In late 19th century America, the presence of hardwood floors in a home usually signaled an upper class owner, much like the presence of servants might have implied. In those times, hardwood flooring, typically covered with intricate room-size oriental rugs, was generally considered a class privilege. The middle class version of hardwood flooring in those years tended to be parquet wood borders installed around the periphery of the main room. Extensive labor to make and install hardwood flooring meant a costly project that was generally out of reach for the average homeowner. Americans who longed for hardwood rejoiced when at last advancements in technology sped both production and installation–and made hardwood flooring more accessible to all.
Hardwood floors in various forms remained popular in American homes until about the middle of the 20th century, when mass-production redefined home décor and what it meant to be stylish. In that era, makers of wall-to-wall carpet dominated the middle- class market, with carpet patterns that aped the oriental rugs of the upper class. The low point of mass-produced, man-made home décor must have been in the 1970s. A look back at floor design trends of the 70s will shock and amuse today’s homeowner. Carpet installation was the order of the day and limited only by the imagination. Some families thought nothing of three boys sharing one carpeted bathroom. Others believed there was nothing too outlandish about carpeted garage floors. And some daring souls even opted to carpet their walls in tawdry designs by today’s standards.
In the last two decades of the 20th century, styles of American home interiors returned to their roots with a Craftsman and Victorian revival. Those traditions continue to this day, when hardwood floors are considered a mainstream amenity in American home interiors. To learn more about the history of hardwood flooring, click here (http://www.oldhouseonline.com/the-history-of-wood-flooring).
Hardwood flooring is now so popular that we almost take it for granted since we see it daily in commercial buildings. Not only do offices and hotels feature hardwood, but even some fast-food chains are updating their interiors with at least simulated hardwood, if not the real thing (not to mention fireplaces and leather armchairs in some fast-food locations). The irony is when people use adjectives like “fresh” and “new” to describe the look of hardwood when its simple beauty has existed for centuries.
Natural wood will add character to any dwelling, whether you choose soft honey tones, reddish oak or deep ebony hardwood. Mass-produced buildings become more interesting and get a second chance at life with hardwood installation.