period; in fact, they’ve manifested as the top flooring trends globally for two concurrent years, with no end in sight. And they’ve transmuted into waterproof flooring. Previously, ceramic tile was realistically the only impermeable flooring option, but in 2019 waterproof vinyl, laminate and even carpets are available. This delivers a radical advantage and is a major solution for busy homeowners with young families and pets.


Monica Egea from DOMUM for Dinesen remains a purist: ‘Our perspective is that wood should represent the very heart of any interior – from intimate personal spaces to expansive public and cultural settings. Nature should be approached with humility and respect and we work with only the best of what comes naturally. These timbers are from family-owned German and French forests, cultivated for centuries by foresters with an inherent tradition of sustainability. Here, they grow extraordinary, majestic trees.

‘Our relationship with the foresters runs deep and is key to selecting the right trees: between 80 and 200 years old and handpicked based on their structure and dimensions to ensure each is the finest nature can produce. Craftsmanship and knowledge of manufacturing have been refined through four generations to obtain a finish like no other. We preserve the natural beauty of the tree and its pure and powerful expression. Knots are given special attention to give the planks character and personality.’

What are the latest trends in finishes for genuine wood?

‘Natural oak continues to be the most popular choice because it’s the perfect combination of subtlety and sublimity. Subtle in its appealingly natural colour, with the light shades of freshly sawn oak, and sublime due to the matt wear layer – in our case – which offers a protective varnish that guarantees very easy maintenance,’ says Hanel Appleby of Lalegno.

She continues: ‘Recently, it seems that the classical parquet laying patterns, such as herringbone and chevron, are being completely reinvented. These patterns, originally seen only in expensive mansions, are truly becoming the style of now. Herringbone parquet in particular works perfectly in the contemporary  interior, creating a penetrating ambiance.’

Hardwood flooring specialist Oggie believes that perfect craftsmanship can’t be matched by machine, so their work processes maintain the tradition of genuine handwork, while combining these with modern technologies and efficiencies. Each plank is finished, planed, brushed, smoked, coloured and measured to the most demanding standard of quality there is – the human eye. This provides floors that ensure superior interiors, of which the spaces reflect the character and individuality of their owners; by no means run of the mill.

Global Hard Facts

Tile directions globally continue to stimulate those seeking more eclectic looks, typifying the trend of homeowners wishing to personalise key spaces. And with escalating online exposure and travel, it’s not surprising that this is seen in materials as widely used as tile. In the USA, graphics are well up there and include florals, foliage and other nature-inspired elements, while European tastes are bolder with tile murals even featuring nude goddesses and dramatic street art. It’s a trend towards individual decorative expression, rather than realtor-safe neutrals.

‘From soft hand-painted finishes to a new brutalism in black and white, tiles often seem to take on a life of their own,’ says a spokesman for importers Afrikano. ‘Here, there are New Age designs that really seem to bring interior dreams to life. The partnership between Iris Ceramica and Diesel Living in particular has resulted in tile styles that cover a full spectrum of the spectacular.

‘The Industrial Glass collection can become a piece of installation art all on its own. Then there is Combustion Crackle, inspired by woods that have been tainted by time to evoke depth and grandeur, despite their worn nature. Add the very unusual range of Metal Perf, which makes use of textured coppers and brass that seem to hold stories of a life well-lived all on their own.’

These are just a few examples of what are really stunning floor tile collections. So, whilst furniture, décor, soft furnishings and crafted finishings all play an imperative role in creating a beautiful home, it may well be the flooring that ties each of these elements together.

Steve Joubert of Stiles appreciates certain striking patterns: ‘Décor tiles for floors or walls are the perfect accent for a variety of interiors, and splash backs in bathrooms or kitchens have always been great in adding high drama within a small space. Yet now, oversized and painted graphics in striking patterns are the current trend. This look works in both soft / subtle hues and bold / contrasting colours.’

‘Limestone floors have been popular for centuries and although it’s now becoming closely associated with classical modernism and the contemporary style, many can’t afford the authentic flooring. Happily, porcelain manufacturers have mastered the marble and limestone look and they produce it in a less porous, more durable, less expensive and more accessible material. This offers quite literally the best of all worlds.’

What are the latest in 2019 tile trends?

‘Digital printing has progressed hugely and tiles with faux finishes are now extremely realistic,’ says Paolo Carlone of Italcotto. ‘Porcelain tiles that replicate wood, stone, granite or concrete are cheaper, lighter, easier to install and often easier to maintain than the authentic material. This gives them a definite edge.

‘Faux tiles are no longer one-dimensional replicas, instead, the image is deeply embedded in the surface, which introduces a realistic and convincing texture. And the 750x1500mm format is still a manageable size for the experienced tiler. Such large-scale tiles in concrete effect are perfect for creating a real impact, especially on an open floor plan where there are fewer grout lines, which mean the space will look and feel more expansive.’

Shazeem Jooma of Classic Trading adds: ‘Concrete visual tiles appear warm, contemporary and can provide a perfect fit for any 2019 modern home. The larger sizes are on trend as they offer a more natural and seamless look and the finishes are especially popular as a matt surface.

‘Leading tile manufacturers are replicating the luxurious and opulent look of natural marble. Modern-day technology has produced large format tiles with amazing patterns, tones and rich veins; the authentic look of marble with the price and durability of a tile. It looks extravagant, yet understated at once, and one of the best looks to consider for 2019 / ’20.

