Begin with neutral flooring for ultimate design versatility

Do you pin your favorite bathroom makeover ideas on Pinterest, look for inspirational kitchen designs or dream about new decorating styles for your home? If so, you’re not alone. Many homeowners are opting to makeover their homes this year instead of upgrading to a new one.

According to a recent survey by Better Homes & Gardens magazine, consumers rank “style upgrades” as the most important component of their upcoming home improvement plans, followed by storage. For future projects, consumers said their top style upgrades include flooring, countertops, faucets and fixtures.

Laminate flooring experts from Quick-Step suggest beginning a style upgrade project by installing neutral-colored flooring. Neutral floors create the perfect canvas to help tie all of a room’s design elements together.

What is a fresh, new and widely-popular neutral color within interior design circles? That would be gray. Some of the hottest hardwood flooring designs for 2012 offer traditionally American brown tones that are delicately infused with a gray influence.


Quick-Step offers a variety of styles and options with gray undertones — from rustic oak plank designs and floors with wire-brushed detailing to the same visuals and charm of a hardwood floor constructed from reclaimed, vintage wood. Quick-Step’s Reclaime Heathered Oak flooring complements a wide range of decorating styles. Gray-toned floors provide the ideal backdrop to let your style and favorite colors shine through, and they also transition well as interior design styles and trends change.

Gray is the new brown

Gray is no longer viewed as a trend color in design circles, but is now viewed by professional designers as the new neutral.

“Gray is the new brown,” said Erinn Valencich, interior designer and blogger for HGTV’s Design Happens. “I used a gray-based floor in my new design studio because it goes well under a myriad of other wood tones. You don’t have to use gray-based furniture on top of it — gray looks great with all wood tones.” Another benefit to gray-based flooring, Valencich added, is that it’s very forgiving.

Just look to large furniture retailers to see how their offerings now highlight gray-based tones. The bleached-out, weathered Scandinavian look is very popular right now, Valencich said. It’s perfect to pair with a new gray floor.

Colors that complement

Don’t be afraid of color when designing a room with a gray-based floor, Valencich said. She suggests one of these color palettes to make a room shine:

• 50 shades of blue. Gray looks beautiful with any shade of blue, from soft-powder blue to vibrant turquoise to charming daisy blue.


• Bananas Foster. A favorite color trio of Valencich’s is yellow, chocolate and cream on top of a gray-based floor. The subtle flooring highlights the rich colors for a bold, decadent look.

• Lovely with lavender. Lavender is one of this year’s hottest colors and a long-time partner for gray. Valencich suggested adding any color of purple to a gray floor for standout results. “Consider creating a focal point around a muted lavender wall and add some deep, rich, regal purple accents to bring it all together.”

Need help choosing your colors? Try out Quick-Step’s “Design A Room” online tool that allows you to select different flooring options and see how they look with hundreds of different Valspar paint colors.

Or search “The Idea Gallery” on for ideas to spark your room makeover, like Valspar’s “organic elements” color trend. Inspired by the calming energy of nature, this palette of chalky hues, earthy browns and mineral grays creates balance and stability. Then add a bright honeysuckle beige for an unexpected pop.

Getting started

When beginning a room makeover project, the first step is choosing a clear color palette. Wall color is a great place to begin, Valencich said, but any object — a rug, chair or artwork — can serve as your inspiration.

Next, think of the design process in layers — the trick is to coordinate and contrast. “If your paint, accessories, furniture and flooring are all the same color, the room will feel flat,” Valencich advised. “So create drama by using a pop of color or by layering varying shades of the same color for a refined, tone-on-tone look.”


A well-executed color palette can transform any space with great results. For more tips, visit


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