Design & Décor

Elissa’s friends had some questions when she showed them the inspiration photo she had chosen for her dining room makeover. They included: “You’re doing wallpaper, seriously?” And, “You do realize that those chairs don’t go with that table, right?” Clearly, she recalls, her friends didn’t realize that wallpaper is back! And who says the chairs have to match the table? No designer we’ve ever heard of. Her vision for the room was clear and there were some unchangeable requirements.

Patience, planning and a precision flooring product make the new kitchen difference Because the pattern choices are almost endless, weeks passed before Ron Hicks found the perfect look in a rigid core, waterproof luxury vinyl tile floor for his kitchen. It had to complement his new cabinets, countertops and existing Teak floor in the adjacent family room. It also had to be thick and strong enough to float over existing floors – vinyl in the kitchen and hardwood with beveled edges in the front hallway and foyer – without concern of telegraphing. The winning choice was Mannington Adura Max in color: Graffiti Patina. These rectangular panels click together, are made without phthalates and have FloorScore Indoor Air Quality Certification.

Couple chooses chemical-free carpet, dustless sanding and low-VOC finishes for 1960’s ranch makeover, and gets it all done between closing and move-in. The hardwood floor in the living room and front hall had been refinished. They were welcoming upon walking through the front door of the ranch home Pam and her husband, Jim, were buying in a Cincinnati neighborhood. The spacious kitchen, with an older tile floor, also was inviting. But the great room, back hall and three bedrooms were covered with worn carpet and ready for an update. Pam had a plan to pull it all together into a cohesive, flowing look. But like most people who contact the Natural Interiors® program, she had specific requirements: Any new carpet preferably would be made of natural fibers, and it would be free of stain-proofing chemicals. Any floor finishes or paint would be as low-VOC as possible for the application. “I wanted help finding products and properly vetting them for chemicals of concern and hazardous air pollutants,” Pam said. “I wasn’t being a purist. I just wanted to take all reasonable steps to minimize possible toxins.”

Green building practices and technology will magnify as the cornerstones of mainstream architectural and interior design It was difficult enough to explain the benefits of people- and planet-friendly flooring when I first got into the business years ago. Many flooring dealers I called on would hold back snickers and raise their eyebrows. Had I also mentioned that some buildings would one day be one with nature, or constructed in weeks instead of months, I would have been laughed – and likely escorted – out of the room. Today, a little more than a decade later, those who have not changed their mindsets know not to reveal their opinions in mixed company. Their hometown in Greater Cincinnati, OH., has become a national leader in green building and interior design, and home to some of the most experienced architectural and interior design minds in the country. With help from several of them, I’ve put together this list of national trends that merit attention because they’re here to stay and will guide the future of architectural and interior design.

A growing number of flooring consumers know more about people-friendly products than mainstream flooring salespeople do When a consumer is intent on finding a specific product and spends hours researching it, she might be more knowledgeable than the salesperson when she gets to the store. Jennifer Lutz recalls how frustrated she was when she went to a mainstream flooring store, asking about natural carpet and hard-surface flooring that had third-party indoor-air quality certification. This drove her back to the computer and her Google searches, which put her in contact with Natural Interiors.® “I didn’t feel like the salespeople at the store knew what they were talking about or even understood my questions in regard to certifications and VOCs,” says Lutz of Lebanon, OH. “It is very important to me, and I do not want to spend money to buy a product that does not meet my standards.”

Amish Prefab, a lot of DIY -- and a surprising vinyl plank floor -- combine in a place to call home Rick Hicks was looking for a fixer upper to transform and call home when he decided it was time to downsize in 2015. A mechanical engineer, Rick’s ambition was to have enough land to build a 3-to-4-car garage, where he could work on cars – his hobby and passion. But the best properties listed and were sold quickly, and suitable opportunities were difficult to bid in time. Then, an open piece of land in West Chester, OH, caught his attention. The only building on it was a 30-foot by 40-foot metal garage – perfect for working on cars. “It was like being secluded out in the country but with all the convenience of being in the city,” Rick says. “The hardware store is only a few minutes down the road.”

Today’s natural interior design aesthetic includes many flooring products, from natural-fiber rugs to luxury vinyl tile. For this customer, natural means chemical-free wool. Page IMG_0253Elena Page, M.D., knew what she would do when it was time to replace her carpet. An occupational and environmental medicine physician in Cincinnati, OH., Page has a lot of experience in how chemicals can affect indoor-air quality. All carpets from major manufacturers these days have CRI Green Label Plus Indoor-Air Quality certification, ensuring that the products meet safety limits for Volatile Organic Compound (VOC ) emissions set by the state of California. But that wasn’t enough for Page. “I wanted to be sure that whatever I put in my home was not an emitter of VOCs,” she says. “I also care very much about what the workers are exposed to in making the carpet, and synthetic carpets expose them to a variety of harmful substances, some of which are carcinogens.”

Flooring restoration and replacement at The Transept was mindful of the historic character of St. John’s Church IMG_0434 Transept1There is a natural appeal to something that can be restored instead of replaced. So the second floor of The Transept building in downtown Cincinnati, where the original pine floor was patched with materials salvaged onsite, gets extra points. Formerly St. John’s Church, built in 1814, The Transept is now a grand venue for weddings, special gatherings, receptions and meetings – brought to Cincinnati by Funky’s Catering.

Zero-VOC hardwood floor finish proves to be unmistakably modern and virtually odor-free Cincinnati Architect Adam Fosnaugh and his wife, Margot, were clear on what their new hardwood floor would have to be: Warm, durable and honest to the material. Indoor-air quality also was key. They selected a palette of light colors and natural finishes, designed, Adam says, “to be minimal and modern with a sense of Scandinavian sensibility. … Living with a two-year-old and being keenly aware of the detrimental effects many building materials have on indoor-air-quality, we were also looking for environmentally-friendly solutions with low VOCs.” With their remodeling spanning weeks and nearing a conclusion, their new White Oak flooring has been installed throughout the first floor, and finished on-site with a zero-VOC, three-step white lye finish.

Low- and zero-VOC hardwood finishing program expands with architect’s vision OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACincinnati Architect Adam Fosnaugh was in awe of a wood floor made in Denmark. It was the look he wanted for the first floor of the Clifton home he and his wife are remodeling. Could we recreate this aesthetic?, he asked. It was White Oak plank, bleached in color, not too white, but no yellow tones that are typical with traditional hardwood finishes. Oh and yes, it had to be low- or zero-VOC. Adam is a LEED AP at MSA Architects. His wife, Margot, is a chemical engineer and air quality consultant, and they have a 1-1/2-year-old daughter. Indoor-air quality, in addition to the perfect color, also would be important for the cork flooring they would select for the second floor.