‘Lastly there are the wood visuals: contemporary, highly detailed porcelain floor tiles that really do look like real parquet – with classic patterns such as chevron, herringbone, basket-weave and chateau – or modern updates that play on those authentic styles. This is old-world charm with a contemporary vibe, finely crafted to look exactly like natural wood.’

New dimensions are continuing to appear with fresh possibilities for pavers, countertops, shower walls and even corporate façades. In Europe, tiles have long been used in inventive ways, and recently new thicknesses and increased heights and widths encourage more experimentation by design and construction professionals. Texture and dimensionality introduce yet another way to add visual interest to a space and are being offered in tile. Both can add subtle intrigue to monochromatic and minimalist décor, and so provide fans of contemporary design with a tool to distinguish their spaces without visual noise.

Hard floor specialist WOMAG reflects: ‘There are large format porcelain tiles to extra-long wood-look porcelain planks, such as Ladoga Beige in 2 080x227mm. The Cabrio Siena wood-visual porcelain tile is a single tile with a chevron pattern, or there is the Fronda Roble wood-look in a herringbone pattern. These are distinctive, characterful signatures.

‘Other exciting tiling trends for 2019 include a classic white marble visual with the Bianco Magnifico porcelain tile and the concrete-look in Bahamas Grigio, Bahamas Bianco porcelain tiles; and terrazzo-look tiles all in porcelain. There is a more organic feel achievable in natural stone tiles or granite-look porcelain options.’

So tiles continue to be larger. Key examples are 30x60cm, but there are 60x120cm and larger available with realistic types of stone finishes, such as marble, travertine and limestone, as listed above. In the USA, the concrete look is undeniably more popular, but wood visual ceramic tiles are still very evident, seen in ‘tile planks’ as long as 120cm and in various widths. R&D in inkjet technology has evolved hyper-realistic wood, stone or concrete surface replications, but with the added durability and maintenance benefits of porcelain tiles.

Nicole Russell of importers Italtile offers confirmation: ‘Early in 2016, we noted the trend for large format tiles and slabs, recognising how they enhance large spaces, and open up smaller rooms. Three years later the XXL trend has turned into a full-blown look.

‘One of our newest stone looks is Atlas Concorde’s Klif range. All the aesthetic appeal of authentic D’Ossola mountain stone has been worked into hardwearing tile surfaces that have deep detail with high variation in order to replicate nature as closely as possible. The result is the beauty of natural stone with the benefits of porcelain. I feel this direction is timeless.

Comfort Zones

Despite the rise and rise of LVT, certain homeowners still prefer carpeting, especially in low traffic areas like formal living spaces and bedrooms. US high-end carpet designer / manufacturer Shaw Floors’ latest styling techniques for soft surface offerings focuses on a plethora of design elements – colour, pattern, texture and plushness – in addition to the expansion of an exclusive waterproof backing, which provides more hygienic carpeting for healthy living.

Even if there are questions about the use of carpeting in contemporary homes, it’s notable that the days of ultra-plush, wall-to-wall examples are no longer so popular. 2019 carpeting is much more characterful – think everything from bold patterns to sustainable materials – and more often loose laid or in rug form on a hard floor base.

Dave Keefer of KBAC Flooring: ‘As people currently strive for general well-being and calming spaces in both homes and offices, carpeting has seen growth due to its unique characteristics. Plush-cut pile, wall-to-wall carpeting has seen a slight resurgence as it adds softness and comfort to an interior. Solid colours with a natural shading across the pile have been in demand with a palette trending towards grey undertones with even the odd grey blue hue.

‘Overall, wall-to-wall carpeting has lost ground to hard flooring in recent years. But there is growth in the rug space – adding a soft touch to a hard floor.’

Edward Colle of Belgotex: ‘Based on our global exposure, we see two very clear trends in the short to medium term: plush, high-end soft products and others that are beautiful, chunky and textured. We have noted growth in the higher end of the market and there are certain characteristics that are key in carpeting, i.e. acoustics, warmth and comfort under foot. There is a drop in demand in the middle sector and lower end price points; due to consumers having so much choice in the total flooring space and different needs being met by hard flooring alternatives.’

So, carpets and rugs are experiencing more popularity, and for 2019 this will become even more the case as they offer the opportunity to really showcase strong design statements; the ideal being handmade rugs that are truly one of a kind. And rugs are getting larger as end users are paying more attention to the size of a rug and want to ensure that it corresponds to a designated space.

Since multipurpose living areas are not standard, informed homeowners are opting for custom rugs, at the high end many of them being handwoven. In 2019, the opportunity exists to experience the luxury of a rug made specifically for a given space and decorative storyboard, of which it may even be the major coordinator.

Paco Pakdoust of PACO is a marketer of specialist rugs designed and woven with natural materials and fibres in Nepal. He confirms that abstract designs are still the leading trend in handmade rugs; and most often in neutral shades.

He says: ‘In best case specifications, such rugs are investment pieces and should ideally be chosen in designs and colourways that will remain timeless. Low-pile heights are more viably popular in 2019 in being less subject to marking and easier to maintain.’

For the full article see Habitat #272 July / August 2019


Newsletter Sign Up