How post-pandemic indoor floor trends are taking us in a darker direction

  • Design
  • Wednesday, 01 Feb 2023

Flooring comes in all colours, of course. According to trend experts, however, dark brown to black coverings are on the rise. Photos: Deutsche Messe AG/dpa

The pandemic which required many millions to shelter at home for long periods has changed us in a perhaps surprising way – how we view our indoor decor.

Whereas before our living space was more open, more filled with light and if possible without any walls, suddenly there has emerged this yearning for a spot to retreat to.

Coziness and a hideaway are what we want instead of some chic loft feeling. This change is now reflected in the latest trends of the interior design branch.

It is apparent as well with regard to new floor coverings and carpets that were on show at the just-concluded flooring fair Domotex in Germany, the first after a two-year pandemic interruption. And immediately apparent are the main dark floor coverings either of wood or a wood look, points out trend scout Gabriela Kaiser.

"The dark tones make a room cozier and more comfortable," said Kaiser, who for years has analysed the flooring industry and who gave a presentation about the latest trends at the Domotex show in Hanover this month (January).

At one of the world's biggest events for carpets and floorboards, industry leaders say darker floors is a major trend to emerge after the pandemic. At one of the world's biggest events for carpets and floorboards, industry leaders say darker floors is a major trend to emerge after the pandemic.

Will the black floor prevail?

It doesn't surprise her a bit that the wood look on the floor remains the absolute favourite – be it real wood, synthetic covering or tiles that resemble wood.

"The share of wood in the living space has risen overall in the past few years – both in furniture as well as on the floor," Kaiser reports.

"This is because people want to make things cozy and comfortable. With wood as a material, it makes your home feel a degree or two warmer." What is new is a strong change in the colours of the wood.

"On the one hand there are the very bright floors and on the other the extremely dark – from dark brown to black," Kaiser said. "A dark colour for the floor is so new that nobody really is certain yet as to whether the trend will really prevail."

The yearning for more darkness

However, there's a problem: A dark floor also makes the entire room look darker.

"But for a long time now we have been seeing a trend towards the very dark in kitchens," Kaiser notes. "Also other furniture, coming in combinations of dark brown and black, is also obviously very popular."Wood floors in a herringbone pattern are a indoor trend that isn't going away. Photo: MeisterWerke Schulte GmbH/dpaWood floors in a herringbone pattern are a indoor trend that isn't going away. Photo: MeisterWerke Schulte GmbH/dpa

This is where the pandemic comes in.

"For a long time people desired a living space that was as open and bright as possible. Walls were torn out or not even planned for," the trend expert said.

"But this changed with corona. People are now seeking a sense of greater security in their living quarters."

On the other hand they also again want more separation, such as between their home office work and a place to retreat to. In these areas as well dark floors come in handy.

Together with their bright counterparts elsewhere, the house can again be divided into more different-looking areas. Thanks to optical partitioning, this even works when it lacks walls.

"Prior to the pandemic it was always about having a floor that at the very least stretched through the entire level. Now people are differentiating again," Kaiser said.

"The living room area is now to be cozier than the kitchen and dining room, meaning a darker furnishing. And the bedroom may also be darker, a place to chill and relax."

A game with familiar elements

This interplay of disruption and cohesion was also reflected in furnishing trend that interior architect and trends blogger Holly Becker highlighted for the Domotex fair. One such trend is modern craftsmanship that plays with elements of the past.

"In this furnishing style we find elements that remind us of our youth and evoke a feeling of nostalgia," says Becker.

"For example, we'll notice shapes, lines or other elements of the past in sofas and chairs, but in a modern reference."

The throwback cover stirs a good feeling in us of home, coziness and warmth, she says.

"People want more attachment again to their living areas and to feel better and more at home. Especially now with Covid, do we understand how important it is to have an environment that offers us coziness?" Becker adds.

These 'new' carpets look old! Carpets with deliberate traces of use remain popular. These 'new' carpets look old! Carpets with deliberate traces of use remain popular.

"That it offers us not only pretty things but rather things that also feel comfortable enough when sitting on them, that you can enjoy and relax on."

For modern floor coverings this means being made of wood, cork or stone. Carpets are handmade.

Celebrating supposed blemishes

Traditional floor-laying patterns are also back, especially for parquet floors and other wood looks. This can mean playing a game of contrasts between old and new.

"In addition to the classic country house floorboards, which are laid parallel to each other, the herringbone pattern is also very popular again at the moment, which can be laid straight or diagonally in the room," says Michael Schmid, chairman of the Association of the German Parquet Industry.

At the same time, planks are also getting wider, just as tiles for some time now have taken on much larger formats, Kaiser notes.

And there is yet one other very important aspect: Blemishes are welcome. Knotholes and cracks are brought into focus, not cut off. Colour deviations are "really celebrated", the trend analyst says.

Meanwhile lighter or darker elements are interwoven into carpets to create the impression that the new floor covering is already worn.

"This has been around for a while, but this look is now becoming even more extreme," says Kaiser.

It might even go so far that floors can look as if they have been patched up. – dpa

